After the hugely successful Ben Stevenson choreographed production of Cinderella in 2013, could Queensland ballet pull off another highly praised version of this same ballet in 2018?
This is a much-loved ballet of LI Cunxin, Artistic Director, and possibly for three reasons. It was the very first ballet presented in his inaugural season as Artistic Director of the Company in 2013. It is one he danced with Janie Parker and with Ben Stevenson as a close friend and colleague in the Houston Ballet. But probably most importantly, it opened up his eyes to the beauty, magic and sublime dancing that could be encapsulated in these intensely romantic ballets.
Ben Stephenson's version of Cinderella is a superbly constructed ballet. In three acts he develops a story of hope from rags to riches, from cruelty to love and from despair to blessings for all. He balances the comedic routine of the two pantomime ugly sisters played by men with the haunting beauty of both solo dances and duets of Cinderella and the Prince. He saves the best to last in the third act with a final romantic showpiece of pas de deux in a magic glade. He crafts the main magic around Cinderella's character: her ability to love, her ability to forgive and culminating in her ability to bestow rich blessings on all.
Cinderella was danced by Yanela Pinera and the Prince by Joel Woeliner, which they did beautifully and, in the third act, very expressively.
The ugly stepsisters, played by Camilo Ramos and Vito Bernasconi, were a hoot and definitely popular with both young and older audiences alike. The four seasons fairies were played by soloists Lina Kim, Mia Heathcote, Neneka Yoshida and Georgia Swan. Along with the dragonflies, they brought a fairy forest magic to what would otherwise have been a more formal dance in a ballroom setting. The ballet corps perhaps had a difficult job of being uniformed in blue as the background ballroom dancers, not upstaging the principal dancers but always expressive in their movements and facial acting. The fairy godmother transformed herself from a hunched woman in black rags to everyone's concept of a young fairy godmother although the reveal for me was not as dramatically staged as I would have liked.
It is such a treat to be able to go to ballet as well performed as this in Queensland and to share the obvious passion that all members of the Queensland Ballet feel for their craft. Long may it continue!
Season: September 7-15. Bookings:www.qpac.com.au or 136 246/ The three acts run for 1 hour 45 minutes, plus two 20 minute intervals.