Shadowy figures. Eerie fog. Spiralling clockwork. A grand mirror. A red trinket box.
These elements of Birmingham Royal Ballet Cinderella demonstrate David Bintley’s unique approach to a much-loved story that makes his production distinctive to other ballets.
You will be giggling and amazed throughout the whole performance.
Presenting at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre, it stars Momoko Hirata as Cinderella, Joseph Caley as the Prince, and Marion Tait as the step-mother. Prepare to be dazzled by their sparkly costumes, intricate backdrop designs, fantastic orchestral music by Sergei Prokofiev and elegant dancing including the comedic dancing duo, the evil step-sisters.
Even though the step-sisters are terrible towards Cinderella, they are the most loveable and witty characters. You gather an insight into the relationship between the sisters, Skinny and Dumpy. It is expressed in a hilarious and wonderfully-choreographed way from their slapstick comedy, like licking their food off the bowls and fainting at the sight of the Prince to Dumpy’s love for cakes.
You will find yourselves applauding to the creative ways Bintley balanced the serious and romantic aspects of the ballet with the step-sisters’ juvenile behaviour. The memorable moment is when the dancing master teaches the sisters on how to dance at the prince’s Ball. The dancers, Samara Downs and Laura Purkiss, clearly show how competitive the sisters are by sabotaging each other’s performances.
After the ballet ended, the dancers committed to their characters during the audience’s final applause by fighting over Cinderella’s dancing slipper. That is dedication.
Cinderella begins with the dimly-illuminated silhouettes of figures including young Cinderella and her father attending the funeral of her mother. David A. Finn’s play with the lighting brings a dramatic effect at the opening of the ballet.
The ballet is about a woman who spends her life working in a kitchen until one day, she is rewarded with helping an old beggar. The beggar transforms into the spirit of her mother. The spirit assists Cinderella in preparing for the Ball with four colourful dancers representing the seasons. While dancing with the prince, the clock strikes at twelve o’clock, and Cinderella vanishes, leaving her bejewelled slipper behind. A hunt for the owner of the shoe begins the following day. After the step-sisters and step-mother hysterically fail to fit the shoe, Cinderella bravely steps forward and reunites with her love.
While dancing with the prince, the clock strikes at twelve o’clock, and Cinderella vanishes, leaving her bejewelled slipper behind. A hunt for the owner of the shoe begins the following day. After the step-sisters and step-mother hysterically fail to fit the shoe, Cinderella bravely steps forward and reunites with her love.
Hirata’s fantastic portrayal of Cinderella is a highlight. She captures the essence of Cinderella’s humility in her expressions. Her light footwork and the variety of ballet techniques makes her dancing look graceful and effortless. You will truly become captivated by her style and her chemistry with Caley as the Prince. She even danced without her shoes!
Tait’s interpretation of the step-mother is unforgettable because she does not dance at all, which makes the performance better. Having every dancer perform makes the presentation of the story predictable. Dressed in a Victorian-style black dress and an immaculate wig, Tait brings the character alive by her stern expression, the striking of her walking stick and the menacing air she carries whenever she treads near Cinderella.
Magnificent props include the glittery carriage that is pieced together, the winding clockwork design that looms high over the dancers and a chair sitting on a large pile of shoes. Using the theatre’s binoculars that cost £1, you can see how detailed every feature of the stage is from the sparkling, velvet costumes to the beautiful background designs by is pieced together, the winding clockwork design that looms high over the dancers and a chair sitting on a large pile of shoes. Using the theatre’s binoculars that cost £1, you can see how detailed every feature of the stage is from the sparkling, velvet costumes to the beautiful background designs by John F. Macfarlane.
Conducted by Koen Kessels, Sergei Prokofiev’s music is dramatic and electrifying. It perfectly captures the mood of the characters.
‘Cinderella was absolutely enchanting. From the fairytale-like costumes to the thrilling music. The choreography was beautiful, and the ballerinas danced magnificently.’
– Ica, 20, Student
In 2010, teenagers created their own production of Cinderella with the help from Birmingham Royal Ballet. The company provided ballet lessons to the students of Ballet, Birmingham and Me (BB&Me) and assistance with the behind-the-scenes of their performance.
If you are curious about the behind-the-scenes of the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella, there are activities for everyone on the Audience Open Day at the Mayflower Theatre, including dance workshops and make-up demonstrations on Saturday 28th January 2017.
Next year, the company will present The Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower Theatre from 31st January to 3rd February 2018, so book now to see the performance.
What is interesting in Bintley’s Cinderella is that every character and dancer has a significant role to the performance. The ballet focuses on the main characters but also on the minor characters like the season dancers, the guests, the lizards, mice, and a frog. It is a varied and balanced performance, making it entertaining to experience. You gain a new perspective on every part of the story rather than from a single protagonist.
Last year, Birmingham Royal Ballet performed Swan Lake at the Mayflower Theatre but has now returned with Cinderella on Saturday 28th January 2017 at 7:30pm.
Why watch it? Because it is stunning. The audience were impressed. I was there.