Left – Madeleine Eastoe and Kevin Jackson. Cover – Artists of The Australian Ballet. Photos – Jeff Busby
Cinderella, perhaps the most famous and well loved fairy tale of them all. Since being published by the Grimms Brothers in their book of folk tales in the 19th Century, Cinderella has taken on many forms.
From silent films, to Disney Princesses, books, music and theatre have all been influenced by this classic tale, and none more so than ballet.
Choreographer Alexi Ratmansky has created a fresh and exciting piece of theatre in this latest reincarnation of the classic tale. Vivid colours and over the top characters grace the stage, throwing temper tantrums with horrifying conviction. These wicked family members are glorious good fun as they primp and preen in order to win the prince’s affections and yet always slightly miss the mark, be it because of their manners, unique dancing or slightly backwards style. Ingrid Gow and Reiko Hombo as Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters are truly wicked and in the best possible way. Their outfits, demeanor and complete ability to look silly in this production is a breath of fresh air and the cause if many giggles throughout the performance. Joined by Dana Stephenson as their tireless mother, driven to extreme to see one of her daughters crowned queen, the trio are a highlight of the performance as they make looking bad appear so good.
Taking on a so loved story and well known piece of theatre is a daunting task, yet Ratmansky has created and exceptional new concept bringing in new elements such as celestial beings that help Cinderella’s fairy Godmother (Lynette Wills) create the sparkling ball gown and iconic glass slippers.
This bright and beautiful interlude allowed costume designer Jerome Kaplan to stretch the audience’s imagination and transport them into another world of stars, suns, moon and endless light.
Endless light. This brings me to the title character of the performance, Cinderella. Danced by Madeleine Eastoe, she embodied the very essence of this character without a trace of self-pity. Eastoe was a strong Cinderella, rather than a damsel in distress. The perfectly cast dancer brought a new strength to Cinderella. Technical perfection from both Eastoe and her prince Kevin Jackson allowed for the drama to unfold and both sensational dancers the chance to flex their acting chops as well.
It is difficult not to fall in love with this couple, they are the embodiment of every childhood fantasy of true love, and both perform Ratmansky’s choreography with such grace and humour that the Australian Ballet’s Cinderella will have you weeping tears of happiness and wishing for the magic to never end.
The Australian Ballet
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Dates: 17 – 28 September
With Orchestra Victoria
Venue: Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Dates: 29 November – 18 December
With Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra