I've never seen so elaborate a ballet. For one thing, the costuming was lavish as all hell. Everyone was in costume, not just wearing a standard leotard with minor accoutrements to indicate character. There were soldiers, people in flowing gowns (curtailed a bit to allow leg movement, but still), elaborate wigs, representational costumes -- these aren't unheard of, natch, but they're not common, either. But it added a lot.
This was also the best acted ballet I've ever seen. The dancers -- with the notable exception of the prince -- really threw themselves into the part, from the shy enthusiasm of Cinderella to the ethereal charm of the fairy godmother to the pompous preening of the king to the hilarious slapstick competing and flaunting from the stepmother and two stepsisters. The only one who came off poorly in this regard was the prince, but he was such a great dancer, one could forgive.
The most impressive bits came in Act I. First was the dancemaster scene, as an exasperated dancemaster tries desperately to teach the stepsisters how to dance. It takes skill to balletically dance and klutz around the stage the way the sisters did (until they got it right at the end, to the dancemaster's obvious relief) all at the same time, and to convey feeling with facial expressions while you're doing complex dance maneuvers. Equally impressive was the scene where Cinderella is moping to herself -- and the large tea kettles that surround her suddenly get up and start moving. There were about half a dozen dancers, all burdened with massive teakettles that covered them from head to hips -- and they were ballet dancing.
Acts II and III reverted more or less to formula: inching the plot forward while giving the dancers excuses to show off. Still, the sets were tremendous, and every time the stepsisters and stepmother were onstage was a delight. (Most impressive set bit was when the prince and Cinderella are dancing at the ball toward the end of Act II. Suddenly the ballroom is backlit, and it's transformed by heretofore unseen gears into a clock -- with the orchestra dramatically striking midnight.)
[First posted on the "Keith R.A. DeCandido [KEITH.D]" topic on Genie on 27 June 1995.]
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