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Dance Review: Boston Ballet Puts on Jazzy ‘Cinderella’Stepsisters Nearly Steal Show From a Graceful Cinderella

By Natania Antler

Cinderella

Boston Ballet

Music by Sergei Prokofiev

Choreographed by James Kudelka

Set and Costume Design by David Boechler

The Wang Theatre, Oct. 13-23

James Kudelka’s “Cinderella” performed by the Boston Ballet is certainly darker than the Disney film, but it’s still a fun show for all. Although this exquisite, modern rendering of the classic ballet “Cinderella” is aimed at a more adult audience, it’s still great for kids. The live orchestra did justice to the classic music by Prokofiev and added great depth to the performance. Costumes and sets designed by David Boechler are brilliantly reminiscent of the roaring 20s. Cinderella’s stepsisters’ costumes are brightly colored, wacky affairs, reflecting the characters’ comic portrayal. Just as the stepsisters’ ball gowns are grossly out of style compared to the swank flappers adorned in black and silver, their costumes also contrast with Cinderella’s simple and elegant attire.

The ballet opens with Cinderella alone in the kitchen, imagining herself as a bride. In an interesting stylistic choice, the fantastical wedding party is made up of dancers trying to look like dwarves by standing on their knees. Aside from this rather distracting opening, the first act, carried by Cinderella (Lorna Feij o, Oct. 13) and her two stepsisters (Sacha Wakelin, Heather Myers, Oct. 13) is excellent.

The technically difficult but inspired choreography was danced superbly by the stepsisters, who mastered their roles as dancers, actresses, and clowns. They would have stolen the show, had Cinderella not been even better. As we see Cinderella daydream and dance around with a mop, Kudelka’s choreography perfectly captures the feeling of dancing alone in one’s room. This and subsequent scenes are danced with grace, precision, and feeling by Feijo .

Kudelka’s choreography is at times angular enough to be reminiscent of Nijinsky, at other times it has flavors of jazz, latin, and the Charleston. While this is a classical ballet, Kudelka is not afraid to play around with the genre and classical choreography. For example, Cinderella begins the first act dancing barefoot but is later given glass slippers to wear to the ball by her fairy godmother. She’s then taught to dance on pointe by garden sprites, the little assistants of her fairy godmother. As Cinderella loses one slipper at the ball, this leads to some funny and well done choreography in the third act.

While Cinderella’s fairy godmother reminded me a bit of Maggie Smith in the way she carried herself, the garden sprite characters could have been done better.

As with many of the classical ballets, “Cinderella” includes some solos by fairies, and in this case they come in when Cinderella is being dressed up for the ball. These solos didn’t make a lot of sense in Kudelka’s production; their choreography was less than exciting, and their costumes clashed with the rest of the production. These are supposed to be ethereal beings aiding Cinderella, but instead they were distracting, an excuse to put some classical ballet into more modern choreography. While I’m still griping, I thought that the Prince Charming was good, but not as good as he could have been. While technically excellent, Carlos Molina was not acting nearly as well as Feij o. For a role that with toned down choreography, the acting was an important but missing piece.

Despite some flaws and slow patches, “Cinderella” was an exciting production. It was full of fun touches and characters that made the ballet a pleasure to watch. One of my favorite details included the use of a mannequin as a dance partner by one of the dressmakers in the first act. All in all the story was well served, and the excellent dancing, sets, and costumes brought the audience into a whimsical world. “Cinderella” was fine ballet, and well worth seeing. Twenty dollars for a student rush ticket is a small price to pay for this great show; go and take advantage of what Boston has to offer.