Review by Kyle Poluyko, Photos by Patrick Chondon Photography
An enduring tale that has been re-told and adapted throughout its history, so too was Ballet Jörgen Canada’s Cinderella, a TBSO special event on Wednesday, February 4. Many themes associated with the story, very much relevant today, were on display in the innovative and imaginative choreography of Bengt Jörgen. A balance between the story’s more modern abusive treatment of Cinderella and her family relationships with elements of the classic fairy tale conceived a discerning and inventive spectacle.
As Cinderella (Saniya Abilmajineva) scrubs floors beneath a table, her tall stepsister (Taylor Gill) and short stepsister (Annelie Liliemark) battle over the just-arrived invitation to Prince Charming’s Great Ball. Forever in competition, the stepsisters tease and chase each other in humorous, elegant and refined revel, Once alone and lost in a daydream, Cinderella imagines herself at the ball in a refined splendid and exquisite dance. Quickly, though, she is once again berated by her stepmother (Bengt Jorgen) and stepsisters in a dizzying, harrowing caracole. Interrupting, an old lady (Heather Lumsden-Ruegg) arrives seeking a place to rest. Cinderella offers comfort, and as the stepmother attempts to shoo her away, the old lady freezes time save for herself and Cinderella. For her kindness, the old lady offers Cinderella a seed and the promise of a wish, a wish with a warning.
As the stepsisters’ suitors with bravado (Gustavo Hernandez and Hiroto Saito) depart for the ball, a dejected Cinderella plants the seed and falls asleep. Her dilapidated world transforms into a magical land of trees and fairies. The lead fairy (Hannah Mae Cruddas), gracefully bewitching, has her fairies lavish Cinderella with everything she needs for the ball. Mysterious and enchanting, Cinderella’s arrival at the ball captures the attention of the courtiers, especially that of the prince (Daniel Da Silva). The stepsisters jealous and droll display for attention goes unnoticed as the prince leads Cinderella in a breathtaking and wondrous Great Waltz. The kiss he steals breaks the wish Cinderella was warned about and she flees, leaving behind a slipper with which he will eventually find her.
Glenn Davidson’s set design, specifically the gliding trees of the fairy forest and beautifully accentuated by his lighting design, was inspired and inventive. While one may have been expecting embellished ball gowns, Robert Doyle’s more refined and contoured costumes were tailored beautifully to each character. Sergei Prokovfiev’s sweeping and euphonic score was a consummate achievement by the TBSO and conductor Arthur Post, performed with precision while serving Cinderella with both true melancholy and romance.
Ballet Jörgen Canada’s performance of Cinderella was part of its cross-Canada tour. Local youth dancers from Experience Dance, Dream Dance Co. and International Dance Academy were featured in the cast as tree fairies and ballroom attendants.