Sunday, 30 November 2014

Cinderella - even better

Northern Ballet, Cinderella, Lyceum, Sheffield 29 Nov 2014

When I reviewed Northern Ballet's Cinderella at The Grand last Boxing Day I described it as "a triumph". Yesterday's performance at The Lyceum in Sheffield was even better.

It was much the same cast: Lucia Solari in the title role, Javier Torres as the Prince and Hiranao Takahashi as Cinderella's father and the Magician. The most significant change was that Hannah Bateman danced Cinderella's stepmother. I have admired Bateman for some time but I did not appreciate fully how good she was until yesterday evening. Having made her acquaintance at the Decadent Afternoon Tea last June to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Centre for Advanced Training I can attest to her amiability but in role she was the epitome of meanness, peevishness and vindictiveness. Her performance contributed considerably to my appreciation of the ballet. The other dancer I noticed particularly last night  was Rachael Gillespie who danced Cinderella as a child. She loves to dance. She radiates enthusiasm with her eyes and smile.

As with Gatsby two weeks ago I was able to concentrate on the score and choreography. First time round I barely listened to the Philip Feeney's music (possibly because it wasn't Prokoviev) but this time I did listen and fell in love with it.  It has been resonating in my brain - especially the closing scene where Cinders runs to the prince  - all nght. As in Gatsby there is some very clever choreography. The skating scene on the Crystal Lake, the performing bear and huskies and the ecstatic pas de deux between Cinders and the Prince are just three examples.

And talking of bears I now know why I did not appreciate the Royal Ballet's The Winter's Tale  first time round. Nixon has a performing bear danced by the entertaining Matthew Broadbent whereas Wheeldon uses fabric which just didn't work for me and still doesn't. I had seen Cinderella a few weeks earlier and it is so good that I think it spoiled me for everything else. In my last review I spoke of the magic and the Cinders mobile. This time I noticed the ingenuity of some of the other scenes such as the opening with its forest and river.

This year we have seen Cleopatra, Dracula, Gatsby  and now Cinderella which are Nixon's most popular works. The last is my favourite work in Northern's repertoire and I would argue that it is Nixon's best work.

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