I have a secret obsession with ballet. I watch a lot of documentaries and movies like “Center Stage” far too often. Because of this, I was thrilled when I heard that the Russian National Ballet was coming to The Grand Opera House with Prokofiev’s “Cinderella”.
Reading the program notes, I was excited about how the story differed from the Disney version that I was so used to. Basically, an old beggar woman comes and asks for something to eat, and while the stepsisters and stepmother scoff and turn her away (while handing her the only remaining picture of Cinderella’s mother), Cinderella gives her some bread. In return, the beggar woman gives her back the picture, and then reveals her true form as the Fairy Godmother. The rest of the story is basically what you’d imagine.
There were a few highlights of the show. The first was the fairies. The Fairy Godmother brings the fairies of the seasons, and as each fairy dances, the season changes with her. They even get to go to the ball! They dance with the ambassadors from Spain, China, Russia and Mauritania before the ambassadors bring out the princesses of their countries to try to win the Prince’s heart.
Another highlight was the comic relief in the show. Ballets are known to be stuffy and pretentious, but this one had the audience laughing. It helps when your dance features a dance master who is being chased by the (cross-dressing) stepmother, a jester who likes to make fun of the stepfamily (he also played the clock, which was unintentionally hilarious) and stepsisters with such distinct personalities that they could never be missed.
Sadly, I was disappointed with parts of the show as well. The ballet was cut down, maybe because The Grand didn’t believe that Macon audiences could deal with three hours of ballet, but all of the parts of the story that I was excited about seeing (the beggar woman, the picture, the kitchen transforming into a magical glade) didn’t happen. I watched the Disney version, just danced.
Another disappointment was Cinderella. Most of the parts in this ballet are double cast, including Cindy, so I’m not totally sure who I’m disappointed with. Of course, she was a great dancer and was probably just having a bad night, but she made every move look so difficult. The audience could see her arm shaking, or her turn breaking. Also, almost every dancer (with the exception of the Prince) wound up their turns. It was such a pretty performance, with a beautiful set and costumes, that lost a lot of its zest because of the dancing. During the duets with the Prince and Cinderella, I found myself watching him, which is not what ballerinas are going for.
All in all, I’d give it a 3.5. I had a great night, it was pretty and it kept my interest for two hours. That’s already saying a lot.