The Boston Ballet’s 2018-19 season brings the magic of the classic fairytale Cinderella to the Boston Opera House with humor and majesty, presenting the well-known tale through the beautiful medium of ballet.
On May 23, Viktorina Kapitonova—a principal dancer hailing from Cheboksary, Russia—performed the part of Cinderella, the young girl who experiences a night of magic, courtesy of her fairy godmother.
The ballet opens with a scene at Cinderella’s house and features her father and her two ugly stepsisters, hilariously portrayed by male dancers to heighten the comedy. The stepsisters, played by Roddy Doble and John Lam, are fighting over a piece of fabric, eventually ripping it to the chagrin of Cinderella and her father. Dressed in rags and resigned to sweeping, Cinderella is barred from the affection of her father by her over-the-top stepsisters, who are vain and oafish brats. The stepsisters, stomping around in gawdy and frilly outfits, greatly contrast with the soft and gentle Cinderella.
In the preparation for the ball, many members of the family’s house come in to present the stepsisters and their father with new clothes. A dancing instructor also enters and tries to instruct the hopeless stepsisters in dance. Unable to perform with grace, the stepsisters bump into each other and attempt to kiss the dance instructor, to which he recoils violently.
A cloaked old woman enters and begs for money, which the stepsisters snatch away after their father offers it. Before the stepsisters could stop her, however, Cinderella kindly offers the old woman bread. After the stepsisters retire for the night, Cinderella—sidelined during the festivities—finds her own amusement by mimicking her stepsisters and tying fabric around her broom to pretend she is dancing with the prince.
The cloaked woman enters again and reveals herself to be Cinderella’s fairy godmother, danced by Anaïs Chalendard, and introduces her to the fairies of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Cinderella brings a pumpkin to the fairy, and a gorgeous pumpkin carriage emerges. The carriage zooms across the stage, with dancers dressed as mice carrying it forward and Cinderella, her rags now transformed into a magnificent tutu, sitting inside. The carriage sparkles and dazzles as a truly spectacular wow moment that captures the magic of the evening.
The second act begins at the ball, with the jester dancing a solo and presenting the guests. The stepsisters get their moment to shine as they attempt to woo two guests, resulting in boisterous hijinks that include one of their love interests’ wig falling off, revealing a completely bald head.
The prince, played by Patrick Yocum, enters in an outfit of white and light blue, showing his majesty and charm. Cinderella’s entrance leaves the theatre breathless, as she dons a cape so long that it required multiple courtiers, dressed in white wigs and similarly themed white and blue dress, to carry it. The prince is immediately entranced with Cinderella and dances with her all night, but not without attempted interruptions by the stepsisters.
When midnight approaches, however, Cinderella is left in a panic. With the jester ringing the bell and seemingly popping up wherever she turns, Cinderella’s anxiety is felt by the entire audience, as she scrambles to get through the crowds of guests with long and clunky skirts, all while trying to avoid the persistent prince. When the clock finally strikes midnight, Cinderella is left with her rags again and, in her rush to get away, she famously drops her glass slipper, which the prince picks up.
The third act begins with a clock just past midnight as the backdrop, and the audience sees Cinderella rushing away in her rags, followed by other members of the ball. At home, Cinderella reminisces about her time at the dance and her one remaining glass slipper until her stepsisters return. Midway through undressing, the prince and his court show up to find the mysterious princess at the ball. The stepsisters try on the glass slipper to no avail. Cinderella’s glass slipper, however, falls out of her dress, and the prince finds his love after she proves that the glass slipper fits. The fairy godmother comes to officiate their wedding with a lover’s duet, and the pair live happily ever after.
Cinderella by the Boston Ballet gave the audience entertainment and wonder. Beautiful scenes, coupled with the live orchestra, brought the story to life, and the grace and skill of the dancers only enhanced that spectacle.
The stepsisters really stole the show, injecting humor and vibrancy into an otherwise classic story. The physical comedy of the dancers was ungainly and buffoonish, for the sake of the characters, but still managed to show grace from the ballet. The audience couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the two as they clobbered all over themselves, creating a stark contrast to the effortless grace of Cinderella. The two dancers, Doble and Lam, had great chemistry with each other, and their back-and-forths were hilarious as well as seamless.
The comedic ability of the dancers was complemented by their acting prowess, as the dancers managed to convey the story of Cinderella with no words and through the rule-heavy medium of ballet. Cinderella was a night of grace and beauty, where the Boston crowd could see the beloved tale enacted through the balancés and pirouettes of ballet.
Featured Image by Boston Ballet