On Saturday, I was lucky enough to see Christopher Wheeldon’s recent dance project, a new version of Cinderella, performed by the Dutch National Ballet at the London Coliseum. I was completely spell-bound by this fresh take on a classic fairy-tale. Wheeldon has created an exceptional ballet, filled with poignancy as well as humour, and his choreography to the famous (and only slightly tweaked) Prokoviev score is exquisite.
I loved the new perspective that was brought to Cinderella: in Wheeldon’s interpretation, there is no fairy Godmother, but rather 4 ‘fates’ who guide and manipulate the fortunes of the heroine. The ugly sisters are far from grotesque: simply rather spoilt and silly. One sister is in fact sympathetic towards Cinderella, and she is eventually rewarded for this kinder spirit by finding love with the Prince’s best friend. The Prince himself (whom Wheeldon named Guillaume – German for William – a tongue-in-cheek reference to another prince who fell for a commoner?!) is far from being the usual characterless hero, but is portrayed as a young man bored of parental interference who strives to take his fate into his own hands.
The dancing executed by the Dutch National Ballet was flawless. Cinderella was danced by Maia Makhateli, with Prince Guillaume performed by Artur Shesterikov. Their pas-de-deux at the ball in Act 2 was particularly memorable, and apparently their chemistry is as good off stage as it is on, for they are a couple in real life too, having fallen for each other whilst dancing Cinderella. Maia Makhateli executed the intricate choreography with supreme spirit and buoyancy, her incredible legs elongating the graceful lines of her movements.
I was also especially excited to spot Michaela DePrince in the corps de ballet. I’ve been following Michaela’s story ever since seeing her in First Position and hearing her heart-wrenching story of her experiences as a war-orphan in Sierra Leone before being adopted by her American parents, who enabled her to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina. Michaela is such a stunning dancer, and I so admire her incredible strength of spirit and the example she sets in pursuing her dreams, even against the odds. Racial bias does sadly still exist within the ballet world, so it is wonderful to see dancers such as Misty Copeland and Michaela DePrince working their way up through the ranks, and providing such brilliant role models to other young would-be ballerinas. It was a privilege to see Michaela dancing in the flesh, and I’m sure an even brighter future awaits her in the ballet world.
As always, I had a truly fabulous experience at the London Coliseum, and I can’t wait to be back again soon to see Sylvie Guillem perform her last dance.
Did you manage to see Cinderella at the London Coliseum? What did you think of it? Is there any theatre or ballet coming up that you’re looking forward to attending?
Images via here