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Cinderella marked Alexei Ratmansky’s debut in the genre of the multi act plot ballet; previously he had only staged oneact ballets and miniatures. And Ratmansky, unlike many predecessors who staged this ballet, proposed an interpretation of Prokofiev’s immense score rather than the plot of the familiar fairy-tale. Leaving the sugary-sweet children’s tale “about the right of all to happiness who have a kind heart” in the past, he takes his heroine out of any specific time but places her within an atmosphere with everyday objects where miracles are achieved not by a beautiful fairy but by a business-like old bag lady with a sack of oranges and a retinue of quarrelsome punks. Ratmansky together with Valery Gergiev, Ilya Utkin, Yevgeny Monakhov and Elena Markova set the depth of Prokofiev’s masterpiece, its notes of anxiety and joie de vivre with post-modernistic ease in this ironic ballet.

He appeared as a choreographer at whose ballet the audience laughs and the dancers, submitting to the nature of the acting, reveal new performing qualities and play the fool from the depths of their souls. Cinderella’s sisters, for example, play the fool enacting a boxing match and in a mock sumo wrestling fight. And in the ball scene the ballet-master-story-teller plays the fool also: devoid of any pathos, he dispels the pathos of the fairy-tale quality. Recreating the irony that imbues Prokofiev’s musical theme, he devised a parody of the traditional fairy-tale image of Court life: high society “lions” and “lionesses” awkwardly move from one foot to another, the ladies affectedly shaking their wrists and the gentlemen powerfully bending their torsos, with deep pliés crossing the stage in a mazurka.

Premiere of Alexei Ratmansky´s version: 5 March 2002, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg 

Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes
The performance has two intermissions

Age category 6+

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