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Australian Ballet: Cinderella (Ratmansky), Sydney, December 2018


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Opening this thread in hopes of reports from @jmb, @DD Driver and @Bluebird before I make it to Sydney!

 

Alexander Campbell is dancing the Prince to Leanne Stojmenov's Cinderella on 12 and 14 December, otherwise only Ty King-Wall and Chengwu Guo, just two of six male TAB principals (one doesn't do it, two injured, one in Birmingham with BRB) and a wealth of talent from the middle ranks ie soloists Brodie James, Cristiano Martino and Marcus Morelli, and coryphée Callum Linnane.

 

In the Cinderella role are both Stojmenov and Lana Jones in their final performances before retiring, also Ako Kondo and Robyn Hendricks, plus senior artists Dimity Azoury and Jade Wood, and soloist Sharni Spencer - I think her debut main stage principal role.

 

Opening night was last Friday, after which Wood was announced as winner of this year's Ballet Dancer Award.

 

Room for at least one promotion...but it won't be the night I'm there as I'm supposed to have Stojmenov and Campbell.

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Yes they do these days. Robyn Hendricks was promoted after her Odette/Odile debut - what a night, within seconds of her first entrance we knew we were watching something very special.

 

Unfortunately a couple of promotions have come on someone else's retirement night, and I do hope that doesn't happen this year, as there is recent precedent for people being promoted not dancing a leading role. It seems so disrespectful to the retiree, for one thing!

 

I love the French phrasing "j'ai assisté à une représentation... où X a été nommé.e étoile" because of course a cursory glance says "I helped..." 😉 when it really says "I attended..."

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13 hours ago, Sophoife said:

Opening this thread in hopes of reports from @jmb, @DD Driver and @Bluebird before I make it to Sydney!

 

Alexander Campbell is dancing the Prince to Leanne Stojmenov's Cinderella on 12 and 14 December, otherwise only Ty King-Wall and Chengwu Guo, just two of six male TAB principals (one doesn't do it, two injured, one in Birmingham with BRB) and a wealth of talent from the middle ranks ie soloists Brodie James, Cristiano Martino and Marcus Morelli, and coryphée Callum Linnane

 

Someone who went the other night said that they wished more principals and soloists had been cast e.g. as planets etc.  I understand this was how it was when Ratmansky first staged this with The Australian Ballet in 2015 and that it was magical.  

 

Sophoife, you are guaranteed a wonderful night attending Cinderella with the Stojmenov/Campbell pairing .  I checked my calendar again yesterday to see if I could make their 12 or 14 December Sydney performances.  But no.  Have fun for all of us!

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24 minutes ago, DD Driver said:

Someone who went the other night said that they wished more principals and soloists had been cast e.g. as planets etc.  I understand this was how it was when Ratmansky first staged this with The Australian Ballet in 2015 and that it was magical

 

It was. But they had experienced soloists Brett Simon and Andrew Wright then. And they weren't "down" four principal men. And they had Daniel Gaudiello with Miss Stojmenov. And the sublime trio of Amy Harris as Stepmother, Ingrid Gow as Skinny Stepsister and Eloise Fryer as Dumpy Stepsister. I don't see Harris' name anywhere on the published casting, maybe she was also going to the US with her husband Jarryd Madden? And Eloise Fryer retired a couple of years ago and is now in Toronto with her husband Joseph Chapman, who has joined NBoC.

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Sophoife said that she was opening this thread in the hope that I, amoung others, would write a review before she saw TAB's Cinderella next week. Really sorry, Sophoife, but I thought I'd write after I've seen Alex Campbel, so that I can hopefully effuse about at least one dancer that many BCoF will have seen or be able to see. Having said that, I have also to say that Cinderella is terrific. The dancers are fantastic, the choreography wonderful, the music music engrossing and the set design amazing. More next week.

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On 05/12/2018 at 22:30, jmb said:

Sophoife said that she was opening this thread in the hope that I, amoung others, would write a review before she saw TAB's Cinderella next week. Really sorry, Sophoife, but I thought I'd write after I've seen Alex Campbel, so that I can hopefully effuse about at least one dancer that many BCoF will have seen or be able to see. Having said that, I have also to say that Cinderella is terrific. The dancers are fantastic, the choreography wonderful, the music music engrossing and the set design amazing. More next week.

Thanks! But you spelled my last name wrong 😉 mind you, it's a new one on me - usually people write "Cambell"! (Er, yes, Sophoife is a virtually unpronounceable made-up word, combination of Sophie and Aoife, neither of which is my actual name)

 

I will enthuse too but will be sniffling as I write because I will have seen Leanne Stojmenov's final show and one of Lana Jones' last few shows.

 

@jmb I hope you're going to talk about all the casts you see...and yes, isn't it a great production. I remember the première with Stojmenov and Daniel Gaudiello...

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On 05/12/2018 at 22:55, now voyager said:

Has anyone seen both this production and the one Ratmansky did for the Mariinsky? How do they differ?

 

 

I’ve watched several recent Australian Ballet performances and, although I saw the Mariinsky version when they did it in London, I've needed to remind myself of it by skimming through it on YouTube so as to try to answer your question.

 

Ratmansky clearly based the overall structure of his TAB version on his version for the Mariinsky and in many scenes he has just tweaked the choreography. There are however, a number of notable changes. The sets and costumes couldn’t be more different.  The Mariinsky version has a strange scaffolding like structure for Cinderella’s home whereas the Australian Ballet set is a mostly normal family home, albeit with a ‘Mae West’ sofa apparently inspired by Dalí. .  The Mariinsky costumes are mainly conventional whereas some of the Australian Ballet costumes border on the surreal The Guardian review from their London season in 2016 mentions “Schiaparelli’s shoe hat”  and "nods to Dalí and Man Ray" and comments on the fact that “the fairy godmother is a practical Nanny McPhee figure in a tall bowler hat”

 

The other main difference is Ratmansky’s treatment of the Seasons music.  In the Mariinsky version the leading dancers for the four seasons appear as attendants to the Fairy Godmother as well as appearing in the Seasons section with their corps dancers. For the Australian Ballet the Seasons music is given to dancers representing the planets and the stars.  .

 

On the whole, I find the Australian Ballet version more interesting.and there is one particular area where I think it is, definitely, superior: The Mariinsky version does not do a lot with the clock ticking music.  The Australian Ballet version is much more imaginative. When the Fairy Godmother warns Cinderella about her midnight curfew, Fairy Godmother lookalikes appear from nowhere, each one holding up a Roman numeral for each number of the clock face, and dance around a large clock projected onto the floor of the stage. In act 2, rows of bushes appear at the sides of the stage during Cinderella and the Prince’s pas de deux.  When the clock music starts they transform into huge metronomes and, as they tick away, a moon clock grows ominously in the sky. 

 

An extract from a 2016 Arts Desk review conveys, far better than I can, the striking effect these scenes have on the atmosphere of the production .  I hope this quote doesn’t exceed Forum guidelines on quotes:

 

“Jerome Kaplan and Ratmansky used Surrealist art with its skewed proportions and misplaced objects to convey the subtly off-key, magical reality that Cinderella inhabits: it is inspired to have Dali’s clock faces and Man Ray’s metronome appear at key moments in this clock-obsessed ballet”

 

 

 

Edited by Bluebird
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Thank you so much, Bluebird, for this; your comparison gives me a very clear idea of where the Australian version differs from Mariinsky one I have seen.  Your analysis also makes me want to SEE the Australian version, particularly for the clock ticking sequence you describe. (As for the Seasons music going to the planets and stars, I kept thinking when I read this of Nerina's "buds bursting" answer to Ashton's question about what she thought of upon hearing the music for Spring--I hear that, too, and am not sure I want that music deseasonized, but again, I would be very curious to see Ratmansky's conception.)

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I was thinking of starting my comments with 'Ratmansky rules OK', but after last night's performance it should be 'Alex Campbell rules OK', or maybe 'Campbell and Ratmansky rule OK', with Campbell in first position (sorry, Ratmansky!). But first things first. As Cinderella, Leanne Stojmenov gives a stand-out performance. Her Cinderella is resiliant, at times bowed down with loneliness and grief, but always able to pull herself together, laugh at herself, and get on with things. Her evident delight when she finds herself transformed, beautiful in a stunning off white frock, is something to behold. Against her are the ugly sisters,  Skinny (Ingrid Gow) and Dumpy (Jill Ogai). Danced by women (thank heavens) and without a trace of slapstick. They are, of course, terrible; gargoyles, a good friend suggested,  but not evil. When you see the mother (Dana Stephenson), a spitting ball of angles and high kicks one minute, embraces the next, you understand. The ugly sisters desperately want love and attention, their mother desperately wants to get them happily established, but their every action is off-key and grotesque. The Fairy Godmother (Gillian Revie) is a drab figure in grey, with a long nose and a bowler hat, but she casts stars and calls up planets to transform Cinderella. 

Which brings me to Alex Campbell as the Prince. Stunning. When he makes his entrance to the ball at the beginning of act 2, he is plainly a bored and spoiled adolescent, going through the motions of greeting his guests. Then he sees Cinderella. Interest gives way to love and love to desperation as Cinderella disappears at midnight. All this is conveyed though a glorious pdd, glorious both technically and in the arc traced by the Prince's changing emotions. If Act 2 starts the process by which the Prince grows up, Act 3 completes it, as he travels the world, resisting temptation from both men and women before finally finding his love, celebrated in a final tender pdd. 

Overall, there is a contrast between the misdirected love represented by the ugly sisters and their mother, and the real thing as presented by Cinderella and her Prince. This contrast is underlined by masterly set design. Dali's pouting scarlett mouth of a sofa reflects the neediness of the ugly sisters and their mother. Schiaparelli's shoe hats underline the misplaced nature of their actions. The Prince's adolescent disrespect for the ladies of his court is nicely illustrated by the stool he has them sit on to try on the slipper, a stool the legs of which are womens' legs. In high heels.  Bluebird has described other aspects of the set above, so I won't discuss them again. 

A second theme relates to appearance. The Fairy Godmother is a drab figure but she makes dreams come true. Cinderella dresses in rags, but she is sympathetic and loving, a Princess in waiting. When her Prince finally finds her, her rags are whisked off and she is once again in her ball dress, a nice suggestion that everyone is beautiful when seen through the eyes of love.

The choreography is wonderful, and neatly picks up the dark sub-text that runs throughout Prokofiev's score. Great dancing, especially by Campbell and Stojmenov, but by no means only by them. A trully memorable evening.

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Everything @jmb wrote so eloquently and more.

 

Alexander Campbell's petit allegro entrance then the rest of his beautifully romantic and impeccably danced performance. The original Prince in this production, Daniel Gaudiello (met at interval) commented that he was the only other Prince he'd seen dance all the original choreography exactly as it had been made.

 

Leanne Stojmenov's performance.

 

Ingrid Gow's fabulous facial expressions.

 

Dana Stephenson's wonderfully spiky Stepmother. 

 

Steven Heathcote as poor sad drunk Papa (I love him so much I will mention his appearance even though it was just a couple of hugs).

 

Franco Leo's terribly terribly old and terribly terribly doddery ?butler.

 

The delightfully unexpected meeting with the equally delightful aforementioned @jmb at stage door...

 

And Alexander Campbell held the carpark lift open for us (revealed with his explicit permission and with the encouragement of the kind lady wot give me a lift back to my 'otel).

 

And thank you to @Bluebird for a delicious lunch in delicious company.

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