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Cinderella (Ratmansky), Australian Ballet, Melbourne

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The Australian Ballet's Melbourne year had been scheduled to start with a new Graeme Murphy, The Happy Prince, but due to Mr Murphy's health that has been postponed. Instead, they brushed up the Ratmansky Cinderella that closed 2018 in Sydney.


Our subscription night was last Friday (22 March) and we saw Ako Kondo and her husband Chengwu Guo as Cinderella and the Prince. Having last seen the now-retired Leanne Stojmenov with Alexander Campbell in those roles, I was distinctly underwhelmed by Kondo and Guo. I hadn't seen them dance together for a couple of years and they have improved as a partnership but despite their individual general excellence and their real-world marriage, it's not a partnership I will rush to see again.


Far more engaging were the Terrible Trio of Stepmother (Dana Stephensen), Skinny Stepsister (Ingrid Gow in the role she created) and Dumpy Stepsister (Jill Ogai). They work brilliantly together, and Ogai and Stephensen are now even better matches for Gow than they were in December. I still laugh every time Gow lifts her skirt, exposing her French knickers, as she carefully grounds (grinds?) her pointe shoe before pirouetting.


I still find the Planets (instead of fairies etc) unattractive and confusing as a concept, as certainly do all the children I've seen and heard at performances of this production. Even mental repetition of the old mnemonic doesn't help me identify them all correctly - I found out last Friday the one I thought was Mars was in fact Uranus!


The Prince's tour of the world only really works with a dancer who can engage the audience with his acting. In the hands of Guo it was just...blah. I also find the quartet of Prince's Friends seems to have degenerated into slapstick and sloppy dancing, very rough around the edges, which it certainly wasn't intended to be.


I would have enjoyed the opportunity to see Sharni Spencer (who made an excellent début In December) with Brett Chynoweth, but was unable to afford an extra ticket, the only available ones being $274 for not-great seats at a Saturday matinée.


Overall, the good bits balanced out the weak bits but it'll be a while and I'll check the casting carefully before I see this production again.



Edited by Sophoife
Photograph source Ingrid Gow, photographer unknown.
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