unfailingly kind and good even to those who wish her ill,
is rewarded by the love of the Prince and release from a life
of servitude. That’s all you need to know to appreciate the
production by the State Ballet Theatre of Russia, the touring
arm of the Voronezh State Theatre of Opera and Ballet established
in 1961 and now making their debut in the United States.
Ballet Theatre, led by Vladimir Vasiliev, is one of many companies
that now tour the classic ballets in the United States and
Europe following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Some productions
of Cinderella focus on the heroine’s angst at the bad
treatment of her stepmother and stepsisters; others play up
the passion of love at first sight when the Prince discovers
Cinderella at the ball.
one, however, is pure confection, a lovely pastel fairy tale
with a large investment in stylish costumes and beautiful
sets. Even the white-bearded gnomes who bring Cinderella the
goods to fit her for the ball are clad in soft grays and pastels.
We see acceptance between Cinderella and the Prince, but not
mad love. We see a pleasant, well-danced ball peopled by glamorous
couples from around the world—actually, the Chinese, Arabic,
Spanish and Polish dancers have all dropped in from Nutcracker—but,
not a mysterious, “Who is that strange princess who appeared
in a drift of fairy dust to enchant us?”
quite young dancers, have good, but not great technique. Their
most charming passages come in sequences of lifts and in sweet
rounds of jetes that Cinderella and the Prince perform for
each other way downstage in the shallow space of a foreshortened
is a strong comic streak, as there should be, in the roles
of the silly stepsisters, one called the Poseur and one the
Shrew; the imperious Stepmother, who doesn’t know what to
do with these foolish, scrapping daughters; and especially
in the Dancing Master, who visits Cinderella’s house with
a ballet barre and tries to teach the inept sisters how to
loved the Dancing Master, and he loved himself, too, giving
us a knowing smile and a gleaming eye with every pirouette.
He was fully present, enjoying every minute of the final comic
turn when the sisters try hopelessly to fit their outsize
feet into Cinderella’s glass slipper in order to win the Prince.
that the sisters are danced by women, not men as in most European
productions, but the Stepmother is danced by a tall, hefty
man who, like the Dancing Master, has a ball doing this role.
Also, though the program notes describe the role of Cinderella’s
browbeaten father and the role of the Beggar Woman (who enters
the house, accepts the gift of Cinderella’s clogs, and then
turns into a glamorous Fairy Godmother in black and silver
sequins), there is no father onstage at all and the Beggar
Woman’s part is so played down as to be incomprehensible.
Maybe, this is because the troupe wasn’t yet well-enough rehearsed
in this opening part of the story.
Prokofiev’s acerbic music, well-played, if a little slow,
by a full symphony orchestra conducted by Yuri Anisichkin,
saves the production from becoming sugary. I especially liked
the fast-tempo waltz at the ball, just before the clock strikes
12 and Cinderella’s finery turns back to rags.
are better than American dancers at acting and mime, so that,
when the stepsisters and Stepmother return from the ball and
play out their adventures before the ragged Cinderella, we
get the full effect of their abasement later, when they learn
she is the Princess who treated them so kindly. In an instant,
these snooty women bow down to one who they now see is their
better. It’s fairy dust, all around.