Returning to The Fringe for their 17th season, this enchanting show from Burklyn Youth Ballet is the perfect introduction to dance for the whole family, with music from Strauss and sparkling costumes inspired by the Flower Fairy illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker.
Children are truly at the heart of Burklyn Youth Ballet: the young audience were introduced at the beginning of the performance to the language of ballet and reassured that it is OK to ask questions and talk during the show. The news that was best received, however, was that at the end of the performance the children can go onstage, meet the dancers and see the costumes and ballet shoes up close.
The show follows the traditional storyline of Cinderella replete with wicked stepmother, ugly sisters, handsome prince and fairy godmother and as this is a show especially designed for children, the storyline was presented in short, fast-moving scenes with frequent costume changes.
A deviation from the well-loved tale is the addition of Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies. There was no pumpkin or magical transformation in front of our eyes, instead The Fairy Godmother whisked Cinderella off into the woods where she re-appeared resplendent in a sparkling tutu to meet the magical characters. The fairies were an opportunity to add some colourful costumes to the production and allow for a series of solos from the young performers. While a welcome spectacle, the sequence was, however, a trifle long and lacked a bit of variety in the choreography.
The rest of the action cracked along at a brisk pace which is ideal to keep the young audience entranced. The simple but highly effective set comprised a series of pillars which were dressed to represent Cinderella's kitchen, the enchanted woods and the grand ballroom of the prince's palace.
The movement was designed to enable the youngsters to follow the plot easily and the mimetic gestures help convey the meaning. While there were variations in technique and ability, what shone through was the joy and enthusiasm of the young dancers. The familiar storyline and the short running time all add up to make this a magical introduction to classical ballet for young children.