Stylish, elegant and magical, Scottish Ballet's Cinderella, choreographed by Christopher Hampson, at times takes one's breath away. Its sheer beauty glitters all the more for its undercurrent of grief and loss contrasting with bursts of hilarity, echoing wonderfully the depth and humour of Prokofiev's score.
The highlight of the show, however, is the entire Act 2: an extended ballroom scene with superb ensemble dances, flowing lines and swaying movements.
Originally devised for Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, this revival of Scottish Ballet's 2015 production follows the story of the well-known fable but with imaginative additions: opening with a darkened set and mourners under umbrellas, this is a journey from darkness to light reflected in expressive lighting by George Thomson and, not least, the thousands of Swarovksi crystals on Cinderella's tutu at the ball. There are inspired new creations of a dancing master and quirky insect dress-makers plus back stories for the human characters such as the drunken father unmanned by grief.
Most notably, a rose motif features in both set and story, a symbol of love for both the Prince and the Fairy Godmother (A surrogate mother?) and a cue for a corps de ballet dance of the roses. The sophisticated set designed by Tracy Grant Lord is a nice nod to a Scottish icon in a stylised rose half-obscured by the curlicues of a garden gate, reminiscent of Charles Rennie Macintosh. Later the rose turns into the moon and at sadder moments, like the midnight chimes, it turns blue. Although the slipper is not forgotten, it is the rose which identifies Cinderella for the Prince.
Sophie Martin as Cinderella excels, displaying childlike vulnerability as the grief-stricken and bullied Cinders in the fluid simplicity of her movements, alternating bursts of desperate passion between rebuffs. Later she effortlessly transforms in the ballroom and performs difficult classical choreography with assured precision.
Barnaby Rook-Bishop as the Prince dominates the stage with his leaps and a jaw-dropping lift where he drops Martin in a spin then catches her, all in seconds. Araminta Wraith repeating her 2015 role is a superb Fairy Godmother. Particularly graceful in open-armed gestures, she radiates motherly love.
The comedy of the Ugly Sisters is a highlight, as are their bright costumes in contrast to the more subdued palette of others. Their knockabout routines at the ball are pantomime at its best. Kayla-Maree Tarantolo as the Short Sister takes jerky steps, head rolls and back flips or reveals her knickers whilst Grace Horler, the Tall one, is amazing in her elasticity, creating almost surrealistic images, her snake-like neck appearing to elongate as she venomously prods and terrifies her dancing partners. The Short Sister, who is kinder to Cinders, shyly nervous at the ball pleasingly gets her man.
Jamiel Laurence is a gloriously self-important Dancing Master with exaggerated, narcissistic preening and extensions. He also performs the Grasshopper tailor, in a contrastingly tight performance with jumps from side to side, imitating the sawing movement of the insect itself. There are clever innovative scenes where shoe-makers, with head-lamps like miners, labour to produce replica slippers and the search for who the slipper will fit is shown by a brilliant image, a chorus line of bodiless white-stockinged legs.
The highlight of the show, however, is the entire Act 2: an extended ballroom scene with superb ensemble dances, flowing lines and swaying movements, long dresses in subdued pink and startling black, giving way to the classical solos and pas de deux of the Prince and Cinderella. His first glimpse of ‘the one’ and then losing her across a crowded room is just one of many psychological resonances to the choreography. This reviewer reverted to a spell-bound child of eight and did not want this act to end.