Cinderella has always been my fairytale heroine, Sure Sleeping Beauty had got the beauty sleep thing sorted, Rapunzel had great hair, and Snow White was quite a hit with the men (albeit very small ones!), but Cinderella really was inspirational. She came from a broken family, losing her mother at a very young age, and then faced poverty and abuse at the hands of her stepmother and step sisters. Yet, through her beauty, ambition, and with the help of useful friends like her Fairy Godmother (sort of an Alan Sugarplum fairy if you like…) she was able to achieve her life’s ambitions, to wear Vivienne Westwood-esq dresses with glass Manolo’s, go to the ball, and bag the Prince (who I always imagine had a touch of the Jude Law about him.) What’s not to love?
This afternoon I got the chance to see my favourite fairy story in the form of a brand new ballet created by choreographer David Bintley. The Birmingham Royal Ballet are in the middle of their annual stint at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and in this, their 20th anniversary year, they had chosen Cinderella for their festive performances.
Mimoko Hirata was playing the part of our heroine, and she was truly stunning, a graceful and elegant dancer who bought charm tot he role of Cinderella, but, she was almost upstaged by the hilarious antics of the Ugly Sisters. They performed the ballet with just a touch of slapstick, which led to comic moments such as when they tried to learn to dance for the ball.
The set was beautiful, the nighttime sky backdrop reminded me of the Peter Pilotto for Kipling bags, with dark azures, cerise pinks and twinkling white/silver flashes. Cinderella’s kitchen was suitably depressing, whilst the ballroom had a glorious sweeping staircase. The costumes were also fabulous. Cinderella was transformed into a veritable swan with her shimmering white tutu, whilst the larger of the Ugly sisters looked horrendous in her bright yellow affair. The fairy godmother was reminiscent of Glinda the Good witch in The Wizard of Oz in her flowing, glistening gown, with the wicked stepmother at the evil end of the spectrum in heavier burgundy.
The whole performance was totally mesmerising. I sat enthralled as the crystal carriage appeared on the stage. It was an enchanting moment that made everyone gasp, and then smile. The land of fairy tales may be just make-believe, but it was lovely to visit there, even if only for an afternoon…