Birmingham Royal Ballet return to the Birmingham Hippodrome with David Bintley’s imaginative, extravagant and spectacular production of Cinderella.
It tells the traditional tale of the young girl Cinderella, who lives with her wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters. When the family are invited to the ball, Cinderella is desperate to go but her stepmother forbids it. Until a magical fairy godmother appears to whisk her away to the ball in a show-stopping gown.
David Bintley’s triumphant production first opened in 2010, and not only is it entirely creative, but it boasts great narrative. The story builds, and creeps up to a spectacular pas de deux that is bursting with passionate emotion. The staging is remarkable, as it smoothly transitions through the light and shade in the show.
Opening on a bleak, grey interior, Cinderella dances with a sweet expression despite being dressed in rags. Dancing completely bare foot in the first act, Momoko Hirata does an exceptional job at bringing the charisma of the character through. Her steps are light, and her face is warming, which creates an instant connection between the audience and Cinderella.
The transitions are slick and inventive, I was particularly impressed by the giant clock which is a powerful gesture in the show. The incorporation of dancers into the ticking time, not only creates a great sense of anticipation, but it is also visually engaging. As the cogs of the clock turn, the dancers react to the beat and it creates an utterly compelling scene.
The relationship between Cinderella and her Prince is displayed beautifully through principal dancers Momoko Hirata and Joseph Caley. They move together as one so seamlessly, and their emotional connection on stage is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen. Caley is a faultless dancer, and his stage presence is entirely commanding. He enters the stage with such confidence, and this shines through every step whether big or small. Caley is a radiant dancer that encapsulates every role he steps on stage to perform.
Bringing a little comedy to the piece, are the two ugly sisters Skinny (Samara Downs) and Dumpy (Laura Purkiss). Bintley has used slapstick humour to portray the sister’s outlandish and nasty nature. They tease and torment Cinderella, however their choreography is a masterpiece. They capture the humour of the characters and exaggerate that, to create two excellently funny sisters. A highlight being when they are participating in dance classes to prepare for the ball, but appear to lack the natural ability. There are many moments we see their phenomenal technique – but their purposely clunky movements are hilarious.
Mirroring the magnificence of the staging are the sublime costumes. Birmingham Royal Ballet do everything to the highest of standards, and this is reflected in their production values. The costumes are incredibly detailed and intricately designed, as they work with the lighting on stage to create a glittering display of magic.
Cinderella is a exquisite performance that displays bold expressive characterisation, technically flawless choreography and breathtaking staging.