Cinderella, Northern Ballet, Leeds Grand Theatre

By Michelle Rawlins

The Northern Ballet never fail to produce an exquisitely beautiful piece of contemporary theatre that can at times take your breath away and at others leave you marvelling at their technical expertise. So it’s not surprising their latest adaptation of Cinderella is no exception. From the opening scene to the closing curtain, the flawless dancing, technical wizardry, mesmerising choreography and original score by Philip Feeney, is truly captivating.

As you would expect from this forward-thinking Leeds based company, the traditional story has been given an unique but perfectly fitting twist, by artistic director, David Nixon. There’s still the much-loved traditional fairy tale ending but without a hint of Disney or pantomime to be seen. Instead the audience are transported to Russia and delivered a much deeper-rooted story of a lonely young woman who is desperate to once again feel loved, after the tragic death of her doting father, Count Serbrenska.

The Fairy Godmother is replaced by an enchanting magician and instead of simply focusing on the drudgery of Cinder’s every day slave-like life, there are flash backs to her younger happier years, interspersed with scenes where the badly trodden step-daughter steps away from the miserable house she is chained to, into a magical world of acrobats, jugglers and stilt walkers.

Of course, Cinders is finally swept off her feet after her breath-taking dance leaves everyone, including the Prince, in awe. On the stroke of midnight, Cinderella must return to her downtrodden life under the strict and unrelenting eye of her harsh step-mother but not before she leaves her delicate glass slipper, or in this case a sparkly ballet shoe behind.

There’s a slightly uncomfortable moment when it feel as though the story has taken a cruel twist when the Prince doesn’t recognise the young woman who had captured his heart nights earlier and even laughs and mocks at the suggestion that the raggedly dressed Cinders could really be the same person.

Thankfully the script returns to tradition when she slips into the missing slipper – much to her stony-faced step-mother and bewildered sisters’ astonishment. But it takes a later chance meeting, helped along by the illustrious magician, for Cinderella to be finally wooed by the Prince and their love to be sealed.

All in all a magical and beautifully created performance that despite its less than conventional twists and turns can’t fail to captivate any lovers of contemporary theatre and dance.

Touring nationally March to June 2020


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Pictures by Guy Farrow and Emma Kauldhar

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