The Mariinsky Ballet’s London season opened with a dated Romeo and Juliet; it closes with a Cinderella that tries too hard to be modern. The constant is ballerina Diana Vishneva, radiant in both.
Cinderella was created by Alexei Ratmansky, one of the most gifted choreographers working today. In modernising the story, he has some bright ideas and a lot of clutter.
I like his chic courtiers in 1930s dresses, applauding Vishneva’s shy Cinderella because they want to please the prince. I love the heroine's goofiness. As she grows in confidence, her ballroom solo goes from sweet geeky shuffle to joyful, expansive jumps.
Yet for everything Ratmansky gets right, there’s something messy or weak. The tramp fairy godmother, danced by Elena Bazhenova, never gets beyond gurning slapstick.
The male season fairies wear outlandish costumes with painted faces and horrible wigs, while Ratmansky gives them dull, fussy steps. Anastasia Petushkova misses the wicked glamour of the Stepmother role.
Still, this is a Cinderella with a heart. Vishneva and Konstantin Zverev make an enchanting pair of lovers, both tender and vulnerable.
The company dancing is sleek – and though some of the jokes fall flat, Ratmansky does get the aristocratic Mariinsky to enjoy letting its hair down.
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