Ballet stars quit for Blitz 'Cinderella'

'Too safe' Royal's dancers are finding more adventurous work, writes Elizabeth Redick

The man who gave Swan Lake an all-male cast is to give another classical ballet a novel twist, by setting Cinderella during the Blitz.

Matthew Bourne, whose all-male swans caused a sensation in London last year and is now playing to packed houses in California, is to do away with the palace of the traditional fairy tale and make the hero an RAF pilot.

Bourne, director of the innovative ballet company Adventures in Motion Pictures (AMP), says that there will be no drag roles in the production, due to open in October in the Piccadilly Theatre in London's West End. But the traditional Fairy Godmother will be replaced by a male "guardian angel, a Wings of Desire figure, a double-sided persona who both protects Cinderella, and presides over London as an angel of death."

Although Bourne will not divulge all the plot details, it seems likely that Cinderella and her pilot will meet in an air-raid shelter, and stay together just long enough to fall in love before being parted in the nightmare of the bombing. They will dance together in an eerie, bombed- out ballroom devoid of the usualcolumns and long flight of stairs.

The glass slipper becomes a blue 1940s high-heeled shoe, but exactly how it will be lost and found is a closely guarded secret.

Speaking from Los Angeles,Bourne indicates that his Cinderella will be losing much of its traditional sweetness and light.

"Prokofiev wrote the music during the Blitz and beneath its lyrical surface there is a dissonant tone," he says. "The ballet will have a film noir feel, contrasting the grimness of family life during the war with the glittery escapism of the ball."

With a cast of more than 30 dancers, Cinderella's family will be enlarged to include two sets of twins, their lovers, and a step-father. Lynn Seymour will continue her work with Bourne to create the role of a "Joan Crawford style stepmother".

As significant as the new production itself, though, is that two of the Royal Ballet's most talented young stars, Adam Cooper and Sarah Wildor, have left their classical home to work with Bourne's experimental company.

Cooper will be working full-time with AMP, following his success in the lead of Bourne's Swan Lake, and Wildor has taken a leave of absence to create the role of Cinderella.

The couple danced together only once at the Royal Ballet, in Sir Kenneth Macmillan's story of a girl's coming to womanhood, The Invitation, and Cooper is eager to dance with Wildor and introduce her to AMP's creative environment. "It's wonderful to be involved in the production from its inception, both in terms of building the story and choreographing the steps," he says. "It's rare these days, especially in London, to have a role created on you and it's going to be a wonderful change for Sarah.

"The Royal Ballet is a great company but it's really lacking in creativity at the moment. They are playing it so safe, it's ridiculous. I pity the dancers that have got to dance the repertoire over the next two years."

Wildor's departure occurs at a difficult time for the Royal Ballet. It is not only leaving its London home for a series of venues while the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is rebuilt; it has recently been criticised for being fearful of change, and hiding beneath the veneer of its glorious Fonteyn and Nureyev past.

With no resident choreographer for the first time in its history, dancers are seeking artistic challenges elsewhere.

Last year Viviana Durante took a year's leave of absence to freelance and act, dancer-choreographer Matthew Hart left to join Rambert Dance Company, while Darcey Bussell almost landed the Hepburn part in a remake of the 1954 film Sabrina Fair.

This year Errol Pickford and his wife Benazir Hussein have left for Australia and the departures of Cooper and Wildor, who has been dubbed as the company's next Ashton ballerina, will also disappoint audiences.

Although it is not unusual for dancers to work with new choreographers and directors, so many departures will put additional strain on a troubled company about to embark on a two-year season without a home.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform