|Sonia Rodriguez as Cinderella (all photos from National Ballet of Canada website)|
We arrived just in time for the pre-ballet chat with Ballet Master Lindsay Fischer. His explanation provided more depth to the story than I ever thought possible. While still a fairy tale, at the hands of choerographer James Kudelka it has become so much more. Some may consider what Lindsay said reading too much into a simple story, but I like it! Cinderella has become more than just a nice girl who doesn't do anything and ends up getting a fancy, rich life with a prince. Instead she remembers what it's like to be loved, and shares that love with other around her. Even after being tormented by the stepsisters and ending up on the floor crying, she offers hospitality to the old women (aka: Fairy Godmother) who can barely bend over. A reminder that with all our problems, there's someone with more, so be grateful for what we do have and share it.
The stepsisters are not portrayed in drag as other productions sometimes have them, but maintain a self-centered attitude, unwilling to expand their horizons to anyone else. I agree with Lindsay that it's better to chuckle at their comical ways recognizing the humour in having done similar things ourselves, rather than laughing at them, which makes us no better than how they treat Cinderella. For example, when learning to dance (some funny moments, particularly in odd looking lifts with the dance instructor prior to the ball) or trying to attract the attention of a particular guy (they have great solos at the ball with their escorts trying to prevent them from throwing themselves at the Prince).
|At the Ball|
Lindsay also brought out the theme of conformity, that today people want to conform to what society says is best, keeping up with the Jones, and getting their 15 minutes of fame. All the ball attendees (particularly the stepsisters) are quite eager to pose for the photographer at the beginning of the ball in Act II. The awkward movements, particularly of the men, gives a mechanical feel. Indicating these people aren't the real thing, they're putting on what they think society wants so they can get ahead but aren't being true to themselves. Outward beauty is the goal, rather than the inward beauty Cinderella has that extends out from her touching others. Indeed as the garden fairies return near the end of the ball (prior to the Prince and Cinderella's pas de deux I think) they have fans and the "fake" attendees get blown away in the wind, leaving Cinderella and the Prince. A reason was also proposed for why the Fairy Godmother tells Cinderella to leave the ball by midnight. That being, if you stay too long amongst people who value only the material things, if can affect you as well, hence the reminder of midnight to not be negatively influenced by these people, but stay true to yourself.
|Guillaume Cote as the Prince|