Timeless classic Cinderella still a crowd pleaser with new look

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal opened their 2007-2008 season in great style, with dancers performing an updated version of the ageless classic Cinderella before a nearly sold out crowd at Place-des-Arts. Choreographed by Stijn Celis and set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, the work featured simple set pieces, dazzling costumes, but most importantly, it showcased an array of talent as the company’s dancers executed every single step with fervor and elegance.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal opened their 2007-2008 season in great style, with dancers performing an updated version of the ageless classic Cinderella before a nearly sold out crowd at Place-des-Arts.
Choreographed by Stijn Celis and set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, the work featured simple set pieces, dazzling costumes, but most importantly, it showcased an array of talent as the company’s dancers executed every single step with fervor and elegance. Notably different from past adaptations, Celis’ Cinderella borrows only nominal elements from Perrault’s fairy tale.
Set in modern times, the ballet begins with the image of Cinderella and her parents in what appears to be a picture-perfect moment. As the image fades to black, a now motherless Cinderella is portrayed as a poor and rejected young woman trying to find release through love. No confidence comes from her stepmother, who along with her daughters finds pleasure in using and humiliating both Cinderella and her father. Her suitor is a young prince who finds shelter from his high social status through his instant love for Cinderella, but who is also eagerly pursued by the young woman’s stepmother and two stepsisters (all three portrayed by men). Although Celis’ version steers clear of fairy godmothers and spells, a happy ending is in order as the lovers eventually strive to overcome jealousy, bewilderment and social differences.
The dances themselves were exceptional, thriving on a contemporary feel while still retaining classical elements, and they were executed flawlessly by everyone on stage. Callye Robinson, who is one of two dancers portraying the title character during the show’s three week run, managed to transform her character from a reserved girl into a passionate young woman through her movement, while Marius Ostrowski perfectly conveyed the angst of seclusion as well as the hardships of finding love.
Not to take away from Robinson or Ostrowski’s performances, but the show belonged to the men who depicted Cinderella’s loathsome stepsisters and stepmother. Sporting sequenced garbs and massive hair buns, Anthony Bougiouris, Jeremy Raia and Herve Courtain each provided the audience with laughs throughout the show, a rarity during a ballet of this magnitude. Although the first half of the ballet shifted quickly, concentrating mainly on Cinderella’s relationship with her bent family, the second half moved at a slower pace, choosing to focus more on the transition the prince makes towards finding his one true love.
Although time flew by for the most part, there were moments the ballet could have done without, including an instance during which we watch one of the dancers peel and eat an orange for nearly five minutes. The scene was an unwelcome distraction for the audience, whom you could hear murmuring questions as to what exactly they were watching. Other than the minor setback, Cinderella was a tremendous pleasure to watch, and more so, a refreshing take on one of the most famous fairy tales of all time.

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