An ideal way to banish the January blues, three of the world’s most popular ballets are presently being performed at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate. Cinderella, Snow Maiden and The Nutcracker.
Audiences can still enjoy the exquisite performances of Snow Maiden and The Nutcracker over the next two days.
I went along to the first night production of Cinderella. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia has established itself as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and has built a global reputation for delivering performances of outstanding quality and depth. The company which includes over 40 dancers were all exceptional, delighting the audience with their breath-taking physical ability and beautiful costumes as the story was revealed to the live accompaniment of a thirty strong orchestra.
Artistic Director, Sergei Bobrov said, “With a full company of dancers as well as highly skilled musicians performing some classic scores, it is very special to have the power of a symphony orchestra bringing the choreography to life on stage. It is always a pleasure to bring the unique traditions of Russian Ballet to the British public.”
The magical modern classic Cinderella will delight the whole family, the world’s favourite rags to riches fairy-tale, where dreams can come true, is a magical mix of Prokofiev’s energetic score, lively choreography and colourful costumes.
Prokofiev’s music for Cinderella dates back to 1945 when he composed it in collaboration with choreographer Rostislav Zakharov. Since then many illustrious names have choreographed the ballet including Sir Frederick Ashton, Rudolf Nureyev and Matthew Bourne but last night`s production is more much more recent, having been choreographed in 2008 by the company’s artistic director Sergei Bobrov.
The clever choreography throughout this production makes full use of the score. The music is bustling and slightly fragmented for some of the time and the choreography matches this. The choreography is at times very funny, complimenting the music at various points in the production. I found myself smiling throughout!
The dream-like music for Cinderella, the prince and the fairies is matched by beautiful , flowing choreography, performed and danced perfectly by the whole company of dancers. The corps de ballet were all superb, executing their movements with refinement, elegance and poise.
Cinderella helped showcase the artistry and technical ability of the two principal dancers Ekaterina Bulgutova and Yury Kudryavtsev. The stunning lifts deserve special mention, being executed with seemingly effortless grace and ease. The moment when Cinderella and the prince first meet each other was magical, the other dancers all being frozen in time.
Comedy was provided in bucketloads by the stepmother and sisters, danced in this production by male dancer Pavel Kirchev as the feisty stepmother and Anastasiia Osokina and Perdita – Jayne Lancaster as the two stepsisters.
The stage set was minimalist but effective. – a framed portrait at the rear of the stage reflecting the drama on the stage. Very clever use is made throughout by a digitised backdrop which portrayed the passing of the seasons. This made lengthy scene changes unnecessary. Storms of amber leaves, raindrops and snow combining to propel the story along. The costumes by Valeriy Kungurov were simply stunning, a luxurious range of fabrics and styles combined with fabulous colours.
Mention must also be made of the orchestra, conducted by Anatoliy Chepurmoy, who brought out the full comedy of the music. The clarinet solos in particular show virtuosity and the flutes provide slower, lyrical melodies. There was even a short flute cadenza at one point!
Overall a beautifully conceived production which was brilliantly brought to life by all of the dancers and orchestra. So many touring companies rely on recorded music so it was immensely refreshing to hear a live orchestra.
The Snow Maiden can be seen tonight, Tuesday 8 January at 7.30pm. The final show, The Nutcracker will be performed tomorrow, Wednesday 9 January at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.
Tickets – priced from £18* – can be booked by calling Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk.