Image: Alina Cojocaru, Isaac Hernandez and English National Ballet in Cinderella in-the-round © Ian Gavan.

Christopher Wheeldon’s sparkling and surprising ballet is full of moments you won’t forget in a hurry: here are some of our favourites.

1 – The growing of magical tree

This version begins with Cinderella losing her mother. As our heroine cries by her grave, a tree begins to grow! This is a striking invention by set designer Julian Crouch, puppeteer Basil Twist, and projection designer Daniel Brodie: one, two, and more branches extend upwards, and leaves seem to dance in the wind.

Later, it appears to grow again, and delivers all the magic Cinderella needs to get to that life-changing ball.

2 – The grand ball at the palace

With a stage full of chandeliers, and waltzing 12 couples in court dresses (for the women) and frock coats (for the men), the Prince’s ball is as regal a party as you’d expect.

Look out for the dancers’ beautiful group formations, the arrival of three Princesses keen to impress the Prince, and the entrance of Cinderella: she seems to stand still and float above the crowd.

Dutch National Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella © Angela Sterling
Dutch National Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon's Cinderella © Angela Sterling

3 – The music for Cinderella and the Prince’s ball dance

Composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote the score for Cinderella. Just like for his other famous ballet, Romeo & Juliet, it is very passionate, but with an added element of magic. The music for the pas de deux between Cinderella and the Prince is particularly special: very rich and romantic, with a big explosion of passion in the middle of it.

As you watch them dance against a starry sky and hear the music soaring from the English National Ballet Philharmonic, you can’t help but drink in the beauty of it all. And listen out for the clock ringing midnight!

Listen to the music here:

Dutch National Ballet performing Cinderella © Angela Sterling
Dutch National Ballet performing Cinderella © Angela Sterling

4 – Does the shoe fit?

After Cinderella’s abrupt departure from the ball, everyone wants to have a go at trying her golden pointe shoe, from Cinderella’s Stepsisters to ladies-in-waiting. And also some of the fantastical creatures that live in the kingdom: large-headed gnomes, conkers and bird ladies!

Their line-up features some very funny choreography and showcases the stunning range of costumes that have been created for the show. Special credits go to the dancers performing in those characters’ big masks.

Woodland people costumes for Cinderella © Laurent Liotardo.

5– The transformation scene

Everyone who has seen this production talks about it: out of very little, a horse-drawn carriage is conjured up on stage. This is pure theatrical magic, and something you have to see to believe.

We won’t reveal any more about it: it’s one of the best surprises in a show that features plenty.

 

English National Ballet performs Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella from 17 – 19 October 2019 at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, and 23 – 26 October 2016 at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. Book now.

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