Our artistic niece sent a reminder of her last performance as The Fairy Autumn — so to Chicago I flew, arranging various business meetings to suit.
It’s not a secret that story ballets don’t tickle my fancy as much as new, contemporary works but Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella” has historical significance — it was his first full-length ballet for what is now the Royal Ballet. And it is in the sections for the stepsisters — played by male dancers — that ironically offer the most obvious clues as to the choreographer’s inspirations and aspirations — we see perhaps allusions to various bits of choreography from Marius Petipa’s most famous productions. On this night, it was a pleasant surprise to see an old friend, Rory Hohenstein, riotous as the bossy Stepsister. As a side note, Ashton created the other, shy Stepsister part — danced by David Gombert this evening — for himself.
The storyline and the magical effects aren’t obvious, in contrast to today’s modern productions, relying instead on the audience being fully versed in the story of the little servant girl and her glass slippers. However, barring the necessary tone-setting Scene I from Act 1, it leaves much more room for dancing, with some very juicy bits for many of the dancers.
Not just Christine Rocas and Temur Suluashvili as the glammed-up Cinderella and the prince get to strut their stuff but so do the four fairies (Cara Marie Gary, Gayeon Jung, Jeraldine Mendoza and Nicole Ciapponi, as a fast and furious Autumn Fairy), the jester (Derrick Agnoletti), the cavaliers (Yoshihasa Arai, Miguel Angel Blanco, Stefan Goncalvez and Joan Sebastián Zamora) as well as a number of other cast members, all with their unique charms, a familiar characteristic of Ashton ballets, where every dancer has a distinctive role to play, as opposed to the uniformity and synchronicity of neoclassical works.