Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, choreographed for the Mariinsky Ballet in 2002 when he was an unknown 34-year-old budding choreographer, is a quirky, campy, modern interpretation of the classic. His Cinderella closely follows the themes and story of a traditional production with a shy, awkward Cinderella in a dysfunctional family and a dashing Prince that comes to her rescue. That is where the similarities end as Ratmansky makes a number of bold innovations, making it clear this is not your mother’s Ashton Cinderella:
• Audience members immediately notice a black and white curtain with modern day skyscraper silhouettes. The scenery in the opening act by Ilia Utkin and Yevgeny Monakhov, is minimalist, consisting of a black backdrop with an industrial-looking scaffolding, all dimly lit.
• Forget about the classic seasons portrayed by women in standard ballet costumes. In this version, men dance the seasons with bizarre hairstyles such as Mohawks and ponytails clad in brightly colored tights and halter-tops.
• Strange dancers and characters come and go with no apparent connection to the story. In Act III, women appear for a nice, energetic dance, but why? In other sections, men in blue and black costumes show up, do their bit, and suddenly depart. When there is a connection to the story, the storyline is whimsical. In Act III a group of tall men dance in unison as the Prince desperately tries to find the owner of the slipper. When finished dancing, the men try on the shoe unsuccessfully, shrug their shoulders and walk off the stage.
Diana Vishneva, who performed Saturday evening, was a wonderful and highly nuanced Cinderella, as she ran the gamut of emotions from boredom cleaning the house, frustration and impatience for not going to the ball, to exuberance when finding her Prince.
First Soloist Konstantin Zverev was the Prince. He is well suited to the role; handsome tall, thin frame with nice line and extension. His dancing was very clean with nicely extended arabesques. The pas de deux was the highlight of the evening. No bravura here, just highly intricate steps, tender, soothing dancing by Diana and Konstantin in synch with the beautiful Prokofiev score.
I found the production a nice contrast to the Ashton version that ABT is now doing. However, the campy and frivolous nature of the work would wear thin quickly after several viewings. Bottom Line: I enjoyed the daring interpretation although I didn’t follow several segments. An entertaining evening, but I don’t have a great desire to see it again as I do the more traditional version.