The Mariinsky Corps De Ballet are so accomplished that it is unnecessary to embellish the auditorium with anything that will distract the eye from their intricate skill.
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The stage is almost naked, except for two prominent metal ladders and a backdrop that shifts in colour and tone as the scenes change. A stark metal circlet doubles as a clock and a ballroom chandelier, as the Prince (Igor Kolb) and Cinderella (Diana Vishneva) duet gracefully in shades of white beneath it.
The orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, is nothing short of sublime.
So far, so modernist, technically correct and brilliantly observed by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky.
Yet the principals each seem to be in a world of their own, inhabiting a space where they perform their roles and express their characters effectively to the audience yet don’t interact with the narrative.
While Ratmansky has given the performers ample room to convey their ability and skill, the characters don’t seem to push forward the story, rather, the set pieces happen as the backdrop and music move on.
Cinderella’s stepmother (Ekatarina Kondaurova), a dramatic Mary Portas with lithe flexibility and no end of attitude, was the star of the evening yet her interactions with Cinderella are brief and do nothing to tell us why the girl has been banned from joining in the fun, or why she can’t put herself forward to try on the glass slipper. It’s almost as if Cinders has been banished to the kitchen because she’s into dressing like the girl from Flashdance.
There are glimpses of innovative storytelling, the changing of the seasons as the Prince searches for Cinderella and the beautiful use of stairs as the lovers discover each other at the end, but the production’s focus is still strictly ballet based.
Run ends tomorrow