Victorian State Ballet. The Concourse, Chatswood. 9 -10 April, 2022

Reviewed : 10 April, 2022

Elise May Watson-Lord, Principal Artist, with Tynan Wood, Senior Artist, Victorian State Ballet.
Photographer: Danielle Brown.

Each year the Victorian State Ballet brings a production to Sydney for three performances. This year it was Cinderella, performed by a corps of 25 dancers – supported by 40 young dancers, chosen from over 70 aspiring local ballet students.

As part of their Youth Ballet program, the Victorian Ballet invites young NSW dancers to audition to participate in the production. Dancers from studios all over Sydney and beyond take part in auditions. This year 28 were chosen to play Cinderella’s fairy friends, and 12 were singled out to play the young Cinderella, the young stepsisters and the young prince at one or other of the three performances. What a great experience for young dancers! Apart from the thrill of performance, they learn new choreography, wear spectacular costumes, watch professional dancers in rehearsals and learn the special discipline of being part of a major ballet production.

Congratulations to Vic Ballet for the idea – and the extra organisation such an initiative takes. It is much appreciated by the ballet students – and by their parents whose pride is evident in every performance.

Choreographed by Michelle Cassar de Sierra to the original music composed  Sergei Prokofiev, and directed by Martin Sierra, the ballet follows the fairy tale Cinderella’s nasty treatment at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters. After their refusal to let her attend the ball, her fairy godmother intervenes, providing her with a ball dress, silver slippers and access to the ball where she meets the prince. Unfortunately, she has to leave at twelve and loses one of her slippers which the prince finds and uses in his search for the young woman with whom he has fallen in love.

It’s a well-known old story and the music allows for some beautiful dance sequences – as well as some funny behaviour by the petulant step sisters. In the Sunday afternoon performance, Cinderella was performed by the very elegant Elise May Watson-Lord, with her Prince played by Tynan Wood. Both danced with great poise and dignity, perfectly executing leaps, lifts and pirouettes .

Her stepmother was Sera Schuller who danced – and acted – with similar assurance and character. Elise Jacques and Lucinda Worthington-Shore were cheekily bewitching as the stepsisters. Both are accomplished dancers who can also act, difficult when the acting involves having to pretend to dance ‘badly’ as well.

As always, the costumes were stunning, especially the elegant ball gowns, where the drape of circular skirts contrasted with the tulle of the fairies. Another contrast was the choreography of the “clock” sequence where, under red lights, the movements became mechanical and brisk.

These productions are wonderful opportunities for ballet lovers, young and old, to see productions a little closer to home at a reasonable cost.

First published in Stage Whispers magazine