Review: Cinderella with the Royal NZ Ballet, Aotea Centre

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Qi Huan as the Prince and Lucy Green as Cinderella in the Royal New Zealand Ballet's performance. Photo / Supplied
Qi Huan as the Prince and Lucy Green as Cinderella in the Royal New Zealand Ballet's performance. Photo / Supplied

At the heart of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's Cinderella is a golden-hearted pink rose, planted by the young Cinderella, at her mother's grave. It flourishes magnificently into designer Tracy Grant-Lord's gorgeous art nouveau set piece as Cinderella grows. It glows through the transformative preparations of the Fairy Godmother for the ball. And in the final love duet, the happy couple are blessed with a soft shower of pink rose petals.

Choreographer Christopher Hampson's story telling is rich and clear and gloriously embellished by Grant-Lord's design. The dazzling white sparkle of the tutu for the ball reveals a soft wash of rose in its underskirts. A bedazzled prince presents his enchantress with an equally sparkling rose before she vanishes at the midnight hour - and this rose, rather than a glass slipper, is what brings her back into his arms.

While the opening scene reveals a sparse grey palette a clever corruption of mother love is symbolised again by the colours of a rose.

The stepmother's rather raunchy costume comes in a particularly bilious green; the stepsisters are arrayed in a hectic combination of bright pink and lime.

Choreography and design are equally synergistic in the transformation of Dancing Master to Grasshopper and other frenzied "fashion week" craftsmen to Silkmoths and Spiders. The Ballroom scene is breathtaking for its chandelier and star lit romance.

Inhabiting all this wonderment are the dancers of the RNZB, charged with melding design with steps and Prokofiev's beautiful score.

Lucy Green, in the first cast, cements her place as a young dancer on the most meteoric rise with a flawless performance both technically and in the warmth and magneticism of her characterisation. Qi Huan is her ever-noble prince and their partnership is perfect. Lucy Balfour as Stepmother and Clytie Campbell and Adriana Harper as the Sisters are as hilarious as they are horrid and Paul Mathews plays a totally believable downtrodden father.

Abigail Boyle shines with wraithlike elegance as the Fairy Godmother. Medhi Angot is a superb Dancing Master. Jaered Glavin is in his element as head designer and weaver of magic and Sir Jon Trimmer is also there, master of mime and Shoemaking.

From its "once upon a time" to its "happily ever after" this Cinderella surely has it all.

What: Cinderella with the Royal NZ Ballet
Where: Aotea Centre, to Sunday

- NZ Herald

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