Ballet News

Variations on Cinderella

What a long and (almost) happy relationship I've had with Cinderella over the years! In 1982, I was invited by Mikhail Baryshnikov to collaborate with him on the choreography for a new production of Cinderella for American Ballet Theatre in New York. We started work but were interrupted by a dancers' strike later that year. It was 2 years before we returned to the project. In 1984 our production was given its premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. and was danced by ABT all over the United States, culminating in performances at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Although we sold a lot of tickets --- and some gave us credit for "saving" ABT from financial ruin --- the production had its problems. In the end, no ballet can have more than one choreographer, and while Misha and I worked hard to join our visions in one work, the ballet did not receive the kinds of reviews we had hoped. Only Arlene Croce, in the New Yorker magazine, recognized what we tried to do --- and also pointed out, surprisingly, that our Cinderella was the first full-length original ballet ever created for ABT! After two seasons, our ABT Cinderella passed out of the repertoire. I didn't think I would ever see her again, but exactly ten years later I was invited back into her life. Robert Denvers, artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium, thought it might be good for me to re-work my choreography into a new ballet. He invited me to make my second version of Cinderella and it had its premiere at the Opera House in Antwerp, Belgium in 1994. We re-designed the production to reflect the style of Flemish painters of the 17th century. It was all costumed in black and white and very beautiful. It had a great success wherever the company toured in Europe and I was really pleased with the beautiful dancers and their great work. It was a staple of the Royal Ballet's repertoire for nearly ten years. Later, this production was sold to the National Ballet of Turkey, where it had its premiere in Ankara in 2003. Meanwhile, in 1995 I was asked to create another production of Cinderella, my third, for the Hong Kong Ballet in China. We had a brilliant and wonderful Russian designer, Alexander Vassiliev, and we set this version at the Court of Peter the Great. Fantastically colorful costumes and scenery made this a kind of wild Russian fairytale ballet. It was danced in Hong Kong for many years, then a British Crown colony, and eventually made it up to the mainland on tour. Having a Chinese cast for Cinderella brought the ballet full circle, as the original fairytale is Chinese in origin. Back in the US, in 1996, I staged my Cinderella for Cincinnati Ballet, again produced by Alexander Vassiliev, and we brought this production also to the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, where it enjoyed many years of performances. That's where I first met Racheal and Zeb Nole ----- who will dance it for us here at Ballet Idaho. When Vassiliev's physical scenery and costumes had pretty much been worn out, we made yet another productcion of the ballet, this time by A. Christina Giannini, and we set this one at the time of Jane Austen, in turn of the 19th century England. This is the production that will come to Ballet Idaho later this season, in February at the Morrison Center. No one is more surprised than me how long my relationship with Cinderella has gone on. And it shows no signs of waning! -Peter Anastos