Enchantment, inspiration, artistic brilliance on show

Cinderella - Royal New Zealand Ballet and Vector Wellington Orchestra

St James Theatre, Wellington, until August 11

Reviewed by Jennifer Shennan

Suppose someone took a perfect rose and turned it into a splendid ballet. Someone did. The visual imagery throughout this production is exquisitely inspired by art nouveau, Horta let's say, in a rose garden, through to a sparkling starry night of Swarovski jewels. Tracy Grant Lord has produced wondrous designs for sets that move to music - and linger in the mind long after curtain down. The costumes are equally inspired, enhancing both choreography and storyline. Prokofiev's music is the measure, and Christopher Hampson's choreography seems as the dance notation of the score, so acute and focused is his reading of the composition. His theme takes the young Cinderella from the grief of losing her mother to the joy of finding her spirit living on as a loving Godmother. This brings a familiar fairy tale much closer to home and is a triumph of what dance in the theatre can offer.

There are inventive ideas for a rose to turn into a clock, a pumpkin into a dance partner, a dozen dancers to time the countdown to midnight. Hampson is clearly a leading choreographic talent. Here's hoping his new position as director of the Scottish Ballet will lead to fruitful exchanges with this company that appreciates him enormously. His Romeo & Juliet would be one of the finest works in their repertoire.

The comic roles of Stepmother (Lucy Balfour) and two Stepsisters (Clytie Campbell and Adriana Harper) are played with lashings of gusto, brilliant timing and zero sense of decorum. The Designer/Spider (Jaered Glavin) is a high camp outrage; the Dancing Master/ Grasshopper (Medhi Angot) a wonder of French wit.

As Prince, Qi Huan dances as though he is in love. As Cinderella, Lucy Green fulfils all the promise offered from last season. Her natural gifts in the classical idiom are rare, graceful and beautifully proportioned. Abigail Boyle is a poem of a Godmother.

The company is in fine fettle and Ethan Stiefel, at the helm, is taking it from strength to strength. Under conductor Marc Taddei, the Vector Orchestra plays superbly. Just one thing is needed: increase the budget and leave the orchestra's administration alone.

The Dominion Post