Feature: Cinderella - Lyon Opera Ballet

Friday 7 April 2006

Lyon Opera Ballet @ Sadler’s Wells, February 03
reviewed by Julia Skene-Wenzel

Take a rag doll and beam it into post-modernism —- what you get is a fantastically surreal account of Cinderella with Maguy Marin and the Lyon Opera Ballet transforming the Sadler’s Wells stage into a three-story Dalhousie in order to explore this traditional fairytale through the eyes of a playing child.

The sad and cute little Cinderella, the ugly sisters and an extra terrestrial fairy godmother are all part of Marin’s mismatched toy box. The illusion is upheld throughout the piece, as the dancers are waving their floppy or angular limbs, shifting through the motions in a staccato-like quality. This ambitious concept is further enhanced, by porcelain masks that completely transform the dancers’ faces.

Both of these devices challenge our conventional perceptions. Where do we find emotional expression and beauty of movement within these parameters? However, Marin’s choreography, articulating the characters’ personality and feelings through their bodies, fully rises to the challenge. In a daring attempt, she proves that movement alone can tell a story and indeed portray sincere emotion. Underneath this lavish set, the humorous and bizarre characters and the linear story line, lies a pure and untouched form of dance.

Cinderella is an avant-garden masterpiece, placing a children’s story in an adult world. It marked a milestone in post-modern dance, and is as fascinating and challenging today, as it was on its creation fifteen years ago. In today’s climate of high-tech performances, when the purity of movement is often the least important part of the process, Cinderella is indeed a rare and refreshing treat.

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