Review: English National Ballet 2 - My First Cinderella - Peacock Theatre

Performance: 27 Mar - 7 April 2013
Reviewed by Laura Dodge - Wednesday 3 April 2013

ENB2 'My First Cinderella'  Daniela Oddi with Prince  - Mlindi Kulashe. Photo: John Ross

In a theatre filled with enthusiastic youngsters (not to mention the numerous fluffy light-up wands), it is impossible not to feel at least some of the excitement that comes with a childhood trip to the ballet.

English National Ballet’s series of ‘My First’ performances give children the chance to engage with ballet in a fun and accessible way. Graduate year dancers from English National Ballet School perform a dramatically-cut version of a classic work, with a narrator onstage to explain the story and encourage pantomime-style involvement from the audience.

This year, ENB Associate Artist George Williamson has created My First Cinderella, currently at the Peacock Theatre (until 7 April). It has a few minor weaknesses – notably an excessive focus on death [Cinderella’s mother’s] in the opening scene and too much narration throughout the first act. But otherwise, it is a charming ballet with great choreography, stunning costumes and plenty of opportunities for children to join in, such as counting the chimes of the clock as it turns midnight and helping the Prince to find Cinderella.

The young performers excel with only a handful of (understandable considering their age) wobbles. Daniella Oddi and Mlindi Kulashe, as Cinderella and the Prince, make a superb leading couple. Both are technically adept and expressive, performing several attractive solos and pas de deux. Natsuki Sakita as Autumn and Matthew Koon as the Jester also stand out with their neat technique and pleasing style.

This is an ideal introduction to ballet for two to seven year olds, with a couple of sarcastic jokes thrown in for adults too. The ‘My First’ productions are not only great in concept, but are also being executed excellently in practice.

English National Ballet’s My First Cinderella, Peacock Theatre, until Sunday 7 April 2013

Laura Dodge writes for a number of publications including Dancing Times, and English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word blog. She has an MA in Ballet Studies and also teaches dance to children in central London.

Photos: John Ross

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