Les Ballet de Monte Carlo - Cinderella

Les Ballet de Monte Carlo has a troupe of very beautiful, handsome dancers with great acting skills.  This production...well...I don't hate it but I didn't love it either.  The real problem that I had with it was that it was definitely a ballet created in mind for adults.  It explored sexual themes plus spousal abuse as well as child abuse.  The reason why I say this was a problem is because when you name a ballet after a fairy tale, people are going to expect a family friendly event.  Obviously more tickets will be sold.  This ballet could have been named anything else under the sun and the adult audience watching it would still know it was based on Cinderella.  However by naming it Cinderella, children were in the audience expecting a tutu extravaganza instead they were treated to scenes of abuse and women's breasts being squeezed.  One parent with his child sitting near me in the audience left after the first intermission.  And I don't blame him, not one bit.

Another disorienting element of this production was that Prokofiev's score was cut up and rearranged.  Some of the musical cues meant for Seasonal fairy characters were either ignored or used for different characters since this production only had one fairy in it.  At one point a completely different piece of music was inserted into the ballet.  Considering how much music is in Prokofiev's score, I couldn't see a reason for anything to be added and the different music piece did not fit in with the rest of the score at all.

The dancing was very wonderful.  The standout was Mimoza Koike as the Mother/Fairy.  Her dancing was light, quick and very graceful.  Her character was clearly the lead role as well as her counterpart of the Father.  This left the Cinderella character being a support role in her own ballet.  However Anjara Ballesteros did the most with what she had to dance.  I really loved the fact that Cinderella's purity of character was underscored by the fact that she was the only character with no shoes.  The rest of the female dancers in the cast danced in pointe shoes.  This was a rather interesting observation of how female dancer's pointe shoes are fetishized.  I wish there was more commentary included in the ballet about this fact.

The main problem I saw in the ballet was the fact that it was deadset on trying to turn the Father figure into a sympathetic character.  But he isn't, he never was in the original story and not in any of it's many iterations.  In fact most adaptations get around this fact by also having the Father die as well the mother leaving Cinderella an orphan at the mercy of a Stepmother.  When you have a father character still alive and Cinderella STILL at the mercy of a Stepmother...well...that is whole other ballgame, isn't it?  The ballet also shows that the Father is obsessed physically with the Stepmother which impairs his thinking regarding his child's treatment.  Then the ballet makes a canny equivalent between the Father and the Prince.  The Prince is shown as a inveterate womanizer before Cinderella even appears at the ball.  So the Prince is not a likable character either.  As you can probably tell by now, this is a very dark version of the fairy tale.  Yes, the Prince mends his ways for Cinderella but an audience member can't help thinking that his initial state in the ballet is evidence of his true character.  Still the ending of the ballet gives Cinderella and her Prince a very old fashioned, true love send off even if it is tinged with sorrow by opposing their union with her father's loss.

The choreography was a bit uneven mixed with classical style as well as modern hodge podge.  I'm very tired of dancers running willy nilly, and throwing out their legs in aggressive grand battements.   I could also do without ballet trained dancers wiggling around when I can see that done better by Modern dancers.  I want to see classical ballet, I want to see a celebration of humanity.  This ballet wasn't it.  However I will say it did perk up during the ballroom scenes with wonderful set pieces for many dancers.

All in all, I liked this ballet company even if this particular ballet wasn't up to snuff.  And when they come to town again, I would buy a ticket.

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