Cinderella longs to attend the Prince’s ball at the palace, but her tyrannical step-sisters – who have consigned her to the life of a scullery maid – won’t allow it. A mysterious beggar woman might just be able to help...
The premiere of Cinderella in 1948 was a major event. It was the first full-length ballet to come out of Britain and it was created for Sadler’s Wells Ballet (now The Royal Ballet), who had taken residence at the Royal Opera House just two years before. Cinderella displays some of the most dazzling choreography of Frederick Ashton’s career. It draws on the formal perfection of classical French and Russian ballet as well as popular English forms, from pantomime to music hall.
Cinderella, with a little help from her fairy godmother, is whisked to the lavish setting of the royal palace, where she dances an exquisite pas de deux with her handsome prince. Sergei Prokofiev’s ravishing score conveys an urgent sense of time passing, which is reflected by Ashton in the whirling shapes of dancers in the two waltzes. The gloriously grotesque step-sisters – one of whom was played by Ashton himself in the original production – introduce a wonderful note of pantomime comedy. Dressmakers, jewelers, courtiers and a very energetic jester are just some of the other colourful characters we encounter.