“Cinderella” takes on the air of comedy at the Grands Ballets
Cendrillon is presented at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier until June 4 and will be again from September 8 to 10.
Les Grands Ballets is presenting Cinderella this week at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts. In this choreography by Australian Jayne Smeulders, the ballet takes on the air of comedy. It’s because Cinderella's two sisters-in-law, always so vain and petty, are clownish, to the point of stealing the show from the one who loses her glass shoe… or her ballet slipper!
The two sisters dressed in garish colors make the audience laugh with their score worthy of a vaudeville, but they also have something to impress with their movements. They hunched their shoulders and arched their knees while doing spikes and multiplying the splits. Above all, they manage to act as if they were poor dancers by removing all finesse from their gestures, which can only be an arduous task when one has spent a lifetime mastering perfect arabesques.
These two sisters have it all: prom dresses, attention from their mother (played by retiring prima ballerina Myriam Simon) and stepfather, jewelry and classes of dance. But they lack the grace of Cinderella, who can change her fate when she melts the prince with her charm and kindness.
If Cinderella is almost eclipsed by the duet, it remains that she has, of course, the most beautiful solos, not to mention the magnificently romantic pas de deux which concludes the show. And when the clock strikes 12, she finds herself caught in the center of a circle of dancers reminiscent of the dial of a watch, with angular movements that evoke hands. A particularly successful segment!
Moreover, the music – composed by Prokofiev in the last century and performed by the orchestra of Les Grands Ballets under the direction of Dina Gilbert – succeeds in supporting both the moments of charm and those of comic lightness.
Photos: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Sasha Onyshchenko
The sets are a little austere for a ballet that takes place in castles, whether artistic director Ivan Cavallari wanted to make it a timeless story or not. We marvel at the carriage or the rain of glittering curtains that accompanies the appearance of the fairy godmother, but more opulence here and there would be welcome in the king.
However, the more than 150 costumes designed by Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt for the show amply compensate for this sobriety. We think of ball gowns, of course, but also of animals. Here, it is not mice that accompany Cinderella as in the Disney classic, but rather three birds, the choreographer having been inspired by the version of the tale by the Brothers Grimm.
The princess will also come across a handful of unicorns and a few nymphs. These fantastical creatures were added especially for Les Grands Ballets by Jayne Smeulders, who choreographed the show in 2011 for the West Australian Ballet. They too have very beautiful costumes, although they stretch the scene of the meeting with the fairy godmother a little, whose shimmering dress reflects the scintillating decorations which follow her appearance.
Only one costume deserves to be reviewed. Before putting on her beautiful clothes, Cinderella wears a light gray dress. If we appreciate her petticoats and her apron, we are forced to note that the color is not optimal. Ballet being a physical exercise, the dancer comes to exercise a bodily function that could not be more normal, but not particularly elegant. The circles of sweat under the arms, it breaks the illusion that all these tricks are done without effort.
Cendrillonis presented at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier until June 4, then in additional from September 8 to 10. On June 2, a relaxed performance organized for nearly 1,000 people with special needs is organized by the National Center for Dance Therapy, which works to promote access to art for all.