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October 25, 2013


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Hi Haglund,

I attended the Friday evening performance, with Vanessa Zahorian as Cinderella and Davit Karapetyan as the prince. While I, too, applaud the fact that Wheeldon continues to make story ballets, I have to say that I was let down by this production. There were just too many elements thrown in that I feel took away from the ballet. The tree, with all its symbolism, didn’t work for me. The same with the floating chairs. I didn’t care for the costumes at all. And the two stepsisters annoyed the heck out of me. (Also, did we really need to see the stepmother, suffering from a hangover, and vomiting the morning after the ball?). And surprisingly, there wasn’t enough dancing—for example, Cinderella doesn’t really dance around in the kitchen in this production. The choreography almost seemed to be an afterthought.

Vanessa was competent, but in my opinion, she lacks Sarah Van Patten’s magical qualities. Davit, on the other hand, was sublime. Wow… this man is talented! I actually liked the wedding scene (although, again, there wasn’t enough dancing). To me, it was the best part of the whole evening--and that was due entirely to Davit’s talents. I think he’s one of the best male dancers in the world. I’ve seen Sarah Van Patten perform a couple of times and I’m a huge fan of hers, too. A Sarah and Davit match-up would have been heavenly!!

Hi B. Yes, most of the choreography seemed like an afterthought - or perhaps incomplete thought. I get the feeling that because Wheeldon has so many projects in the works that when he finally gets to choreographing an idea, like Cinderella, he has already lost interest in it because he's thinking about what's down the road for him. I don't blame him (or Ratmansky) for signing up for work years in advance, but it's taking its toll on the quality of their creations.

Glad to hear that Karapetyan was good. I had planned to see him with Zahorian, but then I got a whiff of Van Patten's perfume and I had to see her.

Last night I stayed through Act I for Yuan Yuan Tan, who was quite beautiful, but I wasn't interested enough in the whole ballet to stay through two more acts. I could sit through endless viewings of Ashton's and many viewings of Kudelka's versions, but Wheeldon's felt like it was too dependent on rest of the production team (Basil Twist, etc.) to hide the weaknesses in the choreography.

I don't know if I could sit through this ballet again... unless weeks or months went by between performances. While I can see this production being a money maker, it wasn't for me--too many special effects for my taste and very light on choreography. But that said, Davit's dancing was worth the price of admission. I thought Davit was dazzling!

I'm one of the few who actually likes Kudelka's version of Cinderella. I'm glad to hear that you like it, too, Haglund (or at least don't hate it!)

In my opinion, Kudelka's version is far superior to Wheeldon's. The Wheeldon/SF Ballet version is a bit of a mess, IMHO.

Agree. There's much to be admired in Kudelka's version.

What a terrific review, Haglund! Also a pleasure reading the comments. I do feel bad having missed Sarah Van Patten and Davit Karapetyan, but don't feel bad about having missed Cinderella itself.

How I would love to see a scenario in which Mr. Wheeldon reads your review, realizes that you've appreciated all the best elements of his ballet and nailed the portions that need to re re-thought and re-choreographed, and then [Wheeldon] rechoreographs the ballet into a full artistic realization. And then hires you for a king's ransom to work with him on it. Oh--and then he brings it to New York starring Stella Abrera.

Wasn't that one of the criticisms leveled at Wheeldon's Alice when it first came out? Not enough dancing or something?

Angelica, I do think that Wheeldon appreciates Stella's talent more than McKenzie. It's hard to find someone who doesn't.

Kit, you're right. There were big complaints about the absence of meaningful choreography when "Alice" opened at the Royal Ballet, but I don't know what revisions were subsequently made at the RB or when it was staged for the National Ballet of Canada.

Much or most of Wheeldon's time in the next couple of years may be tied up with his musical production of An American in Paris. It isn't likely that the experience, especially if his production gets to Broadway, will lessen his fondness and dependence on special effects for future ballets.

Wheeldon also has a new ballet, The Winter's Tale, premiering this season, doesn't he? He is a very busy man.

Yes, The Winter's Tale sounds full of potential. Also, the RB has plans to broadcast it in cinemas so we may well have the opportunity to see it in the U.S. at the end of April.

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