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David Bintley's Cinderella, performed in 2010.


BWW Review: BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET'S CINDERELLA, Birmingham Hippodrome Birmingham Royal Ballet looks a lot different today than it did ten years ago when this performance for David Bintley's Cinderella was filmed. Carlos Acosta is now in his inaugural year as Artistic Director and has delivered admirably in trickling through a pleasing selection of lockdown content, including a touching rendition of The Swan featuring Principal Céline Gittens. BRB are also the first major dance company to announce new work premiering in October, and there are even rumours of a Nutcracker run...

BRB of late have been seen delivering dynamic mixed bills of new work, and so a return to a familiar classic makes for heartwarming quarantine viewing, as well as an opportunity to watch fine dancers who have since retired.

Bintley's action-packed Cinderella is a macabre tale, portrayed vividly by BRB's elegantly drilled dancers. There is predictable comedy in the form of the ugly sisters, here known as Dumpy (Carol-Ann Millar) and Skinny (Gaylene Cummerfield) - the former wearing obvious padding and dancing precariously en pointe in a garish yellow tutu. She's immediately distracted by the sweet treats on offer at the ball; it's easy laughs, but quite frankly it hits the spot pretty nicely right now.

Before the excitement of the ball scene, however, we are transported to the bleak kitchen of Cinderella's daily existence - John MacFarlane's dowdy grey designs contrasting stylishly with the sharp and bold colours of the ball. Elisha Wallis is an enchanting Cinderella who approaches her thankless existence with gallant optimism. She breezes through Bintley's choreography and demonstrates likeable humility in barefoot solos. Fans of fine technique can marvel at the mechanics involved in every step.

There are further enjoyable performances, including Marion Tait's Stepmother. Her continual despair and general disgust at the world never tires; in fact, she deserves more to do deeper into the story.

As Cinderella's adventure begins, the seasons are portrayed in dazzling style with a selection of spritely solos, performed in glittering costumes. Bintley's choreography builds well to the dramatic entrances of the Prince (Iain Mackay) and Cinderella at the ball: both descend from a central staircase from a cloud of smoke and, after some attractive partner work, there is a frantic dash for Cinders to make it home before midnight. The overwhelming chimes of the clock that fill the stage create palpable drama as Cinderella is seen fleeing, now back in her rags, before disappearing.

Act Three sees a tenderly acted reconciliation for the couple that provides better opportunity for a romantic connection to develop. There is more enjoyable slapstick from the step-family, but the dreary world of the cellar effortlessly melts away once the two lovers find each other. In scenes reminiscent of the snowflakes in Nutcracker, Cinderella and the Prince dance jubilantly against a backdrop of dancers in glistening white tutus.

There is nothing to break the mould in this welcome offering from the BRB archive. But Bintley's production has an appealing purity and, at a time when audiences are yearning for live dance and escapism, this will be hugely satisfying viewing.

Cinderella is available to stream until 1 September. You can also make a donation via the Facebook page or BRB website

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