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 Post subject: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2003 11:26 am 
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The programme notes for the Lyon Opera Ballet’s Cinderella contain a lot of references to the darker psychological undercurrents of this popular fairy story that frankly I have been missing for years. For example, I never picked up on the “castration anxieties” at all! How naïve I must be. Perhaps it was fortunate I read the aforementioned notes on the train going home because it seems as if there is a massive gulf between the artistic intentions and my own perception of what I saw.

Maguy Marin’s production of Cinderella seemed to me to take place entirely in a child’s world populated by toys, with only the undoubted sophistication of Prokofiev’s music acknowledging the fact that adults will be watching this too. But even the familiar score is interrupted by the chuckles and gurgling of very small children making one feel like an eavesdropper at the playroom door.

Cinderella is a doll with a dolls face of great gentleness and innocence with just a hint of sorrow. Her father has a face of sorrow, perplexity and pain. Stepmother and daughters look smug and sinister and strut about aggressively inside their fat-suits. Father carries in a heavy suitcase and leaves it with his daughter who becomes scared of it when she is left alone. There is something moving inside, but what? The something turns out to be a strange creature made of knotted sheets with a face drawn on it. Cinderella plays happily with it at first as it looks like she has found a friend, but from inside this odd creature a fairy (complete with the flashing fairy lights of a Christmas tree) emerges ready to take Cinderella to the ball in a splendid toy car with three ballerinas and what are described as “musical animals” in attendance.

At the ball Cinderella is resplendent in a little hooped skirt with flashing lights just like the fairy’s. The Prince, with a face of innocence like Cinderella’s, has a flashing coronet to match. The guests descend the ballroom staircase by bumping down on their bottoms. They soon tire of dancing and make their way to the buffet where sticks of rock are distributed, but sadly a quarrel breaks out over who has the largest stick. They are distracted by the appearance of the Prince’s cake with candles on top, before joining in a game of hopscotch and communal skipping. Then the clock strikes twelve. Cinderella has to run for it and finishes back in the ******* with only her broom to dance with.

The Prince, distraught at the loss of his new playmate, mounts his rocking horse and goes in search of a foot to match the little slipper. Everyone else joins in the search together with their toys – some of the most attractive mechanical toys I’ve ever seen by the way, all crossing the stage on their own. The Prince meets a beautiful Spanish and a sensuous Arabian girl neither of whom has a small enough foot. He eventually arrives in Cinderella’s ******* where the ugly sisters try their luck whilst their mother sits firmly on the miserable Cinderella. But the fairy is having none of that and rescues the girl from under the fat posterior. The shoe fits of course and everyone celebrates. Cinderella and the Prince reappear and have clearly been blessed as she pulls behind her a little trolley laden with twenty little baby dolls. Ahhhhhhh.

Quite simply I loved it. My companion did not as the masks spoilt it for him and he missed seeing the dancers faces. To me the doll-masks added to the toyland atmosphere and the feeling of reliving childhood. The sets by Montserrat Casanova were quite wonderful, creating the appearance of toy boxes stacked on top of one another and as each box was randomly lit they also had the look of a giant game of noughts and crosses again enforcing the nursery theme.

At the curtain calls the dancers removed their masks and the spell was broken. The multi-national cast was led by Russian Xenia Kastalskaya as Cinderella and Australian Andrew Boddington as her Prince. They were both excellent. The theatre was less than full on a bitterly cold night and from the comments of other audience members some were clearly enthralled and others not impressed. It was an all adult audience last night but I’d be intrigued to know what a child might make of it and what the critics will think of it also.

<small>[ 20 January 2004, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 3:16 am 
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Many thanks Cassandra for getting this review to us so quickly. I am sorely tempted to forsake the important chores I should be doing tonight and go and see it.


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 3:17 am 
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<img src="http://www.sadlers-wells.com/whats_on/spring2003/images/side_lyon.jpg" alt="" />

An amazing mix of views from the London critics - everything form "magical" to "stinker":

Darkness falls in the doll's house
Ismene Brown for The Daily Telegraph reviews Cinderella performed by the the Lyon Opera Ballet at Sadler's Wells.


To set Cinderella in a doll's house, with the characters in shiny doll masks and with stuffed bodies, seems to me an inspired idea. This is what Maguy Marin did in 1985 for Lyon Opera Ballet, and the company has dined out on it ever since.

In fact, the conventional-sounding name for this new-wave company is a complete misnomer. Marin's Cinderella and Angelin Preljocaj's powerfully brutalist modern Romeo and Juliet (which they also commissioned, in 1990) are their equivalents of classics.

Cinderella lends itself very well to relocation in a child's land, where shadows are darkest black and full of fears, and to be cuddled and given a lollipop is the best reassurance in the world.

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Cinderella
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

Restaging a ballet classic can be a bit like playing with dolls: dressing up familiar characters in new sets of clothes, and constructing a different setting in which to act out their familiar stories. But Maguy Marin's doll's-house version of Cinderella goes far beyond play - it is a weirdly acute splicing of grown-up and childish imagination, a magical take on the power of the fairy tale.

Marin made this work for Lyon Opera Ballet back in 1985, and like others who have rewritten the classics, part of her mission was to deprettify her material. Certainly, there is much in this production that stresses the cruelty of the original tale. Cinderella's stepmother and sisters are as squat as toads, with filthy matted hair, and their viciousness can look grotesque. (To prevent Cinderella from trying on the silver slipper, for instance, the mother brutally plumps herself down on top of Cinders, squashing her flat).

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A fairytale lacking magic
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


It's been a disastrous couple of weeks for dance-lovers in London, thanks to the Sadler's Wells/Peacock Theatre axis. The Plagues in Egypt were nothing when compared with the horrors that have rained down on us: after Béjart's plate of sanctimonious curry, Mother Teresa and the Children of the World, came the dreadful Boris Eifman troupe from Petersburg with Red Giselle, a travesty of ballet as well as a cruel caricature of a great dancer, Olga Spessivtseva. And this week we are being rained on by the infantilisms of Maguy Marin's Cinderella, a 17-year-old stinker with which the Lyon Opera Ballet decided to make its London debut at the Wells.

I saw this cringemaker at the Edinburgh Festival when it was fairly new. I recalled, with some unease on Tuesday night, that Prokofiev's ravishing score (surely his finest for dance) was brutally cut and pasted, interspersed with the deeply adorable babble of babies, and used with the finesse of an axe-murderer.

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Cinderella
By AC Greyling for Online Review London

Using influences from mime and puppetry, and even what looks very much like the occasional trope from Chinese opera movement, along with exquisite observation of the way children move and react, and the beautiful ballet skills of his dancers - and still more: an immense reservoir of imagination - Maguy Marin has created an extraordinary piece of dance theatre. It combines enchantment and strange menace - under the romance of the tale as Marin tells it run very dark skeins, unsettling and surreal, hinting at cruelties and disappointments, at terrors and loneliness, of the kinds peculiar to childhood. But the charm not just of the story but of Marin's remarkable telling of it wins triumphantly, just as it should, driving away the shadows, and with them the ugliness and cruelty which blights.

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Cinderella
By Debra Craine for The Times


CHOREOGRAPHERS have always found inspiration in fairytales, usually by telling them for adults. But the French dancemaker Maguy Marin is responsible for one of the most magical fairytales dance has seen — and she tells it as if she were a child.

Her Cinderella, made in 1985 for Lyon Opera Ballet and now in London for a short run, is a child’s-eye view of the familiar story, full of sibling rivalry and playground squabbles, and performed by dancers wearing fantastic masks which make them look like Victorian dolls. Marin’s brilliantly conceived doll’s house staging was one of the first in the current fad for classical rewrites, and it’s still one of the best.

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<small>[ 20 February 2003, 04:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:22 am 
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Gee, do you think Clement Crisp liked the ballet? I think he liked it.

He may go back to see it lots of times. We should reserve extra tickets for him.


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 5:45 pm 
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Stop the torture!

How much longer will the Financial Times abuse a senior critic by sending him to report on work that he will certainly dislike, regardless of its merits (in this case, great merits). It would be a marginally less vicious crime if he was sent to review hip-hop concerts.


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:06 pm 
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And he could be much more gleeful whilst shredding "Pop Idol" contestants!


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 2:40 am 
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Just to be clear, Clement Crisp is one of the most knowlegable critics, lecturers and archivists around and I find his work elegant and witty.

However, he detests much of the current dance scene and is on record that it is a waste of time going to smaller dance events, which nearly always disappoint him. Thus it is becoming ever more necessary for the FT to have a second critic who will go to The Place and Laban and also much of the programme at Sadler's and the Peacock, which make Clement's heart sink.

<small>[ 21 February 2003, 05:41 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 11:50 am 
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I've read a number of his reviews on and off over the years, and I do wonder that they don't have a second reviewer at the FT. Crisp certainly has the knowledge, but seems to have very well-defined preferences. His reviews are certainly amusing though.


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 4:14 am 
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Cinderella
By David Dougill for The Sunday Times

The Lyon Opera Ballet made its Sadler’s Wells debut last Tuesday, with Cinderella by the French choreographer Maguy Marin. This uses Prokofiev’s ballet score in a shortened form, interrupted and overlaid periodically, and insufferably, with the sound of babies giggling and gurgling. Marin’s much celebrated production is set in a giant dolls’ house (designs by Montserrat Casanova) and all the characters wear doll masks. This is a child’s vision of the Cinderella story. Ksenia Kastalskaïa as Cinders and Andrew Boddington as her little boy Prince (with blue hair and a crown of flashing lights) are remarkably effective at conveying the charms and despondencies of childlike emotions through their movements alone, since facial expression is permanently fixed.

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Cinderella falls flat on her face while Deptford's new centre opens with a big bang
By Jann Parry for The Observer

Maguy Marin's doll's-house account of Cinderella is like the Victorian rocking horse on which the Prince rides: appealing to look at, fun for a while, then its limited range of motion palls. Once the old-fashioned novelty has worn off, you realise it's not going anywhere.

Created in 1985, Cinderella has served ever since as Lyon Opera Ballet's calling-card. Its puppet images soften up audiences for the harder-edged modern work in which the company excels. Yorgos Loukos, its director for the past 15 years, has commissioned the kind of repertoire that the restructured Scottish Ballet, under its new director, Ashley Page, might emulate. They don't do conventional classics: ballet-trained dancers perform works by contemporary choreographers, some requiring point work, others bare feet or boots. When they dance Coppelia, Carmen or Romeo and Juliet, there's always an original take on a familiar story.

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<small>[ 23 February 2003, 05:15 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 5:34 am 
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Another fascinating mix of reviews for "Cinderella". Perhaps it's a sign of something truly ground-breaking that it divides the critics.

I thought it absolutely delightful. The designs are inventive and colourful; sometimes on the edge of kitsch with costumes with fairy lights, but pulling it off with style. Initially I wondered whether the movement would be subordinated to the design concept, but from the moment that Cinderella performs a short, gentle duet with a broom, I sensed it was going to be fine.

The characters wear masks with fixed expressions throughout, so character and mood have to be expressed through movement and it worked very well for me. Ksenia Kastalskaia's Cinderella expressed awkward youth with loving attachment to her Prince. Julie Tardy as the Matriarch made the most of one of the best villainous roles in dance. With a scowling mask, she was still able to express a fawning attitude to The Prince. This dark character, who sidelines the Ugly Sisters, provides an antidote to any potential cloying sweetness from the two leading characters.

The movement never palled for me, except for a thin Spanish dance, as the Prince does his job as a travelling shoe salesman. The final scenes spring to life with the Matriarch sitting on the heroine, but to to no avail, with the intervention of the tough Fairy Godmother. There's a lovely coup de theatre at the end as The Prince and Cinderella dance across the front of the stage towing a little sled with their babies, that goes on and on and on....

At the end, I found I was almost in tears with the beauty and imagination of the production. Some have complained about the theoretical excess baggage of the programme notes. But Hey! the French are an intellectual nation and they truly belive in analysis. One of the strengths of this production is that you can watch it on the level of pure enjoyment, as well as for issues such as class and coming of age. However, at this performance I was firmly in the former camp. Congratulations to choreographer Maguy Marin, set, costume and mask designer Montserrat Casanova and the dancers who breathed such life into the work. Brilliant!

<small>[ 23 February 2003, 07:50 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:11 am 
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Lyon Opera Ballet
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


Lyon Opera Ballet may sound like some run-of-the-mill classical troupe, like some parochial survivor of a grand civic past, but its name couldn't be further from the reality. The mixed bill with which the company closed its London season boasted a trio of internationally celebrated modern choreographers, as well as performers who were superbly responsive to the demands made on their skills.

Lyon's opening piece, Newark, certainly made few concessions to either dancers or public. Trisha Brown's 1987 work is danced in a silence punctuated only by blasts of electronic noise. It has a deliberately disruptive set (of rising and falling coloured screens) and the costumes for its six dancers are brutally drab.

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Lyon Opera Ballet
By Donald Hutera for The Times


After the delights of its dollhouse Cinderella, Lyon Opera Ballet ended its London visit with a mixed bill of contemporary dance. It started on a high thanks to an exceptional performance of Trisha Brown’s 1987 sextet Newark.

The aural and visual backdrop were both designed by sculptor Donald Judd. The soundtrack’s motif was a tolerably un-pretty drone, while the look was monumentally clean. The cast wore grey unitards. Stage-filling screens descended and rose behind or before them, sometimes halving the space while immersing our eyes in rich red to serene deep blue to gradating yellow.

The movement had a playful formality that kept me alert and excited.

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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 3:20 am 
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Two Reviews of Cinderella from the Independent.

Quote:
The story of Cinderella crops up in a number of cultures, linking the worlds of Grimm and Perrault with ancient China and Persia and even sub-Saharan Africa. Like all universal commodities, the tale has been mined for different qualities to meet different ends.

The radical French choreographer Maguy Marin, while retaining Prokofiev's score, has tried to ignore previous interpretative baggage by turning the characters into dolls. Her Cinderella, made for Lyon Opera Ballet in 1985 and now a calling card for the company, is set entirely within a dolls' house whose sawdust-stuffed inhabitants wear chubby, porcelain-like masks. Yet the production is not aimed at children – rather, it takes childhood joys and fears as a metaphor for all adult human experience. Indeed there are times in Marin's ballet when metaphor is piled so thick that it reads like a Melanie Klein primer.

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And

Quote:
Maguy Marin's Cinderella for the Lyon Opera Ballet starts as if it is actually going to be what the programme announces, namely a full production of Prokofiev's much-admired score, by far the best of his three long ballets. Sadly, that isn't the case. Marin apparently wants to show us how clever she is, and presenting all the characters as dolls, hidden under ingenious masks, is the first of her innovations, albeit the most grave in effect since it stultifies personality and dance style.

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<small>[ 25 February 2003, 04:35 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Lyon Opera Ballet in London - Cinderella/Mixed Bill
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2003 9:19 am 
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Katie Phillips posted this in another topic and I have copied it here:

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REVIEW: Cinderella, Sadler's Wells, 19/02/03

The sumo babies staring out from atop the doll’s house set of the Lyon Opera Ballet’s abstraction of the fairytale ‘Cinderella’ seemingly prepares the audience for a disturbing performance in the style of the original brothers grim. This nightmarish fantasy for adults consists of a pastiche of fantastical characters, strange sounds, flashing lights and almost hallucinogenic colours, untethered from reality. However, rather than being unsettling, it proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable portrayal of deep desires, dark insights and poetic entrails, complimented by a technically brilliant cast.

We witness Cinder’s progress from a stunted pigeon stepping, withdrawn child longing for the love and attention of her father, through dressing up in her first mini skirt and toppling over in glitzy shoes and the timid and touching flirtation with the Prince at the ball, to the joyous happy ending culminating with the procreation of a litter of more than twenty babies.

The notion that fairytales exist for children to relate to and learn something from comes into play with many a moral lesson implied in scenes of sharing lollipops, bullying and playing. We retreat with the cast into the marvellous realm of the imagination where fantastical and bizarre toys and creatures come alive. The fairy godmother is a robot, highly in sync with time, and the dancers perform the same movement motif of wind up toys bobbing back into place.

The piece portrays a particular passage of time, where, such is life, one faces certain obstacles and impossible tasks. For example, the Prince’s search for Cinderella is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. It smacks of those nightmares of falling, or where the harder you try to run the slower you become. You usually wake up before you either hit the ground or get caught – this is what happens when you don’t wake up. The boisterous flamenco fiend and the exotic beauty dislocating neck are all part of the continuous surreal dreamlike state. Other bizarre characters included the pelvis gyrating snake charmer and his other animalistic friends, the Prince’s servants and the round skirted nymphs who form together at the end in a wonderfully ghastly procession. The three galumphing, gesturing and generally grotesque ugly sisters provided the most laughs, the grimaces of the fat screwed up faces masks strengthening the characters greatly and adding another dimension to their quality of movement.

The mask’s created an entirely new dynamic to the ballet, and it was a refreshing change for the audience to focus specifically on the movement articulation of the dancer’s bodies with no help from their facial expressions. This lack of human expression transcended the restraints of dance and any notion of fragmented reality – only in this curious theatrical world can you hop scotch from earth to heaven.


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