Darius James and Amy Doughty’s Cinderella for Ballet Cymru is enthralling. As the lights go down, an invisible narrator speaks an introduction in Welsh, adding an extra layer of magic and mystery to the fairy tale, before the company tells the story with wonderful clarity entirely through dance.

Every aspect of this production knits together in an artistic whole: Jack White’s musical score fits the choreographic action like a glove; Citrus Arts’ aerial effects have dancers as birds, descending from the flies on silken skeins of cloth, and the ingenious use of projection replaces the need for sets and scenery that would clutter the stage. The quality of the dancing was excellent throughout.

There is careful attention to detail, for example in the colour of Cinderella’s shoes, depending on whether she is a servant or a princess, and in the choreographic use of pointe. For Cinderella (played by Beth Meadway) dancing on pointe conveys her extraordinary beauty at the ball, whereas for the stepmother Aerona (played by Xolisweh Richards) it reveals her aggression and bad temper. Each character had a distinctive way of dancing, whether it was Alex Hallas and Maria Teresa Brunello as Cas and Seren the step-brother and sister, or Isobel Holland as a fairy godmother in the form of a Bird (accompanied by the sound of woodwind, naturally).

There is nothing sugary or sweet about this version of the story: Aerona cuts off part of her children’s feet to cram them into the shoe, but it happens behind the sofa, and the blood is represented by red ribbons. There is a happy ending, for some of the characters, but we have been reminded that fairy tales have a dark side. I was captivated from the start to finish.

Maggie Watson

28 November 2018