Scottish Ballet’s festive offering is always one of the highlights of the season, and this year is no exception: Christopher Hampson’s Cinderella, a subtle contemporary-classical version of the well-loved ballet. Created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2007, Cinderella was premiered in Europe by Scottish Ballet in 2015, and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to see it again: it has certainly lost none of its magic.
This is an enchanting yet in many ways concise production, nicely held together with a beautiful Art Nouveau inflected design by Tracy Grant Lord, with its clever use of a recurring rose motif. Hampson’s choreography is uncontroversial, well-grounded as it is in the classical tradition, but remains unstodgy throughout, and is much more about energy and flow than foregrounding flashy technique. It is also highly detailed, full of fun and has many references to those myriad of dance themes that always seem to delight Hampson so much.
Sophie Martin dances Cinderella with both incredible finesse and helium-filled agility, every movement articulate and intentional. Cinderella is portrayed as someone who is less of a victim per se and more of a fighter and taker of opportunities, even be they fantastic ones. In a nice divergence from the usual telling of the tale, the ending emphasises mutual love rather than princely power: and entwining of roses rather than and act of being claimed.
The orchestra, skilfully conducted by French-Canadian Jean-Claude Picard, are superb, playing Prokofiev’s gorgeously orchestrated score with the delicacy and lightness it needs to really shine. As a whole, it is in some ways perhaps not Prokofiev’s best ballet score, being something of a mishmash compared to, say, Romeo and Juliette, but it nevertheless comprises some stunning music, and it is good to hear it played with such commitment.
This is a joyful way for Scottish Ballet to end another great year. Next year is their 50th anniversary and it looks like they have more innovative and exciting works lined up, including a new version of The Snow Queen, choreographed by Hampson, which is to be ready for next year’s festive season. Now, in an uncertain world, that is surely something to look forward to!