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Review: Joburg Ballet’s Cinderella

A Sparkling and Magical Year-End Treat!

By: David Simmons

Ruan Galdino and Shannon Glover2018 has been a very busy year for Joburg Ballet. They have skilfully presented audiences with world class offerings, not forgetting a company of dedicated artists each embracing their own unique talents. Each production, whether a classical representation or modern enactment, has set a very high standard for dance in this country. The level of flair and expertise of every dancer has been admirable and consistent throughout, making the art of ballet all the more comfortable to appreciate.

With twelve months of the year almost through, it’s always fascinating to revisit past productions of the season, and how the evolution of every single showcase has been delivered with effortlessness and ease. December sees the company bring Cinderella to the Teatro at Montecasino and one can certainly reveal that the best has been left for last!

Shannon Glover as CinderellaCinderella couldn’t have come at a better time. In fact, it’s a production that embodies the true light-heartedness and festivity of what this time of the year brings. It’s a celebration of new beginnings and the start of something special.

Cinderella’s story is one we have all heard before. It’s a magical tale of the outcast who rises up to achieve greatness, but at the same time has to endure various obstacles on a very cobbled and uncertain path. It’s an appropriate story line especially for young children and adults alike, wanting a little magic and sparkle in their lives. Themes of courage and trusting your own convictions ring true to this staging, making for a glittering viewing.

Ruan Galdino in CinderellaOur female lead in question, played by the always elegant and poised Shannon Glover, brings a very whimsical feel to her role. Glover has given us a very dignified Cinderella, one who doesn’t need introduction, but who gracefully progresses on her quest to happiness.

Even in her tattered clothes and ruffled hair she is a marvel to watch, each step and movement as light and airy as her good-natured character. Her only solace are the mice she has befriended, and together they dance and amuse themselves in the dusty cinder filled kitchen they call home.

No story line is complete without our resident rival, and we are subtly introduced to Cinderella’s step Mother portrayed by Kitty Phetla, as always, a massive presence on stage. Phetla is mesmerising in her rendition, transfixing the attention of the audience to her fluid-like moves and capabilities as a senior soloist.

Jourg Ballet's CinderellaCinderella’s two ridiculously slapstick stepsisters, Louise and Carla played by Chase Bosch and Keke Chele respectively,  add huge amounts of comic relief to the show. They bring a touch of pantomime maddens to their roles and take full advantage of the slick and fast paced choreography. Their rollicking performances are filled with huge amounts of laugher, and with the silly season in full motion their dramatics are very much welcomed.

Claudia Monja gives a dazzling performance as The Fairy Godmother and projects a collected serenity in some of the most beautiful solo renditions. Monya as always is polished and elegant, an apparition like vision who appears and then disappears in memorable sequences.

Keke Chele, Kitty Pheta and Chase BoschThis rages to riches tale wouldn’t be complete without a Prince and a Ball and the usual amounts of frivolity that come with it. Ruan Galdino provides a charismatic and noble energy as Prince Charming. He fits the role perfectly and is in-tune with the regal effects of his character. Together with Glover, they both impressively transport us to an imperial backdrop of grace and refinement. The exquisite dance scenes at the ball will give you reason to see this production again and credit needs to be given to the entire company who give this ballet a strengthened bond.

As the story goes, the enchantment of the ball and the prince’s affection comes to an end and when the clock strikes twelve nothing is as it was, and Cinderella is back to where she started. However, with the help of a glass slipper, a touch of make-believe and bucket loads of fairy dust she gets the happy ending she so deserves.

This full-length ballet in two acts is choreographed by Artistic Director Iain Macdonald who has smoothly transported us into a world of fantasy. The sets and backdrops are beautiful and music from Johann Strauss adds the most wonderful festive element to an already sumptuous offering. Together with elegant costumes and romantic lightening, Joburg ballet has undoubtedly cast a magical spell over theatre goers and ballet enthusiasts alike.

Cinderella will be running at the Teatro at Montecasino until the 23rd of December 2018. Tickets are available at Computicket or at the theatre box office.


Photos: Bill Zurich and Lauge Sorensen

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