Boston Ballet’s 'Cinderella' by Ashton is another example of its excellent repertoire this season

You couldn’t find a more perfect version of "Cinderella" than the classic one by Frederick Ashton. It’s another example of why Boston Ballet is one of the best companies in the world.

Boston Ballet's Cinderella Image. Image Credit to Liza Voll Photography.
Boston Ballet's Cinderella Image. Image Credit to Liza Voll Photography. /

The story of Cinderella is simple and elegant, and many have used that as an excuse to perhaps dismiss its austerity or attempt to adapt or modernize it with various results. Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director, Mikko Nissinen, intelligently made the decision to go back to the 1945 classic by Ashton ten years ago, and it's this production that’s successfully finishing its run at the Citizens Bank Opera House.

With its dramatic score by Sergei Prokofiev, classic sets, and choreography that personifies the English style of dancing at its best, thanks to the unparalleled Ashton. Prokofiev’s score elevates the ballet by giving it a dramatic weight that is a pleasant surprise. And it's Ashton’s dedication to straightforward English classicism that allows this particular production to shine and why it’s the standard bearer for this story.

When Cinderella—delightfully danced by Ji Young Chae in the performance I saw—appeared in her ballroom splendor, flanked by a sensational train held aloft by her entourage, I was not the only one who gasped in the audience. As she descended the steps of the ballroom on pointe, she held the audience in the palm of her hand.

It’s no wonder that her cavalier prince, Jeffrey Cirio, who splendidly matched Chae—fell in love at first sight. It’s these stunning details that beautifully complimented the overall beauty of the production which sets it apart from all others. The entire cast did Ashton’s genius justice, from the Fairly Godmother (Viktoria Kapitonova) to the various fairies (Kaitlyn Casey, Haley Schwann Chisako Oga, and Lauren Herfindahl), mastering the English style with aplomb.

Boston Ballet’s Cinderella was sumptuously designed by Toer von Schayk, including two charming portraits of Prokofiev and Ashton at the top of the scrim. Christine Haworth left no detail amiss with her ethereal costumes (even Cinderella’s “rags” had beautiful movement to them). Brandon Stirling Baker set the seal on the stellar production with his lighting designs.

Cinderella has been the fourth classical production these past two seasons that has not only hit the mark but established Boston Ballet as one of the best around. Boston is simply lucky to have such a caliber of a ballet company performing the great classics within the best quality productions. From last year’s excellent Don Quixote (staged by ballet legend Rudolph Nureyev) and Sleeping Beauty to this season’s Nutcracker and Cinderella, Boston Ballet has been treating New England to some of the best productions around.

But it hasn’t stopped there, combining sweeping classical productions with ample opportunities for contemporary tastes as well. This past month Boston Ballet brought two pieces by one of the most exciting female choreographers around, Helen Pickett, in a “Winter Experience” themed evening last month, alongside the more traditional Raymonda, staged by Nissinen. They also opened up the season with a “Fall Experience” that showcased the talents of choreographers Akram Khan, Hans van Manen, My’Kal Stromile, and Boston Ballet Artist in Residence Choreographer Jorma Elo.

Elo’s version of a passionate Carmen headlines the next lineup for Boston Ballet. The propulsive Carmen will be performed alongside an ethereal piece from Marius Petipa’s La Bayadere, the sublime Kingdom of the Shades scene by Florence Clerc. Performances of Carmen and "Shades" will take place Apr. 25 – May 5 at Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston.

We are indeed blessed to have such an exceptional spectrum of dance to choose from in Boston.

Boston Ballet has seen much change this year, with the promotion of Tamara King—a 40-year veteran with the company—as Associate Director of the company.

“I am thrilled to announce this promotion to someone who has been an integral part of Boston Ballet School for so long,” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, when it was announced last fall. “Tamara has trained hundreds of students, educating the next generation of dancers, all while ensuring BBS’s continued legacy as a world-class dance school. I know she is the right person to help lead BBS to the future.”

Ming Min Hui was also brought in this season as the company’s new Executive Director—a Harvard Business School Leadership Fellow and Yale University grad who received her MBA from the Harvard Business School—during a pivotal year for the company, celebrating 60 years.

“As we led the executive search for Max’s replacement, it was clear that there was no one better for the job than Ming,” said Laura Sen, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, via the press release in the beginning of the year. “Her extensive business and financial expertise, paired with her proven leadership abilities and institutional knowledge, will set Boston Ballet up for success for years to come.”

With new leadership established and as the company gets set to close out its 60th season, it will be fascinating to see what they announce for their next season after their “Spring Experience” performances conclude in May.

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