An excited crowd of ballet fans crowded into the Surrey Arts Centre Saturday afternoon (May 30) to see the world premiere performance of a ballet by French-born choreographer Irene Schneider and Coastal City Ballet.
Her version of Cinderella, with ravishing music by Russian composer Serge Prokofiev, was a delight to the eye. Her choreography fitted perfectly with the life of the “rags to riches” heroine, danced by Erin McNeill.
In her role as a despised domestic servant, with her only friends a group of mice and sparrows, McNeill was humble and sweet. Then as the regal Princess who went to the royal ball and swept the Prince off his feet, her performance was stunning as was her command of the choreography.
Eric Burrough was a very likeable Prince – always smiling and enjoying every moment. His leaps and turns looked effortless and his attentiveness to Cinderella, and her adoring glances at him, were the sure signs of a couple deeply in love.
Love of a different kind, self-love, were the feelings, so humorously and delightfully expressed by the Stepmother and the Ugly Sisters.
Anna Maia Raanes Sorensen as the Stepmother did her best to make to make her daughters look good, but Lucila Munaretto as Drizella and Emilie Siqueira as Anastasia, broke all the rules for young ladies at a ball.
They were “loud” in their actions, constantly showing their petticoats and inelegant poses of the female anatomy in their antics and dissolving both ball-goers and audience in laughter, while Jeff Gonek as the snobbish Master of Ceremonies was hilarious in his reactions.
Alena Loboda as the Fairy Godmother made a commanding presence, especially in the clock scene, where Prokofiev’s music really takes over the action by chiming out the bells to midnight and Cinderella realizes that she must leave her Prince.
There’s no other word for this ballet than a superb rendition of the Cinderella story by choreographer Schneider and its enthusiastic presentation by this young company, formed in 2011.
The artistic director of Coastal City Ballet is Li Yaming, formerly of the Beijing Ballet and the National Ballet of China. His team includes Andrea Allen, herself a former classical dancer, as company manager, Stefan Stanisic, costumes (wardrobe mistress Angela McNeill), and Eberhard Matthies, set design.
Yaming believes that Vancouver, and other surrounding cities such as Surrey, still have a thirst for classical story ballets. Judging from the standing, cheering ovation at Surrey’s Art Centre last Saturday afternoon, he must be right!