Basking in the acclaim for his masterpiece ballet Romeo and Juliet, Prokofiev was commissioned to produce a new romantic work: Cinderella. But then World War II arrived in Russia. While he set the fairy tale aside to focus on more nationalistic works, Prokofiev’s imagination began weaving a tapestry of pas-de-deux, waltzes, and mazurkas, all slightly inflected by the discord of the world around him.
The work finally debuted in Moscow just two months after the end of the war, signaling a newly restored ability to revel in the simple blossoming of love. With fairies and a secretly powerful beggar, Nikolai Volkov’s scenario adds a little extra magic to the tale of a servant girl who loses a slipper and the prince who finds it and momentarily confuses it for an avant-garde drinking glass.
In the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production, principal dancer Xuan Cheng makes a winsome Cinderella while demonstrating the technical perfection that won major dance competitions in China. The company uses Ben Stevenson’s 1970 choreography, which operates with a directness and simplicity that allows for plenty of comic pratfalls for the two wicked stepsisters and a capering court jester.
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