After opening the season with the unconventional Ballet Rocks, Ballet Victoria is set to raise the curtain with a similarly unexpected twist on a favourite fairy tale. The company’s take on Cinderella will run from Dec. 27-30 at the Royal Theatre, and its performers are confident that audiences will appreciate the new perspective.
“It’s kind of nice to do stories like this,” says Geoff Malcolm, who dances the part of the stepsisters’ dressmaker. “You take any of these classic fairy tales, and once Disney has got their hands on them, that becomes the de facto original version. It’s like when we did Beauty and the Beast last year, and people were like ‘where’s the dancing tea cup?’”
Malcolm’s role is one of several elements from the story’s traditional version, but left out of the Disney canon, that Ballet Victoria includes in this season’s iteration of the tale.
“You know when you watch the Real Housewives of Insert-City-Here, there’s the wives and the husbands, and then there’s always this guy who’s sort of permanently living in the house,” Malcolm says, explaining the costumier’s role. “In that sense, it’s very contemporary in that you can recognize these types of characters. It helps make it relatable for the audience.”
Under the guidance of Artistic Director Paul Destrooper, Ballet Victoria has become a cultural mainstay in the city, despite its youth (the company was founded in 2002). With a combination of homegrown talent and promising imports, the troupe has grown in both size and reputation.
Stepping into the role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother is Sandrine Cassini, who joined Ballet Victoria this year after over a decade dancing with several renowned companies around the globe. Cassini says being part of a relatively small organization allows individuals to showcase their talents.
“It’s a different dimension, it makes everyone as important as the main part,” Cassini says. “Everybody has to shine and play their own part, which is important. It makes this company special, to have different individualities.”
Cassini has also taken on choreography responsibilities with Ballet Victoria, and will contribute her talents to productions in the spring, when the company takes on a west coast interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
“I miss it, getting to experiment with things, and getting to know people in a different way,” she says of her work as a choreographer. “It’s very fulfilling.”
Cassini and Malcolm agree that dance is most accessible when viewed as a storytelling medium, and lends itself perfectly to the popular Cinderella tale.
“Through all the physicality and all the technique, you’re trying to tell a story,” Malcolm says. With characters drawn from other fairy tales, including Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Alice (of Wonderland fame), Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, he says it’s also an ideal production for families – and the season.
“It’s one of those feel-good stories that isn’t the stereotypical Christmas thing,” Malcolm says. “It’s time to do something new with it.” M
Dec. 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $25 with discount for students, seniors and children
Tickets at rmts.bc.ca
— By Kate Shepherd