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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo Present "CENDRILLON" at New York City Center
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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo Presents "CENDRILLON" at New York City Center

- Onstage with the Dancers
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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Choreographer-Director: Jean-Christophe Maillot
In association with New York City Center & Ardani Artists

after Cinderella

Choreographer: Jean-Christophe Maillot
Music: Sergueď Prokofiev
Stage Design: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Costume Design: Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting: Dominique Drillot

Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

At New York City Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 19, 2016

Cendrillon (1999), Prokofiev’s musical score recorded by the Cleveland Orchestra, directed by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Orchestre National de France, directed by Lorin Maazel. Cast: The Fairy/The Mother: Mimoza Koike, The Father: Alvaro Prieto, Cinderella: Anja Behrend, The Prince: Stephan Bourgond, The Stepmother: Maude Sabourin, The Sisters: Anna Blackwell and Victoria Ananyan, The Pleasure Superintendents: Alexis Oliveira and George Oliveira, The Four Friends of the Prince: Le Wang, Julien Guerin, Lucas Threefoot, Koen Havenith, The Four Mannequins: The Father: Aurélien Alberge, Cinderella: Asier Edeso, First Sister: Leart Duraku, Second Sister: Michaël Grünecker, and dancers of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.

I always enjoy synthesized, contemporary productions of renowned story ballets and became acquainted with Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in 2014, when the company performed his “LAC”, an avant-garde remake of the ballet, “Swan Lake”. This season, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo returned to New York City Center with Maillot’s “CENDRILLON”, his contemporary and campy remake of the beloved ballet, “Cinderella”, with its sweeping Prokofiev score. Once again, the New York balletomane audience was silent and breathless, watching each entirely new scene unfold. Mr. Maillot brought Cinderella’s mother (Mimoza Koike) onstage for a live flashback series of dances with Cinderella’s father (Alvaro Prieto) and embraces with Cinderella (Anja Behrend), as early as the very first scene. The choreography is lush, poignant, and impassioned. The mother dances barefoot, collapses in illness, and disappears. Soon Ms. Koike returns in glittery body paint and leotards as the Fairy, who creates the path for Cinderella to attend the Prince’s (Stephan Bourgond) Ball. In Maillot’s unique remake, the Stepmother (Maude Sabourin) is a possessive, erotic vamp, who seethingly lunges for her husband at every pronounced pirouette. The Sisters (Anna Blackwell and Victoria Ananyan) have head décor evocative of the inner construction of a doll. Their corsets and hoops, seemingly of steel and string, give them the aura of robotic wannabes for the Court of Versailles.

Mr. Maillot throws in two, adorable Pleasure Superintendents (Alexis Oliveira and George Oliveira), who tickle the Prince’s legs and dance in duo, dervish delight, as well as Four Friends of the Prince, Le Wang, Julien Guerin, Lucas Threefoot, Koen Havenith, who dance like a Greek Chorus quartet, surrounding and following the Prince within three acts and ten scenes. Additionally surfacing are Four Mannequins, Aurélien Alberge, Asier Edeso, Leart Duraku, and Michaël Grünecker, and a troupe of quasi puppet-harlequin actors, who re-enact Cinderella’s family saga in drag. Although the program includes three pages of fine-print plot, this ballet is best enjoyed in the gestalt. I would suggest that, as in opera, brief narrative cues be projected above stage (City Center is prepared for this detail, as City Opera used to perform on this stage). Highlights include: Cinderella standing in a giant bowl of tiny lentils, before removing newly gold-glittered, bare feet, in preparation for the Ball; The Act II Pas de Deux for Cinderella and her Prince, which is overwrought, kinetic and staccato, with persuasive desire in its tosses and dashes, not balletic, but rather athletic; Cinderella not losing a slipper at midnight, so the Prince looks for her glittered foot; through a drawing made by the Pleasure Superintendents; giant waves tossing and crashing, in the Prince’s travels, before he discovers seductive, exotic dancers; the deceased Mother returning in the finale, back in her silky slip, drawing the Father from the Stepmother, before the Mother dies again.

Ms. Koike was gripping in the dual roles of Mother and Fairy, shifting personas from sadness to scintillating, barefoot to pointe, a lovely dancer in this stunning scenario. Mr. Prieto, as the Father, was tormented and lost in the heavy-hearted dances with his deceased wife and tormented and remorseful in his angry pas de deux with the Stepmother. Both talented performers are worth the experience. Ms. Behrend and Mr. Bourgond, as Cinderella and her Prince, were often cast on the sidelines, and their pas de deux was disappointing in its lack of close dance choreography, substituting the percussive histrionics. I’d love to see this duo again in more partnered ballets. Ms. Sabourin, as the Stepmother, was wildly entertaining, a true character dancer, filled with jealousy and vengeance. Her choreography did not call for classical poise, but one could see she’s a pro. Ms. Blackwell and Ms. Ananyan were also energetic and entertaining, especially in their half-and-half gown that made them appear as joined. Both Alexis Oliveira and George Oliveira brought the hall to laughter in their syncopated duets and devilish mime, as the Pleasure Superintendents. Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s stage designs were abstract, tall, white metal and mirrored dividers, plus a golden stairway and falling curtains of gold glitter that exuded love and romance, at pivotal plot turns. Jérôme Kaplan’s costumes were individually styled for eye-catching fantasy, especially for the Fairy. Dominique Drillot’s lighting was warm and enveloping. The entire cast was in splendid form. Next time Les Ballets de Monte Carlo is in town, don’t miss them. It’s a memorable evening at the ballet.

Anja Behrend (Cinderella) and Stephan Bourgond (The Prince)
in Les Ballets de Monte Carlo's "CENDRILLON",
Jean Christophe Maillot, Choreographer-Director.
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

Mimoza Koike (The Mother) and Alvaro Prieto (The Father)
in Les Ballets de Monte Carlo's "CENDRILLON",
Jean Christophe Maillot, Choreographer-Director.
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

George Oliveira and Alexis Oliveira (The Pleasure Superintendents)
in Les Ballets de Monte Carlo's "CENDRILLON",
Jean Christophe Maillot, Choreographer-Director.
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at