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Review: English National Ballet’s Cinderella at the Palace Theatre, Manchester

Image of a couple dancing
17 Oct 2019

The English National Ballet brings its magical adapatation of Cinderella to Manchester’s Palace Theatre and we were invited along to watch. Here’s what we thought.

Having enjoyed the English National Ballet’s My First Ballet adaptations previously in Manchester (which are ideal for children aged 3 and up as they are shorter ), I thought it was about time I took my 10 year old along to see a proper ballet. Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, which has just arrived in Manchester as part of its 70th Anniversary Season, is an ideal first ballet as the fairytale is so well known.

Cinderella is in 3 parts. If you want to understand everything that it going on, especially if you’re bringing children, make sure you pick up a programme, as there is a synopsis on the first page.Although it follows the popular fairytale closely in bits, there are also places where it differs. For example, there is no Fairy Godmother as Christopher Wheeldon has opted for the Brother’s Grimm version, where it is the spirits and the Fates that get Cinderella ready for the ball. But don’t worry; it has certainly lost none of the magic, and the end of the first act as Cinderella heads off to the ball was truly spectacular. 

The scenery was cleverly put together throughout the ballet. The tree, which sprouts from Cinderella’s tears as she grieves for her mother, looked like it had been achieved through a mixture of a piece of scenery and projections onto it, and the branches and leaves literally seemed to dance along with the cast.   

Adapting Cinderella into a ballet is an act of genius because as a form, ballet makes everything feel that little bit more magical, and there’s already plenty of magic to be had in the original tale. The costumes, the dancing and the music certainly cast a spell on myself and my daughter.

 English National Ballet Cinderella 2


The ball scene was one of my favourite bits, as Cinderella (beautifully danced by Erina Takahashi) and Prince Guillaume (played dashingly by Joseph Caley), weave in and out of the other guests at the ball, as they dance the night away.Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography in this scene especially was simply superb. 

 Although the dancing between Cinderella and her prince was wonderful to watch, it was the lively performances in the woods at the end of Act I and the ballroom scenes that really stood out for me. 

A great touch to the ballet was the lightheartedness and comical moments brought in throughout the production, especially by Stepmother Hortensia (Tamara Rojo) and her two daughters Edwina (Alison McWhinney) and Clementine (Katja Khaniukova)

With a live score performed by English National Ballet Philharmonic, over forty dancers and 300 stunning costumes, Cinderella was truly a feast for the eyes and ears. I watched my ten year old taking it all in, and it really was beautiful to see. I asked her at the end if she would want to come to the ballet again, and she gave me a definitive “yes!”

The English National Ballet’s Cinderella is on at the Palace Theatre, Manchester from 17th – 19th October 2019. For more information and to book, see here.

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