Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo : Cinderella
True to his reputation of anthropologist of fairy tales, Jean-Christophe Maillot removes the layer of sugar from Cinderella to create a poignant reflection on the way the memory of the dead form the future of those remaining.
The theme of the Prince marrying a commoner (a story that would create hope and disenchantment for entire generations) is not the story line of the ballet anymore. The choreographer gives it little room and prefers to concentrate on the affective cogs and wheels that drive this timeless fairy tale.
Beyond a reflection on loss, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Cinderella is a funny and ferocious representation of a society overflowing with artifices, deprived of the sense of realities by its quest for superficial pleasures. Unrestrained distraction go hand in hand with idleness and the two Superintendents of the Palace Pleasures have a difficult time entertaining a moribund court, asphyxiated by boredom. Jean-Christophe Maillot personalises the movements of these two characters. Each step, each skip expresses their overexcitement, their exaggeration and the injunction to happiness they constantly stir up.
On the contrary, Cinderella embodies simplicity (the concept that inspired Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s scenography). She has no need for any accessories to be beautiful and a naked foot covered in fragile and ephemeral gold powder replaces the famous fur slipper. Cinderella’s naked foot becomes the symbolic object of the ballet. It is a symbol not only of the young girl’s simplicity and lack of sophistication but also of the part of the body without which dance cannot exist. The foot is the pivot of dancing, its support, its momentum, its flight and its survival. Finally, between Cinderella and this cheating society, there is the Prince, locked up in his palace, vegetating in the expectation of a more concrete life. Everything slips through his fingers. He cannot connect to any memory because he has never really lived. A spectator of his own life, he is halfway between reality and nothingness. His moments of dejection are unlike Cinderella’s but they also show his aspiration to have another life. The Fairy blindfolds him so that he can recognise undisguised love and he will have to leave his world to find his beloved. Cinderella is saved not by the social ascension brought by her future husband. It is the Prince who must abandon his palace and he must bow at his beloved’s “feet”. Only then, the lovers will be able to go together on their way and meet the world that opens to them. Death is not hateful any more. The dead accompany them. And they lived happy…
Extract from Cinderella of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
First performed by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo on 3rd April 1999, at the Salle Garnier of the Monte-Carlo Opera.
Under the presidency of HRH the Princess of Hanover
LES BALLETS DE MONTE-CARLO