Holly Taylor and her three year old daughter both pay their first visits to the ballet at a special production designed for your children
I’ve never been to the ballet before. I’m 35 years old and consider myself pretty interested in culture, theatre and the arts, but somehow dance has passed me by somewhat. So I was looking forward to dipping my toe in the waters of what I knew must be a rich seam of creativity as my three-year-old daughter and I settled down to watch the English National Ballet’s special children’s production of Cinderella: My First Ballet.
Firstly, the Bristol Hippodrome is so stunning that I was glad to take her to the place to show her the splendour of such a beautifully-preserved theatre. We cooed at the original signage and the glitz of the seating tiers, soaking up the atmosphere as we wandered in.
The production itself was narrated by Cinderella of later years, bringing life and brilliant voices to the action onstage. Prokofiev’s sumptuous original score (slightly shortened) swept us up in the drama and beauty of the tale. I particularly liked the use of recognisable signs and gestures, incorporated into the dance to make it more accessible to children with learning difficulties and disabilities.
As the rags-to-riches classic unfolded, we met the hideously funny step-sisters and the suitably evil step-mother. The fairy godmother was like a pirouetting shooting star: my daughter was literally agape. Following the traditional narrative, she whisked poor Cinders away from her drudgery and brought her to meet the fairies of the seasons, each of whom granted her a gift.
After the interval (very sensible – I suspect every small child weed and had an ice cream), Cinderella does go to the ball, having been transformed into the quintessential ballerina, complete with sticky-out tutu – but with more diamante than I’ve ever seen; whoever stitched on all that glitz deserves a medal! Her pointe work was truly astonishing. In fact, I felt slightly like a puddle of flab watching the incredible strength and stamina of all the performers.
The choreography during the Prince’s ball had the ‘wow’ factor, both for its formal dances and the clever use of space and limbs to construct changing backdrops to the action. Then, of course, the clock struck 12 and Cinders was instantly transformed back to a servant girl before our very eyes – Ada gasped, and I was just as dumbfounded by the clever stage swap!
And then, with a final cascade of glitter, it was over. I loved the ballet, and so did my (distinctly non-pink-and-sparkly-type) daughter – it was just the right length for young kids to sit through and it genuinely transported her. I think I got a bit of glitter in my eye…
My First Ballet: Cinderella continues to Woking and Manchester throughout May.