Music: Sergei Prokofiev

Choreography / Premieres: 

Rotislav Zakharov – 1945 (Bolshoi Ballet) / Konstantin Sergeyev, 1946 (Kirov Ballet)

Frederick Ashton – 1948 (Sadler’s Wells Ballet)

Margot Fonteyn as Cinderella

Alina Cojocaru as Cinderella

Moira Shearer as Cinderella

Ben Stevenson – 1970 (National Ballet at Lisner Auditorium, Wash. DC)

Most are already familiar with the tale of Cinderella. In 1697 French writer Charles Perrault published it in his “Tales of Mother Goose,” a collection of fairy tales. Prokofiev, however, saw “… Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing, and moving among us … What I wished to express above all in the music of Cinderella was the poetic love of Cinderella and the Prince, the birth and flowering of that love, the obstacles in its path and finally the dream fulfilled.”

A ballet classic, Cinderella has been choreographed and staged many times for a variety of companies. Most versions tend to follow the story that we know. Cinderella has two step-sisters (usually played by men in drag) but her step-mother doesn’t always appear. Accompanying the Fairy Godmother are the Fairies of the Four Seasons. Some productions, including Ashton’s and Stevenson’s, do away with the prince’s round-the-world search for the lost slipper’s proper owner.

“Created in 1893, it was in this ballet that Pierina Legnani, an Italian ballet dancer who had just been taken on at the … Maryinski Theatre, was to introduce a series of thirty-two fouettés which would amaze audiences.”

Premiered by the Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1948, Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, which many consider to be the definitive version, is an homage to the classical tradition of Petipa. “…Ashton has built a wonderful ballet, using a typical mix of the finest choreography with comedy, irony, and at times an underlying sense of sadness. At the heart of the piece is the meltingly beautiful pas de deux for the Prince and Cinderella at the ball…Her famous entrance, walking on pointe down the great staircase whilst gazing straight ahead, must be terrifying to do but it is always a magical effect. Almost every Royal Ballet ballerina has danced it: the best make the most of the contrast between kitchen and ballroom…”

In 1976 Ben Stevenson was appointed artistic director of the fledgling Houston Ballet, where he remained for 27 years, and during that time he created such new works as “Dracula,” “Cleopatra” and “Peer Gynt,” and brought new life in his original versions of “The Nutcracker,” “Coppelia,” “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Don Quixote.” But there’s something about “Cinderella” that causes it to remain his masterpiece.”


Sources / Additional resources

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