The ballet Cinderella is the most popular ballet for children (after Nutcracker, that is). The ballet’s composer, Sergei Prokofiev, was also responsible for Peter and the Wolf, which he designed as an child’s introduction to the orchestra. Despite Prokofiev’s evident interest in bringing children culture, the music of Cinderella doesn’t sound at all like children’s music. It’s moody and modern with patches of darkness that make the magic in the story seem little edgy. Don’t worry, it’s nothing the kids can’t handle. The choreography is cartoonish and loaded with pantomime and character steps for easy reading for any age. Below I’m providing links for three different production of Cinderella so that you might share the ballet with your tiny dancer!
This Russian production might be Mariinsky (Kirov Ballet) but I can’t tell because the titles are in Russian. I love the way this production renders the fairy godmother. The dresses in the ballet are especially impressive. Direction on this one has a kind of existential bend. Cinderella enters into these moments in which she finds herself alone on a dark stage and when she meets the prince he’s similarly gripped by a dark moment—perhaps this is how the ballet represents their kinship. This elaborate production is the longest one I’m sharing, but it’s useful because it gives time and space to each aspect of the ballet. The prince’s “magic night” (in which he goes around the world looking for the girl who fits the glass slipper) is rendered like a dream sequence. Quite memorable.
This Bolshoi production is 80 minutes which might already make it more suited to your child’s needs. I couldn’t figure out when it was produced but it’s clearly directed for a television audience some time ago. It’s also useful to know this production includes Cinderella’s father, who only appears in the ballet sometimes. (To rectify this there are productions of the ballet called Cendrillion that use Prokofiev’s score to tell the story from the father’s perspective.) This Bolshoi production is less cartoonish than the more modern renditions but it’s still full of easy-to-read pantomime. The close ups of the dancers faces are something to observe with your child—we see the dancers at a range we could not in a ballet onstage. Can they see the difference? (They can if you show them:-) Among those I’m listing, this one’s my favorite
This Brigham Young University production is a collegiate production—BYU is known for their high calibre ballet program and they occasionally travel to perform. When I get wind of a visit I’ll write a post letting you know. This production begins efficiently with the invitation to the ball and includes a dance in front of Ella’s mother’s portrait (something rather rare as the mother’s absences is not always acknowledged). Ella dances with a broom in this one, which is one of the modern poster images from this ballet and the inspiration for my class’ first exercise with the ballet, so hopefully that will spark the kids’ imagination!
Finally, if you think your child is ready for a live ballet, SF Ballet will be performing Cinderella as their final story ballet of the season from 4/28-5/7 as their final story ballet of the season. I can’t say much about this because I haven’t seen it, but I’ll be there on the 29th!
I hope your family’s experience sharing Cinderella is magical!