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Cinderella: breathtaking ballet for all ages

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Queensland Ballet brings a special tour of Cinderella to Canberra Theatre Centre this week. We speak to Principal Artist Laura Hidalgo.

While ballerina Laura Hidalgo says she wanted to be Cinderella as a little girl, she admits she didn’t necessarily picture herself doing it centre-stage.

“Every little girl wants to be Cinderella at some stage—the pretty dresses, the pretty shoes, the prince—but I don’t think I ever imagined that I would become Cinderella for real,” laughs Laura.

It’s this fairy-tale role that Laura will be reprising when Queensland Ballet brings a special tour of Cinderella to Canberra Theatre Centre this week from Tuesday 5 to Sunday 10 November.

Photo: David Kelly.

It’s the company’s second production of the ballet, which was performed to packed theatres in Brisbane last year. Laura, who is a Principal Artist with the company, says this gives a familiar quality to the performances—less nerves and more enjoyment of the plot and characters.

When I chat to Laura, she’s in-between run-throughs. The entire cast will practice multiple times per day until the first performance in Canberra tomorrow night, finessing each lift and turn. After all, Cinderella a special ballet for the company in more ways than one.

Firstly, it’s a production for all-ages that milks the comedic roles of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters for all its worth. So much so, says Laura, that she finds it hard keeping a straight face on-stage.

“My role isn’t funny at all—but it’s actually a little bit difficult to hold it together when the ugly stepsisters are being ridiculously funny next to you.”

Laura Hidalgo as Cinderella.

This lightness adds to the inter-generational appeal of the production. Kids will be rolling in the aisles as the stepsisters jaunt and strut across the stage—indeed, Laura says that her young nieces haven’t stopped talking about the stepsisters since they saw the ballet last year. As she puts it, “it’s something the whole family can enjoy”.

However, in addition to the obvious appeal of glittering costumes and a dreamy score, older audience members will also appreciate the hidden significance of the production.

Cinderella, Laura explains, is of sentimental importance to Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Director, Li Cunxin. Cinderella’s choreographer Ben Stevenson served as a mentor to the now-household name, playing an important role in Li’s journey to America that would become a best-selling autobiography and subsequent film— Mao’s Last Dancer. Li also danced in a Stevenson-choregraphed Cinderella when he was part of the Houston Ballet Company. For him, staging this production is a tribute to the impact of Stevenson on his life.

“It’s wonderful because Li is a very busy man, but every time we rehearse Cinderella he’s here in the studio with us, passing on his knowledge and how he rehearsed it,” says Laura. “Sometimes when a lift doesn’t go well or he wants to explain something, he partners up [with us]—it’s just really special.”

But even without the backstory, Laura says that Cinderella is universally relevant. Growing up in Argentina before she trained at the L’Institute Superieur d’Art in France and then joined the American Ballet Theatre, Laura knew Cinderella by another name—La Cenicienta—but says that audiences of all ages will be able to relate to a story that champions kindness and friendship

“Every culture has [a Cinderella story] and it unifies people—it’s a beautiful story that I think will lift everybody up. We live in a pretty crazy world right now and taking a couple of hours to enjoy beauty in a timeless story—there’s something very special about that.”

the essentials

What: Cinderella
When: 5–10 November
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
Cost: $79.00–$94.00*

* a $5.95 fee applies per transaction.

This editorial was created in partnership with Canberra Theatre Centre. For more information on sponsored partnerships, click here.

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