The San Francisco Ballet has never shied away from a challenge (it is the oldest company in the nation, after all), and this Friday's national premiere of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's "Cinderella" is no exception.
Though hardly the first to tackle the classic tale, Wheeldon's "Cinderella" is a departure from more traditional performances.
"This Cinderella is different from other ballet versions of the story," explained Wheeldon to The Huffington Post. "We've combined elements of the Grimm and Perrault versions of the tale and added some of our own. The production is comical, romantic and theatrical. We want to take audiences on a magical journey."
The show is a formidable two hours and 33 minutes of storytelling, puppetry and complex choreography that integrates plenty of Wheeldon's own plot line interpretations. The result is a darker, more sincere version of the classic that the Financial Times called "the most dramatically convincing Cinderella in ballet."
And as in Rossini's "La Cenerentola," the Prince trades places with his friend to deliver ball invitations to Cinderella's home. Posing as a beggar, he comforts the heroine when she is left behind by sweetly showing her how to dance; as she hops on his feet like a giddy teenager we can see the budding of believable love, the ingredient missing from most balletic Cinderellas.
A collaboration between the San Francisco and Dutch National ballets, the show celebrated its world premiere in Amsterdam in December. San Francisco will welcome the show's U.S. premiere this Friday night with an opening night gala, complete with a dinner, fundraiser, performance and City Hall after-party. Just don't forget your slipper.