Legends created this inversion on the classic, starting with the scenography of Ernest Pignon-Ernest. The residue of his renowned talents in political, public art is ever-present in this production, including the utilitarian usage of periodic words projected on the otherwise stark and mobile set pieces. The staging supports the efficient, effective lighting by Dominique Drillot. These two elements set the stage for the story’s wide range of emotions.
Jérôme Kaplan often defines costuming for me, and his white dress for this ballet evidences why. The dress, on display in the Kennedy Center lobby, shows Kaplan’s nuanced mastery form and style, fabric and stitching.
The ballet opens with Cendrillon, the character, holding her late mother’s white dress, and the dress is an integral part of the story. Cendrillon wears it; her mother wears it, and Cendrillon and her father both, independently, dance with it. The dress becomes a character. It is the ballast for all symbols and messages in the ballet.
We hear a lot of talk about the post-apocalyptic pieces in this production, of course, from the bandaged heads of the Stepmother and her two daughters to the outrageous costume fixtures that make the Stepmother appear to have a tail. And those elements really do underscore the idea of artifice as the counter to Cendrillon’s natural simplicity.
Sets, lighting, and costumes are still progressive after more than twenty years in production. All are bold enough to withstand the powerful, booming score of Sergei Prokofiev, the Russian-born composer of the last century who gave us Romeo and Juliet and Peter and the Wolf scoring as well.
And these huge, distinct names seem necessary to support the rapid, expansive, and symbolic choreography of company driver Maillot.