By Archana Ravi
Daily Arts Writer
The only time we truly experience life in its purest form is during our childhood. Children are unsuspicious, simplistic and ever so creative. From their perspective, life is a manifestation of stories and dreams, surreal yet clear and absolute.
In a masterpiece described by The New York Times as “astonishingly original and magical,” the Lyon Opera Ballet takes us back to our childhood in a fantasy-like production of “Cinderella.” The classic fairytale is portrayed through the eyes of a child with a toyshop setting, porcelain doll-figure dancers, toys, trumpets and even intermittent sounds of baby gurgles.
However, it is not the setting that is emphasized in this theatrical world of make-believe; rather, the focus is the intense human emotion of the characters. French choreographer Maguy Marin tries to depict children’s feelings through the show’s doll-like characters.
Marin has been described as a post-Romantic, creating a sophisticated, innovative production of appeal to many audiences of all ages. Marin has choreographed for many highly acclaimed dance companies, including the Paris Opera Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet and of course, the 1985 version of “Cinderella” for the Lyon Opera Ballet. Although trained in both classical dance and modern, she does not incorporate either style by itself into this production. Most of the dolls move in “stiff-knee” jerky movements, much like those of a real doll (if real dolls could move by themselves).
The show ends thematically, the way everything should end for a child, happily ever after. However, the French end their fairytales with “Ils furent heureux et eurent beaucoup d’enfants” – “They would be very happy and would have many children.” So, at the end of the Lyon Opera production, Cinderella and the Prince pull a cart full of 20 real dolls on stage and truly live a fantasy ending.
The Lyon Opera Ballet first toured in 1999, performing “Carmen” and “Solo for Two.” In 1987, its debut performance of “Cinderella” made it an instant hit at the New York City Center. In 1995, the Lyon Opera Ballet was named Opera National de Lyon, giving it the same high status as the 328-year-old Opera National de Paris. In June 1999, the company became the first modern ballet troupe to perform at the Bolshoi Theater. Now, the company returns with one of its biggest hits, “Cinderella,” in a series of three performances this weekend.