Sparkling bal­let part­ner­ship

Christ­mas pro­duc­tion to fea­ture a win­ning duo who bring elec­tric­ity to the role of Cin­ders and her Prince Charm­ing tg­wsat­ur­day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD BALLET - BEVERLEY BROM­MERT

ABALLET such as Cin­derella de­pends for its suc­cess on a con­vinc­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the hero­ine and her prince, and Cape Town City Bal­let’s forth­com­ing Christ­mas pro­duc­tion has a win­ning duo with Ce­leste Ge­orge and Alexan­der Vi­vian-Rid­ing in those roles.

Aus­tralian-born Vi­vian-Rid­ing, who trained in Syd­ney and New Zealand, is a new­comer to the com­pany, while Ge­orge is an es­tab­lished mem­ber, hav­ing al­ready danced the lead in sev­eral of its bal­lets, in­clud­ing Giselle and Cin­derella.

A new part­ner as com­pat­i­ble as Vi­vian-Rid­ing is set to add sparkle to this pop­u­lar bal­le­rina’s per­for­mance, and the chem­istry be­tween the pair is pal­pa­ble as they chat about up­com­ing chal­lenges for the sum­mer sea­son.

“Danc­ing the Prince in Cin­derella is a first for me,” says Vi­vian-Rid­ing, who joined the com­pany in early June at the in­vi­ta­tion of artis­tic co-or­di­na­tor Keith Mack­in­tosh. “The role is not too de­mand­ing tech­ni­cally, and the char­ac­ter is fun to in­ter­pret. We’ve just had a short sea­son of this bal­let in Dur­ban, with al­ter­nate casts each hav­ing two per­for­mances – so we’ve had a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence ahead of the Cape Town run, which boosts con­fi­dence.”

Ge­orge adds: “It’s re­as­sur­ing when you’re with a part­ner who’s fa­mil­iar, and I re­ally en­joy danc­ing with Alex. The first time I had the lead in Cin­derella some time ago, I was part­nered by Thomas Thorne, and he’s too tall for me – Alex and I are bet­ter matched phys­i­cally, per­fect height-wise.”

Vi­vian-Rid­ing ad­mits: “It took me some time to get into the Prince role; the biggest chal­lenge is to one’s stamina, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond act.”

Ge­orge en­dorses this: “It’s quite harsh for the dancer do­ing the Prince, be­cause he has his first en­trance, then a lit­tle break, then a huge solo. I thought Alex would be quicker at mas­ter­ing the part be­cause I’m so fa­mil­iar with the whole bal­let, but now he’s got it, he’s great. The best part is, he re­mem­bers what he’s told.”

It hasn’t all been easy. Vi­vianRid­ing says: “We had some rough patches un­der stress, but Ce­leste’s ba­si­cally an easy part­ner. Our al­ter­nate parts in Cin­derella are less de­mand­ing: on open­ing night I’m just danc­ing one of the Prince’s friends, and she’ll ap­pear as the Spring Fairy – a gen­tle land­ing be­fore we take on the leads in the mati­nee on De­cem­ber 18, the next day.”

Both are ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the pro­duc­tion fol­low­ing Cin­derella, a new work that cel­e­brates the mu­sic of Cole Porter with chore­og­ra­phy by the com­pany’s Robin van Wyk. “It’s called Night and Day, due to open on De­cem­ber 31, and af­ter that it’ ll go to May­nardville,” says Ge­orge. “We do a fab­u­lous pas de deux to I Get a Kick out of You – it’s all about 1940s glam­our, with the men in tuxe­dos and the women in lovely dresses – I wear a red one, which I love.”

She adds: “It should be won­der­ful if Robin re­cov­ers in time to fin­ish the chore­og­ra­phy; he fell ill last week, prob­a­bly be­cause he’s been over­do­ing things, what with Night and Day and danc­ing an Ugly Sis­ter in Cin­derella.”

Vi­vian-Rid­ing has the last word: “What there is of Night and Day looks en­cour­ag­ing, and we both love Cole Porter… so this is a short­term chal­lenge I’m sure we’ll man­age.” With his part­ner of four months’ stand­ing, he feels any­thing is pos­si­ble.

Cin­derella opens at Artscape Opera House on De­cem­ber 17. Night and Day opens on De­cem­ber 31, also at Artscape. Book­ing through Com­puticket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat.


CHEM­ISTRY: Ce­leste Ge­orge and Alexan­der Vi­vian-Rid­ing in

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