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