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Magically modern Cinderella

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s new Cinderella production presents a sparky, stylish twist on the classic tale, with a heroine who knows her own mind and a hero who follows his heart. It promises highs, lows and fairy-tale endings in every shade of the rainbow and comes with a magical new score by Claire Cowan and fashion-forward designs by Emma Kingsbury.

Choreograp­her and former Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Loughlan Prior shares his side of the story and why his characters get to choose their own happy.

How have you modernised the story of Cinderella?

We’re emboldenin­g Cinderella’s story. In a lot of versions she’s pushed and pulled around by her stepmother and fairy godmother even. In this, we really wanted her to have a lot more agency and choice in what she actually is doing. She’s the hero of her own story for once.

Why do you think it is important to bring Cinderella into a modern-day context?

I’m always thinking about who is being a ected by this. Who’s watching this and also what would I have liked to have seen growing up in fairy tales. This version is a lot more accurate to how people behave today or attitudes of today. It’s a feminist, queer retelling of the story and that’s really exciting and what inspires me.

Why is it important to reframe the narrative?

Everyone forgets it’s the poor prince who is the underdog in the story and he doesn’t really have a character. He’s just this figure and a lot of the time in fairy tales it’s the idea of marrying the prince and not actually the reality of what that really means. To give it some contempora­ry relevance we asked ourselves, what if and why – what if they finally said ‘no’ and disrupted that? Not everyone wants to marry a prince. There’s a lot to be said about shaping your own destiny.

What was your approach to the choreograp­hy?

The music, design and choreograp­hy is very eclectic. It’s a whole mash up of di erent styles with ballet at its foundation.

The ballet also makes a comment on materialis­m and over-consumptio­n. Can you speak to that?

The stepsister­s are loosely based on the Kardashian­s where the world they’re living in is all about excess, consumeris­m, trends and fast fashion throwaway culture. And then there’s the stark contrast with Cinderella, who is radiant, beautiful and minimal, wearing recycled clothing and hand-me-downs.

What do you hope people will take from it?

With Covid we’ve all been moping around the fireplace in the soot and want to have some magic brought back into our lives with live theatre so I hope it does that.

Cinderella opens in Wellington on August 3 and tours New Zealand through to September 3.

 ?? ?? RNZB Cinderella choreograp­her Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan.
RNZB Cinderella choreograp­her Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan.

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