Opera is more my area of expertise, but I am still a huge fan of ballet and always have been since seeing Swan Lake when I was 6. I loved this film production of Prokofiev's ballet. And what a wonderful ballet it is, I saw it recently for the first time where I'm studying music in Birmingham and I was captivated by it, the music, the story, the choreography, everything(oh, and Dumpy was hilarious). Since then, I've been seeking DVDs/videos of the ballet, and this was immediately recommended. And for good reason. Some of the camera work is not as clean as it could have been, it did feel static at times, and I completely understand why some will prefer live performances for their authenticity and spontaneity. However, so much compensates hugely that you do forget any foibles. The costumes and sets are really beautiful, especially at the end of Act 1 and the whole of Act 2. The orchestral playing is perfectly balanced with every instrument and section having their moments to shine, and the conducting allows the jauntiness of the stepsisters' music, the beauty of the final Pas De Deux, the enchanting charm of the Season Fairies and the ethereal mystery of the Fairy Godmother's music to come through. The choreography is really outstanding being graceful, technically accomplished and elegant. The stepsisters' choreography is also very witty, especially in the whole getting ready for the ball sequence. I also loved how Wayne Sleep, whose stature is very diminutive, was able to catch Ashton right on point. While dramatically effective, only the clock-strikes-twelve scene came across as confusing. The dancing itself is gorgeous to watch with beautiful lines and balance, the Corps De Ballet in Act 2 are perfect examples of this. Antoinette Sibley is a likable Cinderella, and dances very elegantly, while Anthony Dowell is a dashing Prince. The Fairy Godmother is appropriately benevolent and the Season Fairies are beguiling, but Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann steal the show as the Stepsisters, these two knows not only how to dance but also to act, and they are hilarious. All in all, magical entertainment, recommended highly. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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