Cinderella – Choreographer’s Notes

Cinderella is one of the most popular fairy tales and also one of the most beloved full-length ballets ever performed. Sergei Prokofiev began composing the music for the three-act ballet in 1940 but did not finish the score until 1944. It was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in November 1945.

Sir Frederick Ashton of the Royal Ballet choreographed one of the most popular versions. He and senior dancer Robert Helpmann cast themselves as the mean stepsisters. Audiences were shocked to see such physical comedy in a ballet. I remember watching this ballet on television as a young girl, and I was mesmerized.

The original ballet score comprises over three hours of music. The score was extended beyond the story to allow for companies with large dance rosters to have every dancer perform. Even though Dayton Ballet is presenting a shortened version of this ballet, we have kept the entire story of Cinderella neatly intact.

When choreographing a story ballet, it is important to have the steps flow together and appear easy to the audience but also to be very clear in describing who each character is and what is happening in the plot of the story. The movements for a fairy, for instance, would not be the same as the movements for one of the stepsisters. Working with dancers on this characterized aspect of the art form is one of my favorite parts of choreographing.

We at Dayton Ballet are thrilled to be back on stage this season after such a long hiatus due to the pandemic. We hope you are just as thrilled to be back in the audience with us, either live in the theater or virtually from the comfort of home!

Karen Russo Burke
Dayton Ballet Artistic Director
Choreographer