Did the Clock Really Strike 12?


A hand painted backdrop appeared on the stage as an old woman and her two daughters began to bicker before her, all the while a woman who looked like a maid stood still behind them. With no dialogue to go by, music played loudly in the background, heightening and faltering at each up and down of a scene. Dancers went by their own pace, even improvising if their hair fell out of its bun, but nonetheless continued to show emotion to convey any situation. Moscow Festival Ballet brought to life the old Cinderella tale onto stage and gave an incredible performance filled with both comedy and misery. Roles were without a blink of an eye gender swapped and introduced a playful twist on the story of Cinderella and her wretched family life.

Although I cannot directly credit the dancers who played Cinderella or the Prince (for they weren’t credited in the program), I will credit choreographer Rostislav Zakharov for his incredible attention to detail. All the dancers seemed to be align with each other with every twirl, leap, and bow, while still seeming to devise their own particular style. MFB’s interpretation of Cinderella was respectfully traditional and although the company didn’t make their performance have a modern flare, their way of producing the old tale still gave a performance worth watching. It seems the show wouldn’t have been able to go on without the help of composer Sergei Prokofiev, his score greatly provided the dancers a sense of urgency to tell the story without hitting you over the head with too much action at once.

MFB presented Cinderella in two acts: Act 1 and Act 2. Act 1 covering all that occurs before the ball and Act 2 covering all that occurs after the clock strikes 12. It’s clear to say that the clock striking 12 dances were probably the most elaborate scenes of the whole performance as a dancer dressed as what appeared to be a grandfather clock came onto the stage, for precisely two times, and still seemed to steal the show with a very ornate dance. Aside from the memorable clock strike dance, the duet between Cinderella and the Prince was definitely one to remember. Cinderella and the Prince showed romance growing through their routine as they both delicately handled one another, proving to the audience how close the two had become in the short span of time. Although farfetched, the dancers who portrayed Cinderella and the Prince graciously executed the tasks of filling the shoes of the iconic pair, all the while having no dialogue.

Colorful costumes littered the stage, over the top makeup accentuated the Stepmother, and comedy was brought to the usual dreary characters of the evil stepsisters. Artistic director Sergei Radchenko, along with the help of costume/set designer Elizaveta Dvorkina, greatly helped MFB bring their immaculate and customary version of Cinderella to life on stage. With a company of only 50, MFB made their performance seem like it was done effortlessly, although they had so much detail in their performance. After this performance ended you ask yourself, “Did the clock really strike 12 if the fantasy still continues?”

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