Tag Archive: The Seasons

In Cinderella, The Four Seasons are fairy-like characters who are conjured up by the Fairy Godmother as she transforms the sooty young girl into her ballgown.

Back in 2010 when Cinderella was first created, David explained that they were four of the final costumes to be designed. When we spoke to him about the characters in August, he’d not yet seen two of them at all. Such was his confidence in Designer John Macfarlane, however, that he was not concerned.

Now that the ballet has been performed in full, we can to compare John’s original designs with photography of the finished costumes. Here are the sketches and paintings for each, alongside images from the final show:

Cinderella returns to Birmingham Hippodrome, 21 November-9 December 2012. Click here to book your seats now.

In mid-2009, David Bintley discussed his dual responsibilities as both a Choreographer and Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. ‘I use my pieces to bring people along’, he said, ‘to support the dancers’ development.’

With Cinderella going on tour this month to Salford and Plymouth, we asked how he hopes his latest work has stimulated the Company.

‘It’s a ballet with a lot of roles for women, rather than the men,’ David says, ‘Cinderella herself is a nice role for the girls because it’s quite varied – not only technically, because they’re working barefoot and en pointe, and with big set pieces in the second act – but also because of the long passages where they’re just alone by themselves. They have to create and maintain a character that really endears itself to the audience, who have got to empathise with Cinderella, otherwise the show doesn’t work. It’s really carried on her shoulders.

‘Then there are a lot of subsidiary characters like the sisters, which are comedy roles, and there aren’t a lot of those for women in ballet. I feel that these characters work: there’s a freedom in them that allows the dancers to add their own personality, but there’s a good solid framework and the audience gets the jokes.

‘Then there are the Seasons, which are challenging solos full of difficult steps. They’re deliberately difficult, I didn’t want to make them easy. And I’ve tried to get a number of the girls into those roles from Principals to Artists. We’ve already had Nao [Sakuma] as Autumn, and Natasha [Oughtred] as Spring, and Elisha [Willis] as Winter. All three of these are also dancing Cinderella in other shows. But I’ve also cast Artists like Yvette [Knight] and Kristen [McGarrity] and Delia [Mathews], all of whom I wanted to challenge. And they’ve responded brilliantly.’

The Four Seasons

David has confirmed that all of the design work on Cinderella has been completed. ‘I think the last designs were the ones for the Seasons,’ he says. ‘I haven’t actually seen complete finished designs for Spring or Winter, but I really don’t need to.

‘I spoke with John [Macfarlane, Designer] about them and we both know what the other is after.

‘Funnily enough, over the whole production, the hardest costume for him seems to have been the Spring costume. In theory it will be the simplest, just a little slip of a dress, but he puts so much thought into every one of his creations, and this one just seems to have come the hardest.’

David has also revealed who will be performing the roles of each of the four seasons, who visit Cinderella in the kitchen before she is magically whisked off to the Prince’s ball.

‘Momoko Hirata is Spring, Lei Zhao is Summer, Angela Paul is Autumn and Delia Mathews is Winter.

‘The character of each role is entirely within the steps. You have to establish the roles in a very short space of time – Momoko’s Spring variation is less than a minute, for example.’

David has already created choreography based upon the four seasons for previous works, but these new roles will not be influenced by what has gone before.

‘All of the versions that I’ve done in previous ballets have really been dictated by how each season has been characterised by the composer. The Verdi Four Seasons that I did has really very little to do with the seasons at all, other than Spring wears green, for example. It’s just a response to the music. Althoughy admittedly, there are appropriate qualities to each movement – so you’ve got a brilliance in winter and a langour in summer which would indicate snow and ice, and the hot sun respectively.

With the Prokofiev, there are similar elements. Spring is fast and joyous, and autumn is like leaves being blown around, a little bit menacing with a hint of rain. Summer is beautiful and languorous with flutes, and winter is pizzicato, like walking on ice.

I have been putting a lot of thought into why Prokofiev included the seasons at all – why are they in this story?

‘There’s a constant theme of time passing throughout the story of Cinderella – the imagery of the clock, or the transition from loneliness to joy. In our version, the seasons precede Cinderella going to the ball. And we liked the idea from the original scenario that this was the moment when Cinderella got dressed up into all her finery, and that the seasons all bring her appropriate gifts which become elements of what she wears. So it’s a bit like a little girl dressing up.

‘We’re still talking about the scene at the moment, as we’re still not entirely decided. But the idea is that summer will perhaps bring her flowers for her hair, and winter will bring a cloak of frosted leaves, and so on. All of these elements will then combine into the outfit that Cinderella wears for the ball.’

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