One of the productions we currently have on our radar is English National Balletâ€™s â€œin-the-roundâ€ staging of Christopher Wheeldonâ€™s Cinderella which premieres at the Royal Albert Hall this Thursday evening. Having seen the ballet performed by both San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, the two companies that originally commissioned this production, we can safely say there is plenty to love in this stunning version.
We recently dropped by Here East, a complex in East London that is also home toÂ Studio Wayne McGregor, to photograph the rehearsals.Â Staging a balletÂ “in-the-round” requires extra large rehearsalÂ spaces, given the extra number of dancers needed to fill the Royal Albert Hall,Â plus the stage’s lack of wings has to be considered. On the day, Christopher Wheeldon and his team were directing rehearsals of the ballroom scene and little prepares you for the scale of it, since whatÂ weÂ actually saw were a number ofÂ different sections allÂ being rehearsedÂ within the same space. The whole thing ran like a well-oiled operation, with the main group of dancers rehearsing the waltz and midnight sequences and smaller groups preparing other sections: we saw Associate Director Loipa AraÃºjo rehearsing Emma Hawes and Francesco Gabriele Frola (Cinders and her Prince Guillaume), andÂ towards the back of the space, we spottedÂ Maria Kochetkova, who co-created the role of Cinderella and is currently guesting with ENB, going over some of the group lifts.
It is hard to fully describe how complex these rehearsals are, given the number of people involved and the fact that, in addition to the “in-the-round stage” factor, this is a new production for the company, with new choreography and stage directions. However, we hope that these photos give you a flavour of what is coming: