I was in the presence of greatness last night when Jean-Christophe Maillot’s brilliant version of Cinderella was performed by Les Ballet de Monte Carlo at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. I was so mesmerized by the performance that I couldn’t wait for the intermissions to be over. Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, one of Europe’s most acclaimed ballet companies, is so well disciplined that the smallest detail emerged with precision and fluidity. The accuracy of each dancer was astonishing, and Maillot’s sentimentality and wit shine as bright as the dancer.
When the curtain rises for the prologue, Cinderella is sitting in a chair. From the depths of her solitude, she remembers her father, Chris Roelandt, and mother, Mimoza Koike, who later becomes the Fairy, dancing with love and affection. Their dance is filled with life, before Koike catches herself in weakness a few times and dies. Maillot’s choreography is so attuned to the music that the dance is illuminated and Mimoza Koike instantly holds fairy-like grace. Maillot’s heart and passion create a stunningly beautiful prologue. As I watched them move in unison, I already felt drawn into the life on stage.
Maillot’s sense of humor emerges later in the ballet as he builds the plot around a foot fetish. The foot was the defining structural element of the story. It is the foot that turns the prince’s world around and inspires him to travel far and wide, paying close attention to every foot on the way. Rather than focusing on the virtue of Cinderella or the evil of her step-family, he built his ballet on the idea of the foot fetish.
Other humorous favorites were the two Superintendents of Pleasure, gentlemen in charge of facilitating the glorious excess and plotting of the stepmother and her two daughters. Their loud and cheeky onstage presence was a constant source of amusement.
The show comes full circle and ends in an unexpected stroke of sentimentality. As Cinderella embraces her prince, parallel dances by Cinderella and the Prince and the fairy godmother and father show Cinderella has found her own true love. Seeing her daughter’s happiness, the mother can now leave this world after an elegant, final dance with the father.
Maillot reveals the emotions of the characters through movement and a new language emerges through dance. The Fairy, also Cinderella’s mother, Mimoza Koike, didn’t need fairy-dust to shine like a star on stage. I was transfixed by her every movement and often forgot about what else was going on around her. Her presence on stage was all-consuming and I would return to Les Ballet de Monte Carlo again and again just to catch a glimpse of her on stage.
Les Ballet de Monte Carlo is an exclusive West Coast engagement from February 9-12, under the Presidency of H.R.H the Princess of Hanover. In additional to the performances of Cinderella at Segerstrom Hall, highlights of the week include Monegasque-inspired menus at local restaurants, a luxury raffle for a chance to win the trip of a lifetime to Monaco, a not-to-be missed exhibit in South Coast Plaza’s Jewel Court showcasing Monaco’s unique cultural heritage and Princess Grace’s exceptional contribution to the arts through photos, videos, ballet artifacts and more. For more information about ‘Monaco takes Orange County,’ visit MonacoTakesUs.com
Les Ballet de Monte Carlo
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
February 9-12th, 2012
Tickets: Start at $13.50