Royal New Zealand Ballet's Cinderella rebels against 21st Century materialism

RNZB Principal Mayu Tanigaito as Cinderella. Image: Ross Brown

Royal New Zealand Ballet's Cinderella rebels against 21st Century materialism

A dream team of Royal New Zealand Ballet creators has come together to add something spectacular to a new telling of the Cinderella story.

Coreographer Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan, the creative minds behind 2019's hit ballet Hansel & Gretel, have reunited for RNZB's first national tour in over a year. Feisty, funny, and fabulous, Cinderella is the brainchild of award-winning master storyteller Loughlan, with a magical new score by Claire, and fashion-forward designs by the San Francisco-based Australian designer Emma Kingsbury.

"Our Cinderella story centres around a quest for identity, true love and the courage to be yourself," says Loughlan. "The characters exist in a society of excess, titles and possessions, in which more is more; a direct parallel to the oversaturation of 21st Century living. Cinderella and Prince Charming must push against the noise in order to re-write their own, authentic ‘happily ever afters’.”

Loughlan’s most recent main stage work for the company was 2021’s The Firebird which was described in one review as “brave, innovative and welcome” and another as “a triumph.” An international review of the extraordinary film version of The Firebird read, “Prior’s Firebird has it all; theatre magic, memorable performances.” Loughlan’s 2019 production of Hansel and Gretel, his first collaboration with Claire, enchanted audiences around Aotearoa with almost 28,000 people enjoying it in theatres as a pre-Christmas treat, and 150,000 tuning in to watch free broadcasts of the ballet during April and May 2020.

Claire is at the forefront of composition in New Zealand. She has worked with the country’s biggest orchestras, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the NZSO National Youth Orchestra while she was still a university student. She received Best Classical Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards in 2021, two Silver Scroll nominations, and a win for her first TV series soundtrack, Hillary.

Emma has designed extensively for film, ballet, television, theatre and opera, in the US, Europe, Australia and the UK. Most recently, that includes Blacklight, HBO’s Finding Magic Mike, Wooden Dimes for the San Francisco Ballet, The Firebird for Texas Ballet and the award-winning The Crucible for Scottish Ballet. This is her first commission for the RNZB.

RNZB favourites, including Principals Mayu Tanigaito, Laurynas Vėjalis and Kate Kadow, will shine in iconic roles including Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother, alongside a cast of delightful, colourful – and in some cases slightly surprising – characters. Highs, lows, fairy-tale endings, and happy-ever-afters spill from the stage in every shade of the rainbow, with dancing and storytelling that will bring joy to the young and young at heart.

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will perform the music live.

The season has a comprehensive accessibility programme including an audio described performances and touch tour for blind and low vision audience members.

Wednesday 3 August – Saturday 3 September

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