Saturday 1 July 2017

My First Ballet: Cinderella

For the second year, the girls and I returned to the Peacock Theatre in London to see the young and talented dancers from the English National Ballet School perform for the tiniest aspiring ballerinas. Now in its sixth year, the My First Ballet series features a classical ballet, specially shortened, adapted, and cleverly narrated to suit children as young as three. 

Marina Minguez as the Fairy Godmother (c) Photography by ASH

 Maria Isabel Trabalon Sanjuan and Jeong Eun Park as the Stepsisters (c) Photography by ASH

Although arguably the music of Cinderella, a Prokofiev classic, is a little less memorable than Sleeping Beauty (last year's lovely production), the rags to riches tale is firmly fixed in the fairytale canon and lent itself very well to this adaptation. The narrator, now older, takes us on a journey back in time to a story from her youth and we meet the young Cinderella through the older Queen's eyes. This year's story had a real element of humour and the stepsisters, full of character, stole the show. 

Remi Nakano as Cinderella and Yuki Nakaaki as The Prince  © Laurent Liotardo

One of the best elements of the My First Ballet productions are the interweaving of narration and dance. Carefully and intentionally, the dancers illustrate that many of the ballet moves that we might usually miss with the whirl of limbs and chiffon have specific meanings. These are deliberately emphasised throughout and outlined in the well designed programme. Miniature audience members are invited to spot certain gestures and specific moves throughout the ballet. At crucial junctures time is slowed so we don't miss a crucial exchange. I'm always learning something new alongside my little women and enjoy these productions just as much as they do.

Remi Nakano as Cinderella and Yuki Nakaaki as The Prince  © Laurent Liotardo

Marina Minguez as the Fairy Godmother 

& Mar Bonet Sans as Cinderella (c) Photography by ASH

This unique collaboration between English National Ballet and English National Ballet School is always particularly exciting for Culturebaby as we are lucky enough to be able to attend ENB's Junior ballet school. These brilliant dancers therefore demonstrate in a connected and tangible way what is possible for the very youngest of students. The classes, run by highly trained professionals and featuring a real pianist, come highly recommended. No auditions are necessary but the quality of teaching is excellent. We are heading over to Chelsea tomorrow to take part in the annual performance for the Juniors, which last year was hugely impressive. It's a class worth travelling to. 

Remi Nakano as Cinderella © Laurent Liotardo

ENB has worked with Widgit to produce resources that can be easily used by the young but also by those with learning difficulties or disabilities. The My First Ballet: Cinderella Symbol Resources are designed for use before, during and after performances. You can download these here at the links below. Some of these flashcards in particular are brilliantly useful and I'll be producing a set for the girls soon:

Remi Nakano as Cinderella  © Laurent Liotardo

Another great accompaniment to the performance is James Mayhew's beautifully illustrated picture book Ella Bella and Cinderella. It is part of the ingenious series where the little ballerina Ella is transported, with the aid of a magical musical box, into a series of ballets; supporting the characters and saving the plot.

Although the ENB school dancers have finished their run for the year, performances continue over the summer at two locations. For further details and booking information see the website at

Anita Wolleb as the Fairy Godmother  © Laurent Liotardo

The Peacock, London
18 – 23 July 2017
Box Office: 020 7863 8000
Tickets: £10 - £25

 Manchester Opera House
26 –30 July 2017
Box Office:
0844 871 3018
Tickets: £11.50 - £29.40

Disclaimer: We received press tickets for the purposes of review from English National Ballet. All views are, as always, our own. Photographs are courtesy of ENB and the specified photographers - with thanks.

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