Arts ballet review

The clock strikes opening night at the Boston Ballet’s Cinderella

Reflections on the Boston Ballet opening night showing of Cinderella on March 14, 2024.


Choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton

Directed by Mikko Nissinen and Ming Min Hui

Citizens Opera House

March 14th-24th, 2024


Maya Bose '27 and Karie Shen '27 attended the Boston Ballet opening night showing of Cinderella on March 14, 2024.


Shen: Watching Cinderella as a ballet was super exciting. We all know the classic fairytale and I was looking forward to how it would be translated into a ballet.

Bose: Me too! To be honest, I expected the performance to be more serious and focused on Cinderella’s mistreatment by her stepsisters, like the original fairytale. However, it was obvious from the first scene that the ballet had a more comedic interpretation of the two stepsisters. The ballet opened with a humorous back-and-forth struggle between the stepsisters, where their distinct, ridiculous personalities shone through, making me laugh. 

Instead of being villains, the stepsisters provided comic relief and had multiple entertaining scenes scattered throughout the show, which really heightened my enjoyment of the story. It takes a lot of talent to be funny purely through pantomime, as well as dance awkwardly on purpose; the two sisters were probably my favorite performers. 

Shen: To be frank, I only noticed that one of the stepsisters was played by a man the whole time. The program mentioned that the Boston Ballet partnered with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition to “evolve gender portrayals in classical ballet.” I thought this was a great collaboration because the dancers and the choreography worked really well together. Ballet is such a technical, clean-cut style of dance that makes the dancers look graceful and coordinated. It was a fun play on ballet to see the stepsisters intentionally underperform the dances and show how ungraceful the characters were, while still demonstrating their flexibility and coordination as dancers. I thought ballet was the perfect medium for this.

Bose: I agree—the sisters were definitely a highlight for me. However, I missed the original elements surrounding the fairy godmother and the midnight deal. For instance, Cinderella arrived in a normal carriage rather than a pumpkin-themed one, and there were no helpful mice friends. Instead, some random fairy-like characters representing the four seasons were introduced, who didn’t mesh well with the original storyline. In my opinion, these characters were unnecessary. 

I also would have liked to see the classic blue Cinderella gown, rather than the silver tutu she transformed into instead. I actually liked some of the background dancers’ old-fashioned, ball gown costumes more than Cinderella’s. However, I thought the interpretation of the clock striking midnight was done very well! The spotlight racing frantically across the stage in search of Cinderella paired with the booming clock in the background created a dramatic, tense atmosphere which I loved. Additionally, changing the famous glass slippers into sparkling ballet shoes was a nice touch.

Shen: I agree with the seasonal fairy sentiment. The costumes and dances were very pretty and represented the seasons well, but they didn’t play any part in the plot. It reminded me of Act II of The Nutcracker, when the sweets from around the world dance together. There was also a jester at the royal ball and a character dressed in a regal red costume, who I thought was the prince but was not…Overall, however, the costume design by Christine Haworth was lovely. 

Bose: Of course, the dancing itself was great too. The performers were elegant and managed to convey a lot of expression and humor through their movements. My favorite scene by far was Cinderella’s entrance to the ball. She arrived wearing all white with a long, sheer cape draped over her shoulders that was artfully held up by four attendants behind her. As Cinderella walked gracefully down the steps, the billowing cape sparkled and curved through the air. It was a quiet, solemn scene that was full of emotion. You could see her hesitate as she descended the staircase while looking straight ahead at the prince, as if the rest of the ballroom didn’t exist. I loved it. Throughout the ballet, Cinderella had been practicing dance steps secretly in her home and was finally able to perform these same steps after she entered the ball. I thought that was a nice touch. The scene was poignant and very well done. 

Shen: Mine was definitely the partner dance with Cinderella and the Prince. Their white, glittery outfits matched perfectly and the music (Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella Op. 87, No. 36, Duet of the Prince and Cinderella) created this sort of swelling atmosphere. It was powerful, peaceful, and melancholy at the same time, as if there was an awareness that the magic would end and they had limited time. It was a type of scene where the world fell away for them.

And Ji Young Chae is so lovely. She’s a principal dancer at Boston Ballet and danced as Cinderella in this ballet. Even in her simple rags, she made Cinderella look so beautiful. I saw her as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker as well and I can’t wait to see more of her performances.

Shen and Bose: Despite the unexpected deviations from the classic Disney storyline, we loved the artistry that went into the performance — from the costume and set designs to choreography and music. We would highly recommend Boston Ballet’s Cinderella, especially for people new to ballet!