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Night falls over Ljubljana. On castle hill, the city’s medieval fortress lights up and looms over the stage at Congress Square. This is where choreographer Alexandros Stavropoulos presents his eight-headed group piece Cinderella’s. However, his Cinderella seems out of place in this fairytale environment. She is not the battered maid, nor the princess who lived happily ever after, but an item from a Disney gift shop: objectified and pleasing. Eight shallow-brained clones, dressed in the same crinolines, long satin gloves and updo wigs, do synchronised and rhythmic dances to the electrified sounds of clocks and bells. They tiptoe over a glittering stage in group configurations, like a herd of sheep, that bursts out in bleating at the encounter with a pumpkin. Stavropoulos makes us cringe at this painful reminder of how disenchanted our lives have become.
Airhead, blonde, coquettish, coy, cute, dainty, dippy, ditsy, dolly-bird, fluttery, frivolous, giggly, girly, glitzy, kittenish, limp-wristed, mincing, preening, pretty-pretty, primping, prissy, shallow, silly, simpering, tippy-toed… an entire lexicon of ultra-effeminate stereotypes informs the clockwork choreography of Cinderella’s by Alexandros Stavropoulos, its eight interchangeable women, in Barbie wigs and crinoline hoops, prancing over a glittered floor to a tick-tocking score.
Does staging stereotypes ‘subvert’ them? At the end, certainly, the dancers let their costumes and stances slip, but it’s very little, very late. A scene featuring pumpkins – most of them bulbous, one pointedly phallic – pokes fun at but hardly ‘questions’ the gender binary.
Choreography can complicate imagery – as when the entry of Steve Reich music engenders a genuine sophistication of corporeal articulation and arrangement, subtly degendering the generic girliness. But in general, Cinderella’s veers closer to formation dancing.
As you can tell, I didn’t have a ball.