Cinderella: Joy vs turmoil

In Cinderella, the hardships that the heroine endures are what give the ending its power, as she escapes the isolation of the squalid kitchen and the cruelty of the ‘wicked’ stepmother. Where some of David’s previous narrative ballets (such as Cyrano and Edward II) have seen a character rise and fall, Cinderella sees charts the protagonist’s steady rise as she rediscovers hope.

But in the world of ballet, happy endings (The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker) can seem outnumbered by tragedies (Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Swan Lake). Choreographically, is joy as interesting as grief or turmoil? David Bintley believes so.


‘I don’t think that joy is a permanent state,’ he says when we put the question to him. ‘It is something which is very, very brief. It’s in fleeting moments between everything else in life; our daily episodes of work, distraction, interest, fun, whatever. Contentment is more common, calmness or acceptance, yes; but joy to me is something that is above and beyond, it’s a crest of a moment, a climax. And it’s something that is probably more aspired to than achieved.’

'I don’t think that joy is a permanent state. It’s in fleeting moments between everything else in life.'

‘But it’s certainly something that Cinderella attains, and is possibly all the more powerful because she daren’t have hoped to. And choreographically, I would say that beauty and serenity are joy in movement, and so of course are interesting.

‘The suggestion on stage at the end of the piece is not of a tangible place, but more of the Prince and Cinderella together, preserved in a state of bliss. It’s the end of the darkness, the moment of the sun rising after the night. Nothing matters but those two people in this one particular moment of joy, where she’s escaped all of the hardships of the world that she’s known before.’