In a Gender-Flipped Production of Cinderella, a Princess Rescues

Scottish Ballet recently held a rehearsal for “Cinders!,” a new version of “Cinderella” that challenges traditional gender dynamics in ballet. The ballet’s artistic director, Christopher Hampson, has decided to switch traditional gender roles by having a male version of Cinderella, known as Cinders, played by Evan Loudon. Marge Hendrick, usually a female ballerina, plays the royal character Prince Louise, who takes the lead role in rescuing Cinders.

This reversal of gender dynamics has led to some challenges for the dancers during the choreography as they work to adapt to the new roles. Hampson’s “Cinders!” is making history in the ballet world by pushing against the gender stereotypes that have long been ingrained in the art form. It’s a bold move in an art form that has been historically slow to accept change in this area.

The gender flip challenges the traditional narrative structure and pas de deux in ballet, forcing dancers to question their historically-gendered technique. This has sparked a conversation about the future of ballet and how it can evolve to embrace gender fluidity more inclusively. Other gender flips have occurred in contemporary ballet but have been limited to shorter, more abstract works.

Hampson’s idea for “Cinders!” came from “Gender Swapped Fairy Tales” by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett, a book that flips the gender of classic fairytale characters, including “Cinderella.” He felt that the standard “Cinderella” ballet needed new energy and a change in the plot to address the stereotypes within the original narrative. This change has also allowed for a new level of vulnerability and emotion in the male Cinders role, which hasn’t been traditionally portrayed on stage in ballet.

The production has raised some challenges in terms of choreography but aims to shift the story without challenging the historically divided technical roles for men and women in ballet. The ballet will feature male Cinders/Princess and female Cinders/Prince pairings to accommodate the alternation between male and female lead roles during the run of the production. Even the ending has been adjusted to accommodate the gender swap, with the male Cinders leaving a soft ballet shoe adorned with jewels instead of the traditional pointe shoe, and introducing a character named Tarquin to try on the shoe in place of the Prince.

This new version of the classic ballet hopes to challenge the traditional narrative and expectations for gender roles within the art form, as well as provide the space for new voices and identities to flourish in the world of ballet.

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