Ballet where Cinders goes from rags to riches in blink of an eye

After five years Northern Ballet are reviving David Nixon’s re-imagining of the classic rags-to-riches fairytale, Cinderella

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 3:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 3:08 pm
Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor in Northern Ballet's production of Cinderella
Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor in Northern Ballet's production of Cinderella

For principal Abigail Prudames it is a chance to revisit an old friend. “It was the first main role I got to play so it has been interesting to be returning to it with more knowledge and expertise,” she says. “There are four or five Cinderellas in the company and while last time I was new to a principal role this time I am the only who is experienced and so can help the new ones.”

There have been a few changes to the set design, she notes, particularly in the ballroom scene and she tells audiences to look our for a giant a Faberge egg.

In any case, she continues, “When you have different people in the roles it is going to be a slightly different interpretation. Last time I danced opposite Giuliano (Contadini) as the Prince and this time it is Joseph Taylor. He is new to the role but we have danced a lot together.”

Like most professionals dancing has been Abby’s life from an early age growing up in Harrogate.

“I started aged six and then at 11 I auditioned for ballet school and got in and then didn’t really know whether to go to London,” she says. “My mother was very good, she said, if you don’t like it you can always come home.”

She didn’t and spent five years at the Royal Ballet Lower School in London and then three years at senior school in Birmingham with Elmhurst School for Dance.

Going away from home at 11 must have been pretty traumatic. “It didn’t seem so then, I find it much more daunting when I think about it now,” she considers.

She must have been very serious about a career in dancing, though. .

“Not really. My grandparents were farmers and I loved being on the farm and imagined I would become a farmer’s wife. I did ballet and tap and jazz, the whole thing, but it was just a hobby. And then all of a sudden you are in the ballet world.”

After eight years away she was delighted to get her first job back in Yorkshire. “That was a big ambition but it was the time of the most cuts in the arts. When I auditioned only two of us got given jobs,” she recalls.

Highlights of her eight years include creating the role of Little Mermaid with David Nixon and last year another title role, Victoria.

“All of our ballets are different and each one presents a different challenge,” she reflects. “You bring something you have learned to what you do next, that’s how you progress and improve.”

Back to Cinderella which David Nixon chose to set in imperial Russia. “That brings vibrancy and colour to the costumes and sets,” says the dancer. “In particular there is a market scene with all kinds of things going on, people doing circus tricks and there’s a dancing bear.”

There’s a little bit of magic too. An old magician appears but his tricks don’t go well. Cinderella helps him out and later he turns up at her house when everyone has gone to the ball. He says he can transform the situation and for once his magic works.

The kitchen range turns into a sledge, the pots are miraculously shiny clean and Cinders’ skivvy’s weeds are replaced by a ballgown – all in the blink of an eye.

It requires a quick costume change on stage. “That can be tricky, it can be touch and go,” admits Abigail.

“We don’t stop, we are on stage throughout. It’s not just physically demanding but it’s quite emotional to come through the whole story. By the end you feel quite drained.”

Cinderella is at the Lyceum, Sheffield, from Tuesday to Saturday, September 24-28.