James Kudelka’s Cinderella balances tradition with modernity in a unique rendering of the story that discards the rags-to-riches scenario to put Cinderella on equal footing with Prince Charming, both confined by their respective circumstances and in search of a simpler life. The forces against them are real but hilarious, from Cinderella’s boozy stepmother to her blundering stepsisters and their shameless flatterers. With its colourful characters, Art Deco-inspired designs by David Boechler, lively score by Sergei Prokofiev and lighting by Christopher Dennis, Kudelka’s Cinderella is an unrivaled adaptation of the classic fairy tale. 

The Story

Cinderella lives with an indifferent stepmother and vain stepsisters who force her to keep house though she would rather be in the garden. One evening, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother magically whisks her away to Prince Charming’s ball, provided she returns home by midnight. The Prince, who seeks only a quiet life, reluctantly attends the ball where he falls in love on meeting Cinderella. As the clock strikes 12, Cinderella flees, leaving behind a single glass slipper which the Prince must use to find her.

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Five Things to Know
  1. 1James Kudelka created the role of Cinderella for Principal Dancer Sonia Rodriguez and the role of Her Prince Charming for Principal Dancer Guillaume Côté. The ballet had its world premiere on May 8, 2004.
  2. 2In this production, Kudelka rejects the story of a young girl rescued by a man of great wealth and instead focuses on a shared personal journey of growth and connection. Throughout the ballet, the material world sits in opposition to the authenticity of nature.
  3. 3Kudelka is one of few choreographers to use nearly all of Prokofiev’s 1945 score, including the travelling scene of Act III in which the Prince searches the world for the owner of the glass slipper. During this journey, the Prince discovers people and places beyond his sheltered existence.
  4. 4David Boechler designed the gorgeous Art Deco sets and costumes with nods to the art and fashion of the 1920s and 30s, using geometric patterns, chic flapper dresses, high-waisted trousers and plenty of eclectic shoes.
  5. 5The National Ballet of Canada performed the very first production of Cinderella in North America on April 15, 1968 with Celia Franca’s staging at Toronto’s then O’Keefe Centre, featuring Veronica Tennant as Cinderella and Jeremy Blanton as the Prince. Norman Campbell’s film of the production for CBC television received an Emmy Award in 1970.

Cinderella View Gallery

The Creator

James Kudelka served as Resident Choreographer of The National Ballet of Canada following his nine years as Artistic Director. He choreographs in a variety of styles and forms, from original full-length ballets to short contemporary works and remounted classics.

The Composer

Russian-born Sergei Prokofiev was one of the major composers of the 20th century, known and celebrated for his symphonies, operas, piano sonatas and ballets, notably Romeo and Juliet and Peter and the Wolf.

Further Reading

Cinderella's Art Deco Splendour


“National Ballet of Canada’s Cinderella is embodiment of the heart’s desire… Kudelka’s reading of the time-honoured rags-to-riches fairy tale is unconventional” —Toronto Star

“A divine pairing of music and dance… James Kudelka’s production of Cinderella is a masterpiece... the finest Cinderella in the world, bar none.” —The Globe and Mail

“James Kudelka’s Cinderella fits the National Ballet of Canada exactly the way the glass slipper fits the central character’s foot: perfectly.” —National Post


James Kudelka, O.C.

Sergei Prokofiev

Set, Costume and Properties Design:
David Boechler

Lighting Design:
Christopher Dennis

Cinderella is a gift from The Volunteer Committee, The National Ballet of Canada.

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