Saturday, May 30, 2015

Balletomania: Sleeping Beauty

Alexei Ratmansky's new staging of The Sleeping Beauty was a big deal and cost six million dollars to make.  Was it worth it?  My report from opening night in list form.

The Good

-The Sets.  La Scala co-funded this production with ABT, and the sets were made in their workshop.  Absolutely gorgeous hand painted scrims and wonderful design in general.  Love.

-The Costumes.  Influenced by the 1921 Ballet Russes production, the costumes had beautiful textures and colors.  They were ridiculously opulent, but it's nice to have some razzle dazzle.  I am apparently one of the few people who liked Florine's contrasting blue and orange costume, but I thought it was very painterly looking.  The Prince's bizarre George Washington getup and the Lilac Fairy's sparkly mullet dress were kind of ugly, but most of the costumes worked.

-The Choreography.  Ratmansky sought to reconstruct the original Petipa choreography as closely as possible.  This meant lower arabesques and attitudes, no high passé positions, and things done on demi-pointe instead of pointe.  Some of this was quite beautiful, especially as the longer skirts nicely framed the feet, ankles and calves.  Nice change of pace to not get a bunch of crotch shots with high extensions in pancake tutus!  Some of this style was distracting though, like the chaine turns on demi.

-The Cast.  Overall a very solid cast.  Lots and lots of roles, so I won't go into so much detail.  Gillian Murphy was a lovely Aurora.  The Rose Adagio balances had a few bobbles, but lots of gorgeous moments in general, including the final balance in the Rose Adagio and an amazing backbend balance in the Wedding Grand Pas de Deux.  (As an aside, I feel like she would make a fantastic Odile and now want to see her in Swan Lake.)  Stella Abrera took very well to Ratmansky's style as the Lilac Fairy, but the role didn't have any dancing after the prologue!  Daniil Simkin and  Cassandra Trenary were absolutely wonderful as Bluebird and Florine.  Skylar Brandt was delightful as the Canary.  Marcelo Gomes was fine as the prince...but the role is quite stupid, with only dancing in the last act.

The Bad

-The Narrative.  This story is quite silly!  There is no tension or climax.  The Prince has no obstacles in getting to Aurora.  They should take a note from the Disney version and throw a dragon in or something.

-The Wigs.  Almost everyone had a wig, and almost all of them were bad.

-Audience Behavior.  My fault for buying late and winding up in the Family Circle, but OMG it was a circus.  It is not appropriate to text on your cell phone during the show, ruining my experience of The Vision scene.  When an usher tells you to put your cell phone away, it is not appropriate to get up and crawl over a whole row of people to be able to continue your texting.  It is even MORE inappropriate to crawl back over to your seat!  If you're not watching anyway, you could have waited until intermission.

The Ugly

-The Garland Dance.  Absolutely hideous.  Horrible colors, way too many people and things on stage, boring choreography.

ETA: If you want to read more about the history and inspiration for the production, the NYT had a pretty good article here.


  1. You mean there's no dragon?! LOL
    At the Beauty and the Beast ballet I went to, before the show the Artistic Director gave a little speech about how there wouldn't be any singing and dancing teacups or candleholders! There was a collective chuckle from the audience, but if I'm not mistaken, more than one "why not?" from a child. And I had been wondering if there would be certain characters... LOL

    1. But, but...I love Lumiere!

      There is no dragon or ANYTHING blocking the Prince; the villain just disappears after the prologue, except to be invited to the final wedding scene. As Maleficent has always been my favorite Disney character (I was a weird kid), I was hoping Carabosse (the villain) would be more badass. The Prince just straight up goes to Aurora and kisses her and everything is solved. Silly, silly!!!