The Sleeping Beauty
Coliseum, London, 20-24 April 2010
(Photo: Bill Cooper)
Natasha Oughtred, Iain MacKay, Dominic Antonucci, Laetitia Lo Sardo, Michael O’Hare, Victoria Marr, Lei Zhao, Jenna Roberts, Arancha Baselga, Kristen McGarrity, Sonia Aguilar, Angela Paul, Celine Gittens, Callie Roberts, James Barton, Mathias Dingman, Oliver Till, Christopher Rodgers-Wilson, Yvette Knight, Joseph Caley, Carol-Anne Millar, Nicki Moffatt, Yasuo Atsuji
Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its move to Britain’s second city, the Birmingham Royal Ballet is contributing to the Coliseum’s spring dance season with Sir Peter Wright’s own take on The Sleeping Beauty.
Wright’s production, which premiered in 1984, works from Marius Petipa’s original choreography and possesses its own surprising, though highly successful, mix of the innovative and traditional.
As the curtain rises the production instantly feels safe because Philip Prowse’s golden palace design is beautiful but hardly revolutionary, whilst the various courtiers are introduced to the stage in a somewhat sedate fashion.
The dances of the six Fairies, however, reveal just how innovative Wright’s approach really is. Galloping around or scuttling on points, with arms either flying outwards or swaying lyrically, we witness Fairies thrusting legs this way and that as they typically stand on one point.
Equally interesting is the way in which both the Lilac Fairy (Lei Zhao) and the Fairy Carabosse (Victoria Marr) wear flat shoes and hardly dance at all. With their relative calmness exuding authority, this says something about the power that each commands, and Carabosse’s henchmen, in particular, scuttle around her in fear and awe. That both fairies also seem so similar, wearing identical dresses with only the colour differing, suggests that it is far too simplistic just to label them as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ respectively.
The highly talented Natasha Oughtred is a captivating Princess Aurora. It is a shame that she has to perform such difficult steps so early on as her nerves are somewhat apparent, but she rapidly gains in confidence over Acts One and Two to deliver a performance teeming with elegance and grace. As Prince Florimund, there is a brilliant lightness of touch to Iain MacKay’s strident step, and as the pair dance their pas de deux there is a real sense that they are in tune with each others’ movements and feelings.
The final act delivers all of the exuberant charm that we expect from the turns of Puss-in-Boots and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Particular accolades, however, must go to Joseph Caley’s splendid Bluebird and the wonderful pas de quatre of Arancha Baselga, Kristen McGarrity, Mathias Dingman and Oliver Till. Meanwhile in the pit, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia gives a strong and sturdy account of Tchaikovsky’s score under the baton of Philip Ellis, and the result is a joyous evening entirely befitting of a company celebrating its twentieth birthday.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I tried to make a little video of this but couldn't figure out how to purchase the "Gonna Fly" music from the movie Rocky! It would have to be that melody....nothing else would do! Steve was going to post this on him blog, but he managed to fly to London late last night....likely one of the very first international flights into the United Kingdom since the volcano erupted in Iceland. He's there to see Mathias perform Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty. So.....I'm posting his "Rocky Run" here!
So.....(above)....here he goes. Sing along...Bum..bumbum...Bum...bumbum...BUM.BUM.BUM!
Yes, it is ridiculous. No, he was not the only person doing this. There were plenty of people taking the stairs outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art two and three at a time. The air seemed to pulse with the ever-so-familiar beat from Sylvester Stallone's movie workout.
Higher and Higher!
Gonna Fly Now!
Yes! He made it!
Triumphant! ..... And, yes, plenty of people jump up and down, hands held high, at the top of the staircase....like like Rocky!
At the top, the exact spot is marked by two sneaker patterned bronze footprints and a carved word "Rocky". Yes....we waited our turn for Steve to stand in this spot!
Near the bottom of the steps is the bronze "Rocky" statue. (Photo far above!) There's a little chain rope partition around it so that a line automatically forms on the sidewalk leading up to the statue. People (including us) wait patiently for their turn for a photo-op. By the way, the museum is WONDERFUL. We stayed for most of the day and early evening. It was open until 8:45...and is on every Friday night. Live jazz was performed. We almost stayed for dinner in the posh restaurant....but we were under dressed! As we left, we giggled at the people taking turns for photos....fists in the air....Rocky style.....even though we'd done the same thing just hours beforehand!