Sunday, November 29, 2015         


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Royal Ballet constantly evolving 'Sleeping Beauty'

By New York Times


LONDON » Watching Elizabeth McGorian and Thomas Whitehead performing the Queen and Cattalabutte in "The Sleeping Beauty" at the Royal Opera House, it's easy to think, "Only with the Royal Ballet." The Queen is the loving, solicitous mother of Princess Aurora, the heroine whose finger prick casts the court into a hundred-year sleep; Cattalabutte is the fussy, officious master of ceremonies, whose oversight enrages the fairy Carabosse, causing all the trouble.

These are supporting roles, with no dancing, but they're part of the ballet's complex tapestry. Well played, as here, they help us care about a world of details.

7 p.m. Thursday at Dole Cannery 18, $15

The current production, new in 2006, was always all about the company's heritage. Monica Mason, then artistic director, set out to restore most aspects of the world-conquering 1946-67 production by Ninette de Valois (director), Oliver Messel (designer), Ashton (coach and supplementary choreographer) and Fonteyn (prima ballerina). But Mason also included items fashioned in 1968 (by Ashton) and 1994 (by Anthony Dowell) for subsequent productions. She also commissioned a new Act 1 Garland Dance from Christopher Wheeldon, which is regrettably bland.

It's good to see that Mason, who supervises this production, and her colleagues are still making small corrections to the ballet's text and still raising standards.

I was sad that the American Sarah Lamb — so elegant, discerning and physically ravishing a dancer — has allowed her formerly distinguished Aurora to become a simpering array of little prettinesses. Individual moments take the breath away, but nothing accumulates. She and the company dance a live HD broadcast performance that will be shown in movie theaters worldwide on Wednesday (Thursday in Honolulu); I hope to see more luster by then.

Nothing holds back the incisive energy of the flame-haired Australian Steven McRae, the Prince to Lamb's Princess (though he chooses a less elegant dance text for the Act 3 solo, without the piquies arabesques that Dowell made so poetic a part of this choreography); his assertiveness is like nobody else's.

Review by Alastair Macaulay, New York Times

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