These rare visits from Birmingham Royal Ballet are always welcome at our WMC. Their commitment to dance needs little persuading, as is proven by their tours and outreach programmes.
This Sleeping Beauty is a staple production for them and rightly so. It remains an outrageously extravagant endeavour. This is proven in the palatial sets by Philip Prowse, which still hold up as mesmerising visions. The exquisite costumes easily fill trucks with no word of a lie. Each one itself is a work of art and every time they grace the stage, they are a sight to see. This ballet could easily be seen just for the sets and costumes. This cannot be said for a lot of theatre today.
The compiling of the original choreography by Petipa, is here tackled by Peter Wright. How fascinating the gesturing is in the dancers movements. The mighty movement, features some of the most magical dances of the entire art form.
Ballet, might not to be everyones taste, yet this production has the power and persuasion to suck you into its magical plateau. Tchaikovsky shall always be best remember for his ballet scores and here lies some of his best tunes. The opening to the second act is uber famous and the third act (the story being essentially wrapped up in the middle act) is stuffed with dance after dance, featuring a Puss in Boots routine (with hilarious cat moans from the woodwind) and a Little Red Riding Hood skit.
Those who have ever seen the Disney animation or their recent reimagining of Maleficent, shall be well acquainted with this fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Whilst the story is familiar territory, the ballet itself formulates a reality where dance is king. How stunning these dancers are, with a large troupe of supporting roles of crowds, spirits and members of royalty. The lead dancers have a physical prowess defined within their own bodies. Here, their movements are to be marvelled at, with the men getting many leaps and spins. Note to company: please have a playbill each night so we know who is playing what as well (not to mention the cast change due to sickness as well)!
Here, our Sleeping Beauty is Aurora. In what is one of the most demanding roles in all of dance, she is easily fooled into touching the needle which sends her into years worth of slumber, only to be awoken by true loves kiss. Whilst there is much debate over consent in recent media, had it not been for Prince Florimund (yes, that’s has name here), our Aurora would never have woken up. Maleficent here is Carabosse, a wicked diva who formulates her awful plot to destroy Aurora. Thankful watched over by the Lilac Fairy, our heroine can find her true love and gets a real soppy ending. Romance might be dead, but this ballet keeps the fires of passion burning.
This eternal production is for those who love a good spectacle, fine ballet majesty and cracking tunes from the Russian master.
A sublime ballet, masterfully conceived.
Until March 17