Sleeping Beauty Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome
8 October 2013 I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream.

But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once
the way you did once upon a dream

Once Upon A Dream” from Sleeping Beauty (1959)

After a long debate we decided that instead of booking for season tickets to the ballet, we would instead just get tickets to the several shows we wanted to see. As soon as we saw another fairytale based ballet, we knew we would be booking tickets to see the show. Even better was that it was another Tchaikovsky scored ballet which meant the music would be phenomenal. After a busy day at the University, we were very excited to sit down in the Hippodrome again and await the start of the ballet.

The ballet is told in three acts, as well as a prologue. It begins in the prologue with the christening of the new baby princess, Aurora. Her parents have invited all the fairies to be godmothers; however they did not invite the wicked fairy, Carabosse, who shows up to seek her revenge for this slight. Carabosse vows that Aurora will prick her finger and die; however the Lilac Fairy casts a counter spell to only make the princess sleep and awaken at the kiss of a prince. Act I, then is at Aurora’s birthday where four princes have come to woo her. However, she sees an old woman spinning, but when she tries it she pricks her finger and falls into a 100 year sleep. The Lilac Fairy makes the whole court sleep and a forest grows to hide the palace. Act II is 100 years later, and Prince Florimund dreams of finding his true love, and the Lilac Fairy shows him a vision of Aurora. He awakens Aurora with a kiss. Act III then is the wedding celebration of Florimund and Aurora.

The first thing we have to say about the performance is that it was the first one either of us have ever left early. We left before Act III (the wedding) and neither of us regrets it. However, it was not all bad, and both of us agreed it had some of the best and the worst things we had seen in a ballet.

We should start with some of the best bits of the ballet. The very best part of this ballet was any scene where the evil fairy was present. She had a gorgeous black costume, and was attended by handful of masked dancing minions. She entered a couple scenes on an all black palanquin, but instead of lounging on the palanquin she had a stand/support to be able to lean out and menace people. Lynne decided this is how she would like to enter a classroom to teach! In contrast, the Lilac Fairy (the good one) also had a beautiful outfit, in pale shades with just a hint of purple. Her attendants were pretty fairy women, and again the lace in their outfits was beautiful. Even better than the costumes though, was that several of the dances were absolutely perfectly timed and in sync. This is something we have been wanting for over a year at the ballet, and it was breathtaking to watch.

However, there was quite a bit that was pretty bad in this ballet. The first thing was the plot. There was just not enough intrigue or events that happened to keep the ballet moving, instead it kept feeling stagnant and scenes felt like they could easily have been half as long. An act of just a wedding held absolutely no appeal to either of us, which is why we left. The music did not assist in this either, as it was overall a rather bland score, with little drama. If asked, neither of us could recall any bit of the music besides the bit Disney used in the Sleeping Beauty movie!

There were also some of the worst mistakes we have seen from the Birmingham Royal Ballet. There was one male dancer who was almost two beats behind the rest of the men for a whole dance. Then there were just a couple of faster dances (the ones we usually prefer), but the dancing was atrocious, and it looked like someone had sped up the music without telling the dancers and they were frantically trying to catch up. There were so many slow dances, with only one female, that we actually lost count of how many we had already sat through, and nothing in the dance showed the “attribute” the fairy was gifting to the baby princess.

Another big disappointment for us was the issue of our favourite dancer, Tyrone. He has been our favourite since we saw him in Cinderella (he danced lead in the matinee), and he has always caught our eye when he performs because he is able to do such amazing leaps. We were excited when we saw him in the cast list, unfortunately when he came out and we saw there were high heels added to his shoes, we knew he would not really be dancing. Instead he was the lead potential partner for Aurora before her accident, and spent most of the dance holding her up. It was disappointing and boring.

Worst of all was the chemistry between the two leads. The dancer for Aurora had been doing a good job, and actually outshone her male partner in this performance. Unfortunately, Florimund was ok on his own, but he was too short to do any interesting lifts with Aurora. In fact, he was hard to see when she danced in front of him, and she was tiny.

Final Verdict: Unless you are a huge fan of any ballet, give this one a pass, especially with kids or a date that is uninterested.

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