Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty
English National Ballet
Wednesday, January 9th 2013
English National Ballet dance Kenneth MacMillan’s production of The Sleeping Beauty (after Marius Petipa), and MacMillan regarded it as the most important classical ballet. This company, especially Tamara Rojo, dance it with the required gravitas. Dressed in Nicholas Georgiadis’ costumes the dancers look ravishing, and I am delighted to be able to report that pointe shoe noise was under control tonight. The tutus defy expectation; in tone and embellishment they are exceptionally beautiful. Even Prince Désiré gets the most covetable coat you’ve ever seen.
Smiling Cavaliers, a Sleeping Beauty, a benevolent Lilac Fairy and a Firecracker of a Prince are all brought together with Tchaikovsky’s score. The dancers are looking as sharp as tacks and their musicality was only occasionally let down by some ragged timing. Princess Aurora is lucky to have six fairies bringing her the gifts she’ll need in life – one of which is to dance perfectly. How fitting. As the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain, and later in the Diamond variation, Begoña Cao had the perfect qualities for both. Nancy Osbaldeston also had a busy night; first in a pacey variation as the Fairy of the Golden Vine and later as Red Riding Hood. Shiori Kase, as the Songbird Fairy had a fast, gorgeous solo with perfect hands. Senri Kou danced sharply with spirit as one of the Lilac Fairy’s attendants, and later in the Silver variation.
James Streeter’s Carabosse – the one the Palace forgot to invite – isn’t all pantomine; he plays it just right. Damage limitation comes from the Lilac Fairy, danced by Daria Klimentová, who looked really happy to have avoided the fiendishly exposing principal role and was a quiet, certain presence, even if it meant she hardly danced with Vadim Muntagirov, who just gets better and better. His Act 11 adagio solo is perfectly soulful, and how lovely to see Bridgett Zehr back on stage in London as the mischievous Countess in a quite wonderful hat.
Tamara Rojo dances Princess Aurora, and it’s in her steps more than anywhere that you can see how important this ballet is, and how important it is to her, get it right. Rojo is a great actress, and she’s not best pleased to find her 16th birthday hijacked by four potential suitors. The terrifying Rose Adage comes early in the ballet, hardly a foot set on the stage and bam! – straight into those supported turns and endless balances. Rojo, uncharacteristically, showed us how much it means to her, when a balance wasn’t quite as perfect as she’d have wished. But there you go. If you didn’t know before how hard this ballet is to dance, you do now. Rojo’s confidence blossomed as the terrors of her 16th birthday faded and in partnership with Muntagirov & with a wedding to celebrate, looked secure and happy. Much of the tension and simmering unease of the earlier scenes was replaced with some superb dancing. Muntagirov blazed through the air in a series of turns, and really, he took the music with him, soaring above the stage in confident style.
This production leaves absolutely nowhere for the dancers to hide, with technique and musicality to the fore. The dancers of English National Ballet take on this classical giant with verve and panache and now is the time to see them.
The Sleeping Beauty is in rep until 19th January 2013