Review: Royal Ballet in Sleeping Beauty at Royal Opera House

Performance: 22 April 2008
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Thursday 24 April 2008

Nothing exposes the ballerina like the balances in the Rose Adagio. If Roberta Marquez hastily took the hand of her suitor during the first few moments of this famous sequence, she more than made up for any wobble with an ending position that seemed to last for ever. Sleeping Beauty, one of the age-old classics, has stood the test of time – most notably for its use of virtuosity, rather than the drawn out passages of ballet mine.

A story of good verses evil, coupled with the uninvited guest is heavily mimed throughout this work, with much of the prologue flatted by the constant interruptions from the dancing. This was not helped by the fairy variations, which all seemed hurried and the movement never fully executed. However, Yuhui Choe, The Fairy of the Crystal Fountain, gave the most compelling performance; moving on and off the vertical gave such a dramatic effect, a risk that more than paid off.

Luckily the uncertain elements of the Prologue were ironed out for Act I as the company came to life. The Princes’ offered Aurora excellent support, passing the young princess delicately between each other, although they had very limited individual choreography in which to exhibit their talents. Marquez’ constant use of aplomb gave the appearance of the dancers constantly covering space, her only minor let down was the lack of power in the grand allegro which seemed to cover neither floor nor air space.

The romance blossomed in Act II with the dream like meeting between Price Florimund danced by Viacheslav Samodurov and Aurora. Their coupling in this section was exquisite, with the emotional connection between the dancers unbreakable. This level of characterisation, if maintained throughout the whole production, could have lead to a powerful Sleeping Beauty.

In Act III the Fairy Tale characters gave the opportunity for further virtuosity and the Royal Ballet certainty stepped up to the challenge. Humor and gayety came from Puss-in-Boots and his White Cat danced by Jonathan Howells and Bethany Keating, but the jewel in the crown, as always, came from the Bluebird pas de deux. Brian Maloney gave his all in every jump yet hardly seemed to exert any energy at all – the true genius of the ballet dancer.

Sleeping Beauty will always remain a childhood favorite – however this is a perfect production to warm any adult’s heart.

What’s On