LOS ANGELES BALLET’S THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
If you’re an admirer of beauty, and are anywhere near SoCal on the three upcoming dates at the end of this review, please, please, please do yourselves a great favor and do not miss Los Angeles Ballet’s superb production of the classic tale, The Sleeping Beauty. It’s one that every ballet lover needs to see.
I just saw the first performance of its very limited run this week-end, and adored it. I loved seeing a classical ballet in LA, where most dance troupes are always trying to be cutting-edge; that gets tedious pretty quickly. So I thank the Los Angeles Ballet for bringing us this elegance.
I had been out all day, so I was exhausted by the time I got to the ballet, but the moment the curtain went up, I was wide awake and fixated by the loveliness before me, on every level.
As with all dance companies, you don’t know beforehand which cast you’ll be seeing on any given date. I highly recommend the one I was treated to on Saturday, but with this company, I feel confident that any of their dancers in all the roles will be spot-on. But I really must laud the people I saw.
When you’re a little girl, and you open your jewelry box, and dream of becoming the ballerina who’s pirouetting gracefully before your eyes, Petra Conti, (who played Princess Aurora here,) is exactly who you see. She’s everything a ballerina should be! I caught myself gasping at so many of her stunning moves, down to even her hand movements.
Her Prince was played by Tigran Sargsyan, who matched her step-for-step. I literally got chills during their mesmerizing wedding scene pas de deux.
Brigitte Edwards and Tate Lee, (two excellent names, by the way,) as wedding guests White Cat and Puss In Boots, brought the house down. Their lovely performances paired with the whimsical character choreography had the crowd going wild for them.
And it was all beautifully choreographed by Co-Artistic Directors, Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary “after” (which means “based on” or “inspired by” in ballet-speak) the original choreography of the late nineteenth century ballet master, Marius Petipa. In addition to the actual dancing, the tableaus they’ve created are gorgeous. And Colleen did double duty that night as the evil spell-caster, Carabosse. (Ballets from 1890 don’t have Disney character names, so she’s not “Maleficent” here.)
The King was played by Guest Principal Artist, Fabrice Calmels, whom I saw last year on the fabulous TV series The Big Leap. He is, at over 6’6”, the tallest ballet dancer I have ever seen in my life! What a very striking man. At some point, I’d love to see him in a role which is more dance than dramatic movement. I can just imagine how impressive that would be.
The rich costumes, (especially all the fairies’ mouthwatering tutus, in which I want to live,) and exactly-right sets, both designed by David Walker, add to the overall magnificence of the production. And getting to hear the full famous Tchaikovsky score was the icing on the cake.
I have to say that, as most classical ballets are, Sleeping Beauty is, at almost three hours, a long one. It’s basically four acts, (the first one is labeled the Prologue, with three more acts to follow,) with two full intermissions and one “pause.” [Note: Please audiences, know that a pause means…do not leave your seats! The lights are back on, but only dimmed, not brought all the way up, and the music continues. I hate seeing people be all confused.] But if you leave the theatre early, you’ll miss the best act! Just take a nap earlier in the day, if you need one.
I saw the ballet at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, (one of my favorite SoCal theatres,) and was thrilled to see it packed for the first time ever! And on a holiday week-end no less, when half the citizens have either left town or often just lie low at home. That means there are far more ballet fans in LA than I originally thought. What a joyous discovery!
And I’m happy to report that most audience members were dressed-up for the occasion. I especially loved seeing all the little girls in fairy dresses; that always brings me back to my favorite ballet-going outfit when I was a child, and I still feel that same excitement.
Now that I’ve discovered the wonderful Los Angeles Ballet, I look forward to seeing all of their future productions. I hope you do, as well!
Los Angeles Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty
Royce Hall at UCLA June 3-4, 2022
Alex Theatre, Glendale June 11, 2022