The Sleeping Beauty @ Coliseum, London

performed by
Natasha Oughtred, Iain MacKay, Dominic Antonucci, Laetitia Lo Sardo, Michael OHare, Victoria Marr, Lei Zhao, Jenna Roberts, Arancha Baselga, Kristen McGarrity, Sonia Aguilar, Angela Paul, Celine Gittens, Callie Roberts, James Barton, Mathias Dingman, Oliver Till, Christopher Rodgers-Wilson, Yvette Knight, Joseph Caley, Carol-Anne Millar, Nicki Moffatt, Yasuo AtsujiCelebrating the twentieth anniversary of its move to Britains second city, the Birmingham Royal Ballet is contributing to the Coliseums spring dance season with Sir Peter Wrights own take on The Sleeping Beauty.

Wrights production, which premiered in 1984, works from Marius Petipas original choreography and possesses its own surprising, though highly successful, mix of the innovative and traditional.

As the curtain rises the production instantly feels safe because Philip Prowses golden palace design is beautiful but hardly revolutionary, whilst the various courtiers are introduced to the stage in a somewhat sedate fashion.
The dances of the six Fairies, however, reveal just how innovative Wrights approach really is. Galloping around or scuttling on points, with arms either flying outwards or swaying lyrically, we witness Fairies thrusting legs this way and that as they typically stand on one point.

Equally interesting is the way in which both the Lilac Fairy (Lei Zhao) and the Fairy Carabosse (Victoria Marr) wear flat shoes and hardly dance at all. With their relative calmness exuding authority, this says something about the power that each commands, and Carabosses henchmen, in particular, scuttle around her in fear and awe. That both fairies also seem so similar, wearing identical dresses with only the colour differing, suggests that it is far too simplistic just to label them as good and evil respectively.

The highly talented Natasha Oughtred is a captivating Princess Aurora. It is a shame that she has to perform such difficult steps so early on as her nerves are somewhat apparent, but she rapidly gains in confidence over Acts One and Two to deliver a performance teeming with elegance and grace. As Prince Florimund, there is a brilliant lightness of touch to Iain MacKays strident step, and as the pair dance their pas de deux there is a real sense that they are in tune with each others movements and feelings.

The final act delivers all of the exuberant charm that we expect from the turns of Puss-in-Boots and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Particular accolades, however, must go to Joseph Caleys splendid Bluebird and the wonderful pas de quatre of Arancha Baselga, Kristen McGarrity, Mathias Dingman and Oliver Till. Meanwhile in the pit, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia gives a strong and sturdy account of Tchaikovskys score under the baton of Philip Ellis, and the result is a joyous evening entirely befitting of a company celebrating its twentieth birthday.

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