‘Sleeping Beauty’ was created and first performed in St Petersburg in 1890 – it was lovely to see it revived by a St Petersburg ballet company, and staged by French dancer and choreographer Jean-Guillaume Bart.
Russian ballet is often seen as the best, most prestigious ballet there is, and at the performance I saw, you could just feel the high expectations in the audience… Which were not disappointed.
The first thing that blew everyone away was the amazing costumes and scenery – it had definitely been a long time since I’d seen anything as grandiose and magnificent. The detail and overall beauty was breathtaking – I found Act I’s flower garland waltz particularly enchanting.
Every dancer was incredibly talented, from Aurora, to the Jewel Fairies, to the corps de ballet. They were all so powerful yet unbelievably graceful, and their timing was perfect – while making it all appear effortless. The icing on the cake was the brilliant acting. Each dancer absolutely inhabited their role, however minor (some of which were danced by members of the corps de ballet), from Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf to Catabutte, completely bringing the story to life. Carabosse and her dog-like minions were terrifying!
But if I had to pick a favourite performer, it would have to be the Lilac Fairy. Her radiance and grace transported everyone to her magical world.
This meticulous production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, combined with the talent of the company’s brilliant and surprisingly young dancers, made for a mesmerizing revival of one of my all-time favourite ballets.
To find out more about the St Petersburg State Academic Yacobson Ballet Theatre, click here.