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My Favorite Ballets - Part 2

Updated on July 5, 2012

Sleeping Beauty - Royal Ballet 2008

Alexandra Ansanelli as Princess Aurora and David Makhateli as Prince Florimund in a Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty on 29th April 2008.
Alexandra Ansanelli as Princess Aurora and David Makhateli as Prince Florimund in a Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty on 29th April 2008. | Source

Sleeping Beauty (Special Edition) (1955) at Amazon

Sleeping Beauty (Special Edition) (1955) at Amazon dot com.
Sleeping Beauty (Special Edition) (1955) at Amazon dot com. | Source

Sleeping Beauty

The first movie I ever saw that left a deep and lasting impression on me was Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” I was just a little girl when my Mom stood in the queue with me, holding my hand firmly while we waited excitedly to get tickets. The queue stretched right around the block. By the time we got to the ticket window, the last seat had just been sold. I burst into tears and Mom burst into action. She pleaded with the ticket woman and explained that she had PROMISED me we would see the movie.

Mom was most effective and I happily watched Sleeping Beauty on my mother's lap, as she sat on the “usher’s seat” at the back of the cinema. I was entranced and will always be so. The story had such a special place in my imagination that I subsequently begged my two brothers to play “Sleeping Beauty” with me. They told me to lie down and close my eyes and they would wake me up with a kiss. I woke up the next morning and have waited ever since for that kiss!!

The ballet was based on the fairy tale “The Beauty sleeping in the Wood,” by Charles Perrault and “Little Briar Rose” by the Grimm Brothers. I am sure we all know the story of the beautiful princess who is cursed to die by the prick of her finger – and the fairy that softens the blow by changing the spell to a hundred years’ sleep instead. Sleeping Beauty is awakened from the curse by the true love's kiss of her handsome prince, and they live happily ever after, and once again, Good defeats Evil. The three fairies in Disney’s movie, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, enchanted me with their spin into diminutive form and all the fairy dust that flew from their wands. Maleficent was one scary evil fairy and her final thrust to destroy good by morphing into a fiery dragon has remained forever burned into my memory. Needless to say, the beauty, both inner and outer, of one of Disney's most famous Princesses, her singing and dancing with the forest creatures, and finally her meeting with the most gallant of Princes (and his very clever white steed), is the delight of every little girl's heart and dreams.

The Royal Ballet - Trailer for Sleeping Beauty (2011)

The Birth of Sleeping Beauty the Ballet

The Director of the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, wrote to Tchaikovsky in May 1888, requesting that he write the music for the ballet version of the story. With choreography by Marius Petipa, The Sleeping Beauty ballet premiered in the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on January 24, 1890. This was Tchaikovsky’s first major success and set the standard for classical ballet. The Sleeping Beauty was the first ballet seen by Sergei Diaghilev as also by ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova. In addition, this was the ballet that introduced Rudolph Nureyev to Europe. A firm favorite in the ballet world, the dance transports us from the prologue through three acts. This second ballet of Tchaikovsky has become one of the most famous of all ballets.

Evil Carabosse

When the evil fairy, Carabosse is not invited to Aurora's christening, she wreaks havoc and curses the Princess to die on her 16th birthday when she pricks her finger. RATS! Thankfully, the Lilac Fairy can soften the blow, and thus, the legend of the 100 year sleep is born.

Sleeping Beauty (Royal Ballet): Angry Carabosse enters

Paris Opera Ballet production

Aurelie Dupont in the Paris Opera Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty. Set to the choreography of Rudolf Nureyev.

The fabulous fairy tale, rich costuming, exquisite dance and totally enchanting music can simply not fail to entertain and enrich us and uplift our spirits!

Aurelie Dupont- Sleeping Beauty Ballet - Rose Adagio

Special fairy tale characters

The Sleeping Beauty ballet features some of Perrault’s other fairytale characters such as Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Bluebird, Goldilocks and The White Cat. These are enchanting characters which bring much delight to the ballet, especially through the eyes of a child.

Sarah Lamb and Yohei Sasaki - Bluebird Pas De Deux - Royal Ballet

Cat Characterizations

Those of you who already know me, dear Readers, will know of my love for cats. I always like to watch this next section with rapt attention and sheer delight as these dancers take on the personalities of two very special cats: Puss in Boots and the White Cat. The music lends itself to the quirky personalities of these two as they do their most endearing Pas de Deux!

Royal Ballet - Sleeping Beauty - Puss in Boots and the White Cat

The two conflicting forces of good and evil (the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse) have a leitmotif (musical recurring theme) associated with them. This thread runs through the ballet and gives us clues as to the underlying intrigue. In Act III, the music is entirely devoted to the individual characters in the court dances. The premiere received more favorable responses from the press than did Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky never saw the popularity and success the ballet ultimately earned, as he died in 1893. By 1903, “The Sleeping Beauty” had been performed 200 times in 10 years. It became widely loved after its introduction in London in 1921 and earned its place in the classical ballet repertoire. This is Tchaikovsky’s longest ballet, lasting nearly three hours – without intermissions.

Sleeping Beauty and her Prince - Pas de Deux - Dutch National Ballet

Tchaikovsky's music transports us

A feast for eyes, ears, heart and all the other senses, The Sleeping Beauty Ballet brings us richness of costume, grand set designs, spectacular choreography, beautiful ballroom scenes and breathtaking pas de deux! Tchaikovsky's music is enchanting and beautiful and complements the ballet perfectly. This is the quintessential love story and the beautiful dancing captures the complete spirit of the fairy tale.

© This writing is the work of Sue-Lynn Grace.

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