The Sleeping Beauty

Dates: 20 - 22 February at 20.00   Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer: Ross Michael Pink

This production of Sleeping Beauty was a shining moment in dance performance. Once again the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has risen to meet the highest technical and artistic standards in the ballet world. Sleeping Beauty, with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa, saw its world premier in 1890. It is said that Tchaikovsky undertook Sleeping Beauty with mixed feelings, accepting the job "partly because I needed the money and partly because I have long cherished the desire to try my hand at this kind of music." The result of his experimentation was and is a masterpiece. The music is part of the enchantment of the ballet, giving spirit to the motion.

In the prologue, a party celebrates the christening of the kingdom's new princess, Princess Aurora. An evil fairy comes along and casts a spell that dooms Aurora to one hundred years of sleep. A century later, Prince Desire is led to the palace where the princess lies sleeping. When he kisses her, she awakens. The entire court comes to life, and their wedding is planned. In the final scene, Aurora and Desire perform the grand pas de deux after which the entire court dances a vibrant and energetic mazurka.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's dancers are noted for their technical mastery and elegance. The highlight for many was the performance by the grand lady of dance, Evelyn Hart, who is the epitome of grace and technical brilliance. She truly is the first lady of Canadian dance and one of the world's top ten ballerinas. Hart, remained on one toe while a succession of three handsome dancers took turns twirling her in circles, maintained perfect balance and poise.

In one dazzling section, a lush and magnificent backdrop for Hart was composed of autumn coloured trees, a brilliant blue sky and a Romanesque building with columns. The set design for this and other scenes was beautiful and a tribute to stage manager Paul Skirzyk, artists Karen Ryan and Myles McCarthy, and the other artisans who create the magical scenery that allow the dancers to step into enchanting worlds.

This stellar performance of Sleeping Beauty was a further tribute to the deft and creative hand of artistic director André Lewis.

© 2003, R. M. Pink