Scoop Review: Australian Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty – Superb!
Scoop Review by Selwyn Manning
Best Foreign Dance Company was the acclaim given to The Australian Ballet at the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in January 2006, and this week the company's dancers presented to an attentive Auckland audience a most captivating performance of The Sleeping Beauty.
The Australian Ballet performs The Sleeping Beauty at Auckland's Civic Theatre until Sunday October 22. For dance and arts lovers, this is a 'must see' show.
The tale is well known to most, an epic battle between good and evil, hope and resistance, youth and those whom age has embittered. But to fully appreciate The Sleeping Beauty one has to delight in the anticipation of whether Aurora can hold true, her delicate situation balancing in dance as if on a pinhead.
It is a symbolism that shapes in the mind's eye, and Aurora, performed by Lucinda Dunn holds her audience close, the character's frailties as raw as the demands of this dance upon the dancer herself. There exists this interesting bridge, between the sheer athleticism demanded from the prima-ballerina and the mystique, the fantasy of this tale, superbly choreographed by the renowned Stanton Welch.
The costume and set design is in itself an arts-piece shifting one's focus from dance to interpretation – and on return one is tuned to the author's inner world. While some in the audience said the winter tree-scape distracted one's eye from the dance, others felt it ensured the message was not lost: how the severity of an oppressing far north winter closes in around you, and in aged times threatened to overwhelm summer, youth, and life itself.
The Australian Ballet describes the tale thus:
In a fantasy land presided over by fairies both good and evil, a battle is under way between Summer and Winter. To prevent the world from enjoying daylight, Carabosse, the Winter Fairy, has ensnared Princess Aurora in ice for 100 years. Unless the Prince can rescue Aurora from captivity, thereby returning the seasons to their natural course, the kingdom is doomed to perpetual darkness.
The Sleeping Beauty is The Australian Ballet’s largest ever commission. It features the full company of 68 dancers, their art complimented by Tchaikovsky’s score and performed brilliantly by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
If you are in Auckland City for Labour Weekend, go see this show. It is superb!
Media critics say of the Australian Ballet:
“Thoroughly enchanting…Fredrikson’s costumes are a delight. It is beautiful to look at but also beautifully danced” Daily Telegraph, Dec 2005
“Best Foreign Dance Company” UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards, Jan 2006
"****… one of the best set designs you will see...the dancers perfectly mesh with their beautiful environment” Sunday Herald Sun, Sept 2005
Sleeping Beauty is on stage at The Civic, Auckland until Sunday 22 October 2006, Friday to Saturday 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday matinee 1.30pm.
Choreography: Stanton Welch, after Marius Petipa
Music: Piotr Llyich Tschaikovsky
Sets & Costumes: Kristian Fredrikson
Lighting: John Rayment
Bookings: Via Ticketek Online: www.ticketek.co.nz, or in person at any Ticketek outlet, or by phone: 09 307 5000