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ABT at the Met 2011 - Sleeping Beauty


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#31 Waelsung

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 03:10 PM

I suspect, though, that the problem for me with this ballet is the story. “Sleeping Beauty” is not a drama, nor an over-the-top comedy like “Don Quixote” or “The Bright Stream.” It’s a fairy-tale like “Cinderella,” but there is no real conflict (it takes all of what, two seconds for the Prince to eliminate Carabosse?), no reversal of fortune for the characters (elevation of Cinderella from rags to riches; punishment for her stepsisters/mother), and no real chance for the Prince and Aurora to fall in love on stage. The music is undeniably lovely (except when played badly as it was occasionally last night), there may be some nice dancing, and it might be enjoyable to see your favorites or star ballerinas in it, but I suspect that it will never be a favorite ballet of mine.


I agree completely - SL is not a drama. Unlike Cinderella where the protagonist gets rewarded for being nice to a destitute stranger, Aurora hasn't done anything to deserve all the gifts she's being blessed with at BIRTH.

Sleeping Beauty is not about character development or dramatic conflicts, but about the promise (and eventual fulfillment) of absolute happiness which is presented as a pure gift, inexplicably bestowed upon Aurora for no apparent reason and without requiring anything from her in return. The ultimate gift, so to speak :)

At least, that's the way I always saw it :)

#32 puppytreats

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 04:53 PM


I suspect, though, that the problem for me with this ballet is the story. “Sleeping Beauty” is not a drama, nor an over-the-top comedy like “Don Quixote” or “The Bright Stream.” It’s a fairy-tale like “Cinderella,” but there is no real conflict (it takes all of what, two seconds for the Prince to eliminate Carabosse?), no reversal of fortune for the characters (elevation of Cinderella from rags to riches; punishment for her stepsisters/mother), and no real chance for the Prince and Aurora to fall in love on stage. The music is undeniably lovely (except when played badly as it was occasionally last night), there may be some nice dancing, and it might be enjoyable to see your favorites or star ballerinas in it, but I suspect that it will never be a favorite ballet of mine.


I agree completely - SL is not a drama. Unlike Cinderella where the protagonist gets rewarded for being nice to a destitute stranger, Aurora hasn't done anything to deserve all the gifts she's being blessed with at BIRTH.

Sleeping Beauty is not about character development or dramatic conflicts, but about the promise (and eventual fulfillment) of absolute happiness which is presented as a pure gift, inexplicably bestowed upon Aurora for no apparent reason and without requiring anything from her in return. The ultimate gift, so to speak :)

At least, that's the way I always saw it :)


Are you saying it is about Grace? Would unmerited forgiveness be a gift, and would birth itself be a sin, then?(Question asked by a nice Jewish girl who knows very little Christian theology.)

#33 bart

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 05:26 PM

There certainly does seem to be an element of unearned grace, as Waelsung says. I'm not so sure that there is nothing in the way of "character development." There are striking changes in Aurora, especially as expressed through her choreography, as she moves from the Birthday Scene to the Vision and Awakening Scenes to the Wedding Scene.

One of the strengths of Fonteyn's performance is that she was able to make each part of this development believable on its own, while convincing us that Aurora has become a much more serious, complex, and womanly character by the end. The final tableau -- with everyone posing prettily and Aurora and Desire, side by side, commanding center stage -- should not just be a pretty picture. It has to have dramatic impact, and it has to be earned.

I admit that I find quite a lot of "dramatic conflict" in SB. Fairies, witches, wicked minions, guardian fairies: all help wrench the world from Order to Chaos to the Restoration of Order, but of a more transcendent kind than at the start.

A cynic might say that this is a story line designed to send the Romanovs back to their palaces with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

#34 nanushka

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 05:41 PM

Also, I admit that I find quite a lot of "dramatic conflict" in SB.


Yes, but it's all rather silly, isn't it? The whole framing conflict hinges on a forgotten party invitation, and too much of the evening is spent with fair maidens swooning over spindles.

#35 Waelsung

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:02 PM

Are you saying it is about Grace? Would unmerited forgiveness be a gift, and would birth itself be a sin, then?(Question asked by a nice Jewish girl who knows very little Christian theology.)


Unearned, unmerited Grace, yes. But why would birth be a sin in this context? No quite sure I get the connection here. I'd rather think, it's quite the opposite: Aurora is born into a magic kingdom of light and goodness, and without having done anything either good or bad, she receives everything one can only dream of. Sin has no role to play here.

Or did I completely misunderstand you and you meant something else?

#36 Waelsung

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:13 PM

A cynic might say that this is a story line designed to send the Romanovs back to their palaces with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces.


From a political POV, I always thought that SL symbolizes the union of Russia and France which had such horrific consequences for the Romanovs and their empire. Dragged into the World Word I by their Antanta allies, Romanovs would fall prey to the revolutionary Carabosses and lose everything.

Of course, the history has not ended in 1917, so it still remains to be seen if this idyllic paradise can be restored by some kind of a gorgeous prince.

Sarkozy anyone? :)

#37 Drew

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:35 PM

I'm at a hotel computer where I have to pay for every second, but since I wrote to express my disappointment at missing Osipova, I feel obliged to write and add, having seen Wednesday night's performance, that I cannot regret that I will see Cojocaru twice in the role. Tonight her performance was not without flaws, but it also had details and emotional qualities that made it still more powerful for me than the pretty much flawless performance I saw her give with the Royal a few years ago.

I also want to say how much I enjoyed Boylston as Princess Florined--this is the first time I have seen her. She does not have the prettiest lines in the world, but she dances with tremendous verve and energy. She was the one ABT dancer on stage whose dancing said (in the best possible way) 'look at me.' Radetsky was giving it his all as Bluebird and I thought he did well, but he looked like he was giving it his all--she looked like she was dancing.

Since I'm having to pay for my time, I refrain from comment on the production other than to note that a big problem is simply how thin it looks (too few dancers) and how cheap.

#38 bingham

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:02 PM

The NYT review of Sleeping Beauty is out. Surprise,surprise!! AM almost gives it a favorable review. :smilie_mondieu:

#39 ksk04

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 08:44 PM

The NYT review of Sleeping Beauty is out. Surprise,surprise!! AM almost gives it a favorable review. :smilie_mondieu:



He has partially complimented Part twice in a week....one wonders if he is feeling well??

#40 Classic_Ballet

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 09:11 PM


The NYT review of Sleeping Beauty is out. Surprise,surprise!! AM almost gives it a favorable review. :smilie_mondieu:



He has partially complimented Part twice in a week....one wonders if he is feeling well??


so funny, i could not believe my eyes either.....he will end up adoring her, in a year or two, lol, and once he does, then Part will turn, all of the sudden, in the most lyrical, expressive and gifted dancer that he has seen in the past 30 yrs.........

BTW, I saw Veronika on Monday, she danced very solid and had some majestic moments, especially in Act II, but I think she did much better last year, which I remember being magical. I think she had too little rehearsal time after her SL on Friday night, and this may have had an impact on her performance.

The production looked even worst to me, cheap, like.. really cheap, the lighting was awful too. The costumes.....better not to say anything at this point....Marcelo danced amazingly, as usual, and partnered Part as he can only do, however, he also looked to me a little tired sometimes (I dont blame him!). In general, everybody looked low on energy...I guess its the end of a long season and the corp dancers must be exhausted..

I loved Abrera very much, and I am not a big fan of her, but she did dance beautifully and strong (much better than in her Mercedes, for example). Simkim solos were stunning, especially his elevation...., and Sarah Lane held herself very well, her variation was flawless, the partnering looked good...until the end. She slipped through his hands, and ended up being held in an ugly position, next to his hip.......

I hope by Friday things look a little better, I cant wait to see Alina again !!!!

#41 nanushka

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:34 AM

so funny, i could not believe my eyes either.....he will end up adoring her, in a year or two, lol, and once he does, then Part will turn, all of the sudden, in the most lyrical, expressive and gifted dancer that he has seen in the past 30 yrs.........

BTW, I saw Veronika on Monday, she danced very solid and had some majestic moments, especially in Act II, but I think she did much better last year, which I remember being magical. I think she had too little rehearsal time after her SL on Friday night, and this may have had an impact on her performance.

The production looked even worst to me, cheap, like.. really cheap, the lighting was awful too. The costumes.....better not to say anything at this point....Marcelo danced amazingly, as usual, and partnered Part as he can only do, however, he also looked to me a little tired sometimes (I dont blame him!). In general, everybody looked low on energy...I guess its the end of a long season and the corp dancers must be exhausted..

I loved Abrera very much, and I am not a big fan of her, but she did dance beautifully and strong (much better than in her Mercedes, for example). Simkim solos were stunning, especially his elevation...., and Sarah Lane held herself very well, her variation was flawless, the partnering looked good...until the end. She slipped through his hands, and ended up being held in an ugly position, next to his hip.......

I hope by Friday things look a little better, I cant wait to see Alina again !!!!



I look forward to that turnaround -- Veronika deserves the attention!

I agree with all that you say about Tuesday's performance, and last year's. She was solid on Tuesday, for the most part (a slip here and there), and there were some typically gorgeous moments, but you could tell at times that she was getting through it; last year she seemed fully absorbed in the role. She definitely still has her off nights. Still, I'll see her on an off night, fully recognize all the problems, and yet still find it completely worth it for those moments of breathtaking gorgeousness. I thought that Macaulay very fairly captured that experience in his description.

Renata Pavam, IMO, was the standout among the fairies, at least in Act I. Simkin and Lane looked great, apart from the partnering problems. This is the best I've seen her in awhile.

The company as a whole, though -- as you said -- looked low on energy, even sloppy and uninspired. I'd be willing to chalk it up, as you do, to the end of a long season, but I feel they've looked like this, off and on, all season long.

At least, by now, the main problem with SB seems to be just the physical production: sets and costumes, etc. Other than that interminable opening to Act I (the death sentences, pleas, exonerations, etc.), the staging seems to work.

#42 puppytreats

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 06:53 AM

Are you saying it is about Grace? Would unmerited forgiveness be a gift, and would birth itself be a sin, then?(Question asked by a nice Jewish girl who knows very little Christian theology.)


Unearned, unmerited Grace, yes. But why would birth be a sin in this context? No quite sure I get the connection here. I'd rather think, it's quite the opposite: Aurora is born into a magic kingdom of light and goodness, and without having done anything either good or bad, she receives everything one can only dream of. Sin has no role to play here.

Or did I completely misunderstand you and you meant something else?


Your comment about unearned gifts made me believe you were suggesting an underlying Christian theme in this story, as in many stories about birth and rebirth. Therefore, I asked my question about unearned Grace and forgiveness of sin. Pardon my limited understanding of Christian theology. I thought Grace was unmerited, "prepaid" forgiveness of sin, and man is sinful by nature, having been born as a result of so-called original sin. Do children inherit the sin of their parents, as a result? Will she commit a future sin by virtue of being human and having free will? If she is asleep, does she avoid her sin and/or be reborn? Maybe I am going off course. I have not really thought this through very thoroughly.

#43 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 12:04 PM

Folks - I know we've been more lenient, particularly on the Russian company forums, but we need to take it easy on unsourced information. Otherwise we'll just back-and-forth on its veracity.

#44 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 12:33 PM

The July 6th matinee performance of ABT’s The Sleeping Beauty is noteworthy especially for Xiomara Reyes’ wonderful performance. As Aurora, Reyes stands out for her sparkling footwork. She is not a dancer known for her balances, so Reyes’ Rose Adagio is a lovely surprise. She doesn’t hold her balances for a long time, but they are all very secure. Reyes has a very flexible upper body which she uses beautifully at the beginning of the Act III grand pas de deux. Her gorgeous port de bras enriches her solo in the same pas de deux. Reyes is also a very good actress. In Act I (“The Spell”) Reyes really seems like a glowing sixteen year old ready to face life and love. She is celestial in Act II’s vision scene and a happily confident young bride in the final act.

Cory Stearns is very young Prince Desire with an engaging personality. After he sees the vision of Aurora, he is like a puppy dog in his eagerness to find the Princess and marry her. Stearns is not as exciting a dancer as some of the other ABT male principals, but his solos were well performed. Stearns is also a very attentive partner. In the past, Stearns has been paired with ballerinas (Veronika Part and Michele Wiles) who were too tall for him to effectively partner. The petite Reyes is a much better fit for him.

Stella Abrera dances the role of the Lilac Fairy with lyrical grandeur. Her serene control is embellished by Abrera’s beautiful epaulement and her gorgeous line.


As the Bluebird, Jared Matthews is very disappointing. Both his jumps and entrechats lack height and his ballon is very weak. Yuriko Kajiya, however, shows gossamer lightness and delicacy as Princess Florine.

American Ballet Theatre’s The Sleeping Beauty has greatly improved since I first saw it in 2007. I hope that in the future it will become even stronger with the addition of the fairytale characters’ divertissements in the final act of ABT’s The Sleeping Beauty.

#45 abatt

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 03:55 PM

Many of us wanted to see Osipova and instead wound up with two tickets to see Cojocaru and Kobborg. It would be a huge plus for ABT customer relations if they would allow those of us with tickets for both performances to return one for credit to City Center or Nutcracker. Wishful thinking, I know, but what a huge gesture of goodwill towards loyal customers... and giving ABT a reputation as a company that cares about its loyal fans, unlike another nearby company, which will remain nameless.

Let's not forget ABT is the company that did not permit any exchanges for the day of that blizzard in Dec 2010 - you remember, the one where there was NO public transportation and we got about 20 inches of snow.


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