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Sleeping Beauty News and Casting

Leigh Witchel

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Here's the information on casting and other tidbits from NBoC. Personal note: I am going to see if I can make it there for the first weekend. Will any Torontonians be around?





Toronto, Ontario...January 15, 2004...National Ballet of Canada Artistic

Director JAMES KUDELKA today announced casting for The Sleeping Beauty.

Artistic Associate KAREN KAIN will stage RUDOLF NUREYEV's lavish production

of The Sleeping Beauty running February 14-15, 25 -29 at The Hummingbird

Centre for the Performing Arts. The National Ballet of Canada marks the 10th

anniversary of Nureyev's death by presenting this signature ballet, which

was a showcase for the great dancer's unparalleled artistry.

The opening night cast will feature Principal Dancer GRETA HODGKINSON as

Princess Aurora and Guest Artist MARCELO GOMES, Principal Dancer with

American Ballet Theatre, who is debuting with the National Ballet and as

Prince Florimund. Principal Dancer SONIA RODRIGUEZ and First Soloist KEIICHI

HIRANO will perform the Bluebird pas de deux.

Principal Dancer XIAO NAN YU and First Soloist HEATHER OGDEN will make their

debuts as Princess Aurora and First Soloist GUILLAUME CÔTÉ, and Second

Soloist NEHEMIAH KISH will make their debuts as Prince Florimund during the

run. Second Soloist JILLIAN VANSTONE will make her debut as Princess

Florine. Principal Dancers JENNIFER FOURNIER and SONIA RODRIGUEZ will

perform the role of Princess Aurora and the role of Prince Florimund will be

performed by Principal Dancers ALEKSANDAR ANTONIJEVIC and RYAN BOORNE.

Former National Ballet of Canada Soloist LINDA MAYBARDUK will return to the

company to perform the role of the Queen. This is the first time that Miss

Maybarduk has performed with the National Ballet since 1987, when she

performed in Coppélia with Mr. Nureyev. Miss Maybarduk is the author of The

Dancer who Flew: A Memoir of Rudolf Nureyev. Former Soloist ROBERTO

CAMPANELLA will also return to the company as The King.

Rudolf Nureyev created The Sleeping Beauty for The National Ballet of

Canada, based on the original choreography by Marius Petipa. The production

had its premiere at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on September 1, 1972

and the ballet toured extensively throughout Canada and the United States

during the 1970's. The company made its debut at the Metropolitan Opera

House in New York City with The Sleeping Beauty in 1973. The Sleeping Beauty

was filmed for CBC Television in 1972, directed by Norman Campbell, and won

an Emmy Award. The Sleeping Beauty launched the internationally heralded

partnership between Miss Kain and Mr. Nureyev.

Composed by PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY, The Sleeping Beauty features NICHOLAS GEORGIADIS' set and costume design, evoking the court of Louis XIV at

Versailles, and DAVID HERSEY's lighting design.

The National Ballet of Canada's winter season continues with Glen Tetley's

Alice and George Balanchine's Serenade running February 18-22nd at The

Hummingbird Centre for The Performing Arts.

Principal Casting

Princess Aurora

GRETA HODGKINSON (Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm/

Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm)

HEATHER OGDEN* (Feb. 15 at 2 pm)

XIAO NAN YU* (Feb. 26 at 2 pm/ Feb. 29 at 2 pm)

SONIA RODRIGUEZ (Feb. 26 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 2 pm)

JENNIFER FOURNIER (Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm)

Prince Florimund MARCELO GOMES* (Feb 14 at 7:30 pm)

GUILLAUME CÔTÉ* (Feb. 15 at 2 pm/ Feb. 26 at 7:30 pm/

Feb. 28 at 2 pm)


Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm)

RYAN BOORNE (Feb. 26 at 2 pm/ Feb. 29 at 2 pm)

NEHEMIAH KISH* (Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm)

Carabosse VICTORIA BERTRAM (Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm/

Feb. 26 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm/

Feb. 29 at 2 pm)

ALEJANDRA PEREZ-GOMEZ* (Feb. 15 at 2 pm/

Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm)

Princess Florine SONIA RODRIGUEZ (Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 29 at 2



Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 2 pm)

JILLIAN VANSTONE* (Feb. 26 at 2 pm/ Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm)

HEATHER OGDEN (Feb. 26 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm)

Bluebird KEIICHI HIRANO (Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm/

Feb. 29 at 2 pm)

DONG HYUN SEO (Feb. 15 at 2 pm/ Feb. 28 at 2 pm)

RICHARD LANDRY (Feb. 26 at 2 pm/ Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm)

PATRICK LAVOIE (Feb. 26 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm)

Pas de Cinq


(Feb. 14 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 26 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 29 at 2 pm)


(Feb. 15 at 2 pm/ Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 2 pm)


(Feb. 26 at 2 pm)


(Feb. 27 at 7:30 pm/ Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm)

* Debut. All casting is subject to change.

The Sleeping Beauty


February 14-15, 25-29, 2004


Saturday, February 14 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, February 15 at 2 pm

Wednesday, February 25 at 7:30 pm

Thursday, February 26 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm

Friday, February 27 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, February 28 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm

Sunday, February 29 at 2 pm


The Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front Street East),


TICKETS: Prices range from $35 - $121 and can be purchased in person

at the National Ballet Box Office at the Hummingbird Centre or by calling

(416) 345-9595. Discount rates are available for groups.

Ballet Talks:

Ballet Talks will begin 1 hour prior to every performance. Special guests


Wednesday February 18 at 6:30 pm:

GLEN TETLEY: Choreographer of Alice (Feb. 18-22) and former National Ballet

Artistic Associate

Wednesday February 25 at 6:30 pm:


Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada and filmmaker.

Saturday February 28 at 1:00 pm:

KAREN KAIN: National Ballet of Canada Artistic Associate and former


The National Ballet of Canada gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of

the Canada Council for the Arts; the Ontario Arts Council; the City of

Toronto through the Economic Development, Culture and Tourism Department;

The Government of Canada through The Department of Canadian Heritage, The

Honourable Hélène Chalifour Scherrer, Minister; the Ontario Ministry of

Culture, The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Minister; and The Ontario

Trillium Foundation.

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I want to try and get tickets for the 14th, for Marcelo Gomes of course... My subscription ticket is for the 27th but I'm thinking of switching it to another date... I don't think Aurora would be one of Fournier's best roles, and I'd really like to see Cote's Florimund anyways (probably with Sonia Rodriguez).

I'm excited to see Roberto Campanella returning to play the King (I've only seen him in fFIDA and on the CBC program last year, Mrozewski's "Year of the Lion"). I've had him as a teacher at several open classes and he's excellent. Extremely charismatic and still a great dancer.

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Grr. No good fares from NYC this week.

Anyone have a cheaper method of getting from NYC to TO than I've discovered? I usually wait for the weekend sales on Continental or American, failing that the lowest fares seem to be on Jetsgo.

Ah for the days when VASP had a $75US r/t to Toronto!

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Too bad you aren't able to make it this weekend! It's snowing pretty heavily at the moment, so perhaps not the best for travel anyway. Stay warm!

What do people think about the announcements for the upcoming season? I'm not overly thrilled, and am even considering letting my subscription lapse. However, if I do this, I will apparently jeopardize my seating in the new theatre should I decide I want to subscribe when it's open. Grrr.

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mom2, i'm not too impressed by the next season either. None of the programs really stand out, although I'd like to see Four Temperaments and Etudes because I've read so much about them on this board. I didn't like Madame Butterfly (but maybe that's because I find the story silly--I didn't enjoy Puccini's or Miss Saigon either) and while the Contract was interesting, I probably wouldn't see it again. Well, maybe just to see Martine Lamy, if she's cast in it. There seems to be an awful lot of Kudelka next year, and let's just say I'm not his biggest fan... :(

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But on a more positive note, tonight's (technically, last night's) performance of Sleeping Beauty was amazing!! I had no idea who Marcelo Gomez was, before, but I was very very impressed with his dancing tonight. I have never seen (in all of my 1 1/2 years of ballet watching :wink: ) anyone like him in Toronto. To be vague, he "makes everything look easy." He throws off pirouettes as if they were nothing much, has marvellous ballon, as we could see in his variation in Act III, and is neat and tidy in his landings without sacrificing the excitement of it all. He was confident without being arrogant. To my very untrained eye, it seems like there are men in NBoC who are just as technically accomplished, but Mr. Gomez somehow makes the steps look 'not textbook.' Right from his entrance, I felt like I could just relax and enjoy his dancing and his character, without worrying about whether he would stumble. Anyone who was dragged to the ballet by virtue of its being Valentine's day, certainly lucked out!

Speaking of exceptional men, Keiichi Hirano as the Bluebird was fantastic, too. The audience gasped at the height of his jumps. With his long legs, it was lovely to watch. His feet when he did beats were a blur, like a bird's fluttering wings. Stacey Minagawa was his Princess Florine, and they looked very nice together. (Question: who is Princess Florine in the story? Is she supposed to be Prince Florimund's sister? Or just a guest of honour at the wedding?)

It was very sad when they announced that Geon van der Wyst's role would be danced by Etienne Lavigne.

Greta Hodgkinson, as Princess Aurora, burst onto the scene, full of energy and exhuberence (sp?) from her very first entrance. She made a very convincing sixteen-year-old, excited, a little shy, delighted with her suitors. She looked like she could balance forever in the promenades. In the program notes Nureyev is said to have directed that the princess be regal, and all the fairies similarly proud, because they're all queens of their own realms, and not "airy-fairy" fairies; indeed, the fairies carried off that instruction well. My program's upstairs so I can't check it right now, but I think the article also mentioned that the costumes were so heavy that the dancers were forced to act regal.

The costumes were stunning. And there were a lot of them. I wish I could have seen them up close. From the very last row in the balcony, the tutus were still gorgeous. However, the headpieces were distracting. Feathers on the fairies and hideous grassy-looking clumps on the Jewels in the last act. The lilac fairy had a huge, stiff, wide, floor length skirt, which was lovely, but had the most disconcerting effect of making her look like she was on casters when she walked, because the skirt never moved!

Another unfortunate consequence of watching Disney movies... I kept waiting for the cake baking scene, or a fight with the evil Maleficent, and the music for the funny pussycats variation is indelibly associated with sinister fireflies... :(

There were a lot of other little things that I was impressed with. The way the company stood stock-still whenever the curtain rose, and sometimes stayed unmoving for several minutes. The way Greta was suddenly stiff and expressionless when she pricked her finger--when the princes lifted her up, then moved her around, and put her down again, it was hard not to believe that they weren't hoisting up an (incredibly lifelike) wax doll. And then when she tottered around for a bit, before falling asleep, the way every inclination of her head, every pitching forward of her body, was echoed and amplified by the courtiers crowding around behind her, looking on in concern and alarm.

Well, there you have it, some impressions from a not-very-technically-minded viewer! I'm sure Paquita will have a lot more to say concerning the details (and the actual, um, dancing). :) Just a warning though: go early if you're counting on rush tickets. It may have been due to valentine's day, but when I popped by 2hrs before performance, all the rush seats were sold out and I was lucky to get the nosebleed section.

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I was fortunate also to be at Sleeping Beauty last night and it was the most enjoyable evening at NBS for a long time. Marcelo Gomez was amazing and I was very impressed with the rest of the company too. I think Tigger summed it up very well. There were only 20 rush seats availabe in all. The row they usually reserve for rush had to be released, there was such demand. I was fortunate to be early

(lined up at 10 AM !) and got a good seat. The only thing to mar a wondeful evening was the huge crowd of late people. They were held in the back for the first part of ACT I, but for some inconceivable reason, the ushers let them go en masse in a darkened scene during the act. This resulted in upwards of 60 people scrambling all along he aisles, flashlights on, climbing over people who had made the effort to arrive on time. Our view was blocked for a considerable time and the ushers were actually arguing with seated patrons and disturbing all around. The National should enforce their no-seating policy and train the ushers better if they want to retain patrons.

I also agree with the comments about next season. I let my subscription lack this year because I was not impressed with the offerings or Kudelka's works.

Does anyone know what is going on with the spring season? I heard it was supposed to be The Straw Hat, but Kudelka was having problems with it and cancelled it. It is now to be replaced with Cinderella. Ah well, I didnt like the Hat anyway.

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I attended the mat today (15th) with dd. We enjoyed the show, although regretted that we hadn't gone last night instead. Sonia Rodriguez did a fine job (as always), and we were pleased to see one of our family favourites, Julie Hay, as the lead fairy. Daughter was not overly impressed with the corps, but then she is quite a difficult one to please! :)

At the first intermission I went to exchange my tickets for next weekend, as I'll be out of town. ALL of the windows were open, but only two were doing exchanges. The rest were for subscriptions (next season). Thankfully I was one of the first in line, and did get my business done - many behind me were not so lucky and I'm sure left quite frustrated. I know that there is a fiscal reality to all of this, but folks like me aren't necessarily ready to renew in FEBRUARY. I wish there was some way around this....I know the company needs to know they have income to count on; but I left today feeling like being a current subscriber was somehow less important than being a future one. :angry:

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Great to hear all your impressions! I attended both opening night (saturday) and sunday's matinee.

It was exciting to see Marcelo Gomes in Toronto, and I agree with the comments from tigger and Millie. There is such ease to his dancing and his jumps fill the music and move through space in a perfect arc. He has a clean line and every step is "finished", every arabesque reaches up and away.

But I was also extremely impressed with Cote's debut. It's the best that I've ever seen him. He has always been an excellent performer, but yesterday he seemed to have renewed confidence, dancing with style and polish. I noticed a real improvement in the amplitude and line of his jumps- not that they were ever lacking, but now they are breath-taking and Nureyev's choreography gave him several opportunities to showcase his refined technique. In the grand pas coda he finished a dizzying number of pirouettes (I didn't count) in a perfectly balanced retire. I'm sure that he took a lot away from his training sessions with Manuel Legris in Paris. His performance was not flawless, there were a few tiny hops on the very difficult pirouette combinations (e.g. series of pirouettes where he cannot plie in between turns), but he is such a giving dancer it doesn't matter.

As for the Aurora's, both Hodgkinson and Rodriguez were stunning. The latter's approach being slightly more restrained than the former's. Hodgkinson was convincingly youthful and spirited in the first act, truly looking as though she was "shot out of a cannon". Her rose adagio was strong and assured. I especially enjoyed her presentation in the grand pas in Act III. Even at the end of such a difficult marathon-of-a-ballet, she manages to infuse exuberance into each step.

Rodriguez' more reserved approach was perhaps a little less exciting, but more aristocratic. Her grand jete en tourants were smaller and daintier and her cambres did not go as deep. Her Act III solo was nicely done with neat and tidy pointework. She made it through the gruelling rose adagio, although not without showing some of the effort. In the final series of promenades, she hesitated for a while before lifting her hand each time, but Ormsby Wilkins adapted very well, slowing down to orchestra appropriately.

Xiao Nan Yu made a regal principal fairy, and her italian fouettes en dedans (??- I'm not sure what they're called!) were solid. In the 3rd variation in the prologue, Rebekah Rimsay showed fine technique and effortless hops en pointe.

In the third Act, Burnise Silvius of the South African Ballet Theatre dazzled in Diamonds (partnered by Piotyr Stanczyk). She is a secure and charming dancer.

Both the bluebirds I saw, Keiichi Hirano and Patrick Lavoie were spectacular. Keiichi was more weightless but Lavoie has a soft, deep plie. Both merely skimmed the group in the brise-voles. Minagawa's Florine was articulate and precise. Vanstone's was similarly delicate.

The corps looked generally well-rehearsed, especially in the vision scene. Karen Kain has paid special attention the the placement of the arms and head in keeping with stylistic tradition. The sets and costumes still looked great and my only peeve was with the "thunderstorm" sound effects in the prologue which sounded so fake and were especially jarring as my seat was very close to the speaker!

Otherwise, the Sleeping Beauty is in fine shape and all the dancers gave their all- they seemed truly inspired by the legendary Nureyev, whose gifts to the company can be seen so well in this ballet.

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Here is Paula Citron's review of Saturday night's performance:

The Sleeping Beauty is considered the sine qua non of the glittering Russian Imperial classical ballet aesthetic. The 1890 work, set to Tchaikovsky's famous score, is awash in so much technique that a company is laid bare to it roots. From the complex footwork and patterning of the corps de ballet, to the bravura variations of the leading dancers, there cannot be one weak link in the chain, or a ballet disaster will ensue. Rudolf Nureyev's sumptuous 1972 version for The National Ballet is particularly brutal, with its beefed up roles for the men, but as restaged by Karen Kain, the company got it right.


and Susan Walker's:

Nureyev's Beauty in full bloom



The Sleeping Beauty is the ballet dancer's ballet. It is also the balletomane's ballet. But above all, the National Ballet of Canada's production of The Sleeping Beauty is Rudolf Nureyev's ballet.

Thirty-two years after its creation, the company has remounted the former Kirov dancer's juggernaut Sleeping Beauty, dusting it off and giving it new lustre, in a program that resumes Feb. 25 through 29 at the Hummingbird Centre.


I'd like to remind readers that this is not Marcelo Gomes' first guesting experience in Toronto. He starred in the Canadian Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker back in December 1999 with Anna Liceica. He was a mere 20 years old then, newly in ABT's corps, but already showing his great capabilities as a future principal dancer.

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I just returned from today's matinée of Sleeping Beauty.

With Xiao Nan Yu in her debut as Aurora, it promised to be an interesting performance. I was also waiting to see if Ryan Boorne could pull off the role of the Prince.

Nearing the end of the Prologue, and soon after another dancer had fallen during the 'sauté arabesque--change direction 180º' sequence, Nan also fell. The ballet continued, and the unfortunate fall aside, I was still waiting to be impressed by this Aurora -- whose Rose Adagio was not a heart-stopper, whose arabesque-penchées were lukewarm in effect (she has the long legs which could dazzle in this post-rose adagio sequence with a nice sharp, upward thrust to the penchée, which was not at all how she did the movement) -- but, alas, today it was not Nan's day.

After appearing to and dancing with the Prince briefly in Act II's dream sequence, a sudden change of personality occurred as Sonia Rodriquez danced in to complete the Act as Aurora. After intermission, the announcer only said that it had been Sonia Rodriguez at the end of the last act and that she would continue to dance Aurora in Act III as well.

A dramatic and very unfortunate turn of events, for both Xiao Nan Yu, whose debut in the role was aborted because of the injury to her wrist (as my friend at the ballet found out during intermission -- the audience naturally assumed it was her foot), and for Sonia Rodriguez, who would have to give the role full energy again just a few hours after stepping in for Nan. Given the circumstances, Sonia Rodriguez danced a lovely performance despite her lack of sparkle, which she may have given the role had she not been pressed into service so quickly. Even so, she seems to me quite a mature Aurora who would have a hard time being taken for a 16 year old girl.

Now, Ryan Boorne. My goodness, what can I or anyone say? He is such a sweet person that to criticize him too harshly seems unfair. But, to have ever made him a principal in the company seems unfair, too. Unfair to the audience and maybe to some other contenders for such a respected position. I have to say that I have never seen such a weak performance by a principal dancer in my life of ballet-going. He was clearly not up to the role, and despite the confusion of today's events -- losing the partner he had rehearsed with -- it was evident that he simply does not have the technique to dance Florimund. He did so poorly that the audience was nervous for him and, as his own face betrayed, were as anxious as he was for his solos to be over. He never embodied the character at all -- not in any way, shape or form. He could not handle the intricate footwork, the turns, or the jumps. He jumped just okay, okay enough for a corps member, but nowhere near what a principal should display in his jumps. I was in the third row so I could read his face, and he was in agony trying to complete his variation. He was lacking not only technique, but the strength required of the role, which was so painful to witness as he reached the end of his last major solo variation. It looked like, if he could have, he would have given up earlier and collapsed, but, of course, he soldiered on to the last pose, drawing on sheer will to finish. The audience never gave him more than weak, obligatory applause, and I'm certain he must feel just terrible tonight.

Other observations:

Roberto Campanella as King Florestan: I was very disappointed at his total lack of dramatic flair in this role. I have seen what a dynamic dancer he can be in class, so I know he has it in him, but he was a mere ghost of a character in this role. The gestures, the facial expressions, the walk, all fell flat. He had little dancing to do, and none at all in the Prologue and Act I, but had plenty of opportunity to emote. He gave us next to nothing.

Linda Maybarduk, however, as the Queen, was just lovely, although I would have wanted to see more emotion on the death of her daughter. Such conservative reactions! If you weren't seated as close as I was, I wonder if these characters were noticed at all?

To me the best performance of the afternoon was a total surprise. No, it was not Richard Landry's Bluebird (although he did a creditable job) or Jillian Vanstone's debut Princess Florine. She was quite nice enough, but Florine should dazzle us! Maybe as she grows into the role....

...the envelope for "best performance in a brief role" goes to the Pussycats! In the persons of Lisa Robinson and Philip Lau, these felines stole the show and had the audience laughing with glee! Even though their dance is not especially technically difficult, they brought such personality to the characters -- especially Lisa Robinson -- that they made the performance for me -- and I daresay many others in the audience! I'll bet that many non-ballet types will go home remembering only their performance as something special. Their pas de deux was sharp and perfectly executed, with that something extra that I wish I would have seen somewhere -- anywhere -- in the Prince, or even in Aurora.

With such expensive, and exp-a-n-s-i-v-e sets (the lavish scenery and props took up half the surface area of the stage, leaving the dancers with only the front portion to dance on), and such opulent costumes (which may be even more than a bit over the top -- they must have been so difficult to move in!), I would expect the dancing of the company to be on par with the accoutrements. But the National Ballet of Canada just cannot deliver yet what we are used to seeing in world class companies, despite a few real stars. (I'd love to see Guillame Coté's performance tonight). Maybe it dresses up its productions so excessively to mask the relative mediocrity of its soloists? Just a thought.

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Thank you for your comments, Marga. It's too bad that Yu was having a bad day:( I think she could make a lovely Aurora. She must have been distracted by her injury... Regarding Rodriguez, I also found her a very serious Aurora. She was more convincing in the 3rd act than the 1st.

It's such a shame that Boorne had to struggle through the prince's role. I can fully understand, I saw him in Swan Lake opposite Yu. Actually, part of the reason I saw Rodriguez/Cote is because I knew Boorne would have difficulty in Sleeping Beauty. NBoC simply needs more technically strong male principals. They should not have to cast someone like Boorne as Florimund.

I saw Lisa Robinson in "pussycats" last time the company performed Act III alone as part of a mixed program. I completely agree with you, she stole the show! It is one of the roles I associate with her.

Maybe it dresses up its productions so excessively to mask the relative mediocrity of its soloists? Just a thought.

Well, it was Rudolph Nureyev who insisted on the lavish sets and costumes which cost quite a pretty penny, especially in those days! As some have mentioned, they are showing signs of wear and tear but IMO, they still look spectacular. When Nureyev mounted his production the company was very strong. Today, the company can still perform a great Sleeping Beauty, but there are not enough dancers for 4 good casts.

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Regarding Rodriguez, I also found her a very serious Aurora. She was more convincing in the 3rd act than the 1st.

Yes, she was stronger in Act III. I found out the next day that she had been in the audience watching the matinée when she was summoned! Of course, given that she didn't even have a chance to warm up (and thinking back, it seems that she didn't have much makeup on either, contributing to her looking bland when she first came out -- I didn't even recognize her!), I can imagine that it must have taken a while for her to get into the role. I can just picture the search for her in the dark theatre! It was before intermission when she came on.

My friend who also saw the evening's performance said that she had been "fabulous" in her second Aurora. In fact, with Coté dancing as the Prince, the whole ballet had left a much better impression in the evening!

It really is true that the success of a ballet lies with the performances of the principals. No matter how well the corps does, the production is remembered for its main dancers. I remember Maria Tallchief writing that she felt it a great responsibility as well as a burden to know that your own performance either made or broke the ballet.

I saw Nureyev dance Sleeping Beauty with Veronica Tennant in New York in the early 1970's. The company was indeed stronger as a whole then, and had its wonderful coterie of 5 special ballerinas as a drawing card. My "bad" for not remembering that they were using the same costumes and sets. Still, I have similar thoughts when I see the Nutcracker and other heavily-ornamented ballets.

I didn't mention Burnise Sylvius, who danced a beautifully strong Principal Fairy. She, of course, is not a NBoC dancer. I wonder how things will turn out with her in the company. She is, after all, the card they must play to keep Coté. She has a distinctive style that makes her quite compelling to watch. I don't think I have ever seen Italian fouettés en dedans done as slowly, and with no seeming impetus behind the turn, as she did them! And yet, she was always on the music and as strong on the last one as on the first. She must have drawn on her momentum from some secret place that most dancers just don't know about. It was almost eerie how slow there were.

One thing that the younger corps dancers must learn is that people in the front rows can see them mouthing the words they use while gesturing. I am sure that in the time in history reflected in this ballet, though a fantasy, people did not say "Oh my God!!" and "No, no, no!!!" when things went wrong, as with the arrival of Carabosse. It was jarring to see the dancers miming these words as part of their stage histrionics. Another thing which took me out of the moment was when one of the corps dancers flinched and winced as Xiao Nan Yu's hand swept dangerously close to her face. She didn't hit her, but even if she had, the dancer should have stayed in character and ignored it, like one is taught to ignore an itch while posing on stage.

Ryan was having such a hard time that he didn't even look at his partner once during their pas de deux. He was a strong partner and supported her well, with his shining moment being in the pas de poisson, which came off twice without a hitch (and probably with only a hasty practice during intermission, if that), and a splendid pose capped by triumphant smiles to the audience. Not until the very end, with the whole cast dancing in unison, did the Prince look his Aurora in the eye.

Many who danced Thursday afternoon would no doubt have liked a redo of that matinée. I feel very badly for Nan. What a horrible thing to have happen during your debut in a role!

One little pas de deux I miss with this production is Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. I so wish they had done it. It would have delighted the children in the audience -- it's something they know and can identify with -- and it would have given a couple of dancers a chance to show us what they can do. To have only the Bluebird/Princess Florine and the Pussycats (I wonder why they are not called The White Cat and Puss and Boots?) as storybook divertissements seems to be truncating Act III a little too vigourously. I also hanker for Kevin Pugh's Bluebird!

One more positive note: Rebekah Rimsay was just wonderful in her roles! She is a secure, technical dancer with an attractive, vibrant stage presence. She changes like a chameleon from role to role as she adapts to the characterizations of each act. Brava!

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