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Matthew Bourne's "The Sleeping Beauty"

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Crompton's preview (link above) gives a better precis than I can here, but I'm really hoping I can find my way somewhere that it's being presented -- I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've seen of Bourne's work, and would love to see what he does here.

For all that he makes some significant changes in foundational works, he has a great understanding of how they work theatrically. From Crompton's preview:

"His favourite version of The Sleeping Beauty, one he saw in his youth in the 1980s and has since watched over and over again on video, is the Royal Ballet production by Ninette de Valois, with additional choreography by Frederick Ashton. 'My goodness, it is good and clear and fast and dramatic,’ he says. 'It makes sense. It is quite different from how it is done now.’"

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Crompton's preview (link above) gives a better precis than I can here, but I'm really hoping I can find my way somewhere that it's being presented -- I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've seen of Bourne's work, and would love to see what he does here.

Sorry! I forgot about the link! I just read it and had a fit of laughing when I got to the part where the puppet (baby Aurora) was dubbed "The Exorcist Baby".....I might have to see THAT to believe it!

Although I normally like traditional, I do enjoy certain crazy productions. The Copenhagen Ring is one of my favorite Ring productions and it is wild!

So I might give this Sleeping Beauty a try if it comes out on dvd! Still laughing at the Exorcist Baby!

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Still laughing at the Exorcist Baby!

That was a great comment. I love hearing what performers actually call the props they use -- I remember a description of someone setting a new production of Jerome Robbins' Dybbuk, and the stager called the shawl the heroine was wearing the schmata.

I can only imagine what all those Nutcrackers we're seeing now are actually called backstage...

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A child puppet was used sensitively -- beautifully, in fact -- in Anthony Minghella's Met production of Madame Butterfly, available on dvd.

The Telegraph article, and especially the photos, look very promising to me. Bourne has great visual imagination, and I found his Swan Lake to be quite respectful of the spirit of the piece. The question I have is whether his choreographic imagination is equal to the scope of the Sleeping Beauty score and story.

I no longer live in NYC, but if I did, I would order my tickets as soon as they went on sale.

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Judith Cruickshank describes the scenario and production in detail in her review for danceviewtimes.

In her opening, she writes, "Having ...set ‘The Nutcracker’ in the grimmest of orphanages," I saw Bourne's "Nutcracker" at Sadlers Wells about a decade ago, and I'm not sure that the Land of the Sweets wasn't equally as frightening as the orphanage.

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I loved it when I saw it at the Lowry a few weeks ago (it premiered in Plymouth and came to the Lowry before opening in London).

Matthew Bourne is not a classical choreographer but he certainly gives nods to Petipa in this production in the Fairy dances in the prologue. His main strength for me is his ability to put on a production that is visually stunning and thought provoking. This production is no different - the set and costumes (by long-time collaborator Lez Brotherston) are utterly fabulous. As the linked preview says his Aurora is a wild child who has a Lady Chatterly moment with the gardener, her true love (or is he??). I love the way the gardener is given a way of staying around for when Aurora wakes up in 100 years.

IMHO, it's definitely worth a view!

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Thanks, JMcN, for the tour dates and for your comments. It seems like a very extensive tour.. I can understand why they are not using an orchestra (something complained about in one of the reviews).

Belated thanks to Cygnet for those links to the British reviews. The piece is prominently described in the advertising as "A Gothic Romance," which confirms that they are going for a market that isn't traditionalist or purist about the art form.

Mark Monahan, in The Telegraph, was quite forthright in expressing his ambivalence about the "real" Sleeping Beauty":

The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet staple that, I suspect, people often enjoy less than they feel they ought to. For all the beauty of Tchaikovsky's score and Petipa's steps, it has no sexual intrigue (narrative ballet's most effective fuel), little drama, and at 3 hours o so, it can feel like a schlep.

I would still love to see it, but -- now that I've read the reviews -- perhaps more out of curiosity than anything else. Maybe it's "the ballet to see with your friends who don't like ballet." We all need one of those every once in a while. wink1.gif

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That's like inviting your friends over to listen to opera and playing one of the Ella Fitzgerald Song Books instead.

I think if they were told the Bourne was ballet and then saw actual ballet, whether it be "Sleeping Beauty," "Agon," or "Artifact Suite," they'd see it as a bait-and-switch, even if they like and appreciate both.

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Matthew Bourne has never described his productions as ballet and people going and expecting to see ballet will have a shock!

Go for the production values and committed performances and you will enjoy.

I'm not a slave to his productions - I'm not at all keen on Cinderella or Car Man but I adore Highland Fling (being performed by Scottish Ballet this coming Spring!), Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands. Early Adventures earlier this year was an absolute hoot too!

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[EDITED TO CORRECT AN ERROR -- I originally typed Macaulay instead of the name of the actual writer, Roslyn Sulcas. Thanks to abatt for catching this.]

A mixed but mostly favorable review by Roslyn Sulcas, in today's New York Times:

Fangs, Zombies and Other Stuff Tchaikovsky Never Dreamed Of

Critics occasionally quibble over Mr. Bourne’s bona fides as a choreographer and whether his identity is creating dance or theater. It is true that the movement in Mr. Bourne’s works can sometimes feel nondescript, as if it is filling music rather than conveying something essential. It’s rare to remember a particular dance passage; the phrases seem to rush by with unobtrusive seamlessness.

But watching “Sleeping Beauty” last month I was struck that this unobtrusiveness is part of Mr. Bourne’s gift; nothing jars, nothing seems forced. His dances have a naturalness, a musicality and a cleverness of pattern and construction that make them seem simply right for the moment.

When describing Bourne's revisions of plot and music,Sulcas struggles a bit, especially with a game efforts to explain the plot twists. In her wrap-up she focuses on the issue of whether this version of SL works as a piece of dance theater, concluding that it does.:

It doesn’t quite have the mythic sweep and emotional heft of his “Swan Lake,” or the pitch-perfect dramatic tension and economy of “Play Without Words,” but Mr. Bourne’s new work is theatrically effective, sometimes even brilliant. You could wish for a live orchestra rather than the overly loud taped score; you could nitpick about some decisions (a puppyish pas de deux in place of the rose adagio, for one), or the slightly affectless hero.

But Mr. Bourne is an inveterate reworker, and his pieces tend to get sharper over time. This “Sleeping Beauty” looks set for a lengthy reign.

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