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PNB's Sleeping Beauty

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Hi, Alexandra! It's hard to pass up such a clarion call; unfortunately, I'm out of time at the moment, but can assure you that all of the good things that you have been hearing are absolutely accurate! I've asked my colleague and fellow Seattleite smile.gif Dean Speer to write his impressions. We will both be attending at least three performances, hoping for a view of three of the four casts. A last-minute substitution last evening played havoc with those well-laid plans, but any time spent with this production is time well-spent, in my view. Cheers to you.

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Thanks, Francis. I look forward to Dean's post. And if Helice and Jerry are lurking, please descend instantly smile.gif

A friend of mine saw it and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of mime and how well -- and carefully -- it was done. It was so nice to hear of a production that didn't have Aurora running off with the Tutor, or being a symbol of nuclear waste, that I was eager to hear more.

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Guest Dean Speer

Greetings and a response from this Seattleite. PNB's SB is a must-see experience. I cannot imagine it being performed, in this version, any better by just about anyone, anywhere. This is a MAJOR acquisition for PNB and for North America. Purchased from the English National Ballet, this production has direct and clear roots not only to its Royal Ballet past but importantly to its Petipa heritage. Probably as close to an "authentic" edition without going to St. Petersburg.

It's edited to 3 hours of running time (from 4.5) and moves along well with a lot of dancing opportunities for every member of the company at all levels. It's a beautifully produced ballet that's thrilling to see and experience. Audiences have been VERY response with the houses being full or very nearly so and with much oohing and aahing throughout. Even the most serious ballet goer will have been most pleased.

I've seen Lisa Apple as Aurora twice with Christophe Maraval as Prince Desire. Lisa is ravishing in this part and was clearly enjoying herself, giving a clear reading of the youth and exuberance of this princess.

She was particularly strong in the concluding Pas de Deux and I felt this couple was already maturing and seasoning in their approach. Everything about it read the right way. I think of Lisa as being a "dancer's dancer."

Mr. Maraval's European breeding makes him a natural for this part; acting, technique, and presence all nicely meshed. I was particularly happy with his rélevé tours a la second in the Act II Pas de Deux. A deep and firmly held 2nd with full and complete revolutions for every pirouette.

All of the character parts are also terrifically played and kudos have to go to Olivier Wevers for making a wonderfully nasty and totally fun Carabosse. He stayed "in characeter" for bows and reacted perfectly when lovingly booed by the audience.

All the men in the Company are consistently strong with excellent line, superior techniques and a uniform "look."

Every company member was "on," well-rehearsed, energetic, and as true to the style and period of this classic ballet as they could be.

Ballet teachers and students should definitely see this SB. It's a lesson in how ballet can, should, and ought to be done. First-rate from top to bottom in all aspects.

My one and only quibble is the lighting. There appears not to be the expected number of "shin-busters" -- mostly top and front lighting? I don't really know except that for all of the tutu pieces, the legs are in shadows. This bothered me a lot and I found myself still trying to get past this during my 2nd viewing. (Frankly, if I thought about it, it'd drive me crazy!) smile.gif Dancers are gorgeously lit from the hips up and the knees down but the thighs were harder to see and in shadow. Perhaps this is an aspect of the production that can be adjusted.

My only, other caveat is that I found that the conductor, Mr. Kershaw, as many years experience as he has under his ballet baton, he has yet to learn to fully breathe with the dancers. He was clearly watching for cues and phrasings but ultimately the two did not always jive. He needs to look to see more body language; how the dancers are poised and how they initiate and move from their centers and to sense this to a greater degree. Perhaps to be more intuitive...

(Sometimes, I think with Mr. Kershaw, it's that the dancers go a little faster because he is and then he goes a little faster because they are and then...) Haven't we all experienced this at least once?!

The other conductor, Alan Dameron, also plays piano for rehearsals and perhaps because of this, I found his work to have been more satisfactory.

PNB deserves many laurels for not only bringing this to a hungry ballet audience but also for creating and SUSTAINING a major, major dance company. One that's in my own, back yard!


Dean Speer


"dessert first!"

[This message has been edited by Dean Speer (edited February 08, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Dean Speer (edited February 08, 2001).]

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Dean and Francis -

Thanks so much for the comments!

Some more questions about the production. I'm really curious as to what it's made of as well as how it was danced.

It's Hynd's production, right? Who coached it? Is it on the lines of British productions? Any divergences from "standard" productions (more or less fairies, more or less mime) Is the Lilac fairy a mime role, a dance role or both? Is the Prince's role pumped up with solos a la Nureyev?

Inquiring minds want to know!


Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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Hi, Leigh. Ronald Hynd and his wife, Annette Page were responsible for the staging and coaching; they were assisted by Amanda Eyles, a choreologist from the Benesh Institute and a former ENB ballet mistress. Kent and Francia have a long running personal association with Ronald and Annette, dating from the late '60s in Amsterdam and continued in Germany. The version remains very faithful to the Sergeyev version for Royal Ballet. The look of the production and overall artistic aesthetic is vintage Royal Ballet. The standard number of fairies in the Prologue (six, plus the Lilac Fairy). The Lilac Fairy includes extended mime and dancing. In the pre-performance lecture, Doug Fullington (at Kent's behest) ran through a fairly comprehensive exposition of the mimetic sequences, so that we would be properly prepared. The Prince had one solo in Act 2 and another in the final pas de deux, but certainly nothing overbearing. It's worth a trip out here the next time around, Leigh.

Terry, I have not (yet) seen Kaori and Olivier (who are paired together for three performances, two already past). I *did* see her last night in an all-to-brief turn as the Fairy of Temperament in the Prologue. She has splendid instincts for this style and I am certain that her Aurora shines. (She is the only principal who has previously performed Aurora, while with Royal Winnipeg.)

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Greetings. Yes, Alexandra, I have been lurking about. I attended PNB's February 3rd evening performance of SB. I agree with the above postings- it was a wonderful evening. This is the second time I have seen SB, the first was last year when the National Ballet of Korea came to town. The NBoK's production was shorter- about 2 1/2 hours compared to PNB's 3 1/2. I guess it's not really fair to compare the two productions, since NBoK was touring with their show and they're a much smaller, less established company- but PNB's Sleeping Beauty was a much more grand affair. It was an obviously better rehearsed, better funded, better performed ballet. Having said that, I still enjoyed NBoK's performance, and actually came away from PNB's show appreciating the Korean company's performance even more than I previously did. For example, I enjoyed NBoK's version of the Garland Dance better. I think it better conveyed the joyous occasion. I also preferred NBoK's Bluebird pas de deux. PNB cast Jodie Thomas and Jonathan Poretta- a soloist and a corps member, respectively, to dance this pas de deux the night I saw it. They did well, but I didn't think that Mr. Poretta had the lightness and leaping ability needed for this role. I remember the principal male (I don't have my program in front of me) for NBoK who danced Bluebird seemed to literally fly.

It was fun to see Olivier Wevers as Carabosse. He seemed to have a lot of fun with it. Lisa Apple was incredible as Aurora, and Ariana Lallone was equally wonderful as The Lilac Fairy. The corps seemed to me to be perfect.

Overall, an unforgettable evening. The Opera House was nearly sold out from what I could tell. My only regret was that I was only able to see one cast.

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this is a late response to this topic, but i have only recently joined this site.

i believe i must be the only one who saw lisa apple as aurora and was disipointed. while she was very pretty and had alot of energy, i just did not find her strong enough for the part. i imagine her as a wonderful lilac fairy, but i don't feel she i quite ready for aurora. the whole time i was distracted by her weak arms any time she would turn. the rest of the performance was wonderful (although the gentleman doing bluebird that night had difficulty pointing his feet and holding his turnout). all of the dancers were exciting and exact. the costumes and scenery to die for.

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