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California Ballet's "Sleeping Beauty"

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San Diego's CA Ballet just premiered it's full-length "Sleeping Beauty" this weekend. This is an ambitious production for a company of this size and I'm amazed at how well they pulled it off. Performing it meant double-duty for everyone: the prologue fairys turn up in the Garland Waltz and as Maids of Honor in Act I, Nymphs in Act II and in the variations in Act III; Saturday night's Aurora (Denise Dabrowski) was Sunday afternoon's Lilac Fairy and vice-versa (Jennifer Curry as Sunday's Aurora).

Such stretching of resources doesn't leave much room for error. The Bluebird pas de deux suffered due to injuries at the performances I saw: on Saturday night a hasty replacement for Bluebird was required so there was only the adagio and Florina's variation; Sunday afternoon's scheduled Florina had to replace the injured dancer who had been scheduled for Aurora, so there was no adagio and only the Bluebird's variation.

I had planned to attend, and bought a ticket for, only the Saturday night performance. But I enjoyed it so much I had to come back for the Sunday matinee.

This production is billed as "staged after Petipa" by Maxine Mahon, but it has a definite RB pedigree with much of Ashton's flavor.

I'm far too lazy to go into details about all the dancers who made special impressions, and all the touches in this performance that made it live for me (and I would no doubt strain the reader's patience). But I just wanted to praise the company and the production as a whole. The dancers had been coached and rehearsed with attention to detail and a feel for classical ballet that seems rare. The entire performance was one gem after another. (I've never enjoyed the Garland Waltz as much as I did in these performances.) There was no showing off or grandstanding; the emphasis was on clean classical style.

After seeing so many sloppy and half-hearted performances by world-class companies, it was a pleasure to see classial ballet performed with such commitment not only to dancing but to acting, mime and story-telling.

Bravo, CA Ballet!


[This message has been edited by Steve Keeley (edited April 01, 2001).]

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Thanks for posting that, Steve. Denise Dabrowski is a subscriber, and one Christmas sent me her company's program book. I was struck by the photos -- I thought they looked like an interesting company. We did a photo spread on them in Ballet Alert! It's a half-student, half-professional mix, but, just from the photos, I thought the dancers looked, as you said, very well coached and serious about what they were doing. If all communities had a company like this, ballet would be in much better shape.

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