Well, yes, things are missing from this Sleeping Beauty production.
It is a staging derived from the misguided idea that a
choreographically stripped-down Sleeping Beauty production, with obnoxious
bright colors and dancers who resemble animated characters in video games, would
attract a new generation of young ballet fans more than a bonafide classic
production would. There were few kids in the house last night and there
were many empty seats.
But let's not dwell on the bad – there was lots of great
dancing by Veronika Part, Stella Abrera and Marcello Gomes in the leads,
god-like partnering by Gennadi Saveliev's Russian Prince, high &
mighty hissing by Nancy Raffa's Carabosse, impressive beats and elevation from
Sascha Radetsky's Bluebird, grace and articulation from Isabella Boylston's
Princess Florine, and fabulous fairywork, especially from Luciana Paris as
Veronika'sPrincess Aurora overcame some early nerves to
deliver a beautiful final balance in the Rose Adagio with the help of Saveliev's
steady preparation and supportive eye contact. She was on her way to choosing
him, of course, until she pricked herself with the spindle. But put Veronika in
a white tutu and the magic begins as it did last night in the Vision Scene of
Act II. Mystery, elegance, spirituality all were apparent as Veronika wove her
way among the fairy attendants and danced her variations. From Haglund's viewpoint, this Scene was Veronika's best and made it worth sitting through this production.
Marcelo's Prince Desire doesn't have a lot to do in this
ballet and doesn't even show up until after the intermission, but he was
magnificent last night, especially in the Wedding PdD where he and Veronika
coordinated for three fantastic fish dives. During the Vision Scene his yearning and inability to grasp what he sensed was near to him was truly beautiful.
Stella's Lilac Fairy was all elegance and refined beauty.
Exquisite port de bras, lovely hands and fingers that made her lines look
endless. Her variations, especially the early one that included pirouettes
closing cleanly in fifth, were outstanding. Her series of battement fouettes to
arabesque were just beautiful.
Bluebird and Princess Florine, though not one of
Haglund's favorite parts of Sleeping Beauty, was quite becoming last night. It
did not look frantic as it sometimes can if placed in the wrong hands. However,
Bluebird has got to stop with the loud exhaling when preparing for his
variations or when exiting into the wings. It is most distracting and quite
unnecessary. The heavy, noisy brise vole landings need work as well. It is obvious that Princess Florine is honestly trying to open her
eyes to the audience. Haglund hopes she keeps trying and that she finds
someone in the Grand Tier or Dress Circle to dance for as opposed to looking
down at Row L in the Orchestra. Princess Florine was a great step forward for
Isabella and it was a tremendous pleasure to see her featured so lovely in a
true classical variation.
Gemma Bond, Melanie Hamrick, and Isadora Loyola were beautiful Lilac Fairy attendants. Haglund wishes he could put his
finger on Gemma Bond's transformation from last year. Her dancing has a new
soft quality to it. Seeing Melanie Hamrick step out as a soloist in Lady of the
Camellias made Haglund wonder how much longer she will be sadly under-employed
in the corps. Isadora Loyola is captivating – always involved in a story no
matter what the steps are.
Hee Seo and Sean Stewart played The Cat and Puss-in-Boots
to their maximums. The Cat needs more whiskers though - could hardly see
The character roles of King Florestan, His Queen and
Catalabutte are dreadfully weak. They really need to be pumped up
choreographically, and Susan Jaffe, glorious in her days as a ballerina, needs
character role training as does Clinton Luckett.
The princes [Grant DeLong, Alexandre Hammoudi,
Patrick Ogle, and Gennadi Saveliev] received a reprieve some time ago from their
ridiculous original costumes and are now very handsomely attired and danced
handsomely as well. Again, special mention must be made of Saveliev's
assistance to Veronika during the Rose Adagio.
As much as Haglund enjoyed seeing so many of his favorite
dancers highlighted, he still wishes that this Sleeping Beauty would doze off
for a hundred years. It's not something to take kids to if you're trying to
interest them in ballet. Take them to Swan Lake instead. Sorry, no Pump Bump