« Foreign notes sing praises for Stella Abrera's Giselle | Main | ABT's CFO on Dr. Phil yesterday »

May 31, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Haglund, I adore your blog, but I’ve got to disagree with you today. The new Sleeping Beauty has got to be the most breathtakingly beautiful and perfectly designed period ballet I’ve ever seen. For me, it’s a fairy-tale picture book from the Golden Age of Illustration come to life. I’m a costume historian by trade, and I think you’ve touched on something important when you point out that an overproduced visual display can result in less importance placed on the dancing itself. It’s the same kind of problem people used to have with Hollywood costume films in the studio era; you get less drama, but more show. However, I feel there’s a place for spectacle and beauty in ballet that goes beyond dance, and it has to do with a deeper meaning and appreciation for clothing that’s been lost to us in today’s world. I’m not sure that modernism has ruined us exactly, but with people now insisting on stripping down to jeans, tees, and flipflops no matter the time, place or season, it’s little wonder no one can appreciate or understand a stage filled with formally dressed characters. Richard Hudson, the designer, has done an extraordinary job of designing period clothes that speak to character, their place in society, all through the visual aesthetic of Leon Bakst while adhering to the requirements of Petipa, Diaghilev and Ratmansky. This man deserves cheers, not jeers. I don’t think it’s necessarily correct that people wore wigs because they were bald or shaved their heads because of lice and disease. In Act I, for example, (set in the time of Moliere), the Queen’s wig is designed to resemble a fontange, a hairstyle in which the hair itself was held in place by wires and decorated with lace and trims, and not a wig. I’ve seen some bad theatrical wigs in my time, but in this production they are top-notch. It’s to the dancers’ credit that they’re able to perform in them with seeming ease. And I thought Herman Cornejo looked particularly handsome in his red 18th century coat, which was perfectly fitted and proportioned. When it was time for the grand pas in Act III, naturally the coat and accoutrements had vanished. I know that most people find history a bore and fashion history absurd, but it’s important for them to understand just how much they’re missing simply by not having enough information about what they’re seeing. It’s akin to sitting next to someone at the ballet who thinks Misty Copeland is the American equivalent of Osipova because she spins fast and has big muscles. This, gleaned only from seeing her shill for a sportswear company on a TV commercial! There’s just a lack of information involved, and obviously, that additional information can lead not only to an enriched enjoyment of the ballet, but to enlightenment as well.

What upset me most about the production was seeing Sarah Lane, my go-to dancer for technical perfection, fall off point during the Rose Adagio. However, I have faith that she and Cornejo will be much better during next month’s performance. What did impress me about Lane’s performance was how much her acting has improved. If this was due to some excellent coaching, I say bring it on! In Act III, this woman proved once again that she remains a dancer to be reckoned with and a soloist in name only. If she’d received the kind of coaching and attention over the past seven years that a dancer of her skill and talent deserves, perhaps the roster at ABT might look different today.

I didn't like the costumes of this production at all. They were too much of everything and they got in the way of the dancers. The women especially. This is why I suspect balance problems are an issue even from reliable dancers such as Lane.

I felt badly when she fell off that last balance. But she gamely went on and didn't let it phase her. I loved her crystal clear footwork in the Grand Pas. And all this talk about her being too tiny a dancer is ridiculous. I had no problems seeing her on stage or her lovely dancing in the wedding scene. People talk as if there were no tiny dancers before Lane (Kirkland, Makarova etc.).

The choreography would be fine in a museum but it did nothing to show off the female dancers. Diaghilev's version of this monster went broke within a few months. What made ABT decide to renew it? It makes no sense. It remains a fashionable looking failure in my eyes.

Thanks much, LLF.

I knew historians would flip over this production. It's good to know that we have a costume historian who we can now run to with questions. We'll just have to wait and see if the production takes off with the general audience and whether people will want to see this Sleeping Beauty again and again. I think five times will be my fill of it for a while (2x in Cosa Mesa & 3x at the Met) unless some interesting casting appears.

It's hard to place the entire blame for the Rose Adagio flub on Sarah when she is 100% dependent on the Princes and we know given her previous crew of Blaine Hoven, Sterling Baca, Eric Tamm, and Roddy Doble, she can do it perfectly. But who knows what really happened in those extremely stressful moments yesterday. We do know, however, that it was an aberration, not a matter of Sarah being incapable of doing them.

Hi Haglund,

I was at the performance yesterday. While there were many glorious moments, I had some problems with this production. I felt that there were waaaay too many people on stage in the big numbers--such as the iconic garland waltz. It was like being bombarded with a thousand chocolate eclairs all at the same time. It started to remind me of a dance recital where they get the entire school on stage for the big finale. The dancing was lost and I felt that these excesses marred the beauty of the production.

While I understand the idea behind the old-fashioned ballet positions, I'm not sure I see the point[e] other than to try something new or is it old? Whatever, it didn't work for me. And the B+ on demi-pointe? I kept wanting the girls to point their feet! I felt distracted by these differences, not charmed. They came across as weird affectations, not a faithful recreation. Based on photos I've seen of ballerinas back then, none would be taller than five feet, nor less than 130 lbs. The choreography was neither here nor there. The theater would've cleared out in about 5 minutes if it had truly been there.

found this ballet from 1913-ish.


dude has some serious gams and what IS that diaper thing he's wearing?! ;]


Paris Opera ballerinas a few years later. Oh man, I love this!

No ballerina 120 years ago could've executed the beautiful variation done by Devon. Well, at least not like that! Unfortunately, it was under-appreciated by the audience. Mad level of difficulty. I just wish that she and Herman had not been cast together. Particularly since she was wearing heals, the size discrepancy seemed almost cartoonish. And yes, his hat is too big. We're so lucky to have him. Amazing artist!

While some of the costumes were beyond exquisite, I felt over-all, that they usurped this production. The effect was like eggs bendict drowning in a lake of bearnaise. I too, kept thinking that all of that money could've been put to better use.

My one last issue was the fugly slab that the beauty was expected to rest on for 100 years. I would think that a princess would get something less morgue-like? I could've done without the wedding gown in favor of a more attractive bed for her.

So happy to see Skylar Brandt featured yet again and thought she was the most sparkling one up there!(sparkly costume aside) Saw her glowing review for Peasant Pas which I so wish I could've seen! I've known her since she was 10. (no bias lol) It's so much fun to see her fulfilling the promise that was quite evident even then.

Hi Laurel.

I guess I wasn't put off by the numbers of people on stage for the Garland Dance. My assumption was that every adult and child on stage at that point was written into the Stepanov notations. Excess was probably the whole point of it. It didn't square with our modern senses that were informed by other more modest productions. If one had never seen a Sleeping Beauty, what would one have thought of this busy Garland Dance?

The slab bed - yeah, I hear ya. They may have been going for something like this - a pic of Aurora on her uncomfortable bed by artist Victor Vasnetsov:


Skylar was fabulous in her Peasant Pas and as the Diamond Fairy although she seems to favor a harder shoe that was a little noisy in the Diamond jumps. Yep, as you say, it is great to see her fulfilling her promise. YAGP recently posted a picture on its FB page of Skylar when she was about 11 years old:


It's such fun to follow the development.

Excuse the slight change of subject, but it might be of interest to note that a new type of tape is being used to join the sections of dance mats together on the stage. This new tape apparently is the cause of so many big slip-ups and near misses over several perfomances and could be a factor in the wobbly Rose Adagios by otherwise very compitent perfomers.

It is state of the art stuff and highly recommended by the manufacturers but some of the dancers have commented that they would rather dance on gaffer tape.



Thanks so much for the interesting info. Sometimes "state of the art" stuff isn't so good for the state of the art. I hope the dancers adapt or the safer gaffer tape is restored.

The comments to this entry are closed.