Director: Valentina Sudakova
Reviewer: Lu Greer
Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale which has seen many incarnations, from multiple ballet companies to pantomimes, which often means that new runs of it are forced to try and modernise and to adapt their performances. The Russian State Ballet, however, chooses to keep things very traditional in both costume and in setting (Dmitry Tcherbadzhi), but with the fresh and dynamic choreography (Marius Petipa and Sergei Bobrov) they well and truly bring the story to life once again.
The choice of traditional costume allows for stunning floor sweeping gowns in silks and lace paired with feathers and cloaks, which when accompanied by the pastel colours of the fairies creates visually stunning court scenes even before the audience is drawn in by the beauties and nuances of the dance. What allows the audience to be so captivated though is not just the dance, but the exemplary performance of the Orchestra of Siberia, led by Alexander Yudasin. It would be easy to overlook the orchestra as the music of Tchaikovsky is played with such subtlety that it seems entirely natural to the dance, but it is this that marks them as a truly exemplary orchestra.
The entire troupe, while young, handles the choreography with a maturity and a confidence. That being said, there are points in the performance when it feels that while the dancers are competently dancing the steps there is a lack of emotion which at times disconnects the audience from the story and makes it a little difficult to follow in points. Also, the portrayal of Carabosse (Egor Osokin) becomes somewhat more panto than ballet, and while Osokin gives the audience much more than the rest of the ensemble in the way of expression, the juxtaposition between his exuberance and their reserved portrayal makes the performance a little awkward in places.
Anastasia Kazantseva as the Lilac Fairy, however, is utterly sublime throughout. Her performance marries the carefree fun of the fairies with the control and precision necessary to ballet, which keeps the audience utterly enthralled every time she steps onto the stage.
Overall, this is an elegant performance, which while being a little disconnected in points and pantomimic in others is still very accomplished and visually stunning. While a little reserved it is still an excellent example of traditional ballet and storytelling.
Runs Until 17th February