Culture Writer Yankie Chow reviews the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, praising the skills of the company’s dancers

Written by YankieChow
Images by Tristram Kenton

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the grandest classical ballets ever created. The show follows the story of the original fairytale, where the curse of a wicked fairy causes the Princess Aurora to fall into a deep sleep with the touch of the spindle – a curse that can only be broken by a kiss of a prince. I was lucky enough to attend the press night of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty; the performance is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The ballet begins with a grand ball. Classical music plays as the princes and princesses (all roles are played by Birmingham Royal Ballet company members) enter twirling onto the stage, before they step back to allow the ballet to begin proper. This provides an immersive experience – you feel like you are part of the princess and princes watching the performance of the principal ballet dancers. The ballet form is well showcased: groups of ballet performers dance in perfect synchronicity before beginning their solos. Each ballet dancer matches the soft, grand, vivid music, dancing one by one, before coming back together as a group for the introduction of Princess Aurora’s parents and her birth.

The ballet form is well showcased

The arrival of the wicked fairy is accompanied with smoke all around, and the witch is carried by other dancers clad in black. It is amazing how the dancers in light costume synchronize with the dancers in black costume to showcase how the curse is achieved, frightening the audience in the process. 

One notable dance involves the introduction of the grown-up Aurora. Four princes each take turns dancing with her, twirling her around the air and holding her spin. This scene is amazing because not only are there props involved (the princes hand flowers to Aurora), the skills of the ballet dancers are evident in the maintenance of their graceful poses. Candlelight is used to indicate the arrival of the spindle. When Aurora touches the spindle, the music transforms into devilish sounds and the dancer performs to the music perfectly before falling into an enchanted sleep. She is carried away as the backdrop falls.

This is simply one of the best ballet performances I’ve ever seen

Another notable scene in the ballet is one in which the prince dances in the mist while meeting the people who will guide him towards Aurora. It is a beautiful dance break with wonderful effects as the dancers perform, synchronizing perfectly while the prince faces the wicked fairy. When the prince manages to kiss Aurora, the whole scene changes as everyone awakes, including the princess. The dark scene is filled with light, and everyone dances to suit the story’s happy ending.

I really enjoyed The Sleeping Beauty because it perfectly portrays the whole story of the famous fairytale, as well as showing off the amazing skills of each performer. Additionally, the music and choreography are beautifully synchronized. This is simply one of the best ballet performances I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 5/5

The Sleeping Beauty ballet plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 2nd March

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