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Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

April 5, 2013
Amar Dhaliwal as the evil Carabosse

Amar Dhaliwal as the evil Carabosse

The Sleeping Beauty

Reviewed April 4, 2013

NAC Southam Hall, Ottawa

(Repeat performances through to April 6, 8 p.m.)

“The ballerinas are beautiful,” says my nearly-four-year-old companion. And for this grandest of grand fairy tale ballets, costumed in lavish, sparkling tutus that brush the opulent set with a painterly cast, they certainly are.

“If this is your first ballet, this is the one to see,” Serena Sandford, alias the Fairy of Sapphires Thursday evening, whispers to little Isabelle who has been fidgeting beside me for nearly two hours and has now accompanied me backstage to see the ‘beautiful ballerinas’ up close and personal as they breathlessly slip onto and off the stage during the Third Act.

Serena Sandford as the Fairy of Sapphires

Serena Sandford as the Fairy of Sapphires

She’s right. The Sleeping Beauty is one of the “purest” classical ballets, dating back to 1890 Russia, when the work of choreographic great, Marius Petipa, was presented at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre to Tchaikovsky’s score. It went on to become one of the Imperial Ballet’s most popular and Petipa’s most enduring creations.

It has all the elements of enchantment: the classic castle gates and vaulted architecture, the deep romantic forest and lantern-illumined boat, kings, queens and princes to delight, peasants and nymphs to entice, dancing fairies replete with gossamer wings pinned to their backs, the bold, evil Carabosse, performed excitingly by Amar Dhaliwal Thursday, and a cast of characters recognizable by any child, Little Red Riding Hood and her Wolf, the Blue Bird, Puss in Boots and his White Cat, the latter two flicking their tail and ears enticingly at my granddaughter as she sits speechless next to the Sapphire Fairy on Sleeping Beauty’s bed.

And performed by Canada’s oldest and tightly knit ballet company, The Sleeping Beauty won’t steer you wrong. This small troupe, albeit somewhat expanded for this spectacle, are dancers of precision and virtuosic skill. It’s breathtaking, for example, how high and with what ease Dmitri Dovgoselets, as the Blue Bird on opening night, fathoms the vertical space.

The quartets by the company’s artists are choreographic delights, as are the gifting fairies, who showcase their personal style for their individual dances. The seven black-clad and grotesque-masked attendants, who tumble onto the stage with Carabosse, spreading a cloud of dust and fear, are as agile as tumbleweeds, somersaulting and twisting into unbelievable shapes that add a nice touch of black magic to the production.

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From → Ballet

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