The story of The Sleeping Beauty is an iconic tale that most of us have grown up knowing thanks in no small part to the Disney adaptation. Yet this is a story that shouldn’t exist purely in celluloid, as it comes to life when performed upon the stage, and happily we have the English National Ballet’s spectacular show do just that.
Every inch of the Empire’s stage has been magically transformed into a fairy tale kingdom, full of glittering chandeliers and stunning backdrops. From the splendour of a palace, to the enchanted fog forest that surrounds it, the design (Peter Farmer) is flawless. This is what ballet should be, an immersive experience that captivates the audience from the moment the curtain is raised.
Kenneth MacMillan’s The Sleeping Beauty is unarguably a visual feast, in which Nicholas Georgiadis’s updated costumes appear to be nothing short of breath taking. The orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland, is hypnotic. It’s a rare treat to enjoy an orchestra these days, with so many productions choosing instead to use a pre-recorded score. Sutherland expertly leads through Tchaikovsky’s haunting melodies, delighting the audience and receiving thunderous applause.
Of course, we cannot forget the dancers, who never set a foot out of place. This is a ballet in which each dancer appears to be the very epitome of grace and dedication. The Lilac Fairy (Daria Klimentová) is mesmerising, and acts as the prefect counter to Fabian Reimair’s evil fairy Carabosse, who enters the stage on a beautifully constructed carriage, and delivers the right mix of grotesque grace.
Naturally we’re here to see Sleeping Beauty in the flesh, and Erina Takahashi is a revelation. With stunning movement and sumptuous costumes, she is a delight from beginning to end, delivering an unforgettable performance, as too does her Prince, Esteban Berlanga.
Ballet can at times appear intimidating to audiences, yet the English National Ballet have created a classical performance which is hypnotic enough to act as a stunning introduction, whilst at the same time holding the ability to keep even the most critical of ballet enthusiasts happy.
In short, this is a spellbinding piece that will keep you enthralled all evening. Unmissable!
- Vicki Goodwin