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The Sleeping Beauty (Birmingham)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Peter Wright’s production of the fairytale classic has been a part of the acclaimed company’s repertoire since its first performance in Birmingham in 1984. The production is the embodiment of a classical ballet with all the hallmarks one would expect from traditional performance; this does much to entertain and enthral, however, its traditional style can also act to the production’s disadvantage.

The production proves to be a grand showcase of the company’s dancing talent; especially in terms of its principals. The true world-class performers are on shining display in the title roles of the Prince and Princess Aurora portrayed by Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma who dazzle with their precise and accomplished delivery.

The principal cast are equally supported by a fine dancing ensemble of soloists and artists. Whilst there is no denying the skill and beauty of the choreography performed, sometimes the routines repeat themselves dramatically thus making the three hour running time feel a little longer than needed. Perhaps if the traditional two intervals were shortened or merged into one then the evening would prove to feel a little less drawn out.

In return for the constant display of dancing skill the production also loses its way in terms of narrative; the progression of the story is rushed and it seems that the dance is hardly ever used to elevate meaning or narrative progression, but to simply demonstrate the skill of the performers.

Once again the design, as with all Birmingham Royal Ballet productions, is sumptuously opulent. Philip Prowse’s large scale columns in various shades of gold coupled with finely detailed hanging drapes and giant chandeliers certainly evokes the regal setting of the action.

It is certain that this production of The Sleeping Beauty is a display of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s principle talent and a testament to the traditional stylistics of ballet. However, its style is often favoured over content, especially in regards to the production's narrative.

- Ben Wooldridge


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