Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: Butler Ballet's 'Sleeping Beauty'



3.5 stars

Clowes Memorial Hall; April 29 through May 1.

It’s not every week we are invited to two Royal Weddings (and public kisses) — the first via London, the second just around the corner.

In the delightful fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, where good and love trumps evil and vindictiveness, beauty is more than skin deep and awakening after a century requires an updated costumes and dance style, Butler’s troupe of 120 dancers showed they were having fun while showcasing good technique and clearly defined characterization.

The Butler Ballet Orchestra, under Richard Auldon Clark, spiritedly merged music with what 120 years ago was ‘contemporary’ choreography with each of the three acts delivering memorable focal points, in the prologue it is the adagio and variations of the gift-bearing fairies, particularly the Lilac Fairy.

Closing the first act is the lovely adagio of Princess Aurora with the four princes. In the second act, the “Dance of the Nymphs” (named Dryads here) was charming within the adagio for Prince Desire and the vision of Princess Aurora. The fourth act's dramatic moment is the grand pas de deux pitting the evil-minded Carabosse against the Lilac Fairy who represents the over-riding theme of love as the enduring life force. Petipa’s original concept remains fresh and poignant through this production’s choreography by Stephan Laurent, Cynthia Pratt, Marek Cholewa, Tong Wang, Susan McGuire and Derek Reid.

Credit all the soloists and the company for focused performances to bring forward the poetry and passion of love in a spectrum of colors and phases. Guest artist James Cramer in the character role of King Florestan set the pace with his fatherly wonderment as he holds his newborn daughter. The new set designed and crafted by Karl Kauffman worked perfectly with lighting designed by Anthony Bauer.


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