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The McCarter presentation of Sleeping Beauty

Ralph Malachowski

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posted by Ralph Malachowski on Feb 23, 2018 10:30am | comments

   


The McCarter Theatre Center of Princeton, NJ, hosted the State Ballet Theatre of Russia and their ballet presentation of The Sleeping Beauty, at the Matthews Theatre on February 11.  The well-known tale probably existed before the Brothers Grimm and might be most known through Walt Disney for those who are not balletomanes. The immortal classic with choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky needs no explanation and no introduction for ballet lovers. 

My friend Enis (so named after the estimable hero Aeneas), had not heard of Sleeping Beauty before, knew nothing of the plot, nor had he ever seen a production. Inconceivable, you might say. Having left Turkey at a young age might have contributed to his innocence. He also mistook this ensemble for the Great State Ballet, or, The Bolshoi. The Bolshoi, the Great State Ballet Theatre of Russia it is not. What it is happens to be a very good company doing yeoman work, as it brings fully-staged classics to life at many performing arts centers across the United States to audiences who might only see Sleeping Beauty on DVD or on TV. The State Ballet Theatre of Russia exists exactly for people like my friend, those who may have never seen any ballet live. The good news is that this Sleeping Beauty has many felicities and much to recommend it. The packed house on this rainy Sunday afternoon testified to Princeton’s hunger for ballet.

It is now time for us to digress. Tots appeared in abundance, like mushrooms after a rain. There is a pressing rhetorical question: Is it fair to the four-to- six-year-old children to be taken to a full-length ballet? Many little ones either became totally disengaged or hyperactive half-way through the matinee.

We now return to discussion of the Sleeping Beauty. Immediately we are struck by the lavish costumes. They are beautiful. The scenery, as may be expected from a company constantly on the go, was painted drops. The music was recorded. The luxury of a live orchestra would have undoubtedly doubled the admission price. Today, even The Paul Taylor Dance Company, one of our national treasures, appeared recently in Philadelphia with recorded music. The first act does tend to lag a bit due to the exposition. Here we had some cautious, though competent dancing. The real highlight was Princess Aurora’s Rose Adagio, which the etoile (listed as Daria Demchenko) danced perfectly. After the interval, the dancing improved steadily. Valeriy Tselichshev as Prince Desire cut a handsome figure, as did Anastasia Efremova as the Lilac Fairy. Both the Prince and the Princess danced sublimely. It was as if they made the conscious decision to go-for-broke, and we are thankful that they did. Levels of good to fine dancing were exhibited by the various fairies and character dancers. Of special note was an exciting Bluebird from Alexey Gerasimov.

The McCarter has many dance, music, and theatre events for the season. For more information, visit www.mccarter.org

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