Sleeping Beauty is a classically mesmerizing ballet piece and a reminder of childhood nostalgia through a world-renowned fairy tale. The ballet is a story of hope and love conquering over evil which Tchaikovsky’s magical music score of harps and strings recreated, combining grandeur and fairy dust into a wonderful masterpiece. Marius Petipa’s choreography is astounding, following the music precisely from every hand gesture to every turn, allowing the dancers to show off their true brilliance to a wistful audience. In addition, every detail is significant from all storyland characters, dancers and non-dancers, from King Florestan XXIV, acted by Christopher Saunders, to Cattalabutte (Alastair Marriott) whose miming adds to a cleverly thought out ensemble creating what we see at the Royal Ballet today. With the choreography and musical changes made by Frederick Ashton, Antony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon over time, it has managed to retain its world-class status as one of the greatest ballets in history.
La Bayadère (the Temple Dancer) like Swan Lake, is a masterpiece bought to life by musical composer Ludwig Minkus and Marius Petipa’s French and Russian inspired choreography, however, it lacks the exposure and necessary praise that it truly deserves. Soviet-Russian-born prima ballerina Natalia Makarova managed to captivate the American audience for the first time back in 1974.
One of Makarova’s repertoires was staged at The Royal Ballet in 2009, which was screened this week by Francesca Secola from Birkbeck’s Spanish and Portuguese Speaking society. She hosted this open evening to devote time to those who enjoy classical ballet at the college. There were a small group of us from different courses who attended this rare occasion – the majority had not seen the ballet before.