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DCist: Sleeping Beauty

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See my review of the opening performance of the Mariinsky Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty, published today at DCist:

Mariinsky Ballet's Sleeping Beauty (DCist, February 11):

Diana Vishneva as Aurora (photo by
Natasha Razina / Mariinsky Ballet)
The Mariinsky Ballet returned to the Kennedy Center Opera House on Tuesday night for a run of performances of its classic production of The Sleeping Beauty. Classic can also be a nice way of saying tired, and this choreography by Marius Petipa, updated by Konstantine Sergeyev and Fedor Lopukhov, has the advantage of being a fairy-tale, wedding-cake piece of fluff and the disadvantage of the same. The company from St. Petersburg, which has apparently taken the final step toward shedding its Soviet past by dropping its former name of Kirov Ballet, is not willing quite yet to break with its past when its comes to the sacred cows (the premiere of Tchaikovsky's music and Petipa's choreography were given by the Mariinsky Theater in 1890). Whether you think that is good or bad depends on your tastes.

To be honest, it is hard to imagine anything but a saccharine staging for this sugary libretto: Charles Perrault's hard-hitting fairy tale re-imagined by Ivan Vsevolozhsky and Petipa with an entire third act devoted only to the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré. The good news is that the dancing was beautiful to watch, especially from the women of the corps de ballet, which looked much more unified and rigorously rehearsed than they did in Don Quixote last year. All of the big group numbers had an aesthetically pleasing evenness of movement and gesture, which is important in a ballet where a meagerness of storyline means that not much is left to simple pantomime. [Continue reading]
Performances continue through February 14. After the Kennedy Center canceled last night's performance because of the snowstorm, the Mariinsky Ballet has agreed to add an extra performance to its run at the Kennedy Center -- on Sunday evening (February 14, 7:30 pm). It's not showing up on the Web site yet, so call the box office directly.

Sarah Kaufman, Mariinsky Ballet's 'The Sleeping Beauty' casts powerful spell at Kennedy Center (Washington Post, February 11)

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