26 January 2013

Sleeping Beauty at Sadler's Wells

Seeing every Matthew Bourne ballet that I can is one of the better habits that I have developed. This often takes me to Sadler's Wells and often over the Christmas holiday season.

The seasonal offering this year was a new ballet, Sleeping Beauty.

As with most other Bourne ballets (Edward Scissorhands is an exception) the story is changed completely from the familiar one that everybody knows. And that is a good thing as the original stories tend to be too slight to carry an evening of drama.

Not that the story matters that much. There needs to be one to string the scenes together but you attention is on the dance not the narrative.

In Sleeping Beauty Bourne takes a simpler approach to the performance and compared to some of his other works there is much less going on, there are generally fewer people on the stage and they tend to all be doing much the same sort of thing rather than dancing in competition with each other. This is a ballet that little girls can readily enjoy.

Grown men can enjoy it too as the simplified Bourne is still Bourne and the  music by Tchaikovsky bounces along in raucous splendour.

The Gothic style is redolent of Edward Scissorhands, and that is not a bad thing as I love Gothic. The style is expressed in the staging and costumes while the story at the heart remains a fairy story (with some bad fairies).

This was a well constructed and carefully considered performance, and you would expect no less from Bourne. However, the simple story and the simplified choreography made for a less satisfying show than he normally delivers. It is competent and charming but not a classic.

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