featured photo

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

Flash Review 3, 4-28: Awoken by 'Beauty'
BalletMet ends big with Sleeping Beauty

By Lenita Williamson
Copyright 2000 Lenita Williamson

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- We can only speculate about what Petipa would have said after viewing BalletMet's restaging of his "Sleeping Beauty," which opened last night at the Ohio Theatre. I'm guessing that just as I was, he would have been pleasantly surprised. Maybe the realist in me was in need of the romanticism depicted in this tale of good versus evil? For in "Sleeping Beauty," love conquers all. Yes, even the sting, or should I say, prick of death. Yesterday wasn't the best of days for me, nor the worst, but somehow my anticipation for the night's performance just wasn't up. It must have been the wear and tear of the day's duties. Fortunately, the warm, sunny Columbus, Ohio day served as a perfect precursor to a night that would culminate in a fairy tale of love and romance.

Aside from aiding me in overcoming the fatigue of the day, I was pleasantly surprised because this is the most believable I have seen BalletMet. I was immediately convinced in three areas: the music, performed by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; and the set and costumes, designed by Peter Farmer and Lynn Holbrook. They managed to take me away from the cares of the world, if only for a few fleeting hours. I don't necessarily want to detach when viewing a performance. I just think it was what I needed last night. Later, during the first wedding pas de deux, Hiromi Ushino (Princess Aurora) and Dimitri Suslov (Prince Florimund) made a believer out of me concerning the execution of the choreography. It was simply luscious. Ushino's first movement of the wedding pas de deux was a simple, yet slow and indulgent raising of her right leg to passe while ncorporating a delicate arm gesture. It was so simple, but the character and eye contact she put into the movement kept me interested in what would come next. And what followed was perfectly executed. Previous acts had me wondering, but by the finale, the connection between the two love birds had been established, both in the story-line and in the dancing. I was impressed with these two lead dancers, who met the challenge of the extremely athletic roles.

The choreographic integrity of this restaging is to be commended. Gerard Charles had the difficult task of adapting the movement to suite the dancers with whom he was working and the audience to which they were presenting. An integral part of "Sleeping Beauty" is the use of children. Who in this case were themselves just as believable as the adults. Charles kept the movement pedestrian enough for the children to embody their characters. Of course, it's fun to see cute little kids on stage, but after a while it's not cute anymore. This was never a problem for BalletMet. The children were seamlessly integrated into the night's performance. Their entrance with the evil Carabosse, characterized by magical dust that created bright flashes of light, was one of the evening's first crowd-pleasers.

"Sleeping Beauty," a classic feel-good tale of good versus evil and love conquering all, is a perfect way to conclude BalletMet's 1999-2000 season. The technical challenges of the choreography provided an opportunity for BalletMet's dancers to display different styles and ranges of ability. The virtuosity of the choreography was maintained with remarkable integrity and the performance was delightfully refreshing to my fatigued body.

"Sleeping Beauty" continues through Sunday. For more information, please visit http://www.balletmet.org/indexTICKETS.html.

(Editor's note: Lenita D. Williamson is a graduate student in the dance department at Ohio State University. She is also a regular contributor to the the Columbus Post.)

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home