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Flash Review 3, 5-13:
But We Love the Divine Miss Ashley
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse
"The Sleeping Beauty"
is a confection that takes place in a kingdom somewhere between
Restoration France and Abu Dhabi. People there throw a lot of parties.
I won't spoil the story, but I will say that it involves a Do-gooder
Fairy counteracting the spells of a Buttinski Fairy in a war over
Miss Goody Toe Shoes. Merrill Ashley, as the evil Carabosse, crushed
her competition on May 10, with commanding pantomime and the regal
presence of a true legend, not to mention a gown to die for and
minions of soot-dipped cockroaches. David Mitchell's nine-year old
scenic paintings and sets sparkled, threatening to steal Peter Martins's
(after Petipa) thunder.
It must be a Sisyphean
achievement to breathe life into roles that balletomanes have seen
performed dozens of times. Margaret Tracey (Aurora) wobbled through
the Rose Adagio and Nikolaj Hubbe (Prince Desire) projected Byronic
melancholy. However, younger members of the troupe, in the Wedding
Scene's limited enchainements, burst with vitality. They must still
be hungry. Benjamin Millepied as the Bluebird and Jennie Somogyi
as Diamond both danced with a refreshing enthusiasm and looked to
be honestly enjoying themselves. Benjamin Bowman, Antonio Carmena
and Adam Hendrickson, as athletic Court Jesters, revealed the real
reason little girls want to grow up to be ballerinas.
Is it impolitic to wonder
why New York City Ballet keeps such falderal in its repertory? "The
Sleeping Beauty" embodies all the saccharine tropes of 19th Century
classicism, which still seem popular for some reason. Perhaps a
glittering fairyland where diagonals are always true soothes patrons'
cares away. I wonder if enchantment is all its cracked up to be,
and I daydream a ballet called "Aurora and Desire -- The Later Years":
The bloom is off the rose for the middle-aged lovers; they can't
make this month's car payment; their kids need braces and the Lilac
Fairy has checked into the Betty Ford. If Desire could hack his
way through those brambles, I'd call that Happily Ever After.
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