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Flash Review 3, 5-13: Falderal Fairyland
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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