How do you stay true to a great classic like The Sleeping Beauty and still make it new, exciting and relevant to 2011 audiences?
This was my creative challenge when I first started contemplating reworking this iconic ballet. Just like my re-envisioning of Swan Lake in 2010, The Sleeping Beauty has taken years of research and planning.
I read about and viewed countless versions and accounts of the work – analyzing what worked, what could be improved upon, what was unchangeable, and what could be done to make this Sleeping Beauty stand out from all the others.
For this task, I enlisted my creative team – Ballet Masters Mark Goldweber, Pamela Robinson- Harris and Bruce Caldwell. I asked Mark to recreate and redo the First Act and The Third Act much as he had done with Swan Lake. I asked Pam to do the same with the Prologue and Act Two. Bruce would impart his knowledge and skill to our dancers as a coach. Additionally, I invited the great dancer/teacher/director/coach Anna-Marie Holmes to work with our principals and soloists. The first American woman to study and train in the Soviet Union, Anna-Marie has a wealth of knowledge and experience about these great Russian-borne classics that is incomparable to anyone in the West.
The rest of the magic was created through the ingenuity of our costume and production departments. Our costumes were in dire need of refurbishments, but for barely more than it would have cost to refurbish them, the designer Peter Cazalet designed many new, different costumes. We also incorporated a number of unique stage effects that added to the overall fairytale magic.
We follow the original Petipa choreography and libretto based on the beloved 1696 story by Charles Perrault. But stylistically I wanted my dancers to approach it with a combination of English elegance, 20th Century American attack and theatricality, and a Russian/Soviet sense of “brio.”
I have created simple, archetypal names for the fairies, the suitors, and the prince. I wanted them and what they represented to be clear and easy to understand. The evil fairy ‘Carabosse’ (Fairy of Jealousy) and her minions become primary characters. I’ve incorporated more fairy-tale characters into the Wedding Scene, working to create an even more organic whole to the story.
The great classic ballets are here for us. But throughout history they have been reworked and reimaged to keep them relevant to our current society. I have endeavored to this while keeping the classical purity of this beloved fairy tale – The Sleeping Beauty.
Thank you for joining us and thank you for your patronage. Enjoy!