I had the pleasure of attending the Edmonton premiere of The Sleeping Beauty, presented by The Alberta Ballet in the 2018 season opening.
With over 30 dancers, The Sleeping Beauty is an enormous undertaking. Combining fantasy with a Grand Ballet experience, artistic director Jean Grand-Maître and choreographer Christopher Anderson executed a beautiful masterpiece.
What initially caught my attention was the change in setting. While the original Sleeping Beauty takes place in Europe, Anderson replaced this with a tribute to our beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains. “I felt it was important to preserve the signature moments but I discovered flexibility in revisiting the characters and their purpose. I believe we’ve struck a true balance,” says Anderson.
The setting change was extremely successful and added an element of eclectic artistry that resonated with the Canadian audience. Working with Calgary artist Curtis Sorensen of Van Charles Designs, the backdrop combined illustrations with photography to create a giant print that showed the Rocky Mountains, forests, and vegetation. The set design was dynamic, artistic and vivid.
Inspired by the classical score of the original composer Tchaikovsky, this interpretation of The Sleeping Beauty paired the feeling of classical ballet, with the artistic imagination of Jean Grand-Maître’s vision.
For me, the highlight of the show was the dress design. From the moment the first dancer entered the scene during the Prologue, I sat in awe of the sparkling costumes. With intricate, jewelled bodices and glimmering tutus, it perfectly added to the feeling of fantasy, magic, and grand ballet.
With such a large cast of dancers, the amount of skill and grace shown was astounding. Even the youngest of dancers showed elegance and poise. Jennifer Gibson (Princess Aurora) and Garrett Groat (Prince Desire) showed mesmerizing skill as dancers.
While the original Sleeping Beauty score is almost 4 hours long, the Alberta Ballet’s interpretation is successfully condensed to just over 2 hours, consisting of a Prologue and 3 acts.
Opening with the Prologue of the birth of Princess Aurora, we see the King and Queen celebrate with all the fairies in the land – except the vengeful fairy Carabosse. It’s the classic fairytale story of The Sleeping Beauty, where the evil fairy casts a spell on the Princess that will cause her to prick her finger and die. The Lilac Fairy comes to the Princess’s aid, countering the spell so that she will instead fall into a deep sleep.
Years later, as the kingdom gathers to celebrate Princess Aurora’s birthday, four princes arrive to present her with a rose in hopes of winning her heart.
This is when the famous Rose Adagio (considered to be the true test of a great Ballerina) is seen. Aurora performs many difficult balances, positions, and turns.
The story continues with her falling into a deep sleep, and years later the Prince Desire is shown a vision of the Sleeping Beauty. They arrive at the castle to save the Princess, where a battle ensues with the evil Carabosse. After defeating her and saving the Princess, Act III shows a beautiful wedding.
Overall, I had such a wonderful experience at The Sleeping Beauty, and would absolutely recommend you go see it! It’s performed at the Jubilee Auditorium here in Edmonton until November 4th.
You can get your tickets here!
If you aren’t able to catch this show, the next show in the season is The Nutcracker! It looks absolutely beautiful and is being performed December. 6-9th in Edmonton. If you live in Calgary, it’s performed there December 14-16th and the 20-24th.