Reposted from Evening Standard

Bolshoi Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Opera House - dance review

Evening Standard — 6 August 2013
Lyndsey Winship

As Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet continues its London season, the company is glorying in the golden age of Russian ballet with this Petipa classic, tweaked over the years but never straying too far in spirit from its 19th-century roots. It's one of the enduring greats, but does it really deserve its revered status?

There is grandeur and courtly grace in this huge ensemble piece, a display of power and riches for a company so big it can field a seemingly endless roster of accomplished soloists alongside its perfectly matched corps de ballet.

On an abstract level, there is pleasure in the parade of twinkling toes and sparkling costumes and shiny golden sets, swirling in front of your eyes to Tchaikovsky’s melodious score, like Fantasia recast with dancing Fabergé eggs. But the hollowness of the story is trying.

Even the major moment, the Prince’s spell-breaking kiss, is a serious anticlimax. (And can’t be seen by half the auditorium because evil fairy Carabosse is standing in the way — evil!)

The problem with Sleeping Beauty is that it’s a boring story. And it’s one that has nothing to say to a modern, adult audience. Even Kate Middleton, someone who can actually list her profession as “princess”, would find little resonance in this fantasy land.

There’s no character development, no depth, no drama, no parable; nothing beyond a flimsy fairytale. As a ballet it’s about 10 per cent plot and the rest gilded spectacle — albeit one that, in this case, is excellently executed.

Petite Ekaterina Krysanova plays Aurora with a nice light touch, blithe and princessy. Artem Ovcharenko’s prince brings an injection of oomph, with his weightless jumps, as if he’s had a little word with gravity before he came on stage.

When they finally get to their showpiece finale, technique overtakes the need for narrative thrust, but even with world-class dancing it would be nice to have something to care about.

© Elena Fetisova — Artem Ovcharenko as Prince in "Sleeping Beauty"