Although the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker tops my list of favourite, their The Sleeping Beauty has now come a very close second- this is a spellbinding and entertaining ballet that will keep anyone enthralled from beginning to end. The absolutely gorgeous costumes and sets, paired with an incredibly talented company, will bring you away to a fairy-tale kingdom for an evening and allow you to see everything that ballet can and should be! The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty runs from February 28 to March 4 at the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall.
For those of you who haven’t spent any time with The Sleeping Beauty, here is the official synopsis from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet! The short synopsis is that Aurora, the princess, is cursed when she is a baby to die on her sixteenth birthday when she pricks her finger on a needle, but the Lilac fairy lessens it so she will sleep after being pricked until her true love wakes her up with a kiss! (Still one of the best fairy tales out there, if you ask me!) This is one of the major classical ballets, choreographed by Marius Petipa and composed by Peter Tchaikovsky in the late nineteenth century. For anyone not familiar with ballet, this is the perfect introduction!
The pre-show chat was with the always lovely Jo-Ann Sundermeier, a Principal dancer with the company! I love listening to Jo-Ann speak, because it is rare to see someone who loves their career so much. Her passion and love for ballet always comes through, and she is so honest and open! She shared with us some big news- she and her husband (soloist Josh Reynolds) are expecting their first child in June!! (In case you were wondering, Jo-Ann was perfect as Aurora’s mother, the Queen). She also shared some great advice that she was given as a dancer, and her experiences with dancing different roles in the production. If you are ever attending a RWB performance, attending the pre- show chat is a MUST- it’s the best way to get an inside perspective on the performance and a great way to get to know the dancers and staff.
Stage sets can be quite difficult, as forced perception and highlighting/lowlighting need to convey that there is a much larger space than there actually is. These sets are elaborate, sumptuous, and the perfect kingdom for Aurora and her friends- you will feel as though you are in the great hall of a Baroque palace. Ingrid Kottke and the stage crew always do an amazing job with the stage, sound, and lighting, but the set up was perfect last night! The costuming was similarly wonderful. As Mr Lewis shared in the season reveal last February, these costumes previously belonged to Ballet West’s production of The Sleeping Beauty (which I’ve actually seen). The fairy costumes were a favourite of mine- perfectly lovely and magical without being over the top. Also, the costumes of the corps de ballet really sold this production. At times, there are more than 20 dancers on stage and although they are somewhat in the background at times, their costumes were just as detailed and elaborate as the soloist costumes! In a production like The Sleeping Beauty costumes and sets can make or break it, and here it brings it to the next level!
If you want to be incredibly impressed with classical technique, the Bluebird Pas de Deux is one of the most impressive pieces in the classical repertoire. The male Bluebird solo is almost all grande allegro (large jumps), and when you see a dancer like Yosuke Mino dance it, it is easy to see just how powerful male dancers are. Conversely, Alanna McAdie’s strength and stamina show through as Aurora in her delicacy and emotion; to emote and present for that long and maintain technique is incredible to see. There is also a large corps de ballet with upwards of 20 dancers, which isn’t often seen- it’s incredible to see that many dancers working together as one to support the main cast!
Although ballet can be its own small world that can seem quite foreign to people, there are some productions that are meant for everyone to enjoy- The Sleeping Beauty is one of those productions! No ballet knowledge is required to enjoy The Sleeping Beauty, only a few hours of your evening to get lost for a while. As Winnipegers, we are so lucky to have the Royal Winnipeg Ballet here with us, and as a city, we need to take advantage of their season as much as we would any other event here! Absolutely breathtaking costumes, a fairy tale story to sweep anyone away, and a score provided by Tchaikovsky make for the perfect evening out with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. There are still four performances left- Friday, March 2 at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 3 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, March 4 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm! (If you would like to get your ticket now, you can find them here!) This is truly one of my favourite ballet productions of all time, and I hope that everyone has a chance to go!
I would also like to thank the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for upgrading our seats, as we had a perfect view of the stage and could see everything in detail!!