Sleeping Beauty in Sydney, a second viewing

Last September, the Melbourne premiere of the Australian Ballet’s new Sleeping Beauty represented the big picture, with a multitude of scenes, elaborate costumes and sets by Gabriela Tylesova, as well as familiar and unfamiliar choreography and the performances and interpretations of many dancers in the cast.

A lot to take in at the first viewing.

The second viewing last Friday, at the Sydney Opera House, revealed much more detail.

Any new Sleeping Beauty is worthy of academic analysis, perhaps a dissertation at the least and a thesis at the most.

But looking at the production from the point of view of the audience, whether they are newcomers to ballet or not, the Sydney premiere could be summarised by the following moments, some of them memorable, some puzzling.

1. The Act I variation by the first cast Aurora, Lana Jones.

Every step and turn perfectly danced. Hard to get better than that, especially at a premiere.

2. Chengwu Guo’s exit from the stage at the end of the Bluebird variation.

If you can nail every double tours why not do them one after another as you cross the stage to the wings? If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Remarkable.

3. The Bluebird pas de deux, with Chengwu partnering Ako Kondo. A glittery gala performance. The audience adored it.

4. The four princes, from England, Spain, Hungary and Sweden in the Rose Adagio. More than just a support team, they each had a distinct personality enhanced by their costumes.

5. Prince Desire’s friends in the hunt scene, dressed in elegant, flattering Victorian costumes. Just a shame they were on stage for so little time, but fascinating to see them return in Act 3 in fancy dress of the same colour as they wore in Act 2.

6. The chandeliers. Impressive as two chandeliers rose from the floor as Act 3 begins. But sorry, Sydney, the Melbourne premiere had an even bigger show biz moment with three chandeliers.

7. The Rats. Am I wrong or did the Rats look more ratty in Melbourne than Sydney where the dancers faces were far too obvious from under their cute rat headpieces?

8. The simplicity and beauty of the costumes worn by Jones as Aurora and Kevin Jackson as Prince Desire. With some of the corps de ballets’ costumes too much was just too much.

Too much adornment and not enough chance to see the beauty of the dancers’ bodies in motion.

As Chanel said, “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”.

9. Everyone gets to dance. A lot. Not always possible for any ballet in any company.

1o. The gold glitter drop at the end. Magic for the audience.

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Artists of the Australian Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Artists of the Australian Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Lana Jones and Kevin Jackson in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Lana Jones and Kevin Jackson in David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo in David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Chengwu Guo and Ako Kondo in David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty, the Australian Ballet, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby

Artists of the Australian Ballet in David McAllister's The Sleeping Beauty, 2015, photo  © Jeff Busby

Artists of the Australian Ballet in David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty, 2015, photo © Jeff Busby