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Beauty gets facelift while sleeping

Published time: December 17, 2011 10:43
Edited time: December 17, 2011 15:12
The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)

The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)

Sleeping is for the weak, some say, especially if you fall asleep for a hundred years. Hallelujah! The Sleeping Beauty in St Petersburg has finally opened her eyes and put on pointe shoes to dance the night away at the Mikhailovsky Theater.

­“Wake up, get real!” trailblazing Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato told his Russian dancers, and they all had to agree.  

In fact, it is the first time that the legendary ballet – originally featuring old-school choreography from the most influential ballet master of all time, the French Marius Petipa – has been put together in Russia by a foreigner, Duato.   

Given that the premiere of the classical performance took place in St. Petersburg back in 1890, at the Mariinsky Theater, inventive Duato felt the need to “wipe off the dust” from his Sleeping Beauty, giving her a creative facelift.

The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)
The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)

­“Each time when The Sleeping Beauty is mentioned, people say, God, it's such a boring long ballet!” Duato explained.

So the Spanish choreographer took the risks changing the ballet's choreography, creating his fusion of classical and modern dance. For instance, in his signature version, Duato shortened one variation of Princess Aurora's variation, preserving the romantic and magic feel of the ballet.  

It is not surprising that The Sleeping Beauty is considered to be one of the most demanding ballets – in terms of lavish costumes and extravagant settings. Creating a blockbuster fairy tale on stage, such that each and every audience member could believe in it, has become a real challenge.

Cutting-edge Serbian artist Angelina Atgalic was burning the midnight oil creating the settings and costumes for the performance. It was a dream come true for her Angelina, who has been drawing sketches for The Sleeping Beauty since she was a little girl.

She brought up to 200 sketches of designs to the ballet, with each outfit later becoming handmade and some costumes, like that for the wicked fairy godmother Carabosse, taking over 50 meters of silk and a kilogram of bugle beads.

The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)
The Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (RIA Novosti/Alexey Danichev)

With tickets to the famous ballet sold out six months ahead of the premiere, The Sleeping Beauty proved to be the most highly-anticipated performance of the year. Even more so after Marius Petipa's ballet was unveiled at the rival theater in Moscow, the renovated Bolshoi, where it was put together by celebrated choreographer Yury Grigorovich and Italian set designer Ezio Frigerio.

In fact, the leading roles in the St Petersburg's Sleeping Beauty will be performed, among other line-ups, by the former leading light of the Bolshoi, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vailiev, who left the landmark theater to join the Mikhailovsky Company.

Besides, taking a break from her political activity with the United Russia party, celebrated ballerina-turned-parliamentarian Svetlana Zakharova is also set to appear in The Sleeping Beauty.

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