New York City Ballet
'The Sleeping Beauty'
by Colleen Boresta
February 17 (m), 2013 -- Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
After ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is probably the favorite ballet of children (and adults
who never grew up). The story is well known and children often perform in the ballet. Peter Martins’
streamlined take on the famous fairytale seems to be created especially for young viewers. In some
versions of this work the story can be lost amongst all the dancing. Martins’ ‘Sleeping Beauty’ allows the
narrative to shine through.
‘The Sleeping Beauty’ begins with the christening of Princess Aurora. Due to a mistake made by King
Florestan’s aide, Catalabutte, the fairy Carabosse has not been invited to this event. She crashes the
christening and declares that when Aurora turns sixteen she will prick her finger on a spindle and die.
The Lilac Fairy softens the curse by saying that Aurora will not die, only sleep for 100 years.
In Act I (“The Spell”) it is Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. Carabosse, disguised as an old woman, gives
Aurora a bouquet of flowers. Hidden within the bouquet is a spindle upon which Aurora pricks her
finger. The Lilac Fairy returns and makes sure the entire court sleeps for 100 years.
In the next act (“The Vision”) it is 100 years later. The Lilac Fairy shows a bored and dissatisfied Prince
Desire a vision of Aurora. He falls in love with her and begs the Lilac Fairy to take him to the sleeping
princess. When he finds her the Prince awakens Aurora with a kiss. The entire court wakes up as well.
In the last act (“The Wedding”) Aurora and Desire get married. The guests include fairytale characters
who entertain the guests at the wedding.
The February 17th matinee of New York City Ballet’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is probably the best
performance of that ballet that I have ever seen (and I have seen ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ over 20 times).
This is due to the magnificent performances of some of NYCB’s top dancers. As Aurora, Tiler Peck
is as lustrous as the most perfect diamond. Her entire body is an exquisite vessel for Tschaikovsky’s
Peck’s portrayal of the fairytale princess is about far more than technique (although she does not put
a foot, hand or even finger wrong). Peck’s Rose Adagio, when she is being wooed by four suitors, is
not just a test of her balancing skills. As danced by Peck, it becomes the poetic journey of a young
woman ready to leave her parents and start her own life. The audience sees clearly Peck’s transformation
throughout the ballet. She progresses from a radiant sixteen year old in “The Spell” act to an ethereal
nymph in “The Vision” act. By the final act (“The Wedding”) Peck’s Aurora has become a happy
confident young bride.
Other dancers stand out as well. Tyler Angle is a delightfully ardent Prince Desire. He is a wonderful
actor who mimes very clearly. Angle is usually paired with tall ballerinas like Maria Kowroski. As well
as Angle partners Kowroski, he is even better with a more petite dancer like Peck. The Prince doesn’t get
much to do in ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, but when Angle does get a chance to solo he shows off nice high
leaps with plush landings.
Teresa Reichlen is a perfect Lilac Fairy. The velvety flow of her unbelievably long extensions is
glorious. Her abarabesques penchee seem to go on forever. Her gorgeously lissome arms show both her
power and her compassion. Georgina Pazcoguin is a gleefully evil Carabosse. She lights up the stage
every time her bad fairy appears.
As the Bluebird, Anthony Huxley has good leg beats but his ballon doesn’t have enough elevation to
really impress me. Erica Pereira brings a crystalline delicacy to the role of Princess Florine. Sarah
Villwock and Taylor Stanley are very funny as The White Cat and Puss in Boots. For me, Stanley has
been a delightful discovery during NYCB’s 2013 winter season. I can only repeat that I hope Stanley will
soon be made a soloist at NYCB.
Tiny Charlotte Sandford is adorable as Little Red Riding Hood. All the School of American Ballet
students are remarkable in Martins’ ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ – from the pages to the garland dancers to the
“trees” in the Red Riding Hood and The Wolf pas de deux..
New York City Ballet’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is close to a perfect ballet. The costumes and sets are
opulent and the orchestra plays the magnificent Tschaikovsky score flawlessly. I’m glad that New York
City Ballet performed ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ for two solid weeks this winter season. I hope that Peter
Martins doesn’t make us wait another three years to see his ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
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