Cincinnati Ballet

"Sleeping Beauty"

Choreography & Staging: Kirk Peterson
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Proctor & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center for the Arts
Cincinnati, OH

November 15-17, 2002
By S.E. Arnold

In this meditation on Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Kirk Peterson and performed by the Cincinnati Ballet, the idealistic notion, as old as Plato, that the light of the eternal shines within the ephemeral, at once unifies and freshens the ballet.

For his Sleeping Beauty, Peterson both retrieves the lexicon and performance style particular to Petipa and retains (although a pause rather than an intermission separates Act I and Act II) the original prologue with three acts form. More importantly, however, Peterson restructures Act III to include a solo for the Lilac Fairy and a dance for her attendants. This restructuring grants the Lilac Fairy the near continuous and active presents appropriate to her identity, established in the prologue and developed in the first two acts, as a powerful deity. On a purely formal level, the re-structuring effectively links Act III to the rest of the ballet. However, combing the elements of Beauty's 17th century setting, its re-casting of the fairy team in terms of medieval folklore, (for example, the wicked fairy of the night shade, the good fairies of the wild musk rose, woodland streams, clover, nightingale, and foxglove), and its commanding role for the Lilac Fairy, creates an allegorical and explanatory subtitle for "Sleeping Beauty: Light in May". Shunning the gloom of both Plato and Faulkner, however, the subtitle describes the relationship between the light, timeless realm of the Lilac Fairy and the time bound Kingdom of Florestan as a beneficial one. It suggests, for example, the promise of May rather than the wreckage of August.

One of the singular pleasures of visiting the Cincinnati Ballet is witnessing the growth in the artistry of its dancers. Although the company as a whole rose to meet the challenges offered by Sleeping Beauty, there were many who stood out. And, generally of the four performances, alas all to few for this important company, it was the Saturday evening performance -November 16th-that clicked. The cast for the Saturday evening performance included Kristi Capps as Aurora, Mischic Marie Corn as the Lilac Fairy, and Stephanie Roig as Carabosse. Such was the portrayal of Carabosse given by Roig, a dancer strong in technique and perfect in line that it set the standard for all who follow. High snapping tours, a serpentine sinuosity, and a clear unbreakable focus on what her role was about allowed Roig to not merely project but to radiate the malevolence of Carabosse.

Interestingly, Roig and Corn alternated roles. Yet, the shade that marked the difference between the Lilac Fairy of Roig and that of Corn was a tincture of tenderness. Regal as a goddess, confident and accomplished as a dancer, the nuance of tenderness Corn brought to the already benevolent Lilac Fairy made her divinity even less terrible to behold and thus re-confirmed the link, a link based on love, between the mortal world of King Florestan and the divine world of the fairies.

Although shared with Lorna Feijˇo, the ballerina that opened the 'run' and brought the Saturday matinee audience to its feet, it was the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances given by newly promoted principal Kristi Capps that brought the affective potential of sight, sound, and narrative intent inherent in the role of Aurora to life. Moreover, as the Rose Adagio began in the Sunday matinee, it was clear that the shadowy menace exerted upon Capps by the demons of balance in the Saturday evening performance had vanished. And, by the end of the Act III pas in the Sunday matinee, the power of the accumulative affect of her musicality and technique as it served the character and the art form betrayed description. In short, the performances given by Capps and her Prince, Dimitri Trubchanov, were breath taking and tear giving.

Tudor, on the other hand, might observe that it was the music rather then the dance that 'sent one up.' Given the superlative musicianship manifest by the Ballet orchestra, directed by Carmon DeLeone, Tudor's view approaches truth. Fortunately, Peterson's Beauty offers the orchestra an opportunity to speak for itself. In addition to the preludes to curtain rise; music filled the pause between the first and second acts. During that interval, violinist Kiki Bussell demonstrated why a 'romantic Mozart' might have written the music for Sleeping Beauty. Clear, sweet, yet wonderfully contoured with a classical balance of restraint and pathos, Bussell's playing banished the sting of Carabosse's curse and hinted at the promise of Aurora's awakening.

One celebrates the abundance of pleasures offered in these performances of Kirk Peterson's Sleeping Beauty and takes joy in the promise of the ever-maturing artists in the Cincinnati Ballet.


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Edited by Marie.

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