Cardiff family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.

3/15/2018

Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet - The Sleeping Beauty at Wales Millennium Centre.



Last night I was invited along to Wales Millennium Centre to see a performance of Sleeping Beauty from Birmingham Royal Ballet. I haven't been to a ballet performance since Casanova, but it's still imprinted on my mind as both intriguing and visually stunning. I was hopeful Sleeping Beauty would make me feel the same...

When I was a kid I had a short-lived dream of becoming a ballerina, and for a while I attended a little class and learnt how to perform a soft landing (please don't ask me to do this now I'm 36 and a lot heavier!). Whenever I see ballerinas I am in awe at their grace, balance and beauty; it defies everything I know of my own body and at times appears to challenge gravity itself!

Last night's performance left me with many mixed emotions. Sleeping Beauty is one of my all-time favourite Disney movies and stories in general; the pure romance and the music captured my heart a long time ago, and I only wish the performance could have done the same...

I'm going to get the nitty gritty thoughts out of my head and into this post first, and then I can talk about all the things I adored about the performance... 

There's no denying this performance is beautifully produced, but I do feel a more modern take on the story, set and costumes would have benefited the performance. It felt just a little dated for me (which is perhaps the traditional way with ballet...), and during the interval I did notice the audience consisted of an older age majority. Regardless of my opinions, the audience seemed incredibly enthralled by the performance, so I do understand that my view on it may be the minority when it comes to the audience members... However, ballet should encompass all, it should gain younger viewers and I don't think it can when it's presented like this.

I also felt there was a lack of storytelling within the performance. There were snippets of the story and then tonnes of dance work thrown in between the storyline. I found this difficult because I wanted more story from the dances, but they seemed pretty random and repetitive. I am not an expert in the ballet at all, these are just my personal feelings about this performance. I'd much prefer each dance to show me something, to tell me more about the story and the characters. 

When it comes to the good stuff, I have to start with the music.The orchestra were faultless and as they performed I felt a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy as I sang along (in my head!), 'Hail to King! Hail to the Queen! Long live the Princess Aurora!', and later, 'I know you, I waltzed with you once upon a dream...'. The orchestra captivated me, and at times their melodious music made me feel quite emotional. I was disappointed they didn't get a round of applause from the audience at the end of the performance, because they absolutely deserved it!

The costume and set was luxurious and traditional, with a hint of Marie Antoinette. As I've already said, I think it could have had a modern twist in some way, but what was presented was pretty stunning, but still a little stunted in terms of colour and vibrancy. There was a lot of luxurious gold and sparkles, but no real punches of colour. 

The performers were outstanding and professional, and I absolutely adored the Prince... He moved with elegance and grace and completely captivated me as he moved around the stage. He performed some amazing jumps and spins and all the while remained in character with a charming smile and faultless acting. 

I also enjoyed the performance of the Fairy of Joy, she was very elegant and graceful. I loved her costume and her interaction with other characters, as well as her strong presence on stage. 

For me, the first half of the middle act was the best part of the show, with a bit more story and an amazing performance of The Sleeping Beauty Waltz. It was so beautiful and gorgeously choreographed and it did cause me to feel quite emotional!

Overall I am glad I attended the performance, but I am keen to see more modern versions of ballet as well as ones that show me more of the story instead of showcasing each dancer. As I've said, this may be just how the ballet works (I'm no expert!), but it doesn't work well for me personally. 

I think if you enjoy classic performances and you're keen to watch a traditional and individual dance focused performance, this is the performance for you!

The Sleeping Beauty is running until 17th March 2018 and tickets start from £17.00.


***Just as a side note, there was a little confusion with the intervals, and unless you purchase a programme you won't have the information to hand. Basically there's an interval, then a short break for set/costume changes (the lights remain a bit lower compared to a normal interval!), then a second interval, but these aren't announced so make sure you don't nip out during the set change! ***

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