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article imageReview: Gothic reimagining of Sleeping Beauty Special

By Tim Sandle     Dec 13, 2015 in Entertainment
London - A Gothic reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty, performed in ballet style, is running over the Christmas period at the famous dance theater Saddlers Wells in London. It is an unmissable show.
This version of Sleeping Beauty spans 120 years. The story involves a King and Queen who are without a child. Unhappy, they make a deal with an evil forest fairy called Carabosse. When they renege on a promise, the fairy curses the couple's new baby daughter, Aurora. When the Princess reaches 21, she pricks her finger on a rose planted by the son of the evil fairy, called Caradoc. The magic contained within the rose sends the Aurora into a deep sleep.
Outside Saddlers Wells for the production of Sleeping Beauty.
Outside Saddlers Wells for the production of Sleeping Beauty.
Her lover, a young grounds man called Leo, is grief stricken. So that he can wait by Aurora's side he is taken pity on by a vampire, who converts him. The story then continues to unfold, enlivened by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music.
The dancers wait in the wings as the production of Sleeping Beauty is about to begin.
The dancers wait in the wings as the production of Sleeping Beauty is about to begin.
Elements of the story may be similar to the well-loved children's story, and the music largely made up of Tchaikovsky's 1890 opus 66; however, this is a very dark telling of the tale. To sum it up: magic, fairies, vampires, love and romance are each on offer.
The ballet has been written and directed by Matthew Bourne and produced by his New Adventures theater company. Bourne is known for his love of Gothic, and this was evident in his production of Edward Scissorhands, performed at Saddlers Wells last year and reviewed by Digital Journal.
The list of performers for the production of Sleeping Beauty at Saddlers Wells  December 2015.
The list of performers for the production of Sleeping Beauty at Saddlers Wells, December 2015.
In the program notes, Bourne describes how any connected with Disney's interpretation of the fairy-tale was discarded. For this version, Bourne went back to two main texts: La Belle au bois dormant, by Charles Perrault (written in 1697), and Little Briar Rose (Dornröschen) by the Brothers Grimm. The name "Aurora" was first used by Tchaikovsky for his St. Petersburg's ballet.
The darker take on the tale, which begins in 1890 and ends in the present day, is brought to live by expert dancers together with sumptuous sets and costumes and evocative lighting. One moment, during an outdoor party of the palace, has a fantastically lit sky which alters from afternoon, to dusk and then night time. Each lowering of the light, and move into blue and black colors, foretells a growing danger for the lead protagonist. The first half consists of two acts, one set in 1890 and the second in 1911.
The bar at Saddlers Wells theater  where dance lovers are seeking some refreshment.
The bar at Saddlers Wells theater, where dance lovers are seeking some refreshment.
In the second half of the performance, as time moves on to the present day, the sets are transformed into eerie forests and dim neon lit nightclubs.
End of the show  the performers receive a standing ovation.
End of the show, the performers receive a standing ovation.
The choreography is spot on, with a mix of classical ballet moves and some experimentation with contemporary moves.
An alternate view of the closing moments  the stage is lit in different colors.
An alternate view of the closing moments, the stage is lit in different colors.
The production of Sleeping Beauty is captivating and enthralling. It runs until mid-January 2016 in London and it is the show to catch. Digital Journal rating 5 out of 5.
A ticket for Sleeping Beauty  at Saddlers Wells.
A ticket for Sleeping Beauty, at Saddlers Wells.
More about Sleeping beauty, saddlers wells, Dance, Aurora, Ballet
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