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English National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty – Milton Keynes Theatre

Designer: Peter Farmer

Choreographer: Kenneth MacMillan

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Reviewer: Maggie Constable


Enchanting is the word for English National Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty at Milton Keynes Theatre this week. With the magical choreography of the acclaimed Sir Kenneth MacMillan along with beautiful music, which includes Tchaikovsky’s Once Upon a Dream and Rose Adagio, you are immediately transported into the fairytale world with all that it entails. This is a story that really lends itself well to classical ballet.

It is the well-known story of Aurora, the young Princess living in an enchanted castle, who not only receives the wonderful fairy gifts of charm, beauty, kindness and more but alas also Fairy Carabrosse’s curse. So, on reaching 16, she will prick her finger and die. However, the lovely Lilac Fairy is on hand to cast a spell that will counteract the curse in some measure, thus allowing Princess Aurora to sleep for 100 years rather than to quit this mortal coil as soon as she pricks herself. But only the kiss from a true love will awaken her……..

Tamara Rojo, who is also the Artistic Director, performed the rôle of Princess Aurora with grace and charm. She appeared somewhat nervous in her first dance but perhaps that is understandable on a first night when you are debuting in a rôle. As the ballet proceeded she settled into her performance and was delightful and technically spot on. Some lovely solos and a super pas de deux with the Prince in Act III. Vadim Muntagirov, also debuting, played Prince Desire and with some panache. What awesome jetes! The Lilac Fairy was brought to us with subtlety and sensitivity by the svelte and diminutive Daria Klimentova. Absolutely charming. Wicked Carabosse was played to perfection by James Streeter. The corps de ballet could not be faulted and what excellent synchronicity and timing.

The fantastic set design by Peter Farmer brought us the forests and castles of this ethereal world and the sumptuous and splendid (in every sense) costumes (Nicholas Georgiadis) added to the whole feel. Lighting (David Richardson) was used to great effect and very subtly bringing us just the right ambiance. The ENB orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland, was wonderful but could just do with being a little louder at times so we don’t always hear the points plonk on stage. I loved the harp. It’s so great to have a live orchestra.

The first act sets the scene and shows us the characters in all their splendour, the second is full of stirring music and the third is really magical with the smoke, the painted drops and the floating boat and much more. A pity that the third act is a tad too long in what seems an attempt to show off each of the main dancer’s prowess, impressive as that is. For me it could have ended as the prince and the princess kiss.

This was a spectacular and thoroughly pleasurable evening’s entertainment. Classical ballet just as it should be. Definitely not to miss…..you will be transported from your worldly worries into a fabulous soiree of beauty, artistry and magical charm. Enjoy!

Runs until Sat 20 Oct


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