Sunday, July 14

Birmingham Royal Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty – The Lowry

As the curtain rises on the opulent set of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s revival of Sir Peter Wright’s classic production in its 40th anniversary year, you wouldn’t suspect that this is a company that has seen swingeing funding cuts following the all-but-bankrupt city council’s arts budget wipeout.

Putting their potential money troubles to one side, tonight the team bring a show with the panache that makes little children dream of being ballet dancers – beautiful costumes, grandeur and, of course, superb dancing.

Running just shy of three hours including two intervals, The Sleeping Beauty is a demanding ballet of both its dancers and its audience. Many points feel more like vignettes showcasing the technical skill of the company, rather than moving along the narrative.

But the troupe dance with energy and vitality, infusing our first act with feelings of celebration and happiness, to the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky’s vibrant score, played by the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

From the moment she appears carried aloft in her litter, Daria Stanciulescu is captivating as the fairy Carabosse, throwing one hapless steward’s wig aside with glorious disdain. She is nicely matched by Ellis Small who instils grace and gentleness into her character.

Momoko Hirata is this production’s Aurora. She dances with brightness and flair, with a solid delivery of the famous Rose Adagio. In the sublime second act, her first Pas de Deux with Max Maslen’s Prince Florimund is a triumph, as he pursues the ‘dream’ of Aurora around the forest, and he brings much flair and strength to the role. Special mention should also go to Louis Andreasen, with a small but memorably amusing cameo as the Prince’s foppish aide.

Director Carlos Acosta has steered a production that is steeped in the tradition of the original staging. Sometimes it makes for choreography that feels safe, a touch repetitive and occasionally old fashioned. The cast work very well as an ensemble overall, although lose synchronicity now and again. Eagle eyes may spot a few wobbles in the longer en pointe poses. 

Still, there are flashes of brilliance, and the Grand Pas De Deux between Aurora and Florimund brings cheers from the audience.  It’s these that make The Sleeping Beauty a visually stunning experience with a sense of magic that sometimes only ballet can bring.

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Reviewer: Lou Steggals

Reviewed: 7th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.