Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as assistant director of UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.
Saturday night, the Winspear Opera house was transformed into a scene right out of a fairy tale as Texas Ballet Theater presented Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Restaged by Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, it was a feast for the eyes with a stunning set by Desmond Heeley. His costumes defined the classical and fanciful tone of the tale while bordering on the avant-garde. Princess Aurora and the Lilac Fairy were dreams in tulle, while his Carabosse minions resembled post-apocalyptic creatures with gas masks and glowing eyes.
While the costuming and stage design created an ethereal environment, it was difficult to determine where the story was taking place. Where we in Russia, India or Babylon? The intricacy of the set distracted from the movement, specifically during Act II as Lisa Kaczmarek’s Carabosse enters upon a stead of bones to battle Prince Florimund (Eddy Tovar). The movement was hidden by gracefully hung spider web and was muddled by indirect lighting.
Yet, the performance by the ensemble was the cleanest of the season. The dancers were connected with the emotion of the piece and committed to telling the story.
Leticia Oliveira, as Princess Aurora, embodied the ingénue spirit needed to carry out the famous role. Her partnering with The Four Princes displayed her virtuosity as she balanced in an arabesque en pointe.
The theatricality peaked during Act II as Carolyn Judson’s Lilac Fairy woos Tovar into the depths of the forest, and he finds his love, Aurora.
Moments of comedic reprieve came during Act III with the appearance of Puss-In-Boots (Mark Troxler), The White Cat (Victoria Simo) and the Ivans (Daniel Ryan, Joamanuel Velazques and Max Caro). Yet, during the latter half of the act, the dancers lost the initial cleanliness of the beginning movements.
However, Oliveira and Tovar pulled out a last burst of energy during the grand pas de deux, full of deep ponche arabesques, complicated lifts and whipping pirouettes.
Although TBT stayed true to Pepita’s original choreography and managed to trim the four-hour ballet down to three, it was still long. The story is well-known, and going back and editing more might be a useful tool for future performances.
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