The playbill reads: Sleeping Beauty--Reconstruction of the 1890 Original, Choreographed by Marius Petipa. The Kirov troupe was brave to return to the original version of this unique work. Sleeping Beauty was born on the Maryinsky stage, and over the course of its 109-year life span it has become a masterpiece of world classical ballet. Despite a justified skepticism expressed by many ballet lovers ("lightning never strikes twice in the same place"), the premiere was a tremendous success.
Exactly what was reconstructed and how? The plot of Charles Perrault's fairy tale wasn't changed. Tchaikovsky's great music was fresh and emotionally rich, thanks to the efforts of Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda. More than 500 costumes were reproduced by Elena Zaitseva using Ivan Vsevolozhsky's original designs. The splendor of the royal costumes and the abundance of dresses, cloaks, hats, and other accessories is dazzling and may seem overwhelming, but they are entirely appropriate and true to the period. Andrei Voitenko skillfully replicated the scenery from original drawings and photos.
The Stepanov notation served as the basis for the reconstruction. At the beginning of the century, this notation system was used to document many of the ballets in the Maryinsky repertory. In 1918, Nikolai Sergeyev, the Maryinsky's director, took the notations abroad; they are now kept as part of Harvard University's Theatre Collection. For almost a year, the young choreographer Sergei Vikharev studied these materials closely in order to reproduce the dance sequences and the pantomime, the arcane language of gestures and facial expressions.
In my opinion, the director of this production rightly did not leave the Lilac Fairy and Desire without dance sequences. The prologue variation, which according to Vikharev was composed by Petipa himself, was reserved for the Lilac Fairy, and Desire had the chance to show his virtuosity in the final pas de deux (Konstantin Sergeyev's 1952 version).
I must say, however, that the manner in which the young dancers interpreted Petipa's choreography is characteristic more of the end of our century than of the end of the previous one. Yet, although historical truth was distorted, the dance sequences benefited, much to the audience's delight.
The glitter of magnificent costumes can be treacherous--less-talented soloists risk being lost in them. Fortunately, on opening night Aurora was danced by Diana Vishneva, the true princess of the Kirov Ballet. An outstanding artist, her skill and understanding of dance as entertainment established contact with the audience and made the ballerina the true heroine of the performance. Two young dancers, Andrian Fadeyev (Desire) and Anton Korsakov (the Blue Bird), shone in their respective variations in the final act. Veronica Part as the Lilac Fairy was exceptional in both the dance and the overall pantomime.
As a whole, this reconstruction of The Sleeping Beauty is a significant event. The Kirov Ballet has seriously demonstrated its intent to change from a choreographic museum, containing a collection of masterpieces sustained by the caprices of time, to an analytical and sensitive living archive.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1999|
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