Denver doesn’t sleep on Sleeping Beauty
Colorado Ballet awakens theatergoers with production
From the evening of Oct. 5 to the 14, the celebrated Denver Center for the Performing Arts put on a daily and inspired performance of Marius Petipa and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, Sleeping Beauty. A night of enchantment and wonder, the team at the Denver Center delivered another expertly constructed and interpreted performance to add to their extensive catalogue.
Hosted at the acclaimed Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the production was a gorgeous retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm epic. Unlike the popularized Disney film, though, this version featured the original characters. The evil Carabosse places her spell on the Princess Aurora that leads her to fall into slumber on her 16th birthday. The Prince, christened Desirée, is able to awaken Aurora with a kiss, and the third act is comprised entirely of a lengthy and lavish wedding.
Gorgeously choregraphed, the production perfectly exemplified the elegance historically associated with the ballet. Tchaikovsky’s melodic lines gracefully slid off the waves and leaps of the cast, and each act dared to technically and artistically stump the last. This factor in particular established the show as a standout performance.
The dancers pirouetted with emotion and passion from the first to the final downbeat. Without missing so much as a step, each bout of leaps, bounds, and twirls left the audience captivated in the majesty of each individual performance.
The pinnacle of this was located within the second act—the interplay between Aurora and Desirée developing an entrancing and intimate duality.
However, as a group, the company was also able to synchronize their movements with exceptional grace, particularly in the first act. This segment featured a wide variety of ensemble dances in which the relationship between each player was clearly defined. All these aspects perfectly illustrate the finesse and mastery of each performer throughout the entire show.
A significant part of the enrapture of the evening hailed from the stunningly designed set. Painted wooden ornaments were layered among the wings and drawn to accommodate perspective from all angles of the audience, creating a Neoclassical illusion depicting the length of a royal hall or the intricacy of an enchanted forest. Coupled with the simple yet regal costume design, the entire production appeared highly stylized and tasteful.
The only true failings of Sleeping Beauty lay in the aural experience of the show. The pit orchestra, while giving a technically stunning performance, was regrettably mixed poorly in the house with some instruments hardly audible at all and others shouting over the whole ensemble.
As a whole, the orchestra itself was also far too quiet, and the sounds of the dancer’s shoes striking the stage or even squeaking against it could be heard at specific points in the show.
All in all, however, Sleeping Beauty was a smashing artistic success for the DCPA and no doubt swept audience members off their feet as a compelling, charismatic, and charming rendition of the classic 19th century ballet.
Armstrong Center for Dance
1075 Santa Fe Dr.