Beauty awakes at Milton Keynes

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For those who were worried that performing one of ballet’s most technically demanding roles on opening night, in addition to being Artistic Director for just a few months, was a pas de deux too far, you can relax. Doubts were dispelled last night as Kenneth MacMillan’s production of The Sleeping Beauty began its UK tour.

Tamara Rojo gave a confident and controlled performance as Aurora, with technique to die for.

Photography by Patrick Baldwin

Photography by Patrick Baldwin

As Artistic Director, she has spoken about her desire to keep the classics relevant to today’s audiences, and I wonder whether this is what she means. Hers was a twenty-first-century Aurora; not a girlish overprotected princess, but a young woman who knew her own mind. She was ably partnered by Vadim Muntagirov as Prince Désiré who looked as if he couldn’t quite believe his luck.

The dark side of the fairy tale was represented by the wicked fairy Carabosse, with James Streeter making his debut in the role. His Carabosse was sulky and maniacal, with a sprinkling of panto-campness thrown in for good measure. It was great characterisation, recognised by the audience with enthusiastic booing at his curtain call.

Representing the force of goodness, Daria Klimentova’s Lilac Fairy was benevolence personified (or should that be fairified?), insisting to Carabosse, politely but firmly, that she would triumph over his quirky brand of evil.

Photography by Patrick Baldwin

Other outstanding performances of the night included Shiori Kase as Princess
Florine, the female bluebird. She had one of those nights dancers dream of, fleet of foot and where every balance looks as if it could be sustained forever. Nancy Osbaldeston danced as one of the Lilac Fairy’s attendants, and in the Silver variation at Aurura’s wedding. She catches the eye, not that her movements are different from her fellow dancers in the corps, but somehow she just seems to feel it more: joy at the christening; fear when Carabosse and his creepy attendants gatecrash the party; and sorrow as Aurora pricks her finger on the deadly spindle.

With both maturity and emerging talent in the ranks, ENB’s Beauty will cast its spell in theatres around the country this season. The production remains at Milton Keynes until Saturday, before moving to Liverpool and Manchester. After a stint at the London Coliseum in the New Year, the tour continues to Oxford and Southampton. Click here to find out more

Elizabeth McLean