New York City Ballet - The Sleeping Beauty
-Onstage with the Dancers
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns
Conductor, Andrea Quinn
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
February 26, 2004
The Sleeping Beauty (1991): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Libretto by Marius Petipa and A. Vsevolozhsky, after stories by Charles Perrault and others, Choreography by Peter Martins (after Marius Petipa) (Garland Dance by George Balanchine), Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes designed by Patricia Zipprodt, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Make-up, Hair, and Wigs designed by Michael Avedon, Lighting by Mark Stanley.
Performed by Ashley Bouder as Princess Aurora; Damian Woetzel as Prince Désiré; Robert Lyon as King Florestan; Saskia Beskow as The Queen; Maria Kowroski as The Lilac Fairy; Kyle Froman as Catalabutte; Merrill Ashley as The Fairy Carabosse; Dena Abergel as The Fairy of Tenderness; Jessica Flynn as the Fairy of Vivacity; Rebecca Krohn as The Fairy of Generosity; Alina Dronova as The Fairy of Eloquence; Melissa Barak as The Fairy of Courage; Jared Angle, Seth Orza, Andrew Veyette, and Darius Crenshaw as The Suitors; Carla Korbes as The Countess; Christopher Boehmer as His Attendant; Stephen Hanna, Jennifer Tinsley, Pascale van Kipnis, and Glenn Keenan as The Jewels; Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar as The White Cat and Puss in Boots; Carrie Lee Riggins and Adam Hendrickson as Princess Florine and The Bluebird; Isabella Devivo and Henry Seth as Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf; Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, and Aaron Severini as The Court Jesters; and students from School of American Ballet.
Sleeping Beauty was premiered at Maryinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, January 15, 1890. George Balanchine made his ballet debut in Sleeping Beauty, as a dancer in the Garland Waltz and as a cupid. For NYC Ballet's 1981 Tschaikovsky Festival, George Balanchine choreographed the Garland Dance. Peter Martins included this Garland Dance in his 1991 staging. This production includes more than 100 dancers, including students from School of American Ballet, and 250 costumes. David Mitchell's scenes create a mystical world and fairy tales. Patricia Zipprodt's costumes follow paintings of the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. (NYCB Notes).
Compared to the elegant and glistening opening night performance of The Sleeping Beauty, with Jenifer Ringer and Philip Neal as Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré, tonight's performance was electric and exciting, not lacking the glitter and brilliance of the former, but including a most dazzling array of talent that fed off the energy of the leads in every single scene. It even appeared that Andrea Quinn was a bit more energized, if possible, and the orchestra was dynamic and driven, as the tremendously virtuosic Damian Woetzel, as Désiré, and the newly promoted and extremely energetic Ashley Bouder, as Aurora, took the stage by storm and made this one very memorable night at NYC Ballet. From the earliest moments of the evening, the audience was whispering with eager anticipation, mentioning various ballet personalities and their designated roles in this very sumptuous and classical ballet.
This was a somewhat younger ensemble, with Ms. Bouder almost resembling a sixteen-year old at her birthday, who dances with wind under her feet. The aerobics and agility astounded the most seasoned in the audience, and there were constant accolades throughout the sequential scenes. Mr. Woetzel was perfectly partnered here, and he exuded rapture and rarified dignity, passion and possession. I have never seen him so psychologically engaged, both to his lovely and lyrical partner and to his adoring audience. In fact, both Ms. Bouder and Mr. Woetzel were well aware of their vocal fans and actively interrelated with seduction and assurance. In the dance of the Vision, when Désiré and Aurora meet in imaginary fog, it was as though lightning had struck, and the audience was riveted throughout their elongated leaps, surreal spins, and visual images of ethereal partnering.
Kyle Froman was even a younger and more entertaining Catalabutte. Merrill Ashley once again spun her evil deeds with aplomb and ardor, but she did not steal the show this time, but rather enhanced an evening of enchantment with even more vigor and versatility. Saskia Beskow was a much more believable Queen tonight, with her looks of horror at Carabosse's evil spells and at her daughter's dance with the fatal spindle. Maria Kowroski, as The Lilac Fairy, once again performed with a soothing and sensual demeanor, through very demanding and dynamic choreography. All Act I Fairies were energized and were characteristic of their five respective qualities. The Jewels, as well, were ravishing and agile, with Glenn Keenan perfectly perky as Emerald, and Stephen Hanna, as Gold, gained height and speed in his powerful solos. Tonight's White Cat and Puss in Boots had Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar exuding a different, more playful, and more flirtatious duet, as Mr. Ramasar ran his fingers across Ms. Hyltin's legs to tiny and tentative slaps in return.
Another highlight of this very sensational cast was the signature dance of Princess Florine and The Bluebird, with the popular Adam Hendrickson as The Bluebird, who literally side-leaped en air with seemingly effortless bounces. This talented young dancer never ceases to amaze. His natural theatricality mixed well with his astounding techniques. Carrie Lee Riggins was well partnered and energized in her own right, as she, too, fed off the rarified energy of this evening's eclectic mix. Isabella Devivo was suitably adorable, while chased by Henry Seth, the hungry Wolf. Another highlight was the all-too-brief dance of the Court Jesters. Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, and Aaron Severini were aerobic and aerodynamic, not only as the Jesters, but also as the evil Creatures, who tonight resembled flying, acrobatic monsters.
To return to Ms. Bouder's debut as Aurora, her signature dance with four Suitors (Jared Angle, Seth Orza, Andrew Veyette, and Darius Crenshaw) was breathtaking. She not only held her own balance, en pointe, endlessly, but also drove the audience into wild anticipation, as she progressed, Suitor to Suitor, never losing her poise or possession of the moment, and holding each pointe position for a few extra moments. What a striking figure Ashley Bouder was, a true ballerina, with a very promising future in progress. Kudos to Ms. Bouder, Mr. Woetzel, and tonight's entire NYC Ballet cast, including the ever-adorable students from School of American Ballet. Kudos, once again, to Andrea Quinn and the NYC Ballet Orchestra.
New York City Ballet - Sleeping Beauty - Ashley Bouder as Princess Aurora, Andrew Vayette and Jared Angle as Suitors
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik
New York City Ballet - Sleeping Beauty - Ashley Bouder as Princess Aurora, Damian Woetzel as Prince Désiré
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik