BWW Reviews: Bourne's SLEEPING BEAUTY Delights
Ballet is not a dance style often featured on a Broadway stage, but Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty may change that. His production of Sleeping Beauty is as imaginative, expansive, and stunning as the best productions offered on Broadway. In its' North American premiere at the Des Moines Civic Center this past weekend, Sleeping Beauty won over audiences with virtuosity and spectacle.
Sleeping Beauty is a wonderful introduction to ballet, a form that carries with it the reputation of being stuffy and inaccessible. But in Sleeping Beauty there is not a tutu or toe shoe in sight. With some variations, this production follows the age-old tale of the young princess cursed to sleep for 100 years. The fact that the story is told only through Tchaikovsky's brilliant music and the expressive movement of the dancers is merely a side note to this fantastic production.
The strength of the performers is on display in almost every scene. While I am by no means a ballet expert, the dancers were clearly incredibly talented, never revealing the difficulty of ballet as a dance style. Not only that, but the dancers beautifully expressed emotions through their facial expressions as well, proving that dance is only one of the skills needed to make Sleeping Beauty such a successful production.
What is most astounding about Sleeping Beauty is how visually breathtaking it is. Every set piece, costume, lighting detail and prop is stunning. The costuming and wigs are crisp and bright, every stitch expertly detailed. The costumes pop off the stage in the wedding scene wherein the set and costumes are a brilliant red hue that adds just the right tone to this gothic romance. The sets are elaborate. They are towering and yet designed to the most finite detail. The pieces are a wonderful show of the contrasting traits of set design: it is expansive and microscopic at the same time. One of the most unique elements of the set was a moving walkway. Featured at the back of the stage, the moving walkway produced left to right movement when in fact the dancers were only moving in place. The walkway effectively creates an optical illusion altering the movements just enough to make the audience do a double take.
Subtitled "A Gothic Romance," Sleeping Beauty may detract some audiences because of the dark connotations associated with the word "gothic." In fact, "gothic" is representative of the time period and an overall style rather than of any real darkness to the material itself. Sleeping Beauty is off to the next city in its' limited North American tour, and if the Des Moines reception is any indication, Sleeping Beauty will be met with cheers and awe wherever it goes.