BWW Reviews: New York City Ballet Presents Peter Martins' Ambitious Staging of THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
Peter Martins, The Sleeping Beauty, NYCB, Sarah Mearns, New York City Ballet
In the second act characters from other beloved fairy tales attend the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire and entertain the court. Lauren King stood out as Emerald. She succeeded where many failed in this variation and was able to move purely without appearing too stylized. The White Cat and Puss in Boots were playful and sassy, always an audience favorite. School of American Ballet student Claire Abraham was adorable as Red Riding hood and the springy trio of court jesters wowed the audience with their acrobatic routine.
The quintessential danseur noble, Joaquin de Luz, performed the part of Prince Desire. De Luz's elegant proportions sailed through space, creating pristine lines that exuded a powerful masculinity that was well suited for this role. His virtuosic abilities were tested during difficult combinations of pirouettes and tours en l'air, but he met the challenges with poise and danced each step flawlessly. Every great male dancer must be a great partner; here de Luz delivers yet again. He and Fairchild danced terrifically with one another, particularly in the grand Pas de Deux near the end of the ballet.
The keystone of Wednesday night's Beauty was Sara Mearns as the Lilac Fairy. Her consistency throughout the evening was unparalleled. Her arabesques were high and her feet beautifully articulated. She approached the character with a detached stoicism that was intriguingly suitable for the benign supernatural being she embodied. Her strength outshone some of the weaker aspects of the night and thankfully connected some of the disparate points of the work into a cohesive whole.
Martins' adaptation of The Sleeping Beauty isn't perfect. Holes in the libretto and strange choreographic choices plague the work. When you put something under a microscope you see all the fine details you may have missed at first glance, highlighting both the good and the bad. I bring this up to reinforce that there is plenty of good in this ballet. It is full of gems and is largely a very enjoyable show. Balanchine's Garland Dance remains as striking and poignant today as it did when it was created--reason alone to make the trek to Lincoln Center.
Works like this do not necessarily reflect what the company does best; they ask the viewers to evaluate their expectations as a City Ballet audience member. The contrast between extravagant story ballets and City ballet's stark, modern works illustrate the versatility of the company and allow some of its dancers a unique opportunity to thrive in the kind of classical roles which they are usually not afforded. On the whole this Sleeping Beauty is a grand production with many admirable qualities and a thoroughly entertaining addition to the season's roster.