BWW Review: SLEEPING BEAUTY Gives a Fairytale Ending to BalletMet's Season

BalletMet's Caitlin Valentine-Ellis.
Photo credit: Jennifer Zmuda

Saturated with the vibrant colors of gold-adorned chandeliers, majestic red velvet curtains and shiny Baroque accents framing the Ohio Theatre stage, BalletMet's "Sleeping Beauty" appeared to be a scene come to life from an ornately illustrated storybook.

The classic story, originally realized through the flourishing pen strokes of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm (and later given an animated makeover in the 1959 Disney film version), was a fitting ending to the Columbus-based company's 2015-16 season.

Choreographed by BalletMet Artistic Director Edwaard Liang, "Sleeping Beauty" was a celebration of the magic of ballet. Indeed, from the beautiful costumes and decadent sets to the intimate, almost ethereal moments shared by Aurora (Caitlin Valentine-Ellis) and her Prince Florimund (David Ward), this production was all that every wide-eyed aspiring dancer dreams the ballet should be.

Accompanied by the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, as well as several breathtaking stage tricks -- such as the illusion of an oak leaf-boat drifting across still waters under a starry, inky night -- scene after scene succeeded in breaking the audience away from the world outside the theater's doors and drawing it further into a dream world of fairies, magic and romance.

The spellbinding atmosphere held strong for most of the three-act performance. However, after two intermissions, the last third of the production began to feel a bit long. A quick glance around the theater showed that many of the younger audience members seemed to lose interest soon after Aurora was awoken by the prince at the end of the second act.

In fact, following the triumphant kiss that broke the spell hanging heavy over Aurora's kingdom, the curtain quickly lowered and the house lights glowed once more, illuminating several confused faces in the crowd as they squinted at their programs to see if the ballet was, in fact, over.

Although the final scenes, as written into Tchaikovsky's original ballet, are in celebration of Aurora's happy ending and wedding ceremony, the second act's finale -- the triumph of good over evil as evidence of true love -- seemed like a more natural ending.

Several audience members bowed out early due to the third act's slower pace, but this final portion of the performance showcased the skill and prowess of many of BalletMet's dancers. The high-flying and breathtaking performances of Miguel Anaya as the Bluebird and Jessica Brown as Princess Florine evoked several "oohs" and "aahs" from viewers, and Academy students Donovan Weekley and Isabelle Lapierre, performing the roles of Puss in Boots and the White Cat, respectively, brought some lighthearted acrobatic fun to the celebration.

While the length of the production might have proved to be just as effective as Carabosse's (Bethany Lee) sleeping spell on several of the little ones in the audience, as always, it's the company's eye for detail that makes every BalletMet experience truly magical.

BalletMet's 2016-17 season is set to begin on September 22 when the company returns to the Ohio Theatre to perform "Twisted 2." Other performances slated for next year include "Night and Day: A Collection of Short Ballets" in October; the annual favorite, "The Nutcracker," in December; "Peter Pan" in February; "Art in Motion" at the Capitol Theatre in March; and, finally, "Romeo & Juliet" in April.

More information about BalletMet and its upcoming season can be found on the BalletMet website.

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From This Author Amanda Etchison

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