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Review | Moscow City Ballet – Sleeping Beauty

Review: *****
By Alicia Denny
The Sleeping Beauty
Moscow City Ballet
Chichester Festival Theatre
Until Sunday, January 5
Tickets: cft.org.uk
Traditional fairy stories are at the heart of much Christmas entertainment with their timeless themes of good winning over evil – not just in pantomime but also ballet performances.
Once again, this January Chichester Festival Theatre audiences were treated to the cream of Russian classical stars as Moscow City Ballet wowed a near-capacity audience with a stunning
combination of grace, athleticism, colour and, of course, fabulous music in Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty.
With an audience ranging in age from eight to eighties, this production of classic 19th century ballet had it all.
Inspired by the same tale as the familiar pantomime, the spellbinding opening – pun intended – had the first of many delightful solos by the Fairy of Goodness (Kseniya Stankevich) introducing
the christening of baby Princess Aurora.
As is often the case in pantomime, the villain threatens to steal the show and a menacing performance by Vlad Kuzmich as Carabosse, the wicked witch who, unfortunately, was not invited to the christening, is a tour de force of miming malevolence as the princessess’s future is threatened. His accompanying goblins were also a creepy delight.
A similar cameo by hapless master of ceremonies Catalabutte fleshes out the story while the king and queen have little to contribute. However, that is no difficulty as the performance belonged to the dancers, in particular prima ballerina LIliya Orekhova as the adult Princess Aurora. Her technical ability was outstanding, as was her acting, giving nuance to the role, especially in her scene with her four potential suitors.
She was matched by Mikhail Tkachuk’s suitably handsome Prince Florimund, both in duets and solos when he threw his body into unbelieveable twists and turns without any apparent effort.
Another male dancer who only came to the fore in the final act with its grand ball celebrating the marriage of the prince and princess was Yurii Plotnikov who portrayed the Bluebird with
immense agility and, as with the other leading dancers, took delight in showing the audience how much they enjoyed portraying their art.
The corps de ballet was a traditional delight with beautifully choreographed pieces adding to the overall beauty of the scenes. It was nice to see them given a chance to shine in other dance
styles, too, such as the country dances which opened act two and the Russian-style wedding steps.
Two members of Chichester’s Ruth Stein School of Dance, Veronica Smimova and Ellie Haxton, had the opportunity of a lifetime when they had small parts in the prologue.
At the well-deserved lengthy curtain call, applause for Igor Shavruk, who conducted the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra, emphasised the vital contribution of the musicians who enveloped this
fabulous performance in one of the most popular scores by a Russian master.
My husband, who had never watched live ballet before, said he had been very agreeably surprised by so many aspects of the production and, as with others in the Chichester audience, was looking forward to the return of the company.
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