The Sleeping Beauty premièred in St. Petersburg in 1890, making waves in the capital’s cultural life. Symphonic music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, fantastical choreography by Marius Petipa, and dazzling costumes by Imperial Theatre Director Ivan Vsevolozhsky, breathed life into Charles Perrot’s enchanting tale, transporting the audience into the times of Louis XIV. Scenes from the lavish court life in Versailles, filled with balls and pleasure walks, floated by before the viewers’ eyes.
Over the almost 150 years that have passed since the original première, the world’s ballet theatres have staged countless reiterations of this dance phantasmagoria, most of which have been based on Petipa’s choreography. For its own production of The Sleeping Beauty, Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre enlisted the help of Jean-Guillaume Bart, French choreographer and former Danseur Etoile at the Opéra National de Paris.
“My goal while working on this show was to revive tradition and to make it relevant and appealing. Classical ballet has its roots in the immensely influential European dance school, but we have to stage classical performances as though they had been written today. Each historical era has its own tastes, and it is very hard to create timeless works of art. Styles change, but the expressive means of classical dance always remain universal,” Bart explains.
His version of The Sleeping Beauty is lush with dancing, exquisite backdrops, and costumes fit for a royal court. Even the evil fairy Carabosse in this ballet is young, beautiful, and refined, with the bearing of a high-society noble lady, even if her personality is still bristly. As a true Frenchman that knows his way around a woman's heart, Bart has given Carabosse a backstory, which unfolds at the beginning of the ballet. These details are what sets this Sleeping Beauty apart among all other Sleeping Beauties, adding touches of originality, vibrancy, and French chic to the magnificent classical production.