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February 21, 2013 / magickittenblogs

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty


So there we were, at Sadler’s Wells, in late November 2012, on a cold, grey day but did we care? No! We had much sought after tickets to see the new production from New Adventures, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.  Bourne is probably best known for his ground-breaking all-male Swan Lake.  I’ve never seen this live but I’ve seen the production a number of times and it’s so moving, as well as very warm and funny in places too.  I’ve also been lucky enough to see his production of the Nutcracker, and his ballet of Edward Scissorhands, both at Sadler’s Wells, as well as a little extract from Spitfire at Latitude 2012, to celebrate the company’s 25th birthday.

To say I was excited about seeing Sleeping Beauty would be putting it mildly.  As with Bourne’s previous reimaginings of classical ballets, the production would use Tchaikovksy’s score.  This is particularly resonant with me as I watched Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, which also uses and adapts the ballet score, approximately a million times as a small child.  What would Bourne do with it? After male cygnets and punk humbugs, I was ready for anything.

What we got was the most glorious gothic interpretation, complete with the most amazing costumes and fantastic make-up, courtesy of MAC (who else?).  The dancing was fantastic, obviously, but a few things particularly took my breath away.  The fairies’ costumes and choreography were brilliant; beautiful and intricate but torn and a little dangerous, definitely a wild and untamed force.  Also, the way puppetry was used to create the baby Sleeping Beauty was stunning – I was complete drawn in, disbelief fully suspended, as I marvelled at the baby’s adorable mannerisms.

The sets were also just exquisite; I was really entranced when the hero ventures back into the palace garden after his 100-year-wait and he’s surrounded by shining silver birch tree trunks with a glowing moon in the background.  The only word for it is magical.  Finally, this is clearly a production aimed at youth.  100 years pass and bring us right up to 2012.  Teenagers wander past in current fashions, using mobile phones, and there are references to current teen culture trends, especially book and film vampire trends.  This chimes with Bourne’s desire that ballet should be an entertainment form that everyone can enjoy, not a stuffy pastime for old people.

Sleeping Beauty’s run at Sadler’s Wells finished at the end of January, but if and when the production is revived, please do go and see it.  It’s so exciting, magical, beautiful, spectacular… I can’t recommend it enough.


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