Had the chance to see another live-from-the-Bolshoi performance, this one SLEEPING BEAUTY. Unlike LA BAYADERE, I was familiar with the story and with the music. Also unlike LA BAYADERE, this one doesn’t involve killing the heroine. Yay!
It does unfortunately still involve a couple of not-too-comfortable story points, namely that a sixteen-year-old girl is punished for something her parents do and then is supposed to instantly fall in love (I guess?) with a guy she’s never even seen before only because he’s a prince and he kissed her and that’s somehow oh so romantic.
Hint: it’s not. It’s kind of gross.
There were many good things about the Bolshoi’s SLEEPING BEAUTY. For one thing, it didn’t have the spectacularly inappropriate blackface student dancers we saw in LA BAYADERE. It didn’t have a heroine being killed. Yay again! It had wonderful sets and costumes, a lovely princess in Olga Smirnova, a lovely (and in my opinion underutilized) prince in Semyon Chudin, some great dancing from the corps and a really committed performance by Alexei Loparevich as Carabosse, the evil fairy.
My personal favorite choreography and performance in the whole thing was the Puss In Boots couple dancing during the de rigueur pageant (which included several fairy-tale bits), but the most outstanding dancing came from Artemy Belyakov as the Bluebird. He was stunning.
And now a bit about the story. It needs help. I AM HERE TO HELP, BOLSHOI.
This is another case where a bit of rewriting and modernization would make a world of difference to a classical ballet. From my unapologetically modern-romance point of view, the Walt Disney version of this story was superior because of two things:
The prince and Aurora already know each other and have fallen in love before the whole deathless-sleep thing, meaning when she is awakened by love’s kiss IT ACTUALLY IS;
Dragon. ‘Nuff said.
Mr. Loparevich would have been outstanding as a dragon, I just know it. Modern stage technology exists, nay was created, to turn a great dancer/actor into a dragon. Cirque du Soleil does stuff like this all the time. Get with the 21st century, Bolshoi, you have the talent and the resources.
Now, point 1 above really does call for significant rewriting because the ballet’s staging really did have the princess asleep for 100 years. This made for a terrific showcase for the costume department, but it set up that whole “who the hell are YOU” kiss thing, which then went straight to a wedding, and ugh. Lose the 100 years already. The story should be about love saving the day - the way Walt Disney’s team did.
Also, of course, a dragon.