Review: The Eugene Ballet Company gave a charming and graceful performance with ‘Sleeping Beauty’
It’s a story we’re all familiar with: A young girl is cursed into a deep sleep until a prince’s kiss wakes her from her slumber.
On October 24th at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, dancers from the Eugene Ballet Company performed this well-known and classic fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty, as adapted to ballet by the great Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Since none of the dancers spoke during the performance, the plot of The Sleeping Beauty was conveyed through their movements. Their dancing signified plot points and themes throughout the ballet, while their miming movements represented communication between characters. For example, characters would frequently wave their arm around the side of their face, representing the word “beauty.” This was often used to describe the main character, Princess Aurora.
Most of the performance stuck to the ballet’s original choreography, but much of it was created or altered by the Eugene Ballet Company’s Artistic Director, Toni Pimble. The performers were crisp and expressive with their movements, making it easy to follow along with the story. Slides that narrated each act also helped clarify the significance of each dance.
The dances themselves were mesmerizing yet soothing. The choreography was diverse and pleasing to watch. Most of it was gentle and flowed smoothly, giving much of the performance a calming effect. The ballet had a charming cuteness to it as well, living up to its label as a fairy tale. Audience members smiled when fairy ballerina twirled across the stage and laughed when the fairytale characters Puss in Boots and the White Cat gave a humorous performance in the final act.
The entertainment also extended beyond the performers themselves. The costumes brightened up the stage, and the details sewn into each piece could be easily seen from the back rows. Many performers wore simple tutus with subtle sparkles, while some actors that played members of Aurora’s kingdom wore long, elaborate dresses that reflected The Sleeping Beauty‘s 17th/18th-century setting.
Had a live orchestra accompanied the performance, it would have been even more enjoyable with an added layer of entertainment. But the prerecorded music the Eugene Ballet Company used still worked. The performance as a whole was sweet and graceful, and though many members of the audience were young girls dressed as princesses and fairies, The Sleeping Beauty could be enjoyed by people of any age.