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Review – Qld Ballet’s delightful The Sleeping Beauty

Right: Clare Morehen as Carabosse faces off with Yanela Pinera as the Lilac Fairy.

Photo: David Kelly

The Sleeping Beauty

Music: Tchaikovsky

Choreographed by Greg Horsman after Marius Petipa

Queensland Ballet

Lyric Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season October 23-31. Bookings or 136 246

What a beautiful night this turned out to be, with stunning costumes, sumptuous sets, and classical ballet at its best. The Lyric was packed to the gills on this Thursday night performance.

This version of The Sleeping Beauty was designed by Gary Harris for the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company in 2011 and this was the Australian premiere.

It is a tale of good versus evil and true love conquering all. As the story began the palace was awaiting the birth of a long awaited child and the King’s assistant Catalabutte and his wife Lady Florine were kept busy organising the christening bossily ordering people here and there. Funny thing was though that no one seemed to notice that they were a pair of cats! It was an odd sight at first, but with the cute and sparky Tery Crilly playing Lady Florine and Jack Lister playing a very formal and stressed Catalabutte, somehow it worked. It also added some cute comedy between the pair as they produced some kittenish behaviour, especially when Catalabutte had his eyes on the Bluebirds!

There is some joyful dancing in the palace, particularly from the five fairies, Yanela Pinera (Lilac), Lisa Edwards (Blue), Eleanor Freeman (Green), Mia Heathcote (Orange), and Tara Schaufuss (Yellow) who are to be godmothers to the newborn baby, arrive, and present their gifts to Aurora. Eleanor Freeman and Lisa Edwards were truly impressive. Their gifts are beauty, wit, grace, song and wisdom.

Carabosse, the wicked fairy, arrives. She is furious that she has not been invited to the christening and casts a spell on Aurora. When the princess turns sixteen, she will prick her finger and die.

Then Wisdom gives her gift to Aurora. She can't break Carabossc's spell, but by using her own magic she ensures that the princess will not die, but fall into a deep sleep for one hundred years. Only the kiss of handsome prince will break the spell and wake her.

Of course the black rose given by a disguised Carabosse to Aurora on her 16th birthday puts the girl and the entire kingdom to sleep.

Since he took over the company Artistic Director Li CunXin has brought in some of the most prominent dancers in the world as guest artists as well as principals, but on the night I went there were a lot of familiar dancers on view in starring roles.

It was particularly pleasing to see company dancer Katherine Rooke in the the role of Aurora. I first saw her as a Professional Year Dancer back in 2008 and she impressed then. It was been a fascinating experience seeing her grow as a performer over the years and I was delighted to see her dancing the lead role of Aurora on the night, even better was the fact that it was her debut performance in public.

And what a performance she produced. She was so good at first and thought she was one of the guest international dancers. She quickly overcame her nerves and wowed the audience with some amazing balance and pointe work. She had an occasional wobble, particularly in one fish dive, but it was a performance she can be proud of and I was happy to witness.

Her partner as Prince Désirè was American born Shane Wuerthner who is a lithe and sure-footed dancer and a good actor. He was an ideal partner for Katherine, and he never betrayed the trust she put in him. They danced wonderfully together, especially in the wedding pas de deux.

Principal Clare Morehen was Carabosse and was deliciously evil in her black costume and swirling black cloak. She sprerad menace with every move. I liked her Shrek-headed henchmen too.

The Bluebird pas de deux is so well known that it has to be good – and another ballerina who was worked her way through the ranks, Lina Kim, along with Alexander Idaszak didn’t disappoint.

The Corps as usual was full of energy and precision and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor added that extra dimension with Tchaikovsky’s pretty score.

It is a delightful production.

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