Waterfront Hall, Belfast
3rd October 2013
Millennium Forum Derry on Friday 4th October 2013
Market Place Theatre Armagh Saturday 5th October 2013
A combination of visual beauty, a much loved fairy story and Tchaikovsky’s music guarantees an evening to remember and certainly the Moscow Ballet company gave the audience at the Waterfront Hall a special treat.
There were many children there on Thursday night with some of the girls dressed in their ballet tutus and obviously the wonder of seeing this production was a sheer delight and something they will remember for ever.
The house was well filled and as the lights dimmed there was a hush. The curtain rose on a vibrant set, the palace of the King and his wife who are introducing their new baby daughter to their guests attending her christening.
They welcome six fairy godmothers who were preceded by the synchronized corp de ballet, ten ballerinas elegantly setting the agenda and so getting us in the mood. This classic ballet is well dressed, the colours are beautiful, the tutus are lemon, pinks, cream and lilac, the men like cavaliers and there’s much doffing of plumbed hats. As they bestow their gifts on the baby, the godmothers perform their individual pieces and you begin to realise the standard of dance we are going to enjoy. Of course, the parents forget to invite one important person, Fairy Carabosse who is extremely upset and gatecrashes the party to cast an evil spell on the baby – on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger and die.
There is drama when Carabosse is born on stage by four rats and she’s a nasty piece of work and very convincing.
Luckily the Lilac Fairy hadn’t yet given her gift, so she foils the evil fairy’s prediction and instead of dying she decrees, the girl will sleep for 100 years to be awakened by the kiss of a true love. Everyone on the stage was taking part, when the king, who seemed to disappear in Act Two, and the queen watched the action unfold from the side of the stage, they never stopped reacting to what was happening, hand gestures and head movements, dancers sitting looking on, elegant with their feet and hands in position, throughout the ballet every movement was choreographed in 1818 by Marius Petipa.
So it comes to pass that the evil fairy contrives a situation where princess Aurora pricks her finger, falls into a deep sleep and there is an audible gasp as she falls gracefully to the ground. Even as she is taken off stage by the male dancers holding her high, supporting her ankles and her shoulders, she is ramrod straight with no dip in her back and this must have been difficult.
The most outstanding dancing came in the Second Act at the wedding of Princess Aurora and her handsome prince with glitter in his hair. The wedding guests come dressed as characters and dance in character, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Puss in Boots and the White Cat, Bluebird and Florine and of course the Princess and her husband Florimunde. The Lilac Fairy, Ekaterina Karpova, the princess, Ekaterina Shalyapina and her love Andrey Shalin are superb, I wish I could have watched Andrey’s dance in slow motion to understand just what he achieved.
The dancers were so light on their feet (the only noise came from the dry ice machine which was laughable), and every one of them deserve encore after encore and their reception at the end of the performance I hope will have convinced them just how impressed we were.
Incidentally, tour manager Rozlyn McGuinness told me that after a 14 hour journey to Cairnryan, crossing to
Northern Ireland, arriving at 11 p.m., into their hotel at midnight, the company was called on stage on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. for rehearsal ready for opening on Thursday night at 7.30 and dancing until ten o’clock. That’s dedication and stamina.