When we lived in California, Athena and I went to the ballet at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on a regular basis. It was our favorite way to spend an evening of entertainment. The ballet options in Frisco and the surrounding area played a major role in our decision to move to Frisco. The Texas Ballet Theater creates, presents, and tours world-class ballet, from classical to cutting–edge, and promotes its appreciation, accessibility, and technical mastery among students, pre-professionals, and audiences of all ages. They are the only arts organization to serve as a resident company for Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth and the Winspear Opera House on the AT&T Performing Arts Center Campus in Dallas. We recently attended The Texas Ballet Theater’s The Sleeping Beauty and it reconfirmed why we are so in love with ballet. The sets and costumes were purely magical, the dancing was mesmerizing, and the group choreography was more perfectly timing than anything I’ve seen before. Athena’s seven-year-old attention span was slightly tested during the performance, but we sat in admiration the entire performance.
The Prologue begins at the court of King Florestan celebrating the christening of Princess Aurora. The festivities begin with six fairies dancing, offering a special gift to the infant princess. Suddenly, beore the Lilac Fairy can present her gift, the wicked fairy, Carabosse interrupts the ceremony and delivers a curse upon the princess: she will one day prick her finger and die. The Lilac Fairy intervenes, promising that the princess will sleep until awakened by a prince’s kiss.
It was during The Prologue that I instantly fell in love with the group choreography. It’s usually one or two dancers that shine like twinkling stars on stage but for the first time I longed for more group performances. I’d never seen such perfect unison and elegance as a team on stage. They were flawless and moved together like they were attached. It was so unified that I almost forgot just how technical their movements were.
By the time Act I began, I was hooked.
In Act I, it is Aurora’s sixteenth birthday party. Her father informs her that she must select one of four visiting princes as her husband. Aurora dances with the princes, each of whom offers a rose and declares his love. As the celebration continues, the disguised Carabosse hands Aurora a bouquet in which a spindle is concealed. Aurora pricks her finger, and as she falls asleep, the Lilac Fairy appears and casts fer spell, putting the entire court to sleep.
As Aurora, Alexandra Farber highlights her independence as she holds every long arabesque like a ballerina on top of a music box with precision and grace, yet she still manages to maintain youthful nature. She was the perfect counterpart for the remarkable group performances with spellbinding elegance and beauty. Even as she was carried off in her “sleep”, her beauty never faltered.
Act II continued, but at a slower pace. One hundred years have passed. Prince Florimund and his hunting party pause beside a lake. As the hunt moves on, the prince is left alone. To his amazement, the Lilac Fairy appears and conjures a vision of Princess Aurora. A boat takes them to the castle, where they are confronted by Carabosse, who turns herself into a monster. With help from the Lilac Fairy, the prince overpowers Carabosse. Once inside the castle, Prince Florimund discovers the sleeping Aurora and awakens her with a kiss.
In Act III, the court celebrates the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund. Characters from other fairy tales join the celebration and the occasion ends as the entire court joins in the finale.
Under a Spell
Ideally, Act II and Act III could have been combined into one act in half the time. The performance is approximately three hours long with three fifteen-minute intermissions. Even I, as an adult, found that it was rather long. While I wouldn’t change anything in the Prologue and Act I, I think that combining the last two acts would have made it the perfect production. Filled with stunning costumes, precise group performances, and elegant solo performances, The Sleeping Beauty had me under it’s spell but we didn’t want it to seem like 100 years and could have done with two intermissions, and two hours of performance, rather than three.
With such amazing performances by the entire company, I can’t wait until the next production by The Texas Ballet Theater. They’ve found regulars in Athena and I.