beauty top

Momoko Hirata as Princess Aurora and Mathias Dingman as Prince Florimund with BRB dancers

The Sleeping Beauty

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome


Can there be a finer production of The Sleeping Beauty than this? Sir Peter Wright’s beautiful creation is sumptuous in costume and delightful in dance, all to Tchaikovsky’s sweeping score.

Sir Peter has the knack of keeping the sprit and form of 19th century classical ballet while adapting it for modern dancers and audiences. The result, as with his wonderful Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s other ballets, is a classical production with a freshness that defies the years.

Philip Prowse’s designs are sumptuous, full, heavy, flowing and dripping gold – and I suspect creating a DIY sauna for dancing under stage lights – the sets are full of rich colours and the music, perhaps not as well known as either Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, still symphonic and taking the story along in its flow.

And the story is simple; the king and queen have invited all the fairies to their daughter Aurora’s christening – except somebody missed fairy Carabosse off the invite list.


Nao Sakuma as evil fairy Carabosse with her weird collection of dark attendants 

Now, when a fairy has attendants that look like extras from the dark side of Mordor, dresses in black and travels in a chariot carried by her black . . . things, it is safe to assume she will not be auditioning for Fairy Godmother in Cinderella any time soon.

So, it no surprise when she turns up, uninvited, none too chuffed at the snub, and her present to Aurora is a spell that she will prick her finger and die. Luckily the Lilac Fairy steps in with a counter spell that she will only fall asleep for 100 years and then be awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.

Nao Sakuma, has been both goody and now baddy in Sleeping Beauty, dancing Princess Aurora in the last production at the Hippodrome and this time showing her wicked side in a character role as Carabosse, spreading evil around her like an arctic wind as she sweeps around the stage. It might not allow us to see her considerable dancing talents, but she seems to be having fun as the villain. Just remember to invite her next time you have a party . . .

Jenna Roberts is always worth watching and is a match for Carabosse as the goody Lilac Fairy who not only has to temper the curse but has to chivvy along our handsome prince in Act 2 as he has a bit of a dreamy dance with Aurora while the real princess is snoozing away behind the undergrowth.

caraboose and lilac

Good v evil with Nao Sakuma as Caraboose and Jenna Roberts as the Lilac Fairy

Mathias Dingman gives us an athletic, good looking Prince Florimund. Recent departures from BRB mean more opportunities and Dingman has grasped the role with some style. His solos are well executed, one, a whole series of jumps, particularly impressive – and exhausting – and the lovely final grand pas de deux with Princess Aurora showed a promising pairing.

And what an Aurora Momoko Hirata makes. She is every little girl’s dream of what a ballerina should be - graceful, elegant and beautiful with dancing that is delicate and precise. She really is a delight to watch.

The fairy tale theme is continued at the finale of celebrations for the wedding of the prince and princess with appearances  of Puss in Boots and the White Cat, Kit Holder and Yvette Knight; The Bluebird and the Enchanted Princess, Lachlan Monaghan and Yaoqian Shang and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, danced by Ruth Brill and Valentin Olovyannikov.

The production, as ever, is enhanced by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Koen Kessels, with some fine solo violin work from leader Robert Gibbs.

Sir Peter Wright’s contribution to ballet both internationally and in Birmingham is enormous and this magnificent ballet, beautifully danced on Press night, will be up around the top anybody’s list. A classical treat. To 24-02-18

Roger Clarke



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