All About Sleeping Beauty

Hi everybody!  Today I’m here with another #allabouttheballet post for you.  Coming back on the Tchaikovsky/Petipa theme, today’s topic is Sleeping Beauty, one of the crown jewels of classical dance.

This is old-as-time ballet is still celebrated, even by the most contemporary and innovative companies such as the New York City Ballet.  I’m really excited to teach you all about the components and story that makes up this wonderful creation.  Enjoy!


Synopsis

The Queen and King just had a child – the young Princess Aurora.  Many citizens have gathered for her christening, including six fairies who have come to bestow gifts upon the child.  The most powerful of the fairies, the Lilac Fairy, comes to bestow her gift.  Just before she does – the palace grows dark.  The evil fairy, Carabosse enters, angry.  She says that she has come to curse the child because she wasn’t invented to the christening.  She declares that Aurora, on her 16th birthday, will prick her finger on a needle and die.  Frightened, the Lilac Fairy lightens the curse so that Aurora will only fall into a deep sleep for 100 years, then she will be awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.

It’s Aurora’s 16th birthday.  Celebrations are underway, but the King is still frightened of Carabosse’s curse.  Catalabutte, an assistant to the King and Queen, notices peasant women knitting (a forbidden activity due to the involvement of needles), and the King sentences them to harsh punishment.  Princess Aurora arrives and dances with four suitors.  A hooded figure arrives and offers Aurora a gift – a bouquet of flowers.  There is a spindle hidden within, and Aurora pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep.  The cloaked figure reveals herself to be Carabosse, who still believes that her curse stands and that the princess is dead.  Once again, the Lilac Fairy reminds the King and Queen that the princess is only asleep.  Princess Aurora is taken off to bed – and the Lilac Fairy uses her magic to put the entire kingdom to sleep – which can only be awakened when Aurora awakens.

One hundred years later, Prince Désiré is out hunting with his friends, although he is in a mopey mood due to his bossy countess girlfriend.  His friends try to cheer him up with a game of Blind Man’s Buff and a series of dances.  Still unhappy, he asks to be alone and the hunting party departs.  He is met by the Lilac Fairy, and she asks him to awaken Aurora.  She shows him a vision of Aurora and the Prince is immediately smitten.  The Lilac Fairy explains the situation, and the Prince begs to be taken to the castle.  The Lilac Fairy takes him by boat.  Désiré awakens Aurora with a kiss, and the whole kingdom wakes up.  Désiré proposes to Aurora, and the Queen and King approve.

The royal wedding is underway and guests include the Jewel Fairies, the Lilac Fairy, and Carabosse.  Fairytale characters are in attendance: Puss in Boots and the White Cat, Princess Florine and the Bluebird, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Beauty and the Beast, and others.  Aurora and Désiré perform a pas de deux and get married, with the Lilac Fairy blessing the union.

Structure

Prologue

  1. Introduction: The guests of the christening enter
  2. Entrance of the Fairies: The 6 fairies and the Lilac Fairy enter
  3. Pas de six: The fairies dance
    1. Adagio
    2. Variation: Candide
    3. Variation: Coulante
    4. Variation: Miettes
    5. Variation: Canari
    6. Variation: Violente
    7. Variation: Lilas (Lilac)
    8. Coda
  4. Entrance of Carabosse: Carabosse, the evil fairy, enters the christening
  5. Carabosse Mime: Carabosse curses Aurora
  6. Fairy Mime: The fairies lighten the curse

Act 1

  1. Introduction
  2. Scene of the Knitters: Catalabutte notices women knitting
  3. The Garland Waltz: The villagers celebrate Aurora’s birthday with a dance
  4. Entrance of Aurora: Aurora enters and performs a brief solo
  5. Pas de cinq: Aurora dances with the four suitors
    1. Rose Adagio
    2. Dance of the Ladies
    3. Female Variation
    4. Coda
  6. Scene of the spindle: Aurora pricks her finger
  7. Entrance of Carabosse: Carabosse reveals herself
  8. Arrival of the Lilac Fairy: The fairy comes and reminds the King that Aurora is only asleep

Act 2

  1. Scene of the Hunting Royals: Prince Désiré and his friends are hunting
  2. Blind Man’s Bluff
  3. Entrance of the Lilac Fairy
  4. Pas de deux
    1. Entrance of the vision of Aurora
    2. Adagio
    3. Waltz of the Nymphs
    4. Female Variation
    5. Coda
  5. Scene of the Lilac Fairy: Désiré pleads to be taken to Aurora
  6. Panorama: Lilac Fairy and Désiré travel to Aurora’s castle and Désiré awakens Aurora

Act 3

  1. March
  2. The Procession of Fairy Tales: The fairy tale characters enter
  3. Pas de quatre: The fairies dance
    1. Entrance
    2. Lilac Fairy Variation
    3. Pas de trois of the Fairies
    4. Argent Variation
    5. Saphir Variation
    6. Diamant Variation
    7. Coda
  4. Adagio: Puss in Boots and the White Cat dance together
  5. Pas de deux: Princess Florine and the Bluebird dance together
    1. Adagio
    2. Male Variation
    3. Female Variation
    4. Coda
  6. Adagio: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
  7. Grand pas de deux: Aurora and Désiré dance together
    1. Adagio
    2. Male Variation
    3. Female Variation
    4. Coda
  8. Finale

Extra facts & info

The Rose Adagio in Act I, opening the ballet, is one of the most notable pieces of classical dance.  It’s famous for its prolonged balances in attitude between partnered promenades completed by Princess Aurora and her four suitors.

The characters that make an appearance towards the end of the piece, including Puss and Boots, the White Cat, and other famous ballet characters perform various divertissements that enhance the character and style of the ballet and attract viewers to see other pieces that are often performed by the same company.

Videos to watch!

Above, we have our favorite Svetlana Zakharova dancing the infamous Rose Adagio.

Here is the full production of the Sleeping Beauty, featuring Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle.  This is the video and version that I based this blog post off of, so you can be all caught up and on track with the plot and structure by using this post as a resource as you watch.  Enjoy!


Thanks for reading (and watching the features) in today’s blog post.  You can expect very informative blog posts here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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