A few thoughts on the Friday American Ballet Theatre Sleeping Beauty with Sarah Lane and Herman Cornejo:
Herman was stunning as Désiré with complete dramatic and technical control. The first solo of the Act III pas de deux is filled with rapid jeté beat steps and entrechat six. As I noted in a video I put together last spring (see below), Herman has the best beats in the world, nicely articulated with clean separation, aided by his stellar leaping skills. Friday, he was lighter than air in his beat sections, stunning in execution. I find the second solo in Act III to be dull, with not much going on with Mazurka steps. Herman brought this solo to life, as he explored the music with much energy and unique phrasing. Dramatically, he was a haughty noble prince as he entered in Act II in his John Paul Jones attire. A humorous part of the ballet is the Awakening Scene. The Prince finds Aurora asleep. The generally confident Prince is clueless about what to do next. He turns to the Lilac Fairy as if to say, “What do I do now?” The Lilac Fairy’s reaction was, “Figure it out!” The Prince finally does, and he kisses Aurora, breaking the spell.
An excellent performance from Herman; I walked away from Lincoln Center content that I had seen a truly exceptional performance.
Sarah Lane was equally effective as Princess Aurora. Her Rose Adagio was sturdy, with both arms pausing overhead before securely resting her hand down to a Prince. Sarah takes the quirky 19th century steps to the next level relative to other ABT dancers with more period appropriate bent knee sissones, bent knee saute de basques, and coupé jeté manége, making a full turn before starting her jeté. Another impressive performance to add to her list this Met season.
Stella Abrera replaced Christine Shevchenko as Lilac Fairy, graceful and regal. She handled the tricky “flick-flack” arabesque turns to a double turn well in her solo. Devon Teuscher as the Diamond Fairy was also graceful. Catherine Hurlin and Joo Won Ahn were Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Joo, promoted to Soloist the same day, was effective in the brisé volé section with flowing upper body while Catherine showed great vigor.
Keith Roberts was more animated as Carabosse that I anticipated. Noteworthy was the aggressive beating he put on Catalabutte (Alexei Agoudine) after not being invited to the baby christening. An interesting element to Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty is that Carabosse does not cause any trouble after casting a spell on Aurora in Act I and attends the wedding festivities. In the New York City Ballet version, the Prince slays Carabosse in to end the evil threat. In the ABT version, Caraboose rolls into the Act III wedding on a carriage as the King looks to her points to his head as if to say “I outsmarted you!”
Sleeping Beauty Final Thoughts
Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty stands out from the NYCB and Royal Ballet versions as it looks to the original Petipa choreography. As I noted in my previous article, the work has many old-style steps that look odd today. In a modern production, dancers can rely on bigger steps to keep the audience happy. In the ABT version, the steps are more subtle, and dancers must put more energy into the work to make it successful. Sarah and Herman made the production come to life despite the lack of more bravura steps.
Check for my final ABT Met review, probably Tuesday.