A sleeping princess, a handsome prince, fairies bestowing gifts, a battle between good and evil.
We’ve all heard this story right?
Over the weekend I saw Salt Lake City’s Ballet West perform “The Sleeping Beauty” with true skill and elegance. And although it is not the Walt Disney Animation version of Sleeping Beauty that we all know well, it is a classic nonetheless.
I’ll highlight some of the differences that I saw in this ballet version of the story.
Though there are several versions of the ballet, Ballet West’s version of “The Sleeping Beauty” tells the story of Princess Aurora, her fairytale friends and her enemies. As a baby, Aurora is blessed by the Fairies of Kindness, Joy, Beauty and Temperament. This is similar to the fairy gifts given to the baby princess in the animated film, in which Flora gives the gift of beauty, and Fauna, the gift of song.
When Carabosse (Maleficent’s character), the Fairy of Jealousy arrives, baby Aurora is cursed with a spell. If she should prick her finger on a spindle she would die. In the film, Merryweather counters Maleficent’s curse to save the princess! In the ballet, it is the Lilac Fairy, Fairy of Wisdom, who causes a deep sleep to come upon the princess to save her from death.
The story continues in the way we all know. The only other noticeable difference would be the Prince’s character. Prince Désiré, not Phillip, doesn't come onstage until Act II! So he actually doesn’t know Aurora until he is led by the Fairies to her bedside to awaken her from the deep sleep.
One thing that a Disney fan would notice would be the music! Oh the fascinating music! The score was written by Tchaikovsky back in 1889. So yes, Disney used some of the classic themes from the ballet to create the music we love for Sleeping Beauty! Which is something exciting about seeing the ballet version - the familiar themes will pop up when you’re least expecting them!
I truly love this story. I see it as a coming-of-age story of a young woman. All the characters, whether they are good or evil, big or small, they play an important part for Aurora’s growth from a girl into a woman. Though Prince Désiré is quite different from Prince Phillip, I felt a great respect for his character. He sought something other than what was given to him as a royal and needed to find what he was missing for himself. He had to be shown that Aurora would bring understanding and harmony to his world.
As someone who deeply loves ballet, fairy tales, and stories of good triumphing over evil, I would highly recommend seeing this classic ballet to everyone!