Philadelphia Ballet kicks off the latter half of its 2022-2023 season with a stunning production of THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, one of the best-known works of classic ballet. Every inch of the performance is dazzling and regal; the costumes and the set are dazzling; the music is so romantic. And the dancers, powerful and intriguing.
As the curtain opens and the story evolves on the stage, the audience quickly realizes that this typical fairytale ballet can be a white canvas for the director and the dancers. The story is a typical fairytale of a beautiful princess, being saved by a prince for a happy ending. However, the direction by the artistic director and the relationships created by cast members can make this classic so much more than a simple fairytale.
On opening night, Carabosse was performed by Assistant Artistic Director, Samantha Dunster. Compared to other productions, her Carabosse did not show too much rage or seek attention all to herself. Instead she stayed calm and cold, which accentuated the contrast between the elements symbolized by Carabosse and Lilac Fairy. Dayesi Torriente as Lilac Fairy was exactly right for the role. Her long arms were powerful and graceful as always and her solo dance was majestic. Her performance left me feeling that the leading role of this story was not the princess or the prince, but Lilac Fairy.
That does not mean that Nayara Lopes (Aurora, the princess) and Jack Thomas (Prince Desire) performed poorly. The pair performed the roles sincerely and with passions. The iconic grand pas de deux was done beautifully. Throughout the three acts, the ballet is like a kaleidoscope. The stage was filled with the most talented dancers and each moment was inspiring and profound.
The production runs through March 12, providing multiple opportunities to experience this magnificent piece of live art. Needless to say, each and every performance will offer a completely unique and intriguing story depending on who performs which role. What is certain is that the company’s extraordinary dancers will not disappoint.
[Philadelphia Ballet at the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street] March 2-12, 2023; philadelphiaballet.org