PEMBROKE — Carabosse, an evil fairy, casts a spell on a baby princess, who will die on her 16th birthday. The Lilac Fairy, a good fairy, gives her a chance at life, who declares the princess will only sleep until she is awakened by the kiss of a prince.
Does this story sound familiar? That’s because it is.
“The Sleeping Beauty” is a classic fairy tale that will be told as a ballet at GPAC on Tuesday by the Russian National Ballet Theatre. It is based on the same story, originally written in the 17th century, as the classic Disney feature film.
The fairy tale, with all the fairy tale trimmings — a king and queen, fairies both good and evil and a beautiful princess and dreamy prince — lent itself perfectly to the full evening ballet that was choreographed by Marius Petipa, a 19th century master of ballet choreography. The music for the ballet was composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, a famous composer who also wrote the famous ballets “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcraker.” “The Sleeping Beauty” was first performed in 1890.
Although different productions have cast the kingdom of King Florestan and his queen through the centuries, it’s really a storybook kingdom set in the realm of the imagination. The fairies of the kingdom join the scene of courtly pageantry with the Lilac Fairy, six cavaliers and maids of honor entering last.
The court dances in honor of the King and Queen and baby Aruora, who is about to be christened. Each of the fairies dances her own solo, and presents a gift to the Princess.
Just as the Lilac Fairy finishes her dance a strange and frightening rumble is heard. The master of ceremonies has forgotten to invite the evil fairy Carabosse. The grotesque woman, her face a white mask, her long dress black and tattered enters in a huge black coach drawn by four ugly rats. In mime, she delivers the ominous curse that the Princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die.
The master of ceremonies is in disgrace, the King and Queen are in despair. But the Lilac Fairy has not given her the gift. She steps forward and assures the royal court that on her 16th birthday the princess will indeed prick her finger, but then fall asleep for 100 years. Carabosse speeds off in a rage while the others surround the infant’s cradle as if to protect her from further harm.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre was founded in Moscow during the transitional period of Perestroika in the late 1980s, when many of the great dancers and choreographers of the Soviet Union’s ballet institutions were exercising their new-found creative freedom by starting new, vibrant companies dedicated not only to the tradition of classical Russian Ballet but to invigorate this tradition as the Russians began to accept new developments in the dance from around the world.
The company, then titled the Soviet National Ballet, was founded by and incorporated graduates from the great Russian choreographic schools of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Perm. The principal dancers of the company came from the upper ranks of the great ballet companies and academies of Russia, and the companies of Riga, Kiev and Warsaw.