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The Tarkington
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Russian National Ballet Theatre: The Sleeping Beauty

by Rita Kohn
March 25, 2015
The Tarkington
The Center for the Performing Arts
355 City Center Drive
Carmel, IN 46032
317-843-3800
This article was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Russian National Ballet Theatre delivered a glittering storybook version of The Sleeping Beauty March 20 & March 22 at The Tarkington reminding us that long before "Cats: the Musical" Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowski [Russian transliteration in the printed program] and choreographer Marius Petipa created a dazzling White Cat and Puss-in-Boots interlude to make us smile. And, overheard on the way out at the program's close, was one child's comment about Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf sans the drama from "Into the Woods" –the film.

During intermission, a conversation touched on 'this is different.' The observation related to how Princess Aurora would prick her finger. The spindle of a spinning wheel is the version we best know—at this performance it was a knitting needle. Yes, children are astute observers and good at comparisons.

The style of the Russian National Ballet is a presentational rather than an emotionally charged approach. The miming and dancing told the story as a straight forward matter-of-fact this is what happened manner. It's up to us in the seats to supply the highs and lows of emotions.

The invited Fairies deliver their gifts post-haste—here named Tenderness, Boldness, Generosity, Carelessness—without an 'oh, oh' gasp moment. Even the arrival of the evil-hearted Fairy Carabosse is underplayed –it's as if 'stuff happens' and King and Queen are stoic, stony-faced as if the horrible curse is just one of those things. Lilac Fairy mitigates death at age sixteen into a hundred-year sleep and the scene changes to Princess Aurora being technically proper interacting with the princes who come to court her. And so it goes. I went away from the March 22 performance with the assurance that several in this troupe of young dancers will one day become recognizable names. They danced well.
Russian National Ballet Theatre in 'The Sleeping Beauty.'

Russian National Ballet Theatre in "The Sleeping Beauty."

Photo © & courtesy of Alexander Daev


Russian National Ballet Theatre in 'The Sleeping Beauty.'

Russian National Ballet Theatre in "The Sleeping Beauty."

Photo © & courtesy of Alexander Daev

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