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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
Musical Arts Center - Indiana University
United States
Bloomington, IN

Indiana University Ballet Theater's The Sleeping Beauty Sparkles

by Rita Kohn
March 23, 2012
Musical Arts Center - Indiana University
101 North Jordan Ave
Bloomington, IN 47406
(812) 855-7433
This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Nature contrived to collaborate with art the evening of March 23 when frightful storms were mitigated into happy endings in Indiana University Ballet Theater's The Sleeping Beauty: A Ballet in a Prologue and Three Acts.

A real-life tornado threatened the fulfillment of a performance similarly to the wrathful interruption of Princess Aurora's christening and 16th birthday party by the uninvited fairy. But in keeping with the theme of hopefulness overriding despair, the audience patiently waited out the storm in safe places on campus in the same way that the Princess and her Court went into its 100-year deep sleep. As a story ballet based on Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale, with libretto by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa, it mirrored the trend-setting fashion in arts and manners where the gifts of beauty, grace, generosity, song and temperament defined everyday decorum in Louis XIV's 18th Century Court and then in the transition of European power bases a century later.

In retrospect, this personal tale of a doomed princess whose life was taken by the prick of a spindle somewhat followed the movement from cottage industry to industrialization. This worldview layering was enhanced further by the tensions between the rules and principles of classical ballet and the logic and dynamics of music. The music universalized emotions and relationships as the choreographed story emerged from panoramas whose fully developed characters touched our hearts. The large contingent of IU dancers rose to the demands of sustaining a real-life story surrounded by magical transformations, allowing love in various manifestations to triumph over vindictiveness. The dancers grew into the requirements of intuitive mime and a wide palette of dancing styles, delivering character and dancing roles with authority and injecting the delicate whimsy required to make the whole ballet sparkle beneath the seriousness of living under a cloud of doom.

Indiana University Ballet Theater director Michael Vernon aptly finessed the original Petipa choreography that has been handed down for more than a century as well as added additional choreography. C. David Higgins closed out his 40-year scenic design career with a beautifully rendered set and Stuart Chavetz conducted IU's Concert Orchestra with verve.
'Courtesy of Indiana University.'

"Courtesy of Indiana University."

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