Sleeping Beauty at Loughborough Town Hall

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From the perspective of an amateur eye, this afternoon at the ballet was a somewhat bewitching afternoon. The Russian State Ballet and Opera House brought themselves to our little Loughborough as part of a European Tour of the fairytale classic and favourite, Sleeping Beauty. It is choreographed by Marius Petipa and set to the equally adored music of Tchaikovsky.

Both acts provide your money’s worth in the number of dances and characters, including some ambiguous appearances from other well-loved fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. If you can get your head around the actual dancing – it is a ballet, after all – the performance is a lovely concoction of enchanting variety.

However, the quest to find and wake Sleeping Beauty was over within a matter of minutes after the opening to the second half, which was disappointing for the narrative lover that I am. Instead of a more familiar storytelling, the second act was full of (admittedly) beautifully pleasing duets by the volume of other characters besides our traditional protagonists. Thankfully, of all these charming dance routines, the principal dancers Sleeping Beauty and the Prince did have the best.

As for the somewhat vibrant (or garish) costumes and set design, they instantly painted a perfect picture for a pantomime, even though the dancing and choreography is far, far more desirable than your local Christmas knees-up for certain. During the majority of the performance however, I did find it difficult to escape this initial frame of reference. On reflection, this could largely be due to the capacity of the stage at the Town Hall. Whilst it is a generous proscenium theatre space, the cast looked crowded and sometimes uncomfortably smiling when stepping too close to someone else. This is unsurprising when a company thirty dancers strong performs on a much smaller stage than ballets are often choreographed for.

It is special though, that Loughborough Town Hall deliver such an assorted programme of events, including the ballet which is often sadly missed out of regional theatres and other performance venues. It’s perhaps a shame that there were not more children in the audience to be charmed by the traditional tale in a captivating form other than pantomime or the Disney film. Thankfully, the adults seemed to be willingly caught up in the magic of the performance nonetheless.

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