Freelance writer – creative – media-maker
In Australia, the public is fortunate to have a youthful, dynamic national company in The Australian Ballet. A significant issue with which any touring ballet company must contend, therefore, is local comparison. Presenting the classic Sleeping Beauty, The Imperial Russian Ballet rode in on high expectations. Compared to the quality of performance and production to which the ballet-going Melbourne public has become accustomed, however, the company’s version of the classic was disappointing.
The principal dancers were technically assured. Nariman Bekzhanov in particular stood out as a dynamic and exciting dancer; sadly, his presence highlighted by contrast the lifelessness of the rest of the cast. Radamaria Nazarenko-Duminica’s Princess Aurora was careful and steady, but lacked the youthful vivacity required of the teenaged royal. Several of the fairies looked nervous whilst performing their variations, and this was no doubt due in part to fatigue from the company’s tight rehearsal and performance schedule. Apart from being genuinely dangerous, the result was a tired cast who appeared to simply run through the motions.
The relatively small stage on which the company performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre noticeably restricted the dancers, particularly in passages of leaps and turns, making it difficult for the dancers to let go and do justice to the choreography. However, there were glimpses of the performance the company might have given, particularly in the third act divertissements such as the Puss in Boots pas de deux, in which performers showcased their great chemistry and natural cheekiness, and the Little Red Riding Hood/Grey Wolf pas de deux, through which the dancers displayed a flair for the dramatic.
First-time ballet-goers unfamiliar with the classics, nonetheless, would be better off waiting to see a production by The Australian Ballet.
An extensively edited version of this review was published in Dance Informa