What makes a ballet
about a children's fairy tale have such incredible staying power
with adult audiences? The great classical ballet The Sleeping
Beauty is considered a masterpiece today because both its
score and its choreography are flawlessly constructed and magical.
In the first production, music, libretto, choreography and design
were equal partners--not the usual case in the late 1900s, when
designers, composers and balletmasters often worked completely
separately. The young Alexandre Benois, who saw the ballet in
its first season, called it a "work of Total Art."
All production elements were so well blended and balanced that
it was impossible to say which was most important. Successful
productions of this ballet make use of this factor; unsuccessful
ones ignore it.
That having been said, it is necessary
to state that few ballets have left such a clear record of "trips
to the woodshed" when the creators took their original ideas
and modified them in order to make a successful ballet. Full-scale
productions in the Imperial Russian style were introduced into
the west by the 1921 Diaghilev revival, and most of the western
and many of the modern Russian productions owe much to this watershed.
It is rather odd to hear stories of how many dancers' first memories
of ballet are of Sleeping Beauty. It's the ballet that
made Anna Pavlova know that she was a dancer. Thirty years later,
Ulanova's mother was dancing the Lilac Fairy when 4-year-old
Galina piped up to the whole theater, "That's my Mommy!"
Many still consider this ballet a basic building block in constructing
an appreciation of classical ballet.--Mel Johnson
are all the guests at the Wedding?