And so, while on the main stage this autumn we can see The Royal Ballet’s classic production of The Sleeping Beauty, complete with fairies, curses, and a charming Prince that kisses the Beauty back to life, the Linbury offers a contemporary take on the notion of awakening, courtesy of the Canadian choreographer Hélène Blackburn.
No fairies, no magic curses, no single sleeping beauty in Blackburn’s Les Beaux Dormants (The Sleeping Beauties), created with Blackburn’s own company Cas Public, and danced at the Linbury by the Alsace-based Le Ballet de L’Opera national du Rhin.
Instead, Blackburn, who has a reputation for going straight to the core of any story in order to squeeze out its very essence, uses the notion of sleeping/awakening as a metaphor for the awakening of the senses that happens in adolescence.
So, Les Beaux Dormants are a dozen sleeping beauties of both sexes, in reality teenagers. Their setting, their movement, their encounters are fiercely contemporary: Hélène Blackburn is fascinated by the years of puberty when the individual’s relationship with the world inexorable changes; and she turns her Ballet de l’Opera national du Rhin dancers into representatives of today’s teenagers everywhere.
A relentless kind of electricity runs through the piece, fuelled by Martin Tétreault’s dissonant score, which only occasionally points to Tchaikovky’s original and much-loved music for Petipa’s classic The Sleeping Beauty.
Hélène Blackburn’s choreographic style is very physical; and the high octane atmosphere of this production is enhanced by a set of constantly shifting painted curtains, as well as video sequences showing clips of interviews with children. Their innocent presents a counterpoint to the frenzied encounters of the teenagers portrayed by the dancers on stage.
Ideally, you’d watch both Les Beaux Dormants at the Linbury and The Sleeping Beauty on the main stage… because, as well as much food for thought, the contrast between two works with the same starting point provides a clear illustration of dance’s almost infinite potential to portray fairy tales, gritty reality and everything in between.
|What||Les Beaux Dormants, Ballet du Rhin, Linbury Theatre|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
21 Nov 19 – 24 Nov 19, 19:00 mats Fri 14:00, Sat & Sun 15:00 Dur.: 55 mins approx
|Website||Click here to book|