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Center Stage: ‘Sleeping Beauty’ opened Community Concert’s 2016 season

By Staff | Jan 13, 2016

Community Concert opened their 2016 season with an auspicious, bravura performance of the Russian National Ballet Theatre’s full length ballet performance of “Sleeping Beauty.” With music by Tchaikovsky, “Sleeping Beauty” is considered the crown jewel in Choreographer Marius Petipa’s career, and is considered the pen ultimate example of classical ballet. And although Petipa has also choreographed “Swan Lake,” “Nutcracker,” “Giselle” and “La Sylphide,” “Sleeping Beauty” was the first of Petipa’s classics to be seen in Western Europe. This ballet has since its first viewing, been adopted to be a yardstick by which any aspiring ballerina is judged. As a matter of fact “Sleeping Beauty” was the ballet chosen to present Britain’s Royal Ballet to American audiences, as well as a young up and coming ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, in the leading role of Princess Aurora.

“Sleeping Beauty” is a brilliant demonstration of Petipa’s demanding choreography, especially the articulated, challenging point work, also the sharply musically exacting, spinning turns, soaring leaps and jumps, high leg lifts (extensions), difficult partnering with its daring lifts, battery (beats with the feet while executing a jump), all being done to Tchaikovsky’s soaring, but exacting music and tempos.

This fairy tale ballet consists of a prologue followed by three acts whose themes are, a young girl’s coming of age, as well as the triumph of good over evil, which Tchaicovsky develops dramatically as well as musically during the course of the ballet. Each of the three acts includes an Adagio (a dance for two in this instance, for Princess Aurora, the first Adagio celebrates her girlhood (her 16th birthday celebration), the second her falling in love, the third celebrates her marriage.

That more or less tells you the back story of both the ballet and its roots. What I haven’t touched on is the beauty of the “Grand Russian Ballet” style of dance. This elegant way of dancing ballet began and was inspired by the Royal Court of the Tsar. This style of dance and deportment takes years of ballet training and requires even a certain acting ability; all of which clearly defines the term Classical Russian Ballet; all of which the Russian National Ballet Theatre clearly presented as a dazzling example, at the Community Concerts performance of “Sleeping Beauty.” This beautiful performance garnered the company, not only bravos, but a well-deserved standing ovation, sending the delighted audience home, not only entertained, but well satisfied by the beauty and elegance of classic, Russian Ballet.

I only wish I could present kudos and accolades to the principal dancers; but they were simply announced and not printed in the program (my spelling of Russian names on a scale of 1-10 is -1, so I won’t even attempt to spell what I think I heard announced). Be that as it may let me fill you in on this remarkable Russian Ballet Company.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre was founded in Moscow during the transitional period of Perestroika in the late 1980s, when many of the great dancers and choreographers of the Soviet Union’s ballet institutions were exercising their new-found creative freedom by starting new, vibrant companies dedicated not only to the timeless tradition of classical Russian Ballet, but to invigorate this tradition as the Russians began to accept new developments in dance around the world (contemporary ballet, modern dance, contemporary jazz dance etc.)

The company then titled, the Soviet National Ballet, was founded by and incorporated graduates from the Great Russian Choreographic schools of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Perm. The principal dancers of the company came from the upper ranks of the great ballet companies and academies of Russia, and the companies of Riga, Kiev and even Warsaw. Today the Russian National Ballet Theatre is its own institution with over 50 dancers of singular instruction and vast experience, many of whom have been with the company since its beginnings. In addition to their extensive touring history; beginning in January 2017, the company will embark upon a four month coast to coast tour, in the U.S.

In 1994, the legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko was selected by presidential decree to assume the first permanent artistic directorship of the company. Radchenko is the founder of the Russian National Ballet Theatre, and she has focused the company on upholding the grand national tradition of the major Classical Russian Ballet works, as well as developing new talents throughout Russia, with a repertory of virtually all of the great full works of Petipa, (some of which I mentioned above plus Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Coppelia, Raymonda, to mention a few more that ballet aficionados might recognize).

This review can only serve to give you all a smattering taste of the wonderful performance given by the Russian National Ballet Theatre on Monday, Jan. 4 for the Community Concert’s gala opening night.

Just as a side there are still some tickets left for the next event in the series, and possibly other concerts, here are dates and programs offered:

Monday, Jan. 25: Polish Baltic Philharmonic orchestra

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Teatro Lirico D’Europa performs “Aida”

Wednesday, March 2: Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra with Conductor Dmitry Yablonsky

Monday, March 21: Emanuel Ax Pianist

If you snooze you lose getting seats for these wonderful offerings at rock bottom prices, so hop to it and call the Barbara Mann Box Office at (239) 481-4849. Remember when you phone tell ’em Marsha sent you!