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Center Stage: Russian ballet dazzles with ‘Sleeping Beauty’

By Staff | Mar 10, 2020

Marsha Wagner

Direct from Moscow, the Russian National Ballet dazzled the Fort Myers Community Concerts audience last week with its beautiful performance of the full-length version of “Sleeping Beauty.” This classical ballet, created by Marius Petipa with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, ranks at the top of the list along with “Swan Lake,” “Giselle” and “The Nutcracker.”

Most ballet companies that tour the world rarely do more than excerpts from these full-length ballets, the notable exceptions are The Royal Ballet from England, The Bolshoi from Russia and now the Russian National Ballet. They require a massive number of dancers – the Russian National Ballet had 50 – plus multiple sets and costumes, making the cost of touring almost prohibitive. So, Community Concerts was very fortunate to be able to present this fabulous production.

The Russian National Ballet has been bringing these ballet classics to the United States since 1999, under the artistic directorship of its founder, former Bolshoi ballerina Elena Radchenko. Radchenko’s focus is primarily to uphold the grand national tradition of the major ballet’s repertoire, develop new talent throughout Russia using the classical ballets to enlighten, inspire and entertain audiences across the continent.

All I can say after viewing the Russian National Ballet’s version of “Sleeping Beauty” is: mission accomplished! This crowning jewel from Petipa’s choreographic cannon – along with Tchaikovsky’s grandiose specially-created ballet score – and the spectacular dancing from the company, made for a perfect evening of classical ballet for the enthusiastic audience at Community Concerts. All that this former New York City Ballet dancer can say is, “Thank you, Mary Lee Mann and Community Concerts.”

Oh, before I forget, all of you season ticket-holders for Community Concerts: the replacement concert for the canceled Siberian Symphony on Jan. 27 will be the award-winning Siberian Virtuosi on March 19. Just bring your Jan. 27 tickets and they will be honored at the March 19 concert. See ya’ll there!