We spent a couple of days in London with good friends last week and at the end of our trip we were supposed to round it off with a trip to the Ballet. Unfortunately we had to cut our trip a little jaunt short due to commitments at home and missed this pinnacle to our stay; we felt even more sorry for it when we read our good friend Katy’s (from Modern Mummy) review of the show. Luckily for us the production of the English National Ballet’s ‘My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty’ is on tour and next on their stop list happened to be Norwich!
Well, it would have been rude not to have at least tried to get tickets and I’m so pleased that we did because last night was simply beautiful! We’ve been to see The Snowman at Christmas time but it’s the only taste the children have had of ballet until now and although they adored it, a lack of girls in tutus twirling made it not seem like much of an actual ballet to Florence. Sure she loved it and I am not criticising because it’s absolutely stunning but last night’s Sleeping Beauty was much more the idea of ballet as assumed by a 6 year old girl.
Fairies in tuts gifting Princess Aurora her courage and beauty before the Lilac Fairy tries to give her wisdom and is usurped by the evil fairy Carabosse. A spell is cast and, well, you know the story… A beautiful girl comes of age, pricks her finger on a needle and falls asleep for a hundred years before being awakened by her true love’s, the Prince’s, kiss. It’s re-told with some fanning out of course and although you and I know the story well, I suspect some of our young audience may not have done or may have found it dificult to keep up even if they had. The story was told in dance as well as simple sign language and more importantly a narrator telling the story boldly. As an older Princess Aurora looking back on her life the narration was perfectly told as she mimicks the hand gestures of the dancers andd the way they move. It’s really quite inspiring!
We loved it and Florence adored the sparkle from the dresses, story and indeed falling from the actual stage roof. It was a little girl’s idea of a dream evening out I think. What with the narrator to help the young audience follow the story and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music, this really is the perfect introduction to the beauty of ballet, and a fantastic family day out.
This is a unique collaboration between the English National Ballet and their schools as it is performed by second year students from the English National Ballet School. Although you could tell perhaps that the cast has not yet truly perfected their art, a wobble here and there detected some youth, the dancers were a feast for little eyes and as I watched tiny girls twirling about while raising their arms high in the air as we left, it showed me the performance had been a success.
The running time is approximately 1 hr 30 mins (inc 20 mins interval) which is just the ticket for tiny ones. See a trailer for the show below.
Now this is the Mother in me for sure but I feel I can’t write this post without mentioning it… The Princess Aurora and majority of the fairies looked beautiful. Absolutely. They were also very slim. This is expected of ballerinas I know. But… The Lilac Fairy was SO thin I almost couldn’t look at her… She kind of just looked like bones on the stage and I’m not terribly sure this is the look I want my daughter to aspire to. I’m not saying the dancer in question is anything other than a healthy young woman but it certainly isn’t an indicative body shape that she has and being up in front of such a small and impressionable audience I’m not sure it’s the right image to project. I’m not 100% sure how I feel but I knew that I had to mention something… Please don’t let this detract from how wonderful this show is but just know that I couldn’t write a post and not say. I found it concerning, especially as my daughter said she was her favourite character and I just have a niggle about it; We are very caught up with body shape and what we should look like and this is something that is a very sensitive subject. It’s probably nothing but I couldn’t ignore it. The girl playing princess Aurora was out of this world good and super slim but she kind of looked normal and most importantly, healthy. This is what I want my girl to look at and want to be like… Hope that you undestand why I had to say!
My First Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty is on at Norwich’s Theatre Royal 8th and 9th April. My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is currently on a national tour, with dates all over the UK up until 10th July. For tickets, take a look at the English National Ballet website here. They start at just £7, which is an unbelievable price for something so special.