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Reviews

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Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty - Wales Milennium Centre, Cardiff

Over the centuries there have been many versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty. From Perrault’s 1697 original, to the Brothers Grimm’s 1812 version and the well-known Disney rendition, the story of a young girl overcoming an evil curse and coming of age has many different outcomes and even more interpretations of what each tale means.

To all these versions through the ages, we can now add this superb balletic adaptation from the celebrated director and choreographer, Matthew Bourne, the artistic director of New Adventures. To its credit, it does not falter in comparison with the classics. This ballet has not come too soon either – 20 years after reinterpreting The Nutcracker!, he has finally completed his Tchaikovsky trilogy after a lengthy break following 1995’s Swan Lake.

Stretched over four acts spanning more than 100 years, Sleeping Beauty incorporates an incredible array of costumes and dance styles from the relevant era of the particular act alongside some jaw-dropping sets. The second Act, entitled Aurora Comes of Age, is a real feast for the eyes, taking place in the gardens of a Georgian mansion which provides incredible visual depth. The dancers are also something special; every pirouette, every turn and every extension is in perfect harmony with the dramatic score by Tchaikovsky. 

However, none of the dancers shone brighter than Hannah Vassallo who played the female lead Aurora. Her ebullience and vigour in everything she did was quite remarkable and somewhat infectious. The scene where she is reunited with her true love, Leo, after being courted by a series of gentrified, but unappealing suitors is a particular joy.    

The size and scale of this production is nothing short of epic and really extends the Wales Millennium Centre’s capabilities as a venue. It is for shows of this grandeur and ambition that the centre was originally built and it is a joy to see a packed house enjoying a world-class ballet in a world-class setting.

Gareth Llewellyn