Marius Petipa – Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
and additional choreography: David McAllister.
Associate: Nicolette Fraillon – Costume and Set Design: Hugh Colman
Design: Jon Buswell.
Theatre Playhouse: 13th – 15th January 2023.
on 13th January reviewed by Bill Stephens
Australian Ballet’s Storytime Ballet is one of the most eagerly anticipated
dance events each year for young dance enthusiasts of a certain age, because
these productions are designed to introduce children as young as three to the
magical world of classical ballet.
admirable about these adaptations is how cleverly they retain all the essential
elements of the original, capture much of the magic and are perfectly pitched
at their target audience so that they work equally well as an inspirational
experience for budding young dancers and as a charming introduction for the
uninitiated to the often mysterious world of classical ballet
these productions utilise costumes and props from earlier Australian Ballet
productions, in this case, Maina Gielgud’s splendid 1984 production of “The
Sleeping Beauty” for which Hugh Colman was the designer, they also offer an irresistible
opportunity to older balletomanes to renew acquaintances with some of the beautiful
costumes created for the Australian Ballet’s most memorable past productions.
Storytime Ballet production of “The Sleeping Beauty” was first seen on the
Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse stage in 2016. For this version, David
McAllister, in collaboration with Nicolette Fraillon, had skilfully reduced the
original three-act ballet into a nicely judged fifty minute version.
a fairy-tale setting designed by Hugh Coleman and utilising Coleman’s gorgeous storybook costumes, ten graduate
dancers from the company perform artfully truncated excerpts of Petipa’s
original choreography to the recorded orchestral accompaniment of Tchaikovsky’s
|Sean McGrath as Catalbutte in the Storytime Ballet production of "The Sleeping Beauty"
dancers change each year, narrator, Sean McGrath, remains a constant, who keeps
the young audience informed as to exactly what is happening throughout the ballet.
This year in the role of the Prince’s private secretary, Catalabutte, he provides
a witty and informative narration.
perfected the skill of communicating with his young audience in a way that
involves them in the action from the very first moments, McGrath takes care to
speak clearly and concisely, stays on script and in character, as he encourages
the young theatre-goers into enthusiastic unselfconscious involvement, to assist
him create magic by waving their wands or wriggling their fingers at
engagement with even the youngest members was so strong, that they groaned
sympathetically when he was berated by the King (Dann Wilkinson) for forgetting
to invite Carabosse (Chantelle van der Hoek) to the christening of the baby Aurora.
frantic trying to warn him of the presence of evil fairy Carabosse (Chantelle
van de Hoek) lurking with intent at Aurora’s fateful sixteenth birthday
celebrations. They giggled uncontrollably at his snoring, prior to the arrival
of the handsome Prince (William Humphries) to awaken Aurora (Hannah Lukey) after
her hundred-year doze.
choreography, although truncated, is charmingly and meticulously danced by the
cast of emerging young dancers, under the watchful eye of Ballet Master, Paul
Knobloch. Among each audience is the possibility some may discover a future
favourite dancer whose career they will follow, as the result of having seen them
dance in this, their first, ballet experience.
|The Queen and Aurora in the Storytime Ballet production of "The Sleeping Beauty".
might be Hanna Lukey, dazzling as Aurora in the costume Colman created for
Christine Walsh, when she danced that role in the 1984 production. Or it might
be Bella Collishaw, all warmth and elegance as the Queen, who’s already
mastered the art of skilfully displaying her magnificent costume.
It might be
Amber Alston, delicate and sprightly in her bright yellow tutu as the Canari
Fairy, or Sophie Burke as the elegant Lilac Fairy, or maybe it will be the buoyant
dancing of Sophie Wormald as the Fairy of Joy, that stays in their memory.
|Carabosse in the Storytime Ballet production of "The Sleeping Beauty"
It could be the
flair of Chantelle van de Hoek, dancing in that remarkable black and red
costume Coleman created for the vindictive Carabosse; the elegance of Cieren
Edinger as Prince Charming or even that frightening wolf danced by Alexander
Mitchell, which will become a favourite memory.
have the opportunity to attend a Storytime Ballet performance plan to arrive
early, in time to experience the excitement of the hundreds of tiny ballerinas,
princesses, and quite a few young princes, who on arrival at the theatre, quickly discover the dress-up room where they try on some of
the gorgeous costumes and big girl ballet shoes thoughtfully provided by the
ballet company, while mums, grannies and grandads purchase magic wands, tiaras,
and swords as essential souvenirs before hurrying into the theatre.
you give yourself time to take in the small display of original Hugh Colman costumes created for the 1984
production, but not used in the Storytime version, then linger a little after
the performance to experience the excited chatter among the young audience as
it spills out into the foyer
afterwards. If you haven’t a young prince or princess of
your own, beg, borrow or steal a couple from your neighbour and give yourself a
Images by Jeff Busby
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au