Sleeping Beauty by Let’s All Dance was a joy to watch. The cast of seven dancers delighted their audience of small children from the start with a brief introduction to ballet gestures for them to try for themselves and look out for during the performance. The story was slightly modified: Carabosse becomes wicked because King Florestan breaks her heart by marrying Queen Celeste but they all forgive each other at the end.

This was a delightful introduction to the ballet, which retained plenty of choreographic references to Petipa’s text. Rosy Nevard delivered Aurora’s Act One solo with speed and attack, and Synanne Day’s Lilac Fairy included the huge developpés with ronds en dedans. There was even a Rose Adagio, albeit with only one prince (whom Aurora definitely did not want to marry), played by James Aiden Kay.

Choreographer Fran Mangiacasale, resplendent in salmon pink, gave an elegant, beautifully placed and authoritative performance as King Florestan, husband to Queen Celeste, (played by ‘Chloe’ – no surname given). All the dancers used their upper bodies well, and they all understood how to act and convey their characters through dance. Melanie Cox as Carabosse, in black pointe shoes, used fouettés turns and a manège of posés piqués to express her spite so convincingly that the little girl next to me hid under her seat (but not for long, as she wanted to find out what happened next).

There were some shaky technical dance moments, but none that disrupted the narrative momentum as it moved towards the ballet’s apotheosis. The cast held their focus admirably despite some intermittent chaos among members of the audience, and there was a happy ending when Aurora, wearing a beautiful tutu decorated with roses, married Prince Désiré (played by Orlando Bond, a dancer with a nice jump). Meanwhile, Carabosse had recognised that true love should not be thwarted and had been forgiven by the King and Queen.

At the end of the show, Artistic Director Ori Sutton invited children to come and be photographed on stage with the cast in exchange for a small donation: within minutes, there was a long queue.

Maggie Watson

1st March 2020