REVIEW: Boston Ballet Flaunts a Stunning Sleeping Beauty

 Lia Cirio in Marius Petipa's  The Sleeping Beauty;  photo by Peter Morse:

Lia Cirio in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Peter Morse:


Last weekend, in an ambitious endeavor to conclude their season with three ballets in three weeks, Boston Ballet reprised a short but ever-so-sweet production of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.

Gearing up to open Classic Balanchine this week and La Sylphide the next, the company treated this purely classical ballet as a way to warm up its stars, but also to offer the limelight to some of its most promising up-and-coming dancers, including Second Soloist Hannah Bettes in her Aurora debut on day two, Second Soloist Addie Tapp as the opening night Lilac Fairy, new Soloist Derek Dunn as day two’s Bluebird and new Artist Chrystyn Fentroy leaping into a last-minute casting of the Pas de Trois on day three—the latter two have received promotions for the upcoming season.

On opening night, Principal Lia Cirio brought down the house as Aurora. Lingering in effortless balances that seem to last a lifetime in the Rose Adagio, Ms. Cirio defies the main character’s artistic motif—she doesn’t need a man to stay up on one foot! Beyond mere technique, Ms. Cirio stunned with a regal air and the darling attitude of a young princess.

Although she can clearly stand strong on her own, Ms. Cirio’s partner, Principal Lasha Khozashvili, was a sublime partner. Tending to her with strength, elegance and selflessness, he allowed Ms. Cirio to shine in the leading role. And in his solos, Mr. Khozashvili wowed with his characteristic vigor and impressive leaps.

 Junxiong Zhao and Misa Kuranagain Marius Petipa's  The Sleeping Beauty;  photos by Peter Morse:

Junxiong Zhao and Misa Kuranagain Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photos by Peter Morse:


Despite the story’s anticlimactic solution (was it really as simple as the good fairy banishing the bad fairy?), Principal Kathleen Breen Combes was a deliciously wicked Carabosse with angular contortions and intensity. Her malevolence was the perfect match for Ms. Tapp’s authoritative Lilac Fairy. As the story’s saving grace, Ms. Tapp performed the Lilac Fairy with clear storytelling (an essential element of her role) and great mastery of her long limbs.

And in a lighthearted audience-favorite, Principals Misa Kuranaga and Junxiong Zhao performed an exquisite pas de deux as Act III’s Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Light, soaring and sweetly artistic, the pair can do no wrong.

A versatile ensemble rounded out Boston Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty, with strong performances from its large cast, like the Act I fairies—especially Soloist Ji Young Chae as the Woodland Glade Fairy, and a surprising casting choice of Artist María Álvarez as the Songbird Fairy, who delicately and charmingly danced the role typically given to much shorter ballerinas.

 Kathleen Breen Combes and Elizabeth Olds in Marius Petipa's  The Sleeping Beauty;  photo by Peter Morse:

Kathleen Breen Combes and Elizabeth Olds in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Peter Morse:


Another crowd favorite was the White Cat and Puss in Boots, danced by Artist Haley Schwan and Second Soloist Lawrence Rines. The two leaned into their feline mannerisms with sass and poise, and in the finale, Mr. Rines beautifully executed his sissones.

Conductor Ming Luke led the orchestra in a full and rich embodiment of Tchaikovsky’s famed score, nicely complementing the dancers. The music added energy to the ballet’s occasional slow scenes.

And while Boston Ballet’s stellar Costume Shop has done exceptional work restoring and maintaining The Sleeping Beauty’s detailed costumes, the 1970s tutus are in need of rejuvenation (a pricey enterprise) and the fairies deserve more flattering bodices than their current peasant tops.

Picky details aside, Boston Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty is better than ever, and a feast for the eyes. Its opportunities for new and seasoned dancers alike promises great potential for the Company’s future.

See Boston Ballet in one final performance of The Sleeping Beauty, May 19 at 7:30 p.m., at the Boston Opera House. The Company will also perform Classic Balanchine, May 17 through June 9, and concludes its season with La Sylphide, May 25 through June 10. Tickets and information >>