Dance review: Minnesota Ballet closes season with Sleeping Beauty

The ballet runs Saturday and Sunday at DECC Symphony Hall.

DNT review

Sleeping Beauty, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, has a delightful musical score by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. This romantic story ballet with a prologue and three acts was first performed in 1890 and was the first time these two men collaborated. Friday evening's dress rehearsal of Sleeping Beauty, under the Direction of Karl von Rabenau, truly showcased the entire company.

In the prologue, the scene opens on a lavish court setting, filled with layers of color and depth. Scenic designer Ann Gumpper outdid herself with the grandness of the first act. The stage, filled with both professional and student dancers from the school of the Minnesota Ballet, laid the foundation of the storyline. Costuming by Sandra Ehle and Heather Boudreau was both charming and colorful. Lighting designer George Hommowun worked his craft well by making dramatic lighting changes to a plainer backdrop in Act 2 into a thing of beauty.

The opening scene introduces the audience to many characters. The Lilac Fairy, played by the elegant and dreamy Sarah White, told the story clearly through mime while maintaining clean lines and soft port de bras. The individual variations of the good fairies looked handcrafted for each one’s strengths. While the animated Brooke Bero, as Carabosse, interjects some mayhem and evil into the picture-perfect celebration, Princess Aurora danced by Ximena Azurmendi, showed off her versatileness with her ability to go from the challenging Rose Adagio, to a petit allegro, to a pas de deux effortlessly.

The corps de ballet (group dances) performed by the Lilac Fairy Attendants, Aurora’s Friends, and the Vision Scene Nymphs were outstanding. These women have really grown over the season and perform well together. The wedding divertissements of Act Three were an absolute delight to watch, with prancing Cats, the light and airy Bluebird and Princess, an enchanting Red Riding Hood, to the wily Wolf. This ballet offers more opportunity for the men to perform as well.

Principal dancers Azurmendi as Aurora and her Prince Desire, Isaac Sharratt, danced seamlessly together. The partnering and lifts were executed solidly while still maintaining musicality and artistry. The pique arabesque, inside turn into a fish prepped from behind was unique and quite impressive. The chugs arriere (backwards) in arabesque were synchronized beautifully. Both had an expressive upper body with matching epaulement, and technical power showcased in the grand pas de deux, solos, and coda.


The challenging choreography of Sleeping Beauty is as demanding as it is beautiful. This ballet has a slow build but is packed with not just a few choreographic highlights, but many highlights. If you listen closely, you will hear the two underlying musical themes (leitmotif) that represent the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse, representing the dichotomy between good and evil. This ballet also has some incredible tableau vivant (living pictures) that must be experienced.

If you go

Where: DECC Symphony Hall

When: March 11-12

Tickets: Ticketmaster

Kelly Sue Coyle reviews dance performances for the Duluth News Tribune.

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