Review: My First Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet, Grand Opera House, York

ON stage there was an international cast from all corners of the globe in the English National Ballet’s production of My First Sleeping Beauty, while the audience featured a sea of tutus and tiaras (and not only on the budding ballerinas).

Matthew Hart's production for chldren aged three and upwards had a simple but stunning set of the palace interior, with beautiful costumes and the story shortened to target the younger audience.

There were some promising ballet pieces and good technique, making it an ideal showcase for the talents of the company’s third-year students and to inspire dancers of the future.

My children, aged five and three, found the opening with Carabosse (Tess Buck) a little too scary as the stage was darkly lit, and they squirmed slightly whenever she appeared. However, she won them over by the end.

Highlights of the performance for us were the amazing Lilac Fairy (Mami Fujii) and her consistent performance throughout; the Wolf’s (Jacob Christiansen) wonderful face-pulling; the White Cat (Kymberleigh Cowley), whose feline steps and radiant smile lit up the stage; and the Narrator (Jane Wymark), who told the story and translated the "Ballet mime" in a most expressive way.

The audience interactions - including helping the baby Princess to stop crying, and counting the 16 Fouettes, executed beautifully by the Lilac Fairy - were a pleasing touch. A clock showing the passing of 100 years (actually the 20-minute interval) provided amusement until the second half started.

We had a great family trip out and look forward to seeing another production by this company.

Review by Catherine Finta

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