As the first dramatic notes of the overture burst forth from the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra the audience is immediately silenced by Tchaikovsky’s iconic melodies and transported into Cape Town City Ballet’s latest production of The Sleeping Beauty.
This season, the CTCB company is joined by guest artists Hikaru Kobayashi from The Royal Ballet as Aurora and David Moore from Stuttgart Ballet as Prince Florimund. Though perhaps not as virtuosic or awe-inspiring as some previous guest artists, Moore is a pleasure to watch with an easy grace and natural princely charisma while Kobayashi exudes musicality through every port de bras and épaulement. Despite coming from different companies the cohesion of Kobayashi and Moore’s partnerwork makes it seem they have been dancing together for years. Throughout all their supported turns and promenades Kobayashi is held perfectly on balance; their lifts are smooth and the Grand pas de deux is practically flawless.
The timing of the men of the corps de ballet is once again put to shame by the women of both the company and the Cape Junior Ballet School. The young aspiring dancers perform a very clean garland dance with great professionalism while the ladies of the corps almost steal the show from the guest artists as Sleeping Beauty’s friends. Their complete synchronicity not only in timing but the angle and dynamic of their heads and arms is very gratifying and exciting to see.
In a ballet that boasts a plethora of iconic solos, it is great to see the same level of precision from many of the CTCB dancers as from the guest artists; admittedly, on opening night, Angela Hansford’s Woodland Glade Fairy seemed a little tense and Rosamund Ford felt as if she was chasing the music as the Golden Vine Fairy but Elizabeth Nienaber’s Songbird was fast, fluttering and over far too quickly while her quirky Puss in Boots was a firm audience favorite. Mariette Opperman is fantastic as Bluebird with sharp feet and extensions alongside Craig Predro who is suitably light-footed beside her. Megan Henegan and Cleo Ames also give solid performances and Kim Veira is poised and regal as the Lilac Fairy. The tableaux and patterns created by all the fairies and their cavaliers throughout the first act are wonderfully clear and aesthetically pleasing.
With Brandon Phillips conducting, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra beautifully introduces some of the ingenious and recognizable motifs Tchaikovsky has created for this classic fairy tale. The magical world he conjures is brought to life by the stately sets and lavish costumes of Peter Cazalet. From the opulent era gowns to the enchanting tutus of the fairies, this production is visually rich and textured, captivating audiences of all ages.
The Sleeping Beauty takes place at Artscape Opera House, Cape town until 18 September 2016.