The renown story of Princess Aurora came to life through the beautiful technique and artistry of the Moscow Festival Ballet’s rendition of “The Sleeping Beauty,” held at Fairfield’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts on April 2. The Moscow Festival ballet was founded in 1989 by Sergei Radchenko, within the framework of classical Russian ballet (Columbia Artists Management Inc.). Since its founding, the Moscow Festival Ballet has completed two tours of Europe, two tours of the United Kingdom and most recently a two-month tour of Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. The performance attracted audience members of all ages, including older audience members who raved about the talented ballerinas to little girls wearing their hair in buns, trying to mimic the moves of the dancers. The dancers captivated the audience throughout all three acts, demonstrating their clear talent and love of ballet.
The first thing audience members notice is the appearance of the stage. The backdrops, props and costume choices encompassed the beauty of the story. Freshman DeAnna Dickinson said, “The costumes were beautiful and the stage was definitely aesthetically pleasing.”
In addition to the stage appearance and costumes, it is also important that the ballerinas portray the story of Sleeping Beauty in a way that allows the audience to follow what is happening. Due to the dancers’ abilities to maintain the attention of the audience, they were successful in conveying their story.
“It was amazing how [the dancers] were able to portray the story, without using any words, through music, lighting, scenery and dance,” said Courtney Scrivanich ‘19.
Lead dancers Aurora, the Lilac fairy, Prince Charming and the five fairy godmothers demonstrated immaculate technique throughout their performance. The rest of the ensemble dancers; however, seemed to lack the same skill and stage presence. The dancers had different body angles throughout the performance, as well as moments of not being in-sync, which caused them to look sloppy.
However, the technique and stage presence of Aurora immediately grabbed the audience’s attention. “The Rose Adagio,” in which Aurora meets four princes seeking her hand in marriage, was one of the performance’s major highlights. Aurora begins this adagio, or slow-tempoed movement, by raising her leg behind her in an attitude or bent position. During this scene, Aurora maintains this pose for an extended period of time while each of the princes take turns supporting her, calling for an extreme amount of strength, stability and stamina. Aurora further demonstrated her talent when dancing with one of the princes, completing five pirouettes, or turns, and landing in an arabesque position, a position where her leg was extended behind her.
Another lead character who stole the hearts of audience members was Prince Charming. Although he only made appearances in the second and third acts, his strength, power and ability to reach incredible heights from the stage left the audience awestruck.
Senior Kayla Kuzniewski, president of Fairfield’s Dance Ensemble, said, “While all the dancers were beautiful, the true standout of the night was Prince Charming. His grand jetés [a jump in which a dancer springs from one foot to land on the other with one leg forward and the other stretched backward while in the air] were higher than any I have ever seen and his acting was superb.”
Kuzniewski also noticed that the ensemble dancers lacked the same skill-set as the lead characters due to their lack of confidence and stage presence, as well as moments of minor faltering.
Kuzniewski explained, “The small stage was evidently a challenge for many of the ensemble members, which showed in the hesitation of some of their larger movements and on their faces as well, but this was not true of the Prince. For me, he brought the entire production to a new level and I would have loved to see more of him in the show.”
Despite the hesitation and lack of confidence shown in the ensemble dancers, the leads were able to compensate through their beautiful stage presence and technical abilities. These amazing dancers demanded the audience’s attention every time they entered the stage and did not disappoint at any point throughout the performance.
In the final scene, Aurora and Prince Charming get married and perform an incredible Grand Pas de Deux, a five-part performance where the two dancers begin with an introduction, an adagio, two solo parts and a finale. The jumps of the prince seemed higher than demonstrated previously and Aurora performed a series of pirouettes with her front leg in an attitude position without the support of the prince. The two stars came together at the end when Aurora jumped into the prince’s arms and dived toward the floor. You could hear the nervous gasps coming from the audience before the prince catches Aurora around the waist and supports her in a fish dive pose.
“The Moscow Festival Ballet’s performance of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ was a resounding success” said Kuzniewski. “From the beautiful costumes to the strong and graceful dancing, this company brought the classic story to life in a wonderful way.”