October 15, 2018 12:00 am

Alberta Ballet dancers set lofty goal with October premiere of The Sleeping Beauty

Company Artist Hayna Gutierrez, Photo by Paul McGrath

Alberta Ballet

Alberta Ballet has set a high bar for its 2018/2019 company dancers. This season’s dance troupe will debut on stage with the upcoming production of The Sleeping Beauty, opening October 24 in Calgary and November 1 in Edmonton.  

This opulent classic promises to push the company’s dancers to their limits with a historically-important piece known for its difficulty.

“This ballet is the benchmark for classical ballet,” says Alberta Ballet Associate Artistic Director Christopher Anderson.

As the choreographer behind The Sleeping Beauty, he’s looking forward to creating an experience that resonates with new audiences while delighting fans who are anticipating this classical work’s grand traditions.

Company Artist Heather Thomas, Photo by Paul McGrath

Alberta Ballet

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Anderson sticks close to Marius Petipa’s original choreography. From Aurora’s famed Rose Adagio to the Bluebird Pas d’Action in Act IV, this production of The Sleeping Beauty delivers scenes of technique-testing choreography that honours the ballet’s rich history.

With opening night mere weeks away, the company dancers are building their stamina fast, Christiana Bennett, Alberta Ballet’s ballet mistress says.

“This ballet is a litmus test for any dancer that would like to be considered a serious classical dancer,” she says while adding that everyone in the company has risen to the challenge.

Bennett herself has performed in 11 Sleeping Beauty productions over the course of her career. She’s braved the ballet’s infamous Rose Adagio, a harrowing series of unsupported balances and promenades requiring tremendous physical endurance and strength.

“It’s a notch in your belt, to be standing at the very end,” admits Bennett.

It won’t be hard to fall in love with this production of The Sleeping Beauty. When it comes down to it, the sweeping Tchaikovsky score, palatial set pieces, tutus, and fairy wings are downright enchanting.

Audiences will also notice that Anderson’s The Sleeping Beauty places Princess Aurora and her sleeping kingdom in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, a uniquely Canadian setting featuring designs by Alberta artist Curtis Van Charles.

“If you’re new to ballet, what a way to be introduced,” Anderson says.

Over the past year, Alberta Ballet has broken audience records with Christopher Anderson’s Cinderella and received tremendous critical acclaim for All of Us, Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître’s tribute to The Tragically Hip. The Sleeping Beauty is just one more production to add to the “must-watch” list.

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