Sleeping Beauty is an enduring and wonderful story, but the real fairytale in Cape Town City Ballet’s new production on Saturday August 17 was to see the extraordinarily talented Precious Adams dancing in her own ‘skin’.
Adams, of the English National Ballet, is a black dancer who wears tights and shoes that match her natural colouring, rather than the white tights and pink shoes traditionally worn by all dancers. She is absolutely breath-taking to watch. That she is dancing in her own ‘skin’ adds a layer of harmony that just seems so obvious once you have seen it.
Dancers tell stories with their bodies after all, so why not in their own skin. The peachy-pink shoes were originally designed so that the feet looked bare, in effect creating an unbroken line, so obviously achieved by Adams here.
She plays Princess Aurora, the victim of an evil spell cast by the wicked fairy Carabosse, a role in which Olivia Parfitt is just evil enough. Aurora sleeps for 100 years before being woken by the dreamy Prince Florimund, played with what seemed to me to be perfection by Andile Ndlovu, of Washington Ballet.
Aurora must be one of ballet’s most challenging roles, with long solos and pas-de-deux almost entirely en pointe. I couldn’t help thinking: That poor woman really does deserve a big sleep.
The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra added to the magic of Tchaikovsky’s delightful score and there were times when I wanted to close my eyes and just listen. There is not a moment to be missed, though, in this packed show that also showcases a whole lot of local talent.
There are so many jewels in Sleeping Beauty’s sparkling crown of scenes, from Aurora’s christening to her wedding, with some especially charming scenes when the forest creatures awaken along with Aurora after their 100-year sleep.
The spectacular and expansive sets and sensational wardrobe (all by Peter Cazalet) and genius lighting design by Wilhelm Disbergen complete this fairytale of a show that is staged by Denise Schultze Godfrey. Sleeping Beauty will dazzle audience members of all ages.