Ballet Alert: Something we can agree on
Or most of us, anyway. If you think there's absolutely no merit to American Ballet Theatre's new "Sleeping Beauty," then it doesn't matter how cramped the stage space is. For the rest of us, it just might matter a lot.
Tony Walton's set has internal wings on both sides of the already relatively narrow Metropolitan stage; they shrink the stage space by about six feet (and more in the Act I and III, when a staircase takes up about another yard). So in ensemble sections, the dancers are forced to dance in place and the patterns in space, so lovely in the Garland Dance and in the Vision scene, are obscured. For the space-devouring solos, you can see the dancers calculating how not to bang into the wings. It's a distracting shame.
Absolutely as soon as possible, ABT should remove those wings. (Of course, the wings might be attached to the rest of the scenery, which means "ASAP" won't be until next year.)
I saw the production again tonight--with the divine La Vishneva and wonderful David Hallberg. Highly recommended. I'm clearer on what exactly the problems are where there are problems; much still seems splendid to me--and more will be when the dancers have some room!
[A month later.... a long reflection on what the ABT "Sleeping Beauty" is good for--and what, besides the set, doesn't make too much sense]
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