It's not unreasonable to assume that any dance performances under the heading ‘Tchaikovsky Trilogy’ will have a strong focus on music. But Peter Schauffus' latest programme at the London Coliseum, with modern versions of 19th Century Russian ballet classics, chooses recordings over a live orchestra.
The triad’s second instalment, Sleeping Beauty, is described as a “sensual dream” but has little to seduce. The opening act becomes a disconcertingly visceral experience, with simulated sex and the Queen spreading her legs to give birth to a curled-up full-size adult baby. This replacement for the traditional christening party leads to reams more uninspired and occasionally comic choreography. Camp princes spin and hop, fairies teeter on pointe and wicked Carabosse is so aggressively animated you'd think she was on acid. Even the illustrious finger prick becomes a cursed pair of shoes that make Aurora moonwalk before she dances herself to 100 years exhaustion.
Most entertaining is the seemingly unintended homoerotic subplot which sees our lead man frolicking with the production's male Lilac Fairy-equivalent Dream Master. The final tableau with Dream Master's lowered gaze and sad expression as Aurora and Prince embrace seems to typify not only the character's unfulfilled longing but also the unfulfilled potential of the choreography.
Considering the stellar cast, including Royal Danish Ballet star Alban Lendorf and former Bolshoi and Royal Ballet dancer Irek Mukhamedov, it is a shame that this work falls so far short of expectation. Matthew Bourne’s version of Sleeping Beauty premieres at Sadler’s Wells in December and we hope his choreographic skill will do better justice to this fabulous score and enchanting tale.
The final performance of Peter Schauffus Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty is at 4:30pm on Saturday at the London Coliseum. Tickets available here.