Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day weekend and Cincinnati Ballet is never one to miss an opportunity to showcase its bold troupe of classically trained, yet fearlessly unique dancers. Led by Artistic Director Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty” recreates this classic fairy tale through technically superior dance, beautiful set and costumes and a familiar, fantastic Tchaikovsky musical score delivered by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. From beautiful princesses and princes to Pas de Trois to Puss in Boots, this fairy-laden performance will take your breath away, bolster your belief in magic and awaken your love of dance forever.
Performed in four acts, this ballet starts and finishes with a celebration of life and love, while taking you on the classic journey of good triumphing over evil — with a little magical help along the way. Led by a beautiful orchestra overture, the flurry and flutter of colorful fairies set the tone for the opening prologue, which blends seamlessly into a powerful second act where the spell is cast. From the fierce battle in act three’s awakening to the joyful culmination of the wedding in the final act, this ballet tells a tale with every aspect of the performance. The entire ensemble is tremendous, and this show is no exception, given the robust casting. But there are three dancers that take the performance to another level and convince you that magic does exist. Samantha Griffin, as the evil, jealous fairy, garbed in an evocative and gorgeous green costume, bursts onto the stage with the assistance of her twisted fairy coach and underlings, holding you in her powerful thrall the entire time she is present. Sirui Liu, as the Lilac Fairy, personifies grace and beauty, taking us beyond what we know to be possible and reassuring us throughout that all will end well for our beloved characters. Last but not least, Melissa Gelfin, as Princess Aurora, is an extraordinary, emotive tribute to this character and the utter poise and strength required to perform such a demanding role for a ballerina. The gentlemen are the backbone of this particular story, ensuring that their strength and love shine through every lift and turn, creating a seamless integration of complicated choreography.
While true love’s kiss is what awakens the kingdom, this show is a true labor of love that should be lauded for the dedication, discipline and creativity that went into making it possible. Wardrobe Mistress Diana Vandergriff-Adams spent the last three years hand sewing 42 tutus for this show (which each take over 120 hours to make), creating brilliant and beautiful costumes that will remain in use and in our memories long after the curtain falls on the final performance. The dancers spent countless hours rehearsing, symbolized most explicitly by the sheer number of pointe shoes they go through each performance (Melissa Gelfin needs a new pair of pointe shoes for each act!). Ultimately, the creativity of the stage design set the tone for a fairy tale that left my younger daughter enthralled with, “Wow…you feel like you are in their world when you watch it…they put it together so well.” The scene with the Lilac Fairy casting the spell is phenomenal and otherworldly, using mystical sheers and vines creeping down to pull a curtain over the kingdom to sleep for one hundred years. Sheer magic that will leave you believing in fairy tales.
Perfectly timed and delivered, “The Sleeping Beauty” is a sweet-filled delight that will leave your heart soaring with love and your mind marveling at the magnificence of the Cincinnati Ballet dancers. Ideal for a couples date night, girls night, and/or family fun, this show will reset your expectations on ballet, stage sets, and what is possible when you let yourself get swept away by a story. Take the time this weekend to celebrate your loved ones and enjoy. And if your littles enjoy the ballet, do not miss the upcoming Family Series “Aladdin” March 30 to April 7 at the Aronoff Center. If your prince or princess loves the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, do not miss The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” on April 27-28 and May 3-5 at the Taft Theater. It is such a wonderful privilege to live in a city that is bursting with opportunities to experience the arts! If you have not already, please consider giving to the 2019 ArtsWave Campaign (going on now) to continue supporting all the fantastic arts in our community.
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls (8 and 11), best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on shopper innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of every kind, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning every day through books and connecting with others, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection (highly recommend DanceFix and Pilates Reformer), and delights in spending time with family and friends. Writing reviews for the arts is an absolute privilege and one she cherishes every day, with the hope that sharing her perspective will inspire others to embrace the arts.