I was excited to take my (almost) 5-year-old niece to her very first ‘proper’ ballet with ballerinas, tutus, pointe shoes, big sets and ‘proper ballet steps’. But I was also a little nervous about whether it would be engaging and easy enough to understand, knowing so much acting is required to tell the story of Sleeping Beauty. But English National Ballet‘s production is perfectly pitched creating a wonderfully joyous day out for the whole family.
As the lights dimmed and the children ‘oohed’ in anticipation, a young cheeky actor opened with a little magic trick that immediately captured the kids’ imagination and attention. It was a splendid idea to have the actor narrate the entire ballet, which helped ensure that everyone could follow the dance and the story.
Even though this is a children’s ballet, ENB ensured that all elements remained of the highest quality. The sets were lavishly awe-inspiring, the costumes were adorned with gold and gems, tiaras sparkled as the ballerinas and dancers performed satisfyingly challenging choreography to a wonderful musical score.
For a children’s ballet, the interval is always the test as I ask, ‘do you want to see more?’ and with the little one jumping for joy and doing ballet twirls with her new tiara and magic wand, Sleeping Beauty passed with dazzling colours!
The second act of the 1-hour ballet opens with the prince set to discover his Sleeping Beauty and the children were so in love with the performance and story that some took to the aisles trying to replicate the dancers’ movement with huge smiles and twinkling eyes.
For me this is the purpose, to set in the kids’ hearts the love of ballet that will hopefully follow them throughout their lives or inspire them to become a dancer or take a few classes for fun, and for families to add the ballet to their calendars of fun.
ENB’s Sleeping Beauty will forever hold a special place in my heart as the first proper ballet that my niece ever saw. Sleeping Beauty is a ballet that families will treasure forever.