This week we saw Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty gothic style. It was a visual spectacular, beautifully staged with sets draped in luscious curtains, fairy lights, decadent props that surround the dancers wearing the most stunning costumes bright red, modern, creative and simply astounding.
Earlier, I saw a quick headline review that said something along the lines of ‘Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is style over substance’. While I don’t recall the journalist, and didn’t feel compelled to look it up, I walked into the theatre with this in mind and I walked about thinking that whoever wrote this doesn’t understand Matthew Bourne and his work, doesn’t seem to understand that the style is the substance. That dance and ballet can be uber cool, shocking, funny, cute, raunchy and even with minimal choreography it speaks to a new generation in the way that traditional ballets or contemporary dance needs to.
Looking around at the audience at Sadler’s Wells Theatre – we were in the cheap seats – everyone was young, under 18 and absolutely loved the production. They laughed, they cheered, they applauded as loud as they screamed their joy. There aren’t many productions and ballets that engage so many, the ‘youth’, as Matthew Bourne does.
I’ve seen most of Bourne’s productions and they always present a new visual staging perspective that is unexpected, dazzling and awe-inspiring. The costumes are always over the top colourful, dramatic, bright and beautiful. The sets are modern, gorgeous, large, immense. The scale of the production, from the lighting, to the music, the narrative conveyed through the dance is like watching a dancical – a bit like a musical but ballet instead of signing.
Bourne takes you off to another world, he invites you to let go, immerse yourself, indulge and mostly enjoy. And yes there’s a lot less actual ballet or dance, and a lot more running around, always a waltz, a definite hand gesture or movement that defines the story, like the wings worn by the angels in Sleeping Beauty matched by their hand movements of wings.
Sleeping Beauty was a wonderful, stylish and beatuiful production. The New Adventures dancers were characterful, quirky and entertaining. His take on the classic fairy tale about a young girl, Aurora, cursed to sleep for 100 years is romantic and modern.
Matthew Bourne is a visionary, he is a genius, a stage production spectacular and with a full house filled with the next generation of balletomanes and theatre-goers yelling for another curtain call, we can only hope that he continues to bring his magic to the ballet world for many years to come.
Have you seen Sleeping Beauty? Did you love it?