"Critics have called the Russian National Ballet Theatre, directed by the legendary Bolshoi principal dancer Elena Radchenko, “the real thing.” Combine with that Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, the classic story of love awakened from a 100-year nap, and you have a night of dance passion on the stage of Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m.
In this, Tchaikovsky’s longest and middle ballet, sandwiched between Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, with choreography by the Russian master, Marius Petipa, the King and Queen put on an ornate christening for their daughter Aurora, inviting all the fairies in the land to bestow gifts. But, woe to those who leave an evil one off the guest list; an angry Carabosse rushes in to deliver the curse that the princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die. But, wait, the Lilac Fairy has yet to come forward. She assures the royal court that the princess will indeed prick her finger, on her 16th birthday, but only fall asleep for 100 years.
The ballet includes a prologue, covering the curse, and three acts. In the first, Aurora turns 16 and dances the “Rose Adagio” with four princes in a rose ceremony that would make producers of The Bachelor turn green with envy. Then she pricks her finger and the spell begins. In Act II, the Lilac Fairy visits Prince Charming and introduces him to a vision of the Sleeping Beauty. His fate is cast, and, in Scene Two, he delivers the wake-up kiss. In Act III, the wedding extravaganza unfolds, with appearances by fairy tale characters, such as the Bluebird, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre was formed in Moscow during the Perestroika period in the late 1980s, when the nation’s great dancers and choreographers were exercising a new creative freedom. Then called the Soviet National Ballet, the company was founded and populated by talent from the upper echelons of Soviet dance academies and troupes. Many of its 50 some dancers have been with the company from the beginning. Radchenko was selected in 1994 to be its first artistic director and has developed a repertory of most of the great full works of Petipa, including this production and one of Romeo and Juliet performed at Jorgensen in 2011.
Ballet master Alexander Daev, who dances the role of the Fairy Carabosse in the production, has said about the U.S. tours the company does, “We have many performances and a busy schedule, but this is what we enjoy doing. … The American audience is very cultured, and is passionate in their warm response to our performances.”
Jorgensen was named Best College/University Performing Arts Center in the Hartford Advocate Best of Hartford Readers’ Poll for 2013 and 2012, and was named a Reader’s Choice Winner by the Mansfield-Storrs Patch."
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Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2132 Hillside Road on the UConn campus in Storrs. Ticket prices are $36, $33 and $31 with some discounts available. For tickets and information, call the Box Office at 860.486.4226, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or order online at jorgensen.uconn.edu. Convenient, free parking is available across the street in the North Garage.