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Alberta Ballet Presents Sleeping Beauty

Theatre Preview by Lisa Lunney (From November 2018 Online)
Alberta Ballet Presents Sleeping Beauty

Cursed by a wicked fairy, the newborn Princess Aurora is fated to die from a prick to her finger on her sixteenth birthday. A good fairy intervenes to alter the wicked fairy’s tragic spell: instead of dying, Princess Aurora, and her entire kingdom, will fall into a deep sleep. Only true love’s kiss will unleash the power to awaken her and the rest of her kingdom.

This pinnacle of classical dance is heralded as ballet’s most sumptuous and artistically exacting masterpiece. Both the regal visual splendor and Tchaikovsky’s monumental score will enchant the entire family. Christopher Anderson’s singular interpretation substitutes the fairy tale’s usual European setting with awe-inspiring landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. Audiences will thrill at the grandeur of this breathtaking event.

Prior to the Edmonton performance of Sleeping Beauty presented by the Alberta Ballet, Christopher Anderson, Associate Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet whom choreographed Sleeping Beauty chatted with GayCalgary about this enigmatic performance.

GC: What sparked your love for the world of arts and dance?

Christopher Anderson: I guess it was when my mother introduced me to Theatre by taking me to a play when I was 9. I thought it was so incredible. While leaving, I noticed a sign about upcoming auditions and decided to give it a try. I ended up landing a role in the up-coming production of Pinocchio and was hooked. In high school I transitioned to dance and never looked back.

GC: What first inspired you to pursue work as a choreographer?

CA: I can pinpoint that inspiration to a really precise time.  When I was with Ballet West, I had been a professional dancer for 9 years when the company brought in an emerging choreographer, Nicolo Fonte. That project spearheaded an entirely new way of working.  The dancers were contributors and collaborators in the process, influencing the steps and shaping the result. It provided a creative outlet that I had not experienced at that level in my career. I could not get to the studios early enough in the morning, and they had to throw me out of the studio at the end of the day!  It was a really important turning point for me, and the memory of it strongly influences how I approach my work with the dancers here at Alberta Ballet.

GC: If you had to shift to an entirely uncreative job - what would it be?

CA: I believe every job has a little creativity to it, but I think I would be a bike mechanic. I really enjoy cycling and actually find tinkering with bikes a great way to unwind.

GC: What is it about the story of Sleeping Beauty that resonated so strongly with you?

CA: The Sleeping Beauty was the first full length ballet I performed, so as a ballet, it resonates on a personal level for me.  But also, when I danced professionally in the U.S., it was a production that was performed every few years.  After performing it so many times and in so many variations, it’s become a very familiar and comfortable space for me. When this opportunity came up, I felt like had a firm handle on what this ballet needed to say.

GC: What inspired you to use the landscape of Banff as a backdrop?

CA: I wanted this version of The Sleeping Beauty to be reflective of Alberta.  I thought about how I could create a feeling on the stage that would make the work a true signature piece for Alberta Ballet.

Also, Banff is an astonishing landscape. The scale of that landscape has a majesty that’s on par with the grand traditions of The Sleeping Beauty. So, for that reason, it struck me a particularly fitting.

GC: What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced whilst creating Sleeping Beauty? Best moments?

CA: Overall, I found the project incredibly inspiring.  The best moment has been witnessing the growth of the dancers.  No other ballet requires such precision and accuracy in its execution.  So, the dancers came back to the studio in August with a big task ahead, and they truly met that challenge.

This ballet showcases the tremendous talent and versatility that exists within Alberta Ballet, and I’m proud that I was able to have a hand in giving our dancers the kind of repertoire that puts their classical skill at the center of the work.

GC: How do you balance technicality with creativity in dance?

CA: The tradition behind The Sleeping Beauty is a masterclass, both on classical ballet and on artful story-telling, so it’s a perfect pairing of technique and creativity.  The work is a layering of steps and patterns, and by that, I mean, how the patterns unfold across the stage but also how those patterns play into the depth of the stage.

In terms of technique, The Sleeping Beauty is all about technique. The audiences will see the signature moments that we all recognize from Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.  That tradition has been celebrated for well over 100 years, and there’s a great history in how different choreographers have celebrated Petipa’s choreography.  But also, on the creative side, connecting those signature moments in ways that stayed true to this particular style has been a fascinating challenge. With all creations, the journey provides a bit of self-discovery, and this one in particular has been quite clarifying and reflective for me.

GC: What can audiences expect to see?

CA: I encourage audiences to watch for the incredible classical technique. These are very traditional ballet movements.  These are the signature movements have been celebrated for generations.

GC: What do you hope the audience takes away from this original spin on a classic?

CA: Classical ballet technique is the foundation of so many kinds of dance that we celebrate today. I hope the audience enjoy themselves and that the innate beauty of the patterns and techniques is something they find uplifting. And ultimately, seeing as I’ve long loved these classics, I hope the audience comes to discover that they want more of these kinds of productions because Alberta Ballet definitely has the technique and the talent to offer more of them.

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Contributor Lisa Lunney |

Locale Calgary | Edmonton |

Topic Alberta Ballet |Theatre |


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