The Bourne legacy: His third Tchaikovsky with a modern twist


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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new ballet from Matthew Bourne's New Adventures dance company. Taking composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa's 1890 ballet version of the fairy tale as its starting point, and subtitled "A Gothic Romance", Sleeping Beauty also begins in 1890 before hopping through time to the present day.

Elevator pitch: 100 years of progress: Bourne boots Sleeping Beauty into the 21st century.

Prime movers: Matthew Bourne, surely the country's best-known choreographer, responsible for hits such as a male-led Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands. Long-time collaborator Lez Brotherston is once again on both set and costume duties, so they're sure to be sumptuous.

The talent... Princess Aurora will be "created" by New Adventures regulars Hannah Vassallo and Ashley Shaw. The love interest, Leo, is danced by Christopher Trenfield and Dominic North – who's been in more Bourne ballets than any other dancer.

The early buzz Time Out wrote: "This year has seen the 25th anniversary of … New Adventures and this new Sleeping Beauty is the culmination of that celebration. As is his wont, Bourne reimagines the dusty old fairy tale with tongue-in-cheek humour, contemporary references and accessible, theatrical dance." There's even excitement across the pond. The New York Times ponders: "What will Matthew Bourne — the man who made an all-male corps de ballet of swans an international phenomenon in his Swan Lake — do with Sleeping Beauty? Apparently there are fairies and vampires involved. Just the thing to get the Christmas season going!"

Insider knowledge: It's the final part of a Tchaikovsky trilogy; rather a long time coming, Bourne will be hoping its success matches 1992's Nutcracker! and 1995's Swan Lake.

It's great that … the fairy tale is getting a modern, and democratic, twist; not only does Princess Aurora wake up in 2012, but her love interest isn't a prince – he's the royal gamekeeper, Leo (oo-er – might it all go a bit Lady Chatterley?).

It's a shame that … some found last year's revival of Nutcracker! too sugar-sweet and camp – surely also a risk for this most Disneyfied of fairy tales.

Hit potential: It's pretty much certain to please festive family audiences.

The details: Sleeping Beauty is at Plymouth Theatre Royal (theatreroyal .com), 5 to 10 Nov and on tour.