They're back! No sooner is Harold King's ballet company dealt a death blow than it rises, phoenix-like, in a blaze of positive publicity. They used to be London City Ballet but now, for reasons too tedious to enumerate, they are City Ballet of London. Undaunted by adversity and still thinking big, the company unveils a brand new production of The Sleeping Beauty on 18 September.
Wouldn't a more modest production be a safe first step? Choreographer Michael Rolnick will have none of it: "Harold King was very keen that the company stop doing cut-down versions of the original classics". Although The Sleeping Beauty is a box-office standard, this is not an entirely kosher production: no pointe shoes, no tutus. Have they gone mad? "It is a high-risk strategy but somebody in this country's got to do it." Anyway, he hasn't monkeyed about with the story: "I've got a fresh take on certain aspects but it still follows the storyline and all the choreography is character-driven. I must have seen Sleeping Beauty a hundred or so times. I listened to the score a lot but I've also been reading a lot: Marina Warner, Angela Carter. I'm hoping that if the character and the story-telling is good enough and they enjoy the dancing, that will move them forward into thinking it's all right."
Rolnick wants to bring out a slightly darker side to the ballet - although the day someone brings out the lighter side of a fairy story the pigs will be building a runway. Rolnick's King is an authoritarian figure, over-protective of the young Aurora whose journey from girlhood to womanhood is very emphatically drawn as a sexual voyage of discovery. In Rolnick's Rose Adagio, the four princes are in fact four of the Bad Fairy's minions, willing her to prick her finger on the roses, giving the scene a sexual charge. Rolnick's Auroras are two dancers guesting with City Ballet, former ENB principal Maria Teresa del Real and Oxana Gilbert. "They're both gorgeous in very different ways: Maria's incredible at finding the innocence of Aurora, Oxana is more of a Lolita. It's fascinating."Reuse content