Mountain West Ballet Performs Sleeping BeautyJun 29, 2016 11:00AM ● By Kelly Cannon
Julianna Pierson and Jake Fields play Princess Aurora and Prince Desire during the wedding scene of “Sleeping Beauty.”—Kate Johnson
By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
Despite the high winds and the chilly weather, the Mountain West Ballet forged ahead with their production of “Sleeping Beauty.” Performed on May 20 through May 23 at the outdoor Sandy Amphitheater, the ballet involved 180 dancers and was performed for over 1,500 people over four performances.
President and CFO of Mountain West Ballet Kate Johnson said the ballet does two shows every year, a spring show and “The Nutcracker” in December.
“We have four to five productions we’ve done in the past and we rotate them through,” Johnson said. “We did ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in 2011 so we had the costumes for it.”
Other productions performed by Mountain West Ballet include “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Johnson said every few years, the ballet will do a new production different from their typical lineup.
“Sleeping Beauty” uses music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and tells the story of the beautiful princess Aurora. During the infant’s christening, various fairies bestow gifts such as tenderness, bravery and generosity. Before the last gift can be given, the party is interrupted by the evil fairy Carabosse. Affronted she was not invited to the party, she curses Aurora, saying when she turns 16, she will prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. After Carabosse leaves, the Lilac Fairy intervenes, blessing Aurora that instead of dying, she and the entire kingdom will fall into a deep sleep.
The ballet then skips forward to when Aurora is 16 years old. She is informed by her father she must choose one of the four visiting princes to marry. She dances with each of the four. However, a disguised Carabosse hands Aurora a spindle instead of a rose. Aurora pricks her finger and the entire kingdom falls asleep.
After 100 years, Prince Desire is out hunting with a party. The Lilac Fairy appears and shows him a vision of Aurora. He is overcome with love and travels to the castle, where he fights and defeats Carabosse. He kisses Aurora, who wakes up. The ballet finishes with Aurora and Prince Desire’s wedding, which is attended by other characters from fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots.
The production starred Julianna Pierson as Princess Aurora, Jake Fields as Prince Desire, Megan Bertelsen as the Liliac Fairy and Marc Navez as Carabosse.
Johnson said the cast of “Sleeping Beauty” is a bigger cast than they’ve had in productions past.
“We’re kind of a hidden gem,” Johnson said. “When people find out about us, they want to come and audition.”
The cast ranges from young dancers at least eight years old to college age and professional dancers. Johnson credits the work of the directors and choreographers with making each dancer their very best.
“We can blend an 8-year-old and make them look good next to college or professional dancers,” Johnson said.
Johnson said they tried to get seasoned dancers because that’s what makes the show so great.
“Each choreographer makes sure the dances are appropriate for the dancers’ ability,” she said. “It makes them look good and it makes the production even better.”
Johnson, who has been working with Mountain West Ballet since 2004, said this year’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” was the best attended performance ever given by Mountain West Ballet. The bad weather didn’t seem to put a damper on attendance.
“This was nothing,” Johnson said. “Last year, it rained almost every performance.”
During “Sleeping Beauty,” whenever there were dancers performing in front of the curtain, Johnson said at least 12 dancers were behind the curtain holding it so it wouldn’t blow and hit the dancers.
“You never know what you’re going to get for weather in May in Utah,” Johnson said.
To learn more about the Mountain West Ballet, visit mountainwestballet.org. λ