Alberta Ballet is kicking off its season with a classic production of The Sleeping Beauty stacked with local twists.
The famous fairy tale, in which only true love’s kiss can break the deep sleep spell, was reworked with Western Canadian tones — instead of being set in Europe, the ballet dances through the Rockies.
“It’s our own staging, it’s our own sets and it’s taking place here in Western Canada,” said choreographer Christopher Anderson. “It’s a really fun project because it really feels like it’s part of this area. We’re taking a great classic and blending it together with home.”
Calgary artist Curtis Van Charles took care of set design with his signature blend of photography and illustration, Anderson said.
“You’re going to see what you would see on a clear day if you were to get up on the high ground here in Calgary,” he said. “You’ll see the Western Canadian mountains.”
Floral pieces were locally sourced, and colours in costumes and sets were influenced by what could be found in the region.
“It’s been a fun experiment to think locally,” Anderson said.
The ballet’s runtime was condensed to appeal to a wider audience, so that even the youngest can enjoy it, but many traditional parts were preserved.
“It’s a great first ballet. It’s a great family ballet,” Anderson said. “There’s so many wonderful fairy tale characters that appear in a ballet, that appear in the third act. There’s just all of the expectations that you would have to come to a performance: we have tutus and tiaras, we have a villain, we have explosions, we have all of those pieces. So I think it’s one of those ballets that’s very, very approachable.”
The production features 60 performers — 30 of whom are from the ballet school — and has been in rehearsals during the last seven weeks.
Requiring the highest standards of technique, The Sleeping Beauty is the classical ballet against which others are measured.
“The precision that’s required for this ballet is probably the highest of any of the performances that you would see a professional company give,” Anderson said.
“By creating our own, we’re creating a real piece of Alberta Ballet to move forward into the future with and it’s really exciting.”