by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS
For those familiar with the classic fairy tale — or Disney’s animated takes on it — Ballet Northwest’s The Sleeping Beauty has a few surprises. After the wicked fairy curses her, after she pricks her finger on a spindle, after a kiss ends her long sleep, the Aurora of the ballet gets some familiar visitors. “An assortment of fairy-tale friends comes for Aurora’s wedding,” said Ken Johnson, Ballet Northwest’s co-artistic director. “There are Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, Cinderella and her stepsisters and Hansel and Gretel.”
Though this might seem a bit like something from Into the Woods, most of these out-of-the-binding additions, along with Puss in Boots and others, were part of the ballet when it debuted in 1890. But Johnson and his wife and co-artistic director Josie Johnson have taken this fairy-tale reunion a bit further. “This year, we’ve added Snow White and the seven dwarves,” Ken Johnson said.
After The Nutcracker, also with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa, The Sleeping Beauty is the most popular ballet in Ballet Northwest’s repertoire. The company last produced it in 2013. This year’s production has a cast of nearly 100, from young children to adults. Anna Thornton, 18 and a senior at Olympia High School, will dance Aurora. Anthony Gamroth of Olympia, who performs with Seattle contemporary dance companies, will play the prince.
Each year, the Johnsons modify the choreography to suit the dancers who’ll perform. This year, for example, they added a new dance for Snow White, using music Tchaikovsky wrote for scenes that aren’t included in this production. “This year, our dancers are really strong,” Johnson said. “For the soloists and the lead couple, we’re using the original choreography by Petipa. It’s the same choreography that professional dancers all over the world dance.”
What: The Sleeping Beauty
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13;
2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 13 and 14
How much: $14-$33
Get tickets: 360-753-8586 | Ballet Northwest