In 2015, The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister will present his new production of The Sleeping Beauty. Considered a masterpiece of 19th-century dance, The Sleeping Beauty, with its traditional fairytale setting, has inspired many incarnations throughout the company’s history, offering a creative challenge of majestic proportions.
The Australian Ballet’s founding Artistic Director, Peggy van Praagh, introduced the work to the company in 1964 with Aurora’s Wedding, a one-act ballet drawn largely from the elaborate marriage feast in The Sleeping Beauty’s third act. Designer Kristian Fredrikson was in the early stages of his career when he created the costumes for this production.
The Australian Ballet first performed a full-length production of The Sleeping Beauty in 1973 in the newly built Sydney Opera House. Under the direction of Robert Helpmann designer Kenneth Rowell took a more abstract approach to the sets and costumes for this production. Maina Gielgud’s 1984 production of The Sleeping Beauty marked the opening of the State Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne. With lavish sets and costumes designed by Hugh Colman, the production reflected the opulence of the original, first staged in Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre in 1890.
Stanton Welch presented a new version of the traditional fairytale in 2005, working with Kristian Fredrikson to explore the ballet’s central theme of good versus evil. Fredrikson’s set design helped communicate this battle through striking transitions between light and dark and a bold use of colour.
David McAllister’s concept for his interpretation of The Sleeping Beauty evokes the splendour of the Imperial court and the magic of fairies, nymphs and visions. Designer Gabriela Tylesova has also been inspired by the grand theatricality of the ballet’s origins. She has designed hundreds of costumes using the Baroque period as a starting point and adding a 21st-century twist. In collaboration with McAllister she has created a rich palette for the set that incorporates deep reds, blues, golds and greens.
The Australian Ballet’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty premieres at Arts Centre Melbourne from 15 – 26 September: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/ballet/the-sleeping-beauty-2015