The Australian Ballet and The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty Now on display at Arts Centre Melbourne, Smorgon Family Plaza
The Sleeping Beauty
Now on display at Arts Centre Melbourne, Smorgon Family Plaza

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 Sleeping Beauty Now on display at Arts Centre Melbourne, Smorgon Family Plaza
Costumes from The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 2005 & 1973 Now on display at Arts Centre Melbourne, Smorgon Family Plaza

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.

Fairy headdresses for Fire, Canari and Water in The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 2005
Fairy headdresses for Fire, Canari and Water in The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 2005 Designed by Kristian Fredrikson Realised by The Australian Ballet Production Division

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.

Detail of costume for Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 1984 Designed by Hugh Colman Realised by The Australian Ballet Production Division
Detail of costume for Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, The Australian Ballet, 1984
Designed by Hugh Colman
Realised by The Australian Ballet Production Division

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

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Performing Arts Collection

Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection is the national leader among specialist performing arts collections in Australia. Established in 1975, it is formally recognised as a State collection and encompasses the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre. The Collection features over 640,000 items including costumes, designs, photographs, set models, puppets, props, posters, programs and archives.

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