The whimsical world of princesses, fairies, and magical enchantments will be transported from storybook to stage this spring, as four Canadian ballet companies separately prepare for upcoming productions of classic fairy-tale stories: the National Ballet of Canada and Royal Winnipeg Ballet will put on The Sleeping Beauty, and Alberta Ballet and Vancouver’s Goh Ballet will both perform Cinderella.
While these ballets have been captivating audiences for well over a century, each company brings forth their own unique twist on the production. For the Alberta Ballet, that means recasting Cinderella as a heroine rather than damsel-in-distress; the Goh Ballet, celebrating its 40th anniversary, will debut choreography staged by British ballet legend Maina Gielgud; and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet brings fresh young talent to the stage in casting Saeka Shirai, 22, and Yue Shi, 21, for the mesmerizing Bluebird Pas de Deux.
While these ballets have been captivating audiences for well over a century, each company brings forth their own unique twist on the production.
As for the National Ballet of Canada, Sleeping Beauty is a particularly significant part of the company’s repertoire. Choreographed by renowned ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in 1966 (and later restaged by artistic director Karen Kain in 2006), their take stands out for its complex and challenging technique, and it was this version that helped launch the company into the eyes of the international ballet community.
This particular performance is especially important for National Ballet of Canada’s Xiao Nan Yu, who dances as Princess Aurora, as she will retire at the end of the 2018/2019 season following a remarkable 22-year career with the company. Beauty will mark her last lead performance in a full story ballet. “I feel so proud of myself that I’m still able to do it,” says Xiao. “So, because this will be my last time, I will go out there, give it everything I’ve got, and just really enjoy myself on stage.”
Though Xiao has performed in some of the most well-known ballets of all time, from the dramatic Swan Lake to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, for her last lead performance, she will have a fairy-tale ending.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet‘s The Sleeping Beauty runs from February 28 to March 4 at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg.
The National Ballet of Canada’s The Sleeping Beauty runs from March 8 to 18 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.
The Alberta Ballet‘s Cinderella runs from March 14 to 17 at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, and March 22 to 24 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton.
The Goh Ballet‘s Cinderella runs from June 1 to 2 at the Centre in Vancouver.
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