The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Opera House, London – review

Last week’s run of The Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden brought two splendid debuts, albeit there were glum makeshifts that disfigured the Royal Ballet’s uncertain staging, and the anticipated first appearance by Natalia Osipova was cancelled because of an injury during rehearsal. But we can rejoice in the performances of Vadim Muntagirov, who has just joined the troupe and partnered Akane Takada, who was making her debut as Aurora.

Muntagirov, in his five years with English National Ballet, has shown that he is a true premier danseur, an artist distinguished in means as in manner. A Prince Florimund, in sum, and in this well-intentioned-if-a-bit-off-key production, he made a handsome impression. Refinement of technique is his, and unaffected grandeur, and that rare quality of unforced charm. The role is understood and played with an unassuming princely grace that also shaped his dancing. Cheers for him.

And cheers and more for Takada. I have never seen the role of Aurora so sweetly, so intelligently, so musically displayed at Covent Garden by a debutant artist, and not often thus by experienced members of the troupe. Living in the score, breathing its air, proposing every step with a delicious finesse, making beautiful shapes, telling us about the young Princess, Takada, elegant in utterance as in physique, proposed haute couture dance. White smoke from the chimney: habemus Auroram.

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