American Ballet Theatre premieres a new production of The Sleeping Beauty at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County on March 3. The new production has been a labor of love for ABT artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky, who poured himself into the ballet’s 19th century roots. “I’ve learned more about Petipa in these last three months than I learned in my whole life—his phenomenal mastery of the craft, finding the threads he follows from the beginning to the end,” says Ratmansky in this New York Times article. While honoring the history of The Sleeping Beauty and remaining true to its classicism and dreamlike, fairy tale opulence, Ratmansky’s latest version also features brand new, gorgeous costume and set designs by Tony Award-winning designer Richard Hudson.
The Sleeping Beauty is populated with beloved characters whose impressive ranks provide exciting performance opportunities for principals, soloists, and rising corps members. Diana Vishneva and Marcelo Gomes will lead the cast on opening night. Principals Gillian Murphy, Paloma Herrera, Hee Seo, and Isabella Boylston will debut in subsequent performances as Princess Aurora. A slew of exciting talent including Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane (interviewed here), Skylar Brandt, Alexandre Hammoudi, Christine Shevchenko, Daniil Simkin (interviewed here), and Gabe Stone Shayer (interviewed here) have been cast in major roles as well.
“You can’t really do this ballet in a regular week’s schedule unless you have a large enough company that has the depth of performers who can dance these challenging roles,” says Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President Judy Morr. “I will go to every show to be able to catch everyone’s performances—how could I not?”
Not only does The Sleeping Beauty provide stage time to company members, 60 local ballet students will also be joining the production. The experience of auditioning, rehearsing, and performing for a world-class company like ABT can be transformative for students. “We’re so lucky. It’s incredible, just great,” adds Morr.
Notably, this new, full-length Sleeping Beauty comes close on the heels of Segerstrom’s presentation of the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s restaging of The Flames of Paris, a credit to Morr’s vision of southern CA as an increasingly vital site for the performing arts.
The casting schedule and tickets for Sleeping Beauty’s Segerstrom run are available here. The next chance to see it will come in May during ABT’s New York season. If you can’t catch either, @SegerstromArts and @ABTBallet have been doing a great job sharing the run-up to the world premiere on social media and will be fun to follow throughout the performances as well.
Photo: Hee Seo as Princess Aurora in American Ballet Theatre's The Sleeping Beauty - Photo by Fabrizio Ferri