The Kasatkina and Vasilyov State Academic Classical Ballet Theatre
(Moscow Classical Ballet)
The State Academic Theatre of Classical Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty was premiered in Cannes (France), where the theatre toured as part of the Russian Arts Festival in August of 2004. A few days after the performance the French press bristled with exultant headlines extoling the producers and the cast of Sleeping Beauty: “…a fest of ballet”, “…triumph…”, “brilliant achievement…”, “Ekaterina Berezina is a perfect Princess Aurora…”, “Charming Berezina is an example of delicate grace and confident technique”.
Despite the great success in France, the Moscow premiere (in September 2004) was slightly updated. For instance, Kasatkina and Vasilyov added what they call “avant-garde” lighting, as well as scenery andmore than 50 costumes, which had not been ready for the premiere in Cannes because of lack of time. Suffice it to say that there were 300 costumes to be made for The Sleeping Beauty and some actors change costumes 5 or 6 times during the performance.
Like all other ballets staged by Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilyov, The Sleeping Beauty can be regarded as an original production. Preserving all the classical masterpieces of Marius Petipa’s choreography, the producers filled the music with new action. Combination of two tales by Charles Perrault, Sleeping Beauty and The Beauty and the Beast, has made the plot more dynamic, intriguing and magical. For instance, in the old version of the production Princess Aurora and Prince Desire see each other for the first time, when Aurora awakes after Desire kisses her. Kasatkina and Vasilyov have made the Prince go through all many trials, turn into an exhausted old man and be on the verge of life and death. He does it all to resuscitate the Princess. But love, if it is true, is well worth it.
The producers have also changed another old tradition – to give the part of the evil fairy Carabosse to a man. In Kasatkina and Vasilyov’s version the evil embodied in Carabosse is attractive and graceful, which makes it even more dangerous.
This ballet, which mingles sophisticated virtuosity and sublime sensuality, the fabulous fantasy of the producers and the elegant style of the classics, requires a special type of performers. And this, as the main part of the production’s success is spoken of by the leaders of the State Academic Theatre of Classical Ballet, Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilyov: ”…Along with brilliant technique an actor has to be a personality; he has to work on every detail, not only using his body, but using his heart and head. This is the only way to make ballet stars. If actors do not have these qualities, any performance, and /The Sleeping Beauty in particular, becomes ceremonial, dull and cold, as if this castle of Terpsichore is inhabited by sleeping beauties.”/