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The Russian Ballet Company

By Virginia Ross-Special For The Quill

To often we think of the Russian bear sending missiles our way, but at Civic Music Friday night, The Russian National Ballet presenting Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty were ambassadors of friendship par excellence. With soaring music, beautiful costumes, athleticism beyond belief, Grimm's fairy tale came to life and the audience responded with generous applause.

By luck, I sat next to a real fan of ballet, and he remarked that this probably was the third best Russian company to perform and what a real, rare privilege it was for Burlington to score a performance.

Thank you, Civic Music Endowment, who financed this artistic masterpiece. Thanks to Tchaikovsky, ballet tells a story. In the 19th century, a time when classical period in ballet matched the Romantic era in Music, Tchaikovsky was one of first to put the two together; he was a symphonic composer writing music to accompany a ballet, Swan Lake.

How does one construct a ballet? To write the music, the composer must see the dance in his mind so that rhythm and melody match the steps. Just putting together a score is the beginning and being critical of the oneself, refining the marriage between melody and dance require the composer to imagine what instruments will compliment the expertise of the dancers.

Next, is to find a visionary ballet director who can see what the music portrays and bring to life both the story and the music. To quote Joby Talbot who has written for film, television, stage and concert hall, "It might be the combination of a strong rhythmic underpinning with quite an emotionally intense lyrical language overlaid. My music's very much about movement and momentum and to see that played out in space, with hurtling figures on stage; it just seems to make sense."[1] Thus, one must work with the dancers to create this vision.

Other important elements of a presentation are both set design and costumes. With limited space at the Burlington Auditorium, the company used painted backdrops and a few props, but a world of make believe enthralled the audience. The costumes by Simon Virsaladze for this stunning presentation were rich, sparkly and a visual delight; so much is added to both the music and symmetry of the dance.

Sleeping Beauty is Tchaikovsky's second ballet. In this Grimm fairy tale the Princess Aurora is cursed to sleep for a hundred years after pricking her finger on the magical wand by Carabosse, an evil witch (in this presentation).

The Princess is awakened by a prince and they are married. The wedding is attended by many other fairytale characters (Puss'n Boots, Bluebeard and his wife, Goldilocks and a Bear and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf). The Sleeping Beauty premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890, performed by the Imperial Ballet.[2]

The next Civic Music program will feature Memphis, an award-winning Broadway production on Sunday, March 1st at 7:30 p.m.

Plan to be there-the best buy in entertainment in town.

[1] "Interview with Jody Talbot on Writing ballet Music by Lyndsey Winship.

[2] Classic FM