As the archetypal fairy-tale ballet, "The Sleeping Beauty" is fantasy more in the sense of dress-up and make-believe than in any deep Jungian sense. The Royal Ballet presented it at Wolf Trap again last night in the grand, courtly manner and with all requisite glitter. The costuming and decor were rich, ornate without being fussy, and the Royal Ballet corps danced with the same clean precision and delicacy that astonished American audiences when the company first came to the United States 30 years ago.
Marguerite Porter was a radiant Lilac Fairy with the carriage, musical phrasing and a certain vulnerability of gesture reminiscent of Fonteyn.
Leslie Collier replaced Merle Park, who was disabled by a foot injury, in the role of Aurora. A bit off in her timing in the arduous early passages, she danced smoothly and strongly in the later acts. She is a small dancer with neat, rounded movements. Wayne Eagling as Florimund was large and clear in his dancing, particularly in his high scissoring leaps.Together they made an interesting pair, she so compact in gesture, he so expansive. Dancing in their grand pas de deux of Act 3 with clear pleasure, they attained a wonderful sense of repose in motion. One had a glimpse, watching their passage from pose to pose, of that grandinner stillness that gives the true classical style its etched-in-eternity look.
Stephen Beagley's Bluebird seemed a trifle phlegmatic and never truly airborne. Perhaps he's too lanky for a bird or too lacking in temperament for the role. But Wendy Ellis as Princess Florine was charming and birdlike and Rosalyn Whitten in a succession of small roles stood out because of her fleetness of foot and the expressiveness of her hands.