Although it's exciting to see a young dancer tackle a leading role for the first time, it's equally gratifying, and often more relaxing, to watch a seasoned performer dance a role in which long familiarity has sharpened her portrayal. Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Center, Merle Park danced Aurora in the Royal Ballet's "Sleeping Beauty" and gave the musical, confident and experienced performance of a true ballernia.

part was not technically flawless, but technique was never an impediment in her portrayal of a frisky, obedient young girl at her 16th birthday party in a delicately danced vision scene, culminating in an assured third act pas de duex.

Saturday evening, Marguerite Porter's loving and lovely Aurora and her attention to every dramatic detail did not balance her technical weaknesses, which give lie to the old adage that ballerinas who can't turn can balance. Her prince, Julian Hosking, proved to be a strong partner and clear mime, but overly polite legs prevent him from dancing on a truly grand scale.

The evening's divertissements were brightened by the crisply danced pas de trois of Fiona Chadwick, Deirdre Eyden and particularly Phillip Broomhead's clean line and high, elastic jump.

The one constant at all Royal performances of the "classics" this season has been the character dancing. As always, Monica Mason's venomous Carabosse (who by rights, should have defeated all the pallid Lilac Fairies who've been pitted against her) dominated any scene in which she appeared. Leslie Edwards as Chattalabutte, who manages to be both lovable and pompous at the same time, shows that bureaucrats are not a 20th-century invention.