What must one do to waken a sleeping beauty? Two things, in proper order -- think first, then act. In the fairy tale, Prince Desire's thoughtful action was the giving of a kiss. In the case of the Virginia Ballet Company it was to stage "The Sleeping Beauty," as accurately as possible and practically uncut.
Professional companies have foundered on this work. Marius Petipa's concept and choreography are demanding and Peter Tchaikovsky's music, despite its affability, supports Petipa uncompromisingly. "The Sleeping Beauty" is the touchstone of dance classicism.
The Virginia Ballet's student dancers varied in strength and physique. But, last weekend at Fairfax High School, both corps and soloists achieved consistency in the right style. It was full and clear like sculpture but light and lively, too. Some of the cast shone with promise in the brilliant and varied solos that adorn "The Sleeping Beauty" like gems in a crown: Amanda Carroll had a gracious, ample line; Heather Brown is delicate but darted with verve; Carolyn Reynolds was a whirlwind.
Princess Aurora, the sleeping beauty, was Bonnie Blunk. Her dancing is strong, open, undistorted. There were moments when she achieved the living marble quality of a Marina Semyonova. Yet, even though Blunk is only 15 years old, she behaved like an old woman. Where was the birthday joy of Act I, where the wonder of wakening to love from a century of slumber?
Tania Rousseau's thoughtful revision of the choreography, with Paula Tennyson's help and under Oleg Tupine's direction, sacrificed Petipa to practicality only when necessary.