“The bad fairy was my favourite”. When your three and seven-year-old daughters agree that the villain of the piece was their favourite, you know that you must at least have chosen something appropriate for their age. On our way to the show I was thinking over how challenging it must be to prepare a ballet production suitable for such young minds. After seeing a cartoony trailer with puffy fonts and too much pink for my taste, I was not sure I was going to enjoy a ballet performance featuring a narrator as part of the show. I was so wrong.
‘My First Ballet’ captivated my children and me. I could hardly manage to tear my eyes from the stage to regard their gobsmacked faces, with mouths hanging open and eyes which seemed incapable of blinking.
Sebastian Charles, with his masterful voice and magical tricks in between scenes, did an excellent job. Sometimes I thought that the music was a little too loud for his voice to be heard clearly, but with his eloquence he guided us successfully through the adaptation and provided us with details which made Sleeping Beauty’s story seem somehow avant-garde.
I especially liked the fact that Aurora was given the magical gifts of strength, wisdom and beauty of the heart. It was also very touching to see Carabosse, the evil fairy, turning out to be not such a Manichean character. She is so moved by Aurora’s hug thanking her for her gift of a rose intended to prick her finger and put her to sleep that she then has a change of heart and tries to stop her doing so! Once it is too late, she vows to help her and guards her sleep.
‘My First Ballet’ is a collaboration between the English National Ballet and the English Ballet School, and features some of their most talented students. Their dancing was both impressive and inspiring. Aurora was light and gracious. The fairies were both strong and adorable and the prince’s movements were also very elegant.
The show was spectacular also in its details. The stage was beautifully set, with multilayered deep thick forests as the background. The costumes were carefully chosen to fascinate the young audience, with shiny tiaras, gems and golden threads on display. Indeed, the adaptation is full of surprises which keep the ballet continually engaging for both the children and their adults. One of the actresses played a very agile cat, and evoked the movements of these creatures incredibly well. It is a shame I cannot mention everything included in this diverse and impressive show.
My girls took ‘My First Ballet’ home with them in their hearts and I am sure it will stay with them for a very long time. They ended our magical day with their very own version of the show doing mini pirouettes and jumps together in the garden, which while not quite as impressive as the enchanting steps we had admired on stage that afternoon, still managed to capture something of the show’s sweetness and its easy grace.