Ballet West’s 'Sleeping Beauty' villain makes evil look good

By Heather Hayes

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1 2014 3:15 p.m. MST

“There are many frenetic moments — like my first entrance — where everything is happening so fast,” she said. “The movement is fast, the pantomime is fast, there’s just a lot going on. My challenge is to still get Carabosse’s story across while doing everything else.”

In this 3-year-old version of "The Sleeping Beauty," Sklute renamed the fairies to reflect the attribute that they imbue on Aurora at the celebration. Carabosse, who doesn’t get an invitation because she possesses the undesirable attribute of jealousy, then becomes a proper allegory, creating a juxtaposition of dark against light.

“It makes more sense to have a truly opposing force,” Sklute said about the change to Carabosse. He also said it’s nice to create meatier roles for more dancers in story ballets where there are traditionally only a handful.

A pillar in ballet repertoires everywhere, the tale of the maiden who pricks her finger on a spindle and falls into an enchanted sleep embodies classical ballet at its height. When Ballet West took the production on a weekend tour to Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre this past fall, praise was high.

“I was extremely nervous,” said Sklute, formerly a member of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet team before coming to Utah. The company was not only performing before colleagues and friends of Sklute’s but also performing his production.

The Chicago Tribune came away from the performance recognizing Ballet West as “a major force” and calling the production “crystal clear and relatively brisk” — a compliment, as other productions of this ballet have been known to run for as long as three hours.

The Chicago Sun-Times commented that the company “clearly captured the imagination of the audience.” Both performances received standing ovations.

For DeBona, a Pittsburgh native, performing in Chicago was particularly special because her family was close by and thus able to make the trip to see her dance.

“It was magical for me. And as a company, we grew closer. There were some intense situations, and honestly, I think we thrive on those situations,” she said.

One intense situation may have been when, because of rain, the lights turned off and the stage went dark for a long 10 seconds. When the lights came back on, the four men dancing a mini variation were still dancing, which earned applause from the audience.

As with performers in all live theater, dancers learn to prepare for the unexpected, and from experiences such as what happened in Chicago, Ballet West knows it can survive bumps in the road.

Hopefully, the lights will stay on during this run of “The Sleeping Beauty." But if they don’t, one thing is for sure: Ballet West will keep on dancing.

If you go …

What: Ballet West’s “The Sleeping Beauty”

When: Feb. 7, 8 and 12-15 at 7:30 p.m.; and matinees Feb. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 2 p.m.

Where: Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

How Much: $29-$79

Phone: 801-355-2787

Web: balletwest.org or arttix.org

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