English National Ballet’s lavish Sleeping Beauty sparkles with Alina Cojocaru as Princess Aurora

English National Ballet’s production of Kenneth MacMillan’s Sleeping Beauty is a lavish fairytale filled with gorgeous sets, decadent costumes and sparkling tiaras. With superb performances from a stellar cast, it is pure classical ballet at it’s best and a triumph for the company.

But it’s Alina Cojocaru’s luminous performance in her debut as Princess Aurora that makes English National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty truly memorable. Alina is the prima ballerina that tops the Sleeping Beauty crown.

As the young Princess Alina is divine; awoken and in love with her Prince – the perfectly suited Joseph Caley – she is captivating. And as one of the most difficult ballets and roles, Alina dances with true joy and performs each step with natural finesse and an elegant style.

Every moment Alina is on stage is absorbing as she wows with her 180 degree penchés, perfect pirouettes, high extensions and intricate pointe work. But these crowd pleasing elements are delivered with a delicate quality of the sweet young Princess.

The enchanting fairytale of Sleeping Beauty is full of drama, heartbreak, love and celebration set to Tchaikovsky’s famous musical score.

From the moment the curtain raises on the Princess’ christening, the visual splendour and drama begins. Ballerinas in jewel coloured tutus enter the stage, male dancers in gold and white, the King and Queen adorned in crowns and tiaras sparkle until the darkness of the evil Carabosse steals onto the stage, with evil minions in toe. The spell is cast and Princess Aurora’s fate is saved by the Lilac Fairy, wonderfully performed by Shiori Kase.

At the Princess’ opulent 16th birthday ball, Alina is incandescent as she dances the famous Rose Adage. She beautifully and confidently performs the difficult balances en pointe in attitude, as she dances with her four suitors and briefly takes each of their hand in turn.

The party continues with the much loved Garland Waltz of dancers in long white dresses and bands of pink roses, until Aurora pricks her finger and the evil spell comes true and the Princess falls into a deep sleep. After 100 years, a Prince wandering through the forrest is shown a vision of Aurora by the Lilac Fairy, in a magical scene of corps de ballet dancers in white tutus and a dreamy pas de deux with Alina and Joseph.

At their lavish wedding, the court comes to life with fairytale guests to celebrate the royal union. With brilliant performances from beloved characters, including Puss in Boots and the White Cat, the Bluebird pas de deux and Red Riding Hood, and a thrilling crescendo of the Lilac Fairy, Princess Aurora and her Prince, the curtain came down as the audience explodes with rapturous and appreciative applause.

The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Laurent Liotardo

English National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty is a definite must see ballet that the whole family will love!

Sleeping Beauty runs until 16 June.

Reviewed on 6 June 2018 at London Coliseum.