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Bristol Hippodrome


Sleeping Beauty My First Ballet - May 2016


Wake up to dance

Excited budding ballerinas filled the theatre on Saturday morning for My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty – and this was just the audience.

The stalls, boxes, grand and upper circle were packed to the rafters with mostly pre-school and reception age little girls although there were some boys and their accompanying big people!

The dress code was definitely Sunday best or frilly tutus with many wearing princess crowns and waving glow sticks.

This was the welcome return of the English National Ballet and young people from its ballet school.

I had told Esmae, aged four, all about the ballet.

Last year she chose to see Peppa Pig’s Surprise! live show but since beginning baby ballet classes with the Adele Stitch School of Dance at Nailsea she was dying to see Swan Lake (please forgive pun).

Whoops this wasn’t the ballet on offer this year as silly Nana misread the preview.

Our first trip to the theatre was nearly a disaster because although I had carefully explained all about the lights going dim, the big curtain and lots of loud clapping I forgot to mention the interval and when that happened she was ready to go home.

Only a very expensive ice-cream tub stopped the tears.

So I was all prepared this time except I got the wrong ballet.

Now I had to tell her  it was Sleeping Beauty but instead of the disappointment I was expecting she brightened up and said: “Oh that’s all right Nana, I have this book at home so I know the story.”

Yep, sure she does – do you know the story of Sleeping Beauty with pussy cats, Little Red Riding Hood (and the wolf) plus the bluebird and Princess Florine?

The My First series is joint venture between English National Ballet and students of the English National Ballet School and is now in its fifth year.

It is a perfect introduction to classical ballet at the theatre and comes with a narrator.

The sparkly costumes, big scenery – grand royal palace ballroom and enchanted forest -  fairies, princes and a beautiful princess what could be better although a sneak preview revealed a pretty scary bad fairy with evil bald-headed sidekicks who could have auditioned for a part in The Hobbit as Frodo Baggin’s twisted companion Gollum.

However, it was so cleverly done that ‘no child was hurt in the making of this ballet’ as the nasty people were introduced carefully so the true horror of their menacing presence was much diluted.

A dad two rows in front of us in charge of four or five fidgeting chidren said: “It is just like Angelina Ballerina.”

The jury is out on that one.

Narrator and co-author Saskia Portway plays a grown-up Princess Aurora recalling her life from birth to party-person and the big sleep.

The role of the princess as a newborn looked just like a Cabbage Patch baby and at her 16th it is Spanish ballerina Anna Cirano Cerdá who takes the part admirably.

All the dancers got the opportunity for their moment in the spotlight and it was lovely to watch.

Esmae and I were so engrossed in the story that we didn’t notice the few stumbles only the elegance and energy of young people learning their craft.

The gestures, movements and magic of the occasion enthralled us and we were able to pick out the characters and ballet moves in the programme.

We liked the 'fish dives' and 'pirouettes' best.

The children particularly like the glittering ending with confetti sparkles (I’m not giving anything away here am I?).

I would recommend My First Ballet  as the perfect introduction to theatre, ballet and classical music but make sure you book early if the company return next year because it is sure to be a sell-out.


Carol Deacon 

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty


English National Ballet and English National Ballet School present My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, a reimagined version of the classic fairytale ballet created especially for children as young as three. Adapted to an hour in length and with a narrator to help young audiences follow the story, My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is the perfect way to introduce children as young as three to the magic of ballet with performances at the Bristol Hippodrome on Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22.

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty tells the story of Princess Aurora, who as a baby is cursed by the evil Carabosse: on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die.

Fortunately, her godmother the Lilac Fairy alters the spell so Aurora will not die but will sleep for 100 years, only to be awoken by true love’s kiss.

Choreographed by English National Ballet associate artist George Williamson, former student of English National Ballet School, My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is part of the My First Ballet series which enters its fifth year in 2016.

Since its inception in 2012, more than 150,000 people have enjoyed the series which has included the hugely successful My First Ballet: Swan Lake, Coppelia and Cinderella.

English National Ballet associate artist and choreographer George Williamson said: “It’s wonderful to be working on the My First Ballet series and I’m proud that English National Ballet and English National Ballet School are leading the way in developing tailor-made ballet productions for children.

"It’s a privilege to be creating this production of Sleeping Beauty, which is likely to be the first experience of ballet for children all over the country – I hope they will leave the performance feeling inspired, with a sense of the magic of ballet and its power to tell a story.”

The My First Ballet series is performed by second year students of English National Ballet School and provides them with valuable rehearsal and performance experience within a touring company.

This forms part of the high quality training English National Ballet School has sought to provide to talented young dancers since it was founded in 1988 by English National Ballet.

To read a review of My First Ballet: Swan Lake by Nailsea People click HERE.

Tickets from £12.90 with concessions available online by clicking HERE.

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