The Meridian Season of The Sleeping Beauty

Regent On Broadway, Palmerston North

22/11/2011 - 23/11/2011

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

12/11/2011 - 13/11/2011

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

28/10/2011 - 05/11/2011

Municipal Theatre, Napier

26/11/2011 - 27/11/2011

Civic Theatre, 88 Tay Street, Invercargill, Invercargill

08/11/2011 - 09/11/2011

Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

30/11/2011 - 04/12/2011

Production Details

The Sleeping Beauty is the pinnacle of the classical ballet repertoire. The Royal New Zealand Ballet has spent the last three years creating this magical version of a fairytale favourite in order to bring you our biggest production to date.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s soaring score, The Sleeping Beauty tells the timeless story of young Princess Aurora who falls prey to the evil fairy Carabosse – only a kiss from a handsome prince will break the spell and ensure her future happiness.

The Sleeping Beauty features some of the most famous and demanding
choreography and, to this day, remains one of the must-see ballets of all time.

This spellbinding traditional masterpiece will take your breath away. 

See  for daily cast lists during the tour  

Princess Aurora
Prince Désiré
Stella Abrera
Sergio Torrado

Carabosse, The Black Fairy
Wisdom, The Lilac Fairy
Clytie Campbell
Abigail Boyle

Beauty, The Blue Fairy
Witt, The Green Fairy
Ginny Gan
Lucy Green
Grace, The Orange Fairy
Song, The Yellow Fairy
Antonia Hewitt
Adriana Harper
Lady Florine
Sir Jon Trimmer
Maree White
Shannon Dawson
Lucy Balfour
Fairy Cavaliers
Qi Huan
Brendan Bradshaw
Kohei Iwamoto
Jacob Chown
Medhi Angot
Russian Prince
Chinese Prince
Qi Huan
John Paul Lowe (child)
Brendan Bradshaw
Daniel Cockerill (child)
Arabian Prince
Persian Prince
Dimitri Kleioris
Zechariah Julius-Donnelly (child)
Paul Mathews
Lucas Baker (child)
Prince’s Friends
Brendan Bradshaw
Jacob Chown
 Paul Mathews
Tonia Looker
Kohei Iwamoto
Mitchell Powell, Dylan Waddell and Emma White appear by kind permission of New Zealand School of Dance
Conductor – Nigel Gaynor
The Vector Wellington Orcherstra

Act I
Act II
60 minutes                     20 minute interval                   65 minutes


2.5 hrs

A feast of virtuoso dance

Review by Bernadette Rae 03rd Dec 2011

Harris has gone all out with his designs for this ambitious new production of the most romantic of all the fairytale ballets, with its feast of virtuoso dance.

Huge sets create a soaring vertical space, courtiers’ costumes are lush and velvety in a jewel box of medieval colour, the five pastel fairies are a gauzy dream, woodland nymphs flitter through the forest, and handsome princes abound.

Read the review here


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Truly first rate pure escapism

Review by Rosemary Martin 01st Dec 2011

Enchanting, magical and entirely otherworldly, while simultaneously slick and sophisticated, the performance of The Sleeping Beauty by the Royal New Zealand Ballet is everything you could really hope for (and more) in such a classic work.

As the opening bars of Tchaikovsky’s score (performed by the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra) filled the glorious Civic Theatre and the curtain lifted, it was apparent that the magic was already oozing from this performance. The sets and costumes designed by Gary Harris, with assistance from WETA workshop, are simply stunning. It seems that Harris has channeled his inner six-year-old girl and dreamed up the perfect setting for a fairytale. The colours are romantic and rich; there are sequins galore and miles of tulle. Sir Jon Trimmer performing the role of The King and Shannon Dawson as Catalabutte, open act one scene one, the birth of Princess Aurora. With such engaging performers setting the scene you cannot help but be swept away into the narrative.

The Lilac Fairy, bringing the gift of Wisdom to baby Aurora, was danced by Abigail Boyle. Her act one solo is no easy feat and she presented it with generosity, warmth and assured technique. The fairies, bringing gifts of Wit, Beauty, Grace and Song were quite a team. Each danced delightful solos, with Adriana Harper and Antonia Hewitt both exuding exceptional maturity and poise in their work. By the time The Carabosse (performed by Clytie Campbell) arrived I noticed that the little girl sitting next to me was literally on the edge of her seat, barely blinking, enthralled by the drama. Campbell exudes just the right amount of evilness with a dash of haughtiness required for the role.

Guest artist Stella Abrera, visiting from the American Ballet Theatre, fulfills all of the ‘ballerina’ requirements of Princess Aurora. Genetically blessed with a physique that appears to be made for ballet she breezes through variations and pas de deux, her long legs becoming mesmerizing and her calm presence allows the audience to sit back and enjoy her performance. I personally felt that her interpretation of Aurora, especially in the first act, could have been slightly more refined and reserved, and while her technique was lithe and natural, there were moments where her balances were just a little ‘’off” and occasionally there could have been a softer articulation of her feet. However, this is probably me being exceptionally picky, because really she was a beautiful and inspiring dancer.

Prince Désiré, performed by Sergio Torrado, a former principal dancer from Pennsylvania Ballet, appears at the beginning of act two. Torrado looks every inch the handsome prince, and at times his nonchalant aloofness only seems to add to his charm. The build up to the monumental kiss that awakens Aurora from her 100 years of sleeping seems somewhat brief, and before we know it we are at the wedding of Aurora and Désiré. The wedding pas de deux and variations were danced flawlessly, and the one handed catch before the final fish dive of the pas de deux was a nice touch to add a little ‘wow’ factor. It was at this point the little girl next to me gasped and sat up even straighter. However, I did feel that the spark between Torrado and Abrera seemed to be lacking: there needed to be just a little more tenderness connecting their characters.

The Blue Bird pas de deux danced by Tonia Looker and Kohei Iwamoto was impeccable, with Iwamoto executing fluid brisé vole and Looker pulling off the swift bird-like movements with polished preciseness rather than the ‘bird being electrocuted’ version that can so often be the case in this variation. Lucy Balfour (Lady Florine) and Shannon Dawson (Catalabutte) started to steal the show towards the end of act three with their feline antics –  watching them at the periphery of the stage chase their tails, check each other for fleas or ‘hunt’ the Blue Birds was so amusing that you almost forgot at times that a grand pas de deux was happening.

This version of The Sleeping Beauty suits the company down to a tee. The paring back and careful editing by choreographer Greg Horsman; the exquisite designs; a live orchestra and a splendid company of dancers has resulted in a production that is truly first-rate. If you are after an evening of pure escapism to a fantasy world where good triumphs over evil and love conquers all, then you must go and watch this delightful production. The season at The Civic runs until Sunday 4th December.


Raewyn Whyte December 3rd, 2011

Leon Draper seems somewhat confused about who has responsibility for the Royal NZ Ballet these days.

Neither Creative NZ nor DANZ have any responsibility for the funding of the company -- that comes directly from the NZ Government (via the Ministry of Culture and Heritage), from key corporate sponsors Meridian (national sponsor for the past 12 years), season sponsors (in 2011, Tower and Meridian) , 6 major supporters, 20 or so other supporters, a number of partners and suppliers, 10 philanthropic Trusts, and the Dress Circle donors.

All decisions about the operations of the Royal NZ Ballet are made by their artistic and executive team, led by incoming Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel, and their Board of Trustees, chaired by Anne Blackburn.

Yes, the Royal NZ Ballet is comprised of dancers drawn from all over the world, with approximately 30% New Zealanders -- this 70/30 ratio of local to international dancers is relatively common ratio almost any ballet country in the world.  This is not a new development -- in his own career in the UK, Mr Draper was taking the place of a British dancer, as a significant number of other New Zealand dancers did at that time, and just as New Zealand dancers continue to do in companies all round the world today.

Leon Draper December 2nd, 2011

You were so kind with your critique.  Between the lines the dancers would have taken note on improvements. The orchestra was in parts Oh! so poor

Yes the best parts and inovation, where in fact the scenery. Choreography was very simple and the quater-ballet etc.,just went through the motions as if they were bored

I comment that The Royal New Zealand Ballet content is only 1/3rd New Zealand Dancers.....We "do" have talent out there(NZ).. Thats what happens when your company is under Foreign and Social control. Its now time for our Royal New Zealand Ballet to use New Zealand dancers.N.Z. Director(We have the best visiting at the moment) A repetitour and our own Ballet Masters....A Board that consists of Knowledgable Dance specialists in all disciplines.By examination,"not degrees" (unless accompanied by recognised exams) and not by appointment.

As for the contemporists.The real lovers of the art of dance have had a gutfull of your attempts to bury Classical Dance and control of the purse strings towards only your own.

Creative New Zealand and D.A.N.Z. please take note !!!!! The time has come to work towards excellents in all our Dance disciplines. Get rid of your "mates rate" mentality and those race based Boards that are appointed..not advertised!!!!

As an early member of the then New Zealand Ballet(1958) and Royal Ballet Trained  Rambert Dancer and a Principle in Europe. I have taught arround the world including USA and Canada....Yes I am Passionate about New Zealand Dance. But not under the present direction. New Zealand immigration how can you let foreign dancers take the jobs off our own dancers when the Law states (as in other countries) a New Zealander comes first.

Kind regards Leon Draper Pukekohe

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Leaves you with that" happily ever after" feeling

Review by Kasey Dewar 14th Nov 2011

Sleeping Beauty first premiered in St Petersburg in 1890 and was the first successful ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Greg Horsman, the choreographer for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s version, states in the programme he has tried to make sure the story comes through the dancing clearly and the piece fully engages the audience. To increase the excitement factor, Dunedin has the Southern Sinfonia Orchestra playing the music for the performance. To say I was on the edge of my seat at the start of the show would be an understatement!

The first act opens in a castle, where the King is impatiently awaiting the arrival of his baby daughter. Sir Jon Trimmer is wonderful as the King, as he orders his assistant Catalabutte, danced by Shannon Dawson in cat guise, to begin writing a list of people to attend the new baby’s Christening. Maree White plays the Queen, with her assistant Lady Florine danced by Lucy Balfour, who must have been a cat in a previous life – she suits this role so well!!

After the arrival of baby Princess Aurora, the invitations are sent out to those who the King has chosen to attend the Christening. Among the invitees are four young Princes from Russia, China, Arabia and Persia – danced by Seth Ketcher, Kelland O’Neil, William Dwyer and James Burchell. The boys do an awesome job with their roles, greeting the King and Queen and seeing the new baby, one poking out his tongue in disgust!

The arrival of the fairies at the Christening was a true highlight – danced by Ginny Gan, Lucy Green, Antonia Hewitt, and Bronte Kelly. The beautifully delicate choreography, gorgeous pastel-coloured tutus and flawless, completely in-time dancing from the four women was great to watch. Abigail Boyle was suitably majestic in her role as the Lilac Fairy – again the amazing choreography was very well presented.

Carabosse, the Black Fairy danced by Clytie Campbell bursts into the Christening celebration, furious she wasn’t invited. I loved her minions – Lord of the Rings inspired goblins, galloping around the stage! She casts a spell on Princess Aurora, claiming she will prick her finger on her 16th birthday and die! To the King and Queen’s relief, The Lilac Fairy makes sure she will only go into a deep sleep for 100 years, to be awakened by a kiss from a Prince. Catalabutte is charged with removing all sharp instruments from the castle – including the soldier’s swords, which he replaces with wooden ones!

A new scene opens at the start of Princess Aurora’s 16th Birthday celebration. The four Princes from earlier return, this time as men – danced by Qi Huan, Brendan Bradshaw, Dimitri Kleioris and Paul Mathews. Finally Princess Aurora enters, danced by Stella Abrera, a guest artist from the American Ballet Theatre. She is truly amazing to watch – delicate, disciplined and composed. The King hopes she will pick one of the Princes to marry, but after dancing with each of them, The Black Fairy enters and hands Princess Aurora a black rose, on which she pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep. The Lilac Fairy then casts a spell over the whole Kingdom so they all fall asleep for 100 years.

After the interval the new scene begins in a forest, 100 years later. Sergio Torrado as Prince Désiré enters with his two friends, who after some gallivanting around with a skin of wine are called away by an associate. The Lilac Fairy appears and shows the Prince Princess Aurora’s spirit. He dances with the spirit and falls in love, then begs the Fairy to tell him where he can find her. She tells him and offers him a sword to slash through the thick forest surrounding the palace.

The Prince arrives at the palace and is pounced on by The Black Fairy and her minions, who have been hiding and waiting. The Fairy suddenly turns into a huge red-eyed dragon, wheeled around the stage Chinese-dragon style by her trusty minions. After a fight the Prince is able to kill her and then rushes to Princess Aurora’s side, kisses her and wakes her!

The final scene is back at the castle, at the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré. Tonia Looker and Kohei Iwamoto perform a stunning dance as two bluebirds which are to be a present for the newlyweds. Their efforts receive a huge round of applause. Catalabutte and Lady Florine execute a wildly entertaining dance which has the audience in stitches! The dancing from Stella Abrera and Sergio Torrado as the Princess and Prince adds so much polish to the piece. A beautifully composed snapshot finish before the curtain falls really leaves you with that “happily ever after” feeling you should get from a good fairy tale.

Overall this is a completely stunning production. The mammoth sets that are wheeled around the stage, intricate costumes totally suit their characters, and letter perfect dancing from the Royal New Zealand Ballet combines to create one stand-out performance.

It was wonderful to slowly trickle out of the theatre with the crowds and listen to the murmurs from the audience members – “one of the best ballets I have seen!” one woman exclaimed, and I totally agree. If you haven’t already seen it – make sure you do. 


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Spirited ballet performance

Review by Jennifer Shennan 31st Oct 2011

The spirited new production of this major classic has opened to capacity audiences, a popular open day, healthy bookings for the coming week, and a sold-out schools performance.

Gary Harris’ heroic architectural sets and attractive costumes are inspired by the Italian Renaissance, and the set changes to music are intriguing.

Jon Buswell’s lighting lends enchantment to delicious qualities caught by the mercurial cluster of fairies of good, while the shady world of the Black Fairy (Clytie Campbell wielding sinister power) is in appropriate contrast.

Greg Horsman’s staging honours tradition and he has coaxed fine performances from many soloists, with male dancers soaring (Jacob Chown and Brendan Bradshaw as the prince’s friends are outstanding).

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Glorious in splendor, a classic tale reworked

Review by Greer Robertson 29th Oct 2011

Oh to sleep for a hundred years blissfully unaware of the perils of the outside world and to awake refreshed, instantly loved and adored by a handsome prince with a promise of a glittering future, yet miraculously unchanged or aged for those years lost – what a spell, what a fantasy, it’s a fairytale!

Many long years have gone into The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s current production of Sleeping Beauty. It’s been three in fact, as the Artistic Team have tirelessly plotted, designed, re-choreographed, re-invented, called in the expertise of Weta Workshop and re-worked this 200 year old classic to catapult it into the 21st Century.

In this beautiful theatre, from the first vibrant musical chord; the lights are on, characters are out, musicians are definitely at the ready, and there are things to be seen, things to be heard, there’s a story to tell. Gone is the long, non visual overture of the brilliant Tchaikovsky score where one normally sits and admires the proscenium arch as well as marveling in the orchestral brilliance, while hoping, for the price of a ticket, that one is going to experience something special, a special magical moment in time. 

Boom, it is straight into it. Full on mime, full on costumes, full on sets, full on fantasy.

In a beautiful large silhouette, the birth of Princess Aurora is revealed bringing joy to the kingdom and courtiers and guests celebrate.

So there’s already a difference but what’s that? A rather bossy comical cat and his companion are in every scene. With feline fun and split second timing, former Company member Shannon Dawson does what he knows best; superbly entertaining the audience along with the King, Sir Jon Trimmer.

Opulently adorned in lavish costumes, the dancers are expertly placed and the epic story unfolds in a larger than life set, just like a multi facetted pop-up children’s story book.

In my opinion, so far, the star of the show is the set. With consummate ease this lavish set in its own way takes charge, projecting energy and commanding the stage, as with bated breath it weaves and settles with silent articulate timing. This in itself is a well thought out process and one to be admired.

And onto the dancers. Delicately dressed with flowing hair the very beautiful coloured fairies appear. After a rather cumbersome entrance they show their flair for clean cut uncluttered choreography and start making their magic.

I enjoyed the names and qualities of these Fairies as they become Wisdom, Beauty, Wit, Grace and Song. Unfortunately Wisdom, The Lilac Fairy danced by Abigail Boyle on opening night, unnecessarily struggled through her demanding solo, bringing the ethereal wonderment back onto earth.

But, Guest Artist Stella Abrera from American Ballet Theatre as Princess Aurora is divine. With crystal clear precision she executes the most difficult of steps with ease, grace and fluidity. And following the beautiful and famous Rose Adagio with Aurora’s possible suitors, it seems quite fitting that Carabosse, the wicked Black Fairy, expertly portrayed by Clytie Campbell, presents a black rose to Aurora on her 16th birthday to prick her finger on. Good fairy magic prevails, she doesn’t die but just sleeps for a hundred years. Even Carabosse’s ghoulish attendants possess character and mild wicked nonsense. They are fun.

When required to perform, the male ensemble executes more challenging choreography as they soar through the air with brilliant beats and elevation.

But the story is not complete without Prince Desire! Originally from Spain and latterly from America, Sergio Torrado adds a mature flair to his character. As a dance technician and pas de deux partner he is faultless. However, unfortunately, I failed to see any emotional connection between the two main characters. And that’s what the fairytale is all about – love and happy ever after. Maybe he was feeling it on the inside, but on the outside he didn’t appear happy. I also found the awakening scene of The Prince finally seeing this enchanting Sleeping Beauty, very rushed. An abrupt shake of her shoulders and a quick peck and she  is awake. But maybe this is the 21st Century way? I wanted more.

Glorious in splendor, this show will delight the young and not so young, And the resounding sound of success was shown in the audience’s appreciation  for both the Vector Wellington  Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet.



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