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FBT prepares for 'Sleeping Beauty'

The Fountain Valley ballet company will perform the classic production in Irvine later this month.

March 14, 2012|By Heather Youmans
  • Roma Daravi during rehearsal. The Festival Ballet Theatre will bring a timeless love story to life during its spring production of “Sleeping Beauty,” which is set to grace the Irvine Barclay Theatre on March 24 and 25.
Roma Daravi during rehearsal. The Festival Ballet Theatre…

The Festival Ballet Theatre will bring a timeless love story to life during its spring production of"Sleeping Beauty,"which is set to grace the Irvine Barclay Theatre on March 24 and 25.

In true corps de ballet fashion, guest American Ballet Theatre principal dancers, FBT's professional members and a select group of Southland Ballet students will reconcile fabled storybook characters, such as Princess Aurora, Puss 'n Boots, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

"Sleeping Beauty" was originally performed by the Russian Imperial Ballet in January 1890. The full-length production of the beloved classical ballet is set to Peter Tchaikovsky's score and consists of four acts and two intermissions.

For the Fountain Valley-based FBT, the spring production is the biggest production of the year, aside from its winter production of "The Nutcracker."

"Sleeping Beauty" is part of an ongoing cycle of ballets that Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla has presented at the Barclay for more than 10 years. FBT's last edition of "Sleeping Beauty" was performed in 2009, a rendition that Rizkalla considered successful.

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And now, with a new vision "to take people back to the pure elegance of the classical dance," Rizkalla will dust off the whimsical fairy costumes and bring back the production's elaborate sets along, with the timeless fairytale love story.

"I think the story is very well-known," Rizkalla said. "It got even more well-known with Disney."

The legend begins when the long-awaited princess, Aurora, is born. Tragically, she is cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and must sleep for 100 years, until a handsome prince awakens her with true love's first kiss. And, you guessed it, everyone lives happily ever after.

"There's a lot of non-verbal dialogue," company member Roma Daravi said. "For the dancers, you have to know how to act. It's a huge part of being an artist, in order to get the story across.

"I mean, everyone knows the story of 'Sleeping Beauty,' but there's always that little girl out there that doesn't know it, and you want to make sure she gets the same experience that everyone else does."

Even though "Sleeping Beauty," with its Disney legacy, is sure to provoke a flock of young girls, Rizkalla stressed that the production will be enjoyable for the entire family.

"It's also a love story," Rizkalla said. "So, it's appealing for the young and for the old, because it's not just a children's ballet."

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