Lush Gothic Ballet: Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

The classic tale meets ballet meets the supernatural.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mikaa Smillie
    Hannah Vassallo and Dominic North appear in "Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty." The fairytale ballet twirls at the Ahmanson through Sunday, Dec. 1.

    Fairy tales, of course, are not just for children.

    We know that now, and have for some time. But the plethora of television shows and Broadway musicals and adult-focused book retellings in the last few years has more than driven this point home. Wait, is "driven" the right word here? Perhaps "flown via magical broom" is more apt.

    One of the newer entries in the grown-up-ier fairytale has tied on the pointe slippers and is leaping at the Ahmanson Theatre through Sunday, Dec. 1. It's "Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty," and while many of the touchstones of the oft-told tale are present in the ballet, consider it a fresh spin.

    And a supernatural one, too. The award-laden -- hi, Tonys, hi dozens of other accolades -- choreographer is known for his stance against laurels-sitting. Mr. Bourne, who helmed the iconoclastic "Swan Lake" back in the late '90s, is famous for changing things up while adhering to the tenets of a tale.

    So, yes, Aurora is there, but the early setting is gothic Edwardian, not ye olden fairy tale times. And, after she snoozes for a century? Hello, modern world. Things stay solidly supernatural throughout, with fairies and vampires and other wondrous beings fizzling up to drive the tale and help things run nicely amuck.

    Why must ballet be prim and proper and full of tutu and rule-obeying? It mustn't, in short.

    Fun fact to share with your co-ballet goers: The year that the ballet opens in is the year the iconic Tchaikovsky production took its first spin.

    "Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty" is indeed "grown-up-ier," but the Center Theatre Group presentation is a-okay for kids 10 and up, says the production people. Why not start the older children on a path to rethinking and questioning tales long told?

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