Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty is among the longest and most technically difficult ballets of the canon—and, as if understanding this, the companies who produce the ballet have the most glorious sets and costumes. The attention to detail is inspiring!
You should know the ballet is different in some ways to the movie—though Disney did use a few of the more prominent pieces of Tchaikovsky’s score for his movie. Most notably, he retooled the Sleeping Beauty Waltz for “Once Upon a Dream.” In addition to being a more familiar story than most ballets, you’ll recognize a lot of songs from Sleeping Beauty you’ve heard before in other places.
The two productions I want to direct you to are real treats! Traditionally, the hardest roles for men and women are in Sleeping Beauty: for women, it’s the title role. For men, it’s the role of the Bluebird (in the final act), which is also, often played by the same man who plays Carabosse. Among the most famous ballet dancers in history, Enrico Cecchetti, made the two male roles famous. Cecchetti is also responsible for one of the four principle ballet methods: Cecchetti, Vaganova, Bournonville and Royal Ballet.
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of dancing with over 30 new friends at the Mountain View Library! My thanks and gratitude to Miss Sharon McClintock for establishing the program and inviting so many lovely families! Below, read about what we did, a bit about why we did it, and find some links to the material I used so you can keep teaching your child about the rich traditions of Grand Ballet!
Our class began with a circle to remind us all we are a friendly team. Then, the children stretch their hamstrings chasing after a quick little “spider,” they use core muscles to “bake a cupcake,” and they arch their backs like caterpillars eating. Thereafter, we began an overview of the ballet’s story. Peter and the Wolf is the subject of two major compositions. We began with the symphony Sergei Prokofiev composed to introduce children to the orchestra. I used a recording Disney produced to suit a cartoon you might remember from your childhood. London’s Royal Ballet School has a wonderful production of the ballet you can see here.
First, the children learn Peter’s soldier-like posture and sharp marching. Then they learn the quick wrist movements of the bird who flitters in the woods, the waddle of the duck, and the pas de chat of the cat. Then we practice muscle contractions to mimic the posture of the stealthy wolf. Then, because the kids had demonstrated focus, I rewarded them with a silly dance — we spun to the spinning dance and then danced around and jumped around until it was time for reverence (our gracious thank you bows). We finished with a puppet show set to the other famous Peter and the Wolf, Norway’s Peer Gynt, by Edvard Grieg. The puppets moved to the song, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
I teach etiquette and ballet at preschools around the South Bay. If you’re interested in bringing Dance with Miss Sara to your preschool, please contact me: BalletChalet@gmail.com.
Thank you so much for letting me dance with your wonderful children!