Choreographer Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty marks the choreographer’s return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete his acclaimed reinterpretations of the composer’s trio of masterworks that began in 1992 with Nutcracker! and followed in 1995 with Swan Lake. This timeless fairy tale about a princess cursed to sleep for a hundred years was adapted into a ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa in 1890. In a highly theatrical production, Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the story at the height of the fin de siècle epoch when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination. As the heroine Aurora matures into a young woman, the period shifts to the confines of the Edwardian era. Decades later, awakening from her century-long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day — a world she finds more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy tale. Bourne’s haunting new scenario is a romance for all ages.
Dance history and storytelling is important to choreographer Matthew Bourne, creator of a “Swan Lake” with an all-male corp of Swans, and an “Edward Scissorhands” ballet, among other productions. Even in his re-interpretation of “Sleeping Beauty,” he remains “reverential” about the original, he says in this interview.