Benedum Center for the Performing Arts

October 24 – 26
8 p.m. & 2 p.m.

Awe-inspiring scenery, storytelling, costumes, choreography will converge in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s (PBT) timeless production of The Sleeping Beauty.

Marking the opening of PBT’s 45th anniversary season, the captivating production runs for just three night’s at Downtown’s opulent Benedum Center. Showcasing world-class artistry in terms of choreography, costuming and scenery, The Sleeping Beauty brings one of the world’s greatest fairy tale classics to life on stage in a classical grand-scale fashion.

Featuring more than 150 performers, including students of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, The Sleeping Beauty tells Charles Perrault’s timeless tale through illustrative scenery and tour de force dancing, all accompanied by The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra. Conducted by San Francisco Ballet’s Martin West, The Sleeping Beauty features staging and direction by PBT artistic director Terrence S. Orr, with choreography after Marius Petipa. Considered to be “the father of classical ballet,” Petipa choreographed more than 60 full-length ballets, including renowned 19th-century classics such as Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Don Quixote and The Nutcracker.

Iconic for both purity and precision, the choreography of The Sleeping Beauty is widely considered to be the gold standard of classical ballet technique. Highlights of the dance include the legendary “Rose Adagio,” performed by Princess Aurora and her four suitors, which spotlights the control and strength of the ballerina through a series of impressive promenades and balances. Another favorite is the Act III wedding scene, which captures the joy of the lovers during a grand pas de deux that is frequently performed alone as a centerpiece.

In addition to the leading roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire, The Sleeping Beauty reveals the talents of the PBT cast via the solos of the six good fairies, the soaring male choreography of the “Bluebird Pas de Deux” and the technical virtuosity of the Act III wedding scene variations. Additional notable characters include the infamous fairy, Carabosse (called Maleficent in the Disney version), Act III cameos by Puss ‘n Boots and various characters from Perrault’s fairy tales.

The ballet is also revered because it features one of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s greatest and most recognizable scores, including the classic “Garland Waltz,” which inspired the basis for the Disney song, “Once Upon a Dream.” When The Sleeping Beauty was being created, Tchaikovsky and Petipa collaborated on the tempo, themes and timing of the score. When the ballet premiered in 1890 at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre it immediately set classical ballet benchmarks for decades to come.

For the upcoming production, The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s famous score under the direction of guest conductor Martin West, who serves as music director and principal conductor for San Francisco Ballet. After making his conducting debut at the English National Ballet in 1997, West went on to guest with some of North America’s leading ballet companies, including New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.

Originally created for the Royal Ballet of London, The Sleeping Beauty also features scenic and costume designs by David Walker, who creates a 17th-century aesthetic for the palace setting, complete with regal columns and gold finery. Costume styles include intricate and classical fairy tutus, ornate courtesan robes and the dazzling jeweled snakes and spiders that adorn the costume worn by the wicked fairy godmother, Carabosse.

Theater-goers will also enjoy the ballet’s dramatic stage effects which augment the atmosphere, including the use of swirling fog and thunder that accompanies Carabosse’s entrance in a careening carriage.

Explore the artistry and themes of The Sleeping Beauty during one of PBT’s educational programs for the public, including  Afterthoughts and Insights discussions with Terrence S. Orr and PBT artists; a Family Pointe “Magical Monsters and Fanciful Fairies” pre-performance discussion and demo; Talks with Terry; and audio-described performances and sensory seminars.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 45th anniversary season spans grand classical ballets and modern masterworks at the Benedum, including five new works for the PBT repertory.

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Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.