BALLET DEMANDS PHYSICAL STRENGTH; as much strength as the most strenuous of sports. If you don't believe me, the Oregon Ballet Theatre's The Sleeping Beauty proves it. Artistic Director Christopher Stowell has choreographed the romantic chestnut so that the women spend most of the evening on the tips of a few toes (think of a ballerina on a music box) and the men jump and leap like gazelles.
Fortunately, OBT's dancers, led by Yuka Iino and Chauncey Parsons, rose to the challenge. Iino seemed a bit wobbly en pointe, especially during the first act's show-stopping "Rose Adagio," but watching her efforts makes one comprehend the difficulty of ballet, and this role in particular. Parsons, on the other hand, flew around the stage, executing complex moves that appeared effortless, yet he probably collapsed in a heap once he left the stage.
Live orchestral accompaniment is always a treat at the ballet and conductor Niel DePonte kept the strings playing together, no easy feat either. With sets and costumes designed by Peter Cazalet, the new production looked stunning. Stowell filled the stage of the Keller in a way that the relatively small size of the corps (at least by Sleeping Beauty standards) packed the vast space with color and spectacle.