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English National Ballet’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at the MK Theatre

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Is there anything better than watching a ballet with your daughter cosied up by your side and a large tub of chocolate ice-cream to share?

Hmm, let me think about that. A fortnight in the Maldives would be nice. I’ll accept a £5,000 Vogue wardrobe makeover followed by a lottery win presented by Luc from Holby City wearing tight speedos. But in the absence of these flights of fancy I’ll take Iris and the English National Ballet any day.

Puss n Boots and friend dropped in, along with Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Today was my first time at the MK Theatre in Milton Keynes and it’s strangely reminiscent of Aylesbury Waterside in some ways – lots of glass, wood and curving walls. The theatre inside feels a bit more snug than the AWS and being older, perhaps not quite as comfortable, but even seats at the back of the stalls were perfectly acceptable, and Iris was given a booster seat just for good measure too.

Anyone who could have seen me clomping through my grade 1 ballet exam will know I’m no expert in the art form, so I can only judge what I saw on entertainment value. Sleeping Beauty is beautifully, if traditionally produced, all 18th century costuming and grand palace interiors with choreography by Kenneth MacMillan and of course the famous score by Tchaikovsky.

The English National Ballet are well respected and even I could recognise that the prima ballerina had great control en pointe and that there was depth to the corps de ballet. There were also a lot of men with rock hard buttocks in superslinky tights and…. oh God sorry, I’ve digressed.

Bluebird and Florine

One thing I should point out is that Sleeping Beauty is a whopper three hours long (including two intervals). Iris was very well-behaved but in the last half hour started jigging around and making funny faces at anyone who would make eye contact. In other words, I think 5 years old is a little young for this production. Probably 8 years would be my starting point unless you’re at the Saturday matinee when all the little girls will be fidgeting and gurning together. That said, Iris was able to follow the story and the meaning of the mime so it’s a very accessible ballet in that sense for younger children.

I suppose the bottom line is: did we enjoy it? And the answer is definitely yes. Three hours of pretty tutus and glorious music, a bit of panto (the bad fairy was boo-ed at encore) and light, elegant dancing. I mean really – what’s not to like?

Performances Friday and Saturday evening, plus a Saturday matinee. Tickets £10-45. Book tickets here.

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