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How the Lilac Fairy tells a story through mime in The Sleeping Beauty

Former Director of The Royal Ballet Monica Mason and First Soloist Claire Calvert explore one of classical dance's most charming roles with Darcey Bussell.

By Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer)

2 March 2017 at 4.11pm | 3 Comments

It's a rare treat to have not one, but three Lilac Fairies past and present in the same room together. Former Principal of The Royal Ballet Darcey Bussell, Former Director of The Royal Ballet Monica Mason and First Soloist of The Royal Ballet Claire Calvert join forces to discuss why the character is such a joy (and challenge) to perform.

The Lilac Fairy is the force of good throughout the ballet – remedying the curse set upon the baby Aurora by the evil Carabosse. Rather than allowing her to die, she sends Aurora to sleep for 100 years until she is awoken by true love’s kiss.

‘As a role it’s quite nerve-wracking because you are always the main storyteller,’ says Bussell.

The Lilac Fairy uses mime in order to communicate to the characters on stage; a type of movement, the dancers reveal, that does not come as naturally as classical steps.

‘I hear you in my head saying the steps, and you even say the words to the music!’ says Calvert to Mason, her former coach in the role.

‘Miming is so rewarding and it’s hard to appreciate it when you’re young,’ says Monica Mason. 'You think it’s all in the technique but it’s really it’s in the storytelling.’

Read more: Cracking the code: The meaning of mime in ballet

Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:

The Sleeping Beauty runs until 14 March 2017. Tickets are now sold out, but a selection of tickets will be released each week as part of Friday Rush.

This film was first broadcast as part of the live cinema relay on 28 February 2017. Find your nearest encore screening.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Michael llewellyn responded on 3 March 2017 at 12:33am Reply

    Three wonderful ladies! An iconic role for the company and the House

  2. Its really an enriching experience to see them together and understanding Miming through in depth.

  3. Damaris Steele responded on 13 March 2017 at 12:02pm Reply

    Lovely film as background to see the ballet, for which I was lucky enough to obtain a ticket for tonight.

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