（英文原文刊於2000年《舞蹈手札》2002年第四冊第三期 Originally published on dance journal/hk 2-4 in 2002）
儘管這個故事在許多人心目中仍然佔據著舉足輕重的地位－－這在一定程度上要歸功於迪士尼－－但它無疑是一個可以在20分鐘內便講完的故事。但是，在芭蕾中，這舞劇通常會持續超過三個小時。在佩蒂帕的時代，更是大約五小時；當然，在1890年的聖彼得堡，他們沒有「甜心俏佳人」（Aly McBeal）在家等著！令人感激的是，這個香港芭蕾舞團的最新製作只有兩個多小時，但仍然保留了所有精彩部份，還附上一點額外的東西。 佩蒂帕的風格，是毫不掩飾地將工匠般的舞蹈編排，配以嚴格遵循古典準則的精彩演出。這是一條創造卓越藝術的方程式－－簡單、和諧、勻稱、完整。但要在每次表演中都掌握和重複，並不容易！
1921年，謝爾蓋˙達基列夫（Serge Diaghaliev）採用Leon Bakst的新設計，首次在倫敦搬演了佩蒂帕的《睡美人》。這個製作也受到了褒貶不一的評價，並幾乎毀了達基列夫。但是觀眾喜歡它，而在今天，歷史已判定了它是偉大的藝術成就。重要的是，那個舞季向倫敦介紹了足本（full-length）故事芭蕾舞這個演出形式。結果，在達基列夫舞團從事過的藝術家妮涅特˙德瓦洛（Ninette DeValois）和瑪麗．藍貝特（Marie Rambert）的鼓勵下，芭蕾舞世界後來產生了由20世紀三位偉大編舞家所創作的多部足本敘事性芭蕾舞傑作。他們是弗雷德里克˙阿什頓、肯尼斯˙麥克米倫（Kenneth MacMillan）和約翰˙克蘭科。
在1990年代初期，新聞界批評了安東尼˙道威爾爵士（Sir Anthony Dowell）在考文特花園（Covent Garden）奢華製作的皇家芭蕾舞團《睡美人》。魯道夫˙努里耶夫（Rudolf Nureyev）於1975年在倫敦節日芭蕾舞團製作的《睡美人》也受到了褒貶不一的評論，但幾乎所有倫敦和巴黎的演出門票都賣個清光。同樣的情況也出現在英國其他14個地點的演出，以及為期六週，每週八場的澳洲巡演。我永遠不會忘記在珀斯娛樂中心舉行的開幕週，觀眾席容納了8000人。在那兒，我和許多節日芭蕾舞團的同事，都從艱難的教訓中學到了如何應對舞台上的突發事件，尤其是當我們在很努力地處理我們的「第五腳位」，以及忙於應付努里耶夫對尼古拉斯˙謝爾蓋耶夫（Nicholas Sergeyev）所排的佩蒂帕版本那複雜困難而古怪的演繹之時，努里耶夫那從側幕或其他地方傳來的大聲指導和其他不能說出口的東西。
在1890年的聖彼得堡的序幕 The prologue, St. Petersburg (1890)
彼得˙卡索列（Peter Cazalet）那令人耳目一新的設計、尹立賢（John Williams）的燈光、藝術總監謝傑斐（Stephen Jefferies）的附加編舞，以及葉穎詩指揮下的香港小交響樂團的伴奏，整個製作最後舒解了我最初的憂慮。在過去的16年中，我通常會明智地避免入場看《睡美人》，尤其是那些低成本的俄羅斯演出，無論製作價值、舞蹈編排和演出都糟透，卻經常來澳洲和亞洲招攬觀眾。
序幕的主角是丁香花仙子。對我來說，她演出的那節音樂，無疑是序幕中最適合舞蹈的一段；柴可夫斯基那洪亮的交響曲調，鼓動了舞蹈的力量。由頭到尾，演出這一角色的羅卓桃（Chancel Elizabeth Roulsten）都非常優雅，技術穩妥。其他仙子的演出都在技術上很有保證。我最喜歡的是「慷慨仙子雙人舞」。在這段編排有趣的變奏中，勞曉昕和鍾詠賢兩人之間感應敏銳，動作清晰。另外，亦要提及的是落合惠利子在「活潑仙子獨舞」中那猶如清風一習的出色演出，和高秀桃（Crystal Costa）在高難度的「勇敢仙子」中所展現的優美古典線條和精準度。然而，技壓這場序幕的，還是由耀眼的藤岡綾子所飾演的邪惡仙子卡拉波斯。
回憶，以及那些感覺，洶湧而來！我開始演出《睡美人》時，是從第三位王子開始，最終「晉升」成為最重要的第四位王子。雖然我們在這段舞蹈中完全不必擔心我們的「第五腳位」，但卻必須為她的擔心。這四名男子的責任，是確保女芭蕾舞舞者的「鶴立式舞姿」（attitude derrière）可以把後腿高高舉起，否則真的是罪當極刑。回想當年與國際客席藝術家合作，我們四個追求者有數次要在休假日被傳召排練－－我說的並不是冒升中的年輕獨舞員，而是當年國際知名的名字，如Natalie Marakova、Eva Evdokimova、Galina Panova和Dame Merle Park。就算是最強悍的女芭蕾舞者，在這段舞出錯也會摧毀她在餘下演出中的自我肯定。我們的堅定職責，就是維持她以單腿腳尖站立。
頭戴白假髮、腳踏高跟鞋的侍臣之舞，節奏比我記得的更為合理。緊接著，弗洛雷斯坦親王和他的兩個姐妹開始了主程序－－但是，這些人是誰？這段《弗洛雷斯坦三人舞》，是芭蕾舞中最不叫人感激卻最具挑戰的舞段之一。「第五腳位」是這舞的技巧準繩，如果鬆散了，舞蹈看起來可以很單調、老套，而且平淡無味，因為除了最直接的舞蹈專業技巧，它什麼也沒有。演出的三位舞者富村京子（Kyoko Tomimura）、勞曉昕和白家樂（Carlo Pacis）顯然已能迎接挑戰，並以他們的魅力和準確技巧完成挑戰。我喜歡這段插舞那較快的速度，這進一步要求三人在技巧上更加要全力以赴。他們看起來是十足的自我享受，也跳活了舞蹈的編排。
It was with bemused interest and a slight foreboding that I entered Sha Tin Town Hall auditorium on Saturday evening, 30 March, to watch Hong Kong Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. If there was one ballet that engendered a range of mixed feelings about classical dance when I was a dancer, it was this formidable masterpiece from Petipa's repertoire.
For many years after I stopped dancing I could not even bring myself to listen to Tchaikovsky's glorious symphonic melodies, let alone voluntarily walk into a theatre to see a performance of the ballet. I performed Sleeping Beauty perhaps most throughout my seventeen-year professional career, one that spanned major ballet companies on three continents and four different productions - from London to Sydney to Johannesburg. I escaped it in Stockholm with the Royal Swedish Ballet, since the Swedish dancers voted
it out of the repertoire just before I joined. Sleeping Beauty is a ballet that causes feelings of sheer excitement, anxiety, abject fear, and utter boredom; sometimes, unmentionable hours of it, and all can occur during the course of a single show.
To many professional classical dancers, Sleeping Beauty epitomizes what is essentially classical about ballet. I cannot remember the author, but an apt expression of what every aspiring ballet dancer should know is: "Of absolutely vital importance for classical dancers is to understand 5th position, but even more important is for them to forget it". However, I believe the only ballet to which this does not apply is Sleeping Beauty, where 5th position, and knowing how to use it, is your life buoy for a good performance. Without it - you sink like the Titanic and you know it!
While the story still has a preeminent place in the minds of many, thanks in part to Disney, it is unquestionably one that could probably be told in about 20 minutes. In ballet, however, it often stretches to over three hours. In Petipa's day it lasted around five. Well, in 1890 St. Petersburg, they didn't have Aly McBeal to go home to! Mercifully, this latest production by the Hong Kong Ballet is just over two hours yet still manages to have all the good bits plus a bit more. Petipa's style was unashamedly to pad the action with workman-like choreography along with brilliant dancing that strictly adhered to the classical canon - a formula for excellence in art - simple, harmonious, well proportioned and finished. Not an easy feat to master and repeat at every performance!
Carlotta Brianza as Princess Aurora, St. Petersburg (1890)
Sleeping Beauty has tested many a fine ballet company, and Hong Kong Ballet was no exception. The production placed rigorous technical demands on dancers, artistic staff, and theatre technical personnel who had the job of pulling the whole thing together. One local critic offered the production a not totally unexpected and un-surprisingly mixed review.
In 1921, Serge Diaghaliev staged Petipa's Sleeping Beauty for the first time in London with new designs by Leon Bakst. It was a production that also met with mixed reviews and almost ruined Diaghaliev. But audiences loved it and history now determines it a great artistic success. Importantly, that season introduced London to the full-length story ballet format. As a result, with encouragement from former Diaghaliev company artists, Ninette DeValois and Marie Rambert, the ballet world was later rewarded with full-length narrative ballet masterworks by three of the 20th Century's great choreographers. Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko.
In the early 1990s the press panned Sir Anthony Dowell's extravagant Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty production at Covent Garden. Rudolf Nureyev's London Festival Ballet Sleeping Beauty production in 1975 also met with mixed reviews, but it just about sold out every performance in London and Paris, as well as at fourteen other centers in the UK and a six-week, eight shows-a-week, tour of Australia. I will never forget our opening week at Perth's Entertainment Center, to a capacity house of 8,000. It was there where. many of my Festival Ballet colleagues and I, learned hard lessons on how to cope with the unexpected on stage, especially Nureyev shouting instructions and other unmentionables from the wings or elsewhere as we grappled with our 5th positions and his tricky and quirky interpretation of Nicholas Sergeyev's version of Petipa.
Sleeping Beauty takes on all comers - dancers, directors, designers, technicians, conductors and even orchestras. These latter sounding, at times, like Salvation Army bands. I recall a number of performances with London Festival Ballet where we nearly broke our necks, or at least our ankles, careening around stage in high-heeled shoes in the third act courtier's dance. The conductor, looking like Mozart on speed, took the tempos at a rate of knots, presumably on instructions from the company accountant, desperate to keep the production under three hours and thus avoid paying hefty overtime to musicians.
Nevertheless, my first impression toward the end of the prologue and into Act I of Hong Kong Ballet's production was that the company had taken the task head on, either a brave or foolish move for a company of forty-one supplemented by eight students. As was not unexpected, the majority of the audience was with it all the way, especially young children sitting near me who managed, like me, to remain awake for its entirety. It is a sign of artistic maturity for any young company, to knowingly and willingly take on this daunting classic, and manage to do it credit.
The production, with delightfully fresh designs by Peter Cazalet, lighting by John Williams, additional choreography by Artistic Director Stephen Jefferies, and accompanied by the Hong Kong Philharmonic under the masterful baton of Yip Wing-sie, eventually managed to sooth my initial apprehensions. Over the past sixteen years, I have usually avoided, wisely I would say, going to productions of Sleeping Beauty, especially those dreadful shoe-string budget Russian ones with horrendous production values, choreography, and dancing often touted around Australia and Asia.
The main function of Sleeping Beauty's prologue is to show off a bit of classical dancing in the shape of a number of 'fairies variations', and to set the mood for the main action that follows. These variations are not of the outwardly bravura type most associated with short classical dances, but nonetheless are technical vignettes that challenge the dancer more than the audience's ability to enjoy. Each fairy embodies everything that is good, uncontaminated, and conservative about classicism - chaste, simple and harmonious. The slightest slip, incorrect hop, or smallest stumble, would be noticed by even the youngest members of the audience. The beautiful fairy might come off not looking so beautiful after all. It was refreshing to see these solos reworked by Jefferies from what is often mundanely standard fare. Nonetheless, they retain a high level of technical competence and clarity of execution that is the core of classical dancing.
The chief protagonist is the Lilac Fairy, whose dancing in the prologue is emboldened by a resonant Tchaikovsky symphonic tune and undoubtedly, I think, the prologue's best piece of danceable music. Chancel Elizabeth Roulsten in this role was truly graceful and technically assured throughout. The other fairies all danced with technical surety. My favorite was the duet for the Fairies of the Woodland Glade. Irene Lo and Ivy Chung performed this variation with lucidity and an adroit awareness of each other in a piece that was choreographically interesting. Mention should also go to Eriko Ochaia who breezed brilliantly through the Songbird solo and Crystal Costa who showed fine classical line and precision in the difficult Fairy of the Golden Vine. However, the prologue really belonged to the dazzling Ayako Fuijioka as the wicked fairy, Carabosse.
This wronged fairy was not the usual over-made-up 'dragster' who would look more at home in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Ms. Fuijioka was absolutely stunning in her
glittering black dress that would not be out of place at the annual Hong Kong Ballet Ball. She commanded the stage and action with her sensational dancing, and the audience reacted accordingly. Whoever left this fairy off the invitation list should be thrown to the crocs in the moat!
Act I opened with one of the best Garland dances I have seen in any production. This corps de ballet number was skilfully crafted, lyrically phrased, beautifully danced and very pleasing to look at. Cazalet's designs and William's lighting in this Act offered a greater scale of sunny composure. From this point on, I thought I could relax and enjoy.
However, following this pleasant opening, my stomach began to tighten at the introduction of the famous Rose Adage's dulcet tones. This must be one of the most un-forgiving opening entrances for any ballerina. Where else does the leading dancer gracefully enter the stage, usually down a long rickety staircase, and then spend most of the number balancing, or being promenaded, on one leg enpointe, while lifting her right arm up and down. What may look easy is deceptively difficult and down right scary, not only for her, but also for at least the third and fourth suitors in her pack of princes.
Memories, and those feelings, came flooding back! I started off as the third prince eventually graduating to the fourth and main one, and while we didn't have to worry at all about our 5th positions in this dance, we certainly had to worry about hers. The responsibility placed on the four men to ensure the ballerina remained with her leg aloft in attitude derrière was considered punishable by death if not met. I can recall a number of occasions, working with international guest artists, when we four suitors would be called in on our day off to rehearse - and I'm not talking about a young up-and-coming soloist doing it for the first time, but international names of the day, like Natalie Marakova, Eva Evdokimova, Galina Panova and Dame Merle Park. To fumble this dance could destroy even the hardiest ballerina's resolve of a self-assured performance for the remainder of the ballet. It was our steadfast duty to keep her enpointe.
In the Hong Kong Ballet production, Faye Leung, a lovely dancer with an exquisite classical line, reprised her Princess Aurora role for the second or third time. In the Rose Adage. she was careful and overtly concentrated at times, but that can be forgiven, as her approach was calculated and timely, and it was clear that her partners knew exactly what she was doing. Hers is the best way I believe, until confidence and experience develops to full maturity when risks can be premeditated. In all ballet troupes the responsibility for the four suitor princes is usually given to the most senior and experienced partners in the company. There was no exception in this production.
As princess Aurora, Leung does not really look like a modest, cosseted sixteen-year-old who obeys every wish of her majestic, detached parents; her Aurora is already a beautiful woman, and this allows her to shine splendidly in the third act grand pas de deux. With the Act II introduction of her handsome Prince Charming, I was convinced that Hong Kong Ballet had come of age as a company that could withstand the rigors of the classic repertoire. Prince Florimund. danced by the elegant Nobuo Fuijino, looked every inch a prince, and his dancing was every bit as classical as it should be. He was technically secure, poised, manly and confident, a real pleasure to see.
Once the Act II hunting party finished their masochistic game of whipping each other and the poor blindfolded sod, and quaffed the last of their Chateau box de plonk, they departed - for yet another costume change - leaving Florimund alone on stage. Fuijino gave full credence to the detached, brooding, pensive romantic aristocrat in a beautifully danced slow solo, which thankfully was devoid of gratuitous and vulgar tricks. The subject matter of Sleeping Beauty, adapted from a story by the 17th Century French poet philosopher Charles Perrault, and like all fairy tales, a product of romantic literary invention, is, as in many productions of Petipa's ballets, usually of secondary consideration. But it was pleasing to see this talented dancer display at least a very laudable veneer of romantic idealism in the classical style of his dancing in this act.
I really began to enjoy this production as yet another splendidly danced corps de ballet piece, acknowledged in most productions as the vision scene or simply, the nymphs, unfolded. Stephen Jefferies' choreography illustrated his own history and heritage and his knowledge and understanding of the classical form and structure. This marvelously designed dance section led by Fuijino, Leung, and Lilac Fairy, Roulston, was one of the highlights of the ballet for me. Looking around at times, it was easy to see the pleasure that entertainment such as this classical form brings, where elements of choreography, music, design, and decor provide a cohesive totality.
The 'awakening' scene in this production, where the previously pricked princess who has been in slumber for a hundred years, was spared Florimund's often tedious lengthy journey through an odd assortment of overgrown jungle, mangroves and foggy pollution, to plant the famous pucker on his princess as she lies delicately poised on a
palatial plinth with both feet pointed. In Nurcyev's production, this scene did drag on, providing just enough time for a costume change for the corps de ballet girls, so they could take their places on the ramparts again with us boys, where we'd all fallen asleep a hundred years and forty-five minutes previously. However, we were often entertained in this scene by the lush dialogue that ensued between Rudi as the prince, the tough old Lilac Fairy, and the burley stage technician, who peddled furiously in the bowels of the princely boat, as it zigzagged endlessly across the stage to finally arrive at our feet.
Fortunately, the action leading to one of best bits of the ballet in the Hong Kong production came quickly, and was certainly anticipated by every little girl sitting around me. In a wonderfully gorgeous musical climax, the handsome prince kisses the most beautiful of all princesses. Even I felt the odd twinge of the spine at this romantically enchanted fairy tale moment.
From this point on the story is complete, and we all know they will live happily ever after in heavenly bliss without ever having to pay a gas bill. However, there is the small matter of a wedding that provides the reason for a third and final Act. No actual recognizable ceremony takes place but I presume the grand pas de deux is symbolic of their nuptials. The Hong Kong Ballet Act III is fairly standard fare in choreographic terms, and it got straight down to the business of providing blatant displays of dancing, also the intent in the original 1890 ballet.
Following a white wigged. high-heeled courtier's dance, taken at a more reasonable tempo from what I recall. Prince Florestan and his two sisters open the main proceedings - but who are these people? Known as the Florestan pas de trois, it is one of the most thankless but challenging pieces in the ballet. If you loose your 5th position, in other words your technical veracity in this piece, it can look drab, hackneyed and just plain dull, for it has nothing to offer apart from straight forward technical expertise. The three dancers who performed the suite, Kyoko Tomimura, Irene Lo, and Carlo Pacis were clearly up to the challenge and cut through their work with flair and technical precision. I liked the quicker speed of this divertissement, which further stretched the trio's technical skills. They looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves and brought the choreography to life.
Next follows a trilogy of short animal character pas de deux in the form of the Blue Bird and Princess Florine, Puss 'n Boots and White Cat, and the dear little but unfortunate Red Riding Hood and an overgrown wolf. The Blue Birds are the ballet version of an Olympic 200-meter sprint and hurdle race, and justification for the male of the species to quit smoking. By the time you get to the last entrechat six you feel like your chest is about to burst. Anyway, the bouncing Kenji Hidaka did a good job and was well supported by the technically exact Angel Wong as Princess Florine.
For children, the two pussycats in their cute feline finery are probably the most memorable divertissement. The scene is short, full of characterization and choreographically consistent with the music. The last bit is for Red Riding Hood and wolf, usually the weakest part of the third act, and always placed just before the grand pas de deux so as to not up-stage the main event, I presume. However, I sort of liked this often boring and trivial divertissement, as this Hong Kong wolf was a bit livelier and looked like he could really dance. Selina Chau, as little Red Riding Hood, is always sunny and vivacious on stage and it is hard to think of anyone else who could do this silly role justice. Why don't the courtiers standing around warn her of her impending doom at the hands of that voracious carnivore, maybe they're asleep? Also, where is the hilarious drunken grandfather with the big gun? Oh, sorry, wrong party!
The climatic event of Sleeping Beauty is prince Florimund and princess Aurora's grand pas de deux. In this production it was extremely well crafted from somewhat standard material. The interpretation by the two principals had an air of confidence, and with their excellent dancing it would not look out of place on any of the world's great opera house stages. Leung grew in self-assurance and skill throughout the ballet from her initial entrance in Act I, and performed this final duet with radiance. Her solo and coda were executed with technical precision and provided an opportunity to display her striking classical line. Fuijino was certainly a match for her as he maintained the same high standard of dancing and composure of his earlier entrance. His partnering was excellent. This was the best dancing I think I'd seen from either of these fine artists. To achieve this in a major classic is no easy feat.
Hong Kong Ballet's Sleeping Beauty is a worthy addition to its repertoire and, after some minor fine-tuning, should be seen on a regular basis. It is a crowd pleaser. A sensible and likeable production that doesn't pretend to ape those of the big ballet troupes having a hundred or so dancers and many more years of tradition. To compare this production to those is nonsensical. This production had a sparkle about it and above all, an honesty in its treatment.
It also showcases the many fine company dancers. Like the company's excellent Nutcracker and its praiseworthy Swan Lake, this Sleeping Beauty challenges the dancers' classical standard while at the same time, maintains its integrity in the presentation of universally popular classic ballets to Hong Kong.
編輯手記 Editor's Note
Today I’m sharing two articles on the subject of classical ballet written by two former faculty members of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts School of Dance.
Graeme Collins, the former head of the ballet department, wrote A personal perspective on the ballet - Sleeping Beauty after watching Hong Kong Ballet's production in 2002. As a dancer and an audience member, he comments on the dance with humour as well as insight and shares with the readers his experiences in, and some stories about, several productions of this classic work.
Written by Prof. Susan Street, the former Dean of Dance, the article What is Classical about Classical Ballet? searches for the roots of the genre, and discusses the background and characteristics of various aspects of classical ballet, including period, style, look, technique, music, design/decor, and storyline. The article is rich in information and details that are still relevant now, 20 years after its publication. The starting points of the two articles are entirely different.
One is written from a personal perspective, sharing with the readers the author’s experience in different productions of the same work at different stages of his life as well as reviewing a new production, while the other is a more objective attempt to explore the roots and essence of classical ballet from a macro perspective. However, their views intersect from time to time. Prof. Street’s piece provides comprehensive background information for the one by Mr. Collins, and we could also read his piece as a case study to illustrate hers. While there are areas where the two writers are in agreement with each other, they also offer some different points of view, which makes interesting to read the two articles together.
客席編輯Guest Editor: 劉秀群Cathy Lau Sau Kwan ｜ 翻譯Translation：施德安 Cecil Sze