Am I gay, or is that prince really handsome?
Did you know that The Sleeping Beauty was the first ballet that the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev ever saw? And that Rudolf Nureyev made his debut in the West dancing The Sleeping Beauty? That George Balanchine’s first appearance on stage was as Cupid, sitting on a gold cage, in The Sleeping Beauty?
Well, Sacramento Ballet is doing Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty this weekend, which, in itself, is special—there are opportunities to see The Nutcracker every year, but The Sleeping Beauty isn’t mounted nearly as often. And historically, it’s every bit as important (even if it hasn’t become an American holiday tradition). There’s also a local angle: This production will be the last appearance, as the leading male dancer in a full-length ballet, for Sacramento Ballet’s Jack Hansen, who’s been the star of many of the company’s productions over the last nine years.
Hansen will play the handsome prince (what else?) in The Sleeping Beauty. His accomplished performances and tangible enthusiasm have made him an audience favorite, and his love of the stage is undimmed. But the tremendous physical demands that ballet places on the human body—including grueling six-hour daily sessions in the studio—have taken their toll over 20 years as a professional dancer. After this show, Hansen will transition into less physically demanding character parts, which will be easier on his overworked feet. He’ll also work with the Sacramento Ballet’s young talent.