Amber Scott as Aurora

When Stanton Welch’s Sleeping Beauty premiered in 2005 Amber Scott was a relatively new member of the Australian Ballet, having joined in 2001. In 2009, as a senior artist with the company, she danced the leading role of Aurora in the Australian Ballet’s revival of Welch’s work. Her appearance in this demanding role was something to be celebrated.

While in my opinion the Welch Beauty is a flawed work, scenically in particular, it nevertheless requires, as does the original version choreographed by Marius Petipa, a dancer of exceptional classical technique to perform Aurora’s solos and the various pas de deux. Welch has in fact largely retained Petipa’s choreography for Aurora’s two key scenes, that in which she dances with four potential suitors at her sixteenth birthday celebration, and that in which she dances with her Prince as the ballet comes to an end.

Scott has a classically proportioned body. Her arms in particular are long and fluid and she has an eloquent neck, which she uses to maximum advantage, and beautifully arched feet. But she also understands the essential features of the classical technique. So, as Aurora, her execution of Petipa’s centred and pure movement was articulate and a joy to behold. Her Rose Adagio was outstanding and in fact at one stage she chose not to lower her hand to one of the cavaliers so secure was her balance. Radiant, she simply stood there in attitude as that particular cavalier retired, having been acknowledged but without having had the pleasure of Aurora’s hand on his! The audience began applauding well before the end and kept it up—something I haven’t seen for some time.

Equally, Scott’s execution of the variations in all scenes showed the same attention to cleanness of execution—such beautiful unfolding of the leg in développé or, in reverse, from à la seconde to retiré, delicate hops on pointe, gorgeous arabesque line, crisp turns. Just glorious really.

What is lacking now from Scott’s interpretation, at least of this role, is maturity. She is still in the last act very much the dewy and beautiful sixteen year old on the cusp of maturity. Her more experienced colleagues in companies around the world are able to differentiate between the beginning and the end of the ballet. But time is on her side and I look forward to seeing her grow into a luminous ballerina, which appears to be her destiny.

Daniel Gaudiello also continues to impress. His Bluebird was airborne and full of idiosyncratic flutters of the arms and hands (perhaps as befits the idiosyncratic costume, especially the racing helmet headdress?). Gaudiello is blessed with a powerful stage presence and an ability to make the most of whatever choreography comes his way. Duato or Petipa—and Welch also retained much of the earlier choreography for the Bluebird—Gaudiello immerses himself into it all in an individualistic manner, which makes engrossing watching for the audience.

Michelle Potter, 14 December 2009

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