New principals joined previously reviewed colleagues Friday in Shrine Auditorium for a performance of the American Ballet Theatre's "Sleeping Beauty" marked by great warmth and vivacity. Obviously, Petipa can't be conquered by personality alone, but it certainly helps.
Cheryl Yeager made an admirably spirited Aurora, and she flew through the allegro variation after the Rose Adagio as if happy to remain earthbound. Generally, though, her dancing had little bloom, polish or distinction. It was mostly efficient but, at worst (in many terminations), grew shaky.
Notwithstanding his inescapable problems of line, Julio Bocca was a fine Desire: an unusually hot-blooded Prince and a master of the role's technical hazards. His dancing in the last act's duet had ideal speed, elevation and sharpness, along with refinement and individuality.
As the Lilac Fairy, Christine Dunham revealed enough strength of character to stand up to the forces of evil. But her dancing looked oddly dry and constricted, and her execution of the pantomime often proved unreadable.