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A Fairy-Tale 'Beauty' and the Feast

May 22, 1997|ANN CONWAY

The event: Members of the Royal Ballet--Great Britain's largest and most prestigious ballet company--gathered for supper at Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar following their opening night performance Tuesday in "Sleeping Beauty" at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa.

Off their toes: Relaxing at tables set with fresh flowers, members of the ballet company sipped wine and dined on pasta as they chatted with donors and board members of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Principal dancer Darcey Bussell (who danced the role of Aurora) called the troupe's performance "a good show." "This is my third time [in Segerstrom Hall]," she said, still clutching the bouquet she received on stage. "I'm very fortunate to be back again. 'Sleeping Beauty' has become one of my favorites. It was very daunting to start with, but with experience, it's gotten much better."

The buzz: Ballet lovers praised Bussell's performance. "You could argue that Darcey Bussell might be the finest ballerina in the world," noted Thomas Kendrick, the center's founding president. "At this moment, there's no doubt she is the hottest ballerina in the world."

Quote: The company's elaborate costumes featured iridescent fabrics, dramatic layering and jewel-like headpieces. "They're not bad to dance in," observed principal dancer Deborah Bull (Bluebird). "But we don't really care what they look like. It's how they feel."

Classic approach: Performing "Sleeping Beauty" has brought the Royal Ballet back to its roots, Bull noted. " 'Beauty' is very, very, classical, and it's very much what our technique is about." She found the stage in Segerstrom Hall less classic than most performance hall stages, however. "It has a slightly different shape. Not as deep, a little bit wider. I found myself right down at the footlights occasionally and thought, whoops!"

Who was there: Sir Anthony Dowell, director of the Royal Ballet; Judith O'Dea Morr, the center's vice president of programming; center president Jerry Mandel with his wife, Whitney; William Gillespie; Lloyd Riger; Jim and Barbara Glabman; and Ron and Gail Soderling.

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