First there was Nutcracker! in 1992, followed by his ground-breaking all-male Swan Lake three years later.
His new Sleeping Beauty is an inventively gothic affair – beginning in 1890 (the year of the original choreographed by Petipa) and ending in the present day. His long-term collaborator Lez Brotherston provides stunning designs, creating an opulent, gilt, late-Victorian nursery, a verdant Edwardian garden, a misty sleepwalkers’ forest, and a steamy crimson and black nightclub behind locked gates where vengeful Caradoc, son of the dark fairy Carabosse, prepares to sacrifice the somnolent Princess Aurora after her hundred years’ sleep.
Bourne’s Aurora is a defiantly mischievous being, making her deliciously cute entrance as an infant size puppet, crawling on all fours, climbing the curtains and taxing the patience of the royal parents who so wished for a child that they called on Carabosse’s services to obtain her. No wonder, then, that when she comes of age, she falls for gamekeeper Leo rather than one of her more eligible suitors. And, ever the storyteller, Bourne introduces a bloodsucking vampire to ensure Leo is still there to save her a century after she pricks her finger on a rose.
The music is pared and pre-recorded which may bug purists, but, with its nods to different dance styles and cheeky inventions, Bourne’s ballet proves a treat, with Hannah Vassallo’s Princess limp as a ragdoll in response to Caradoc’s unwanted kiss, spirited as the visiting night-time fairies who entertained her as a toddler when she dances with her beloved Leo.
Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue EC1R 4TN
Until 26th January