The Australian Ballet

The Sleeping Beauty - The Choreography

The Sleeping Beauty

TAB The Sleeping Beauty Mc Allister Sydney Photo Daniel Boud 2015 15 1

Choreography elements

Rose adage

The Princes and Princess Aurora dance a very difficult dance called the Rose Adage. In this slow dance for Aurora and her four suitors, she is given a rose by each of the men who are vying for her hand in marriage. The choreography for this pas de cinq is extremely difficult for the ballerina, who has to sustain extended balances on pointe while looking effortless.

Grand pas de deux

The original choreographer of The Sleeping Beauty, Marius Petipa, was also the person who formulated the sequence of dances that we now know as a Grand Pas de deux. It consists of an adagio in which the ballerina performs, with her partner’s support, difficult pirouettes and complicated poses. Next, the male is given a solo so he can present his high jumps, leaps and turns. This is followed by the ballerina’s solo in which her movements are small and dainty, but precise and brilliant. Finally the two perform flashy, technically difficult steps, which builds the excitement of the dance until the ballerina finishes in a daring position in her partner’s arms. The Grand Pas de deux in The Sleeping Beauty is a perfect example of this formula.

Lilac fairy

Originally a mime role given to his very beautiful (but not very technically competent) daughter Marie by Marius Petipa, the Lilac Fairy has developed over the intervening years to become one of the most challenging roles for a ballerina. She represents wisdom and is able to countermand the evil spell of the fairy Carabosse from death to sleep.

The Sleeping Beauty is recognised as a ballet with many technical challenges in the choreography for the dancers.

TSB Awakes

David McAllister AM

Artistic Director

A graduate of The Australian Ballet School, Perth-born David McAllister began his training with Evelyn Hodgkinson and joined The Australian Ballet in 1983. He was promoted to senior artist in 1986 and to principal artist in January 1989.

His principal roles have included those in Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille mal gardée, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Sentimental Bloke, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, Sinfonietta and Stepping Stones.

In 1985 he won a Bronze Medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow and the same year won the Oceanic Equity Arts Award for Young Achievers in Perth. As a result of the Moscow Competition he was invited to return to the USSR as a guest artist and made numerous appearances with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Georgian State Ballet and other companies in Don Quixote, Giselle and in gala performances.

In 1989 he was guest artist with The National Ballet of Canada, alternating in the roles of Mercutio and Benvolio in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, and dancing Études and The Four Temperaments. He has also been a guest artist with Birmingham Royal Ballet and Singapore Dance Theatre. In London in 1992, he took part in the Royal Gala performance of Coppélia in the presence of the Princess of Wales.

In 1997, David McAllister danced in several premiere ballets: In the Upper Room, Theme and Variations and Cinderella, and in 1998 in La Bayadére and 1914. A highlight of 1999 was the opening night of Don Quixote in Shanghai. In 2000 he performed the role of Doctor/Beloved Officer in Graeme Murphy’s Nutcracker – The Story of Clara and recreated his 1993 ABC Television simulcast role of Camille in The Merry Widow.

David McAllister has worked as a guest teacher with The Australian Ballet School, The Dancers Company, the Royal Academy of Dancing, the Cecchetti Society, the Australian Institute of Classical Dance, and various summer schools. In November 2000, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management at Deakin University.

David McAllister danced for the final time in Giselle on 24 March 2001 at the Sydney Opera House, and became Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet in July 2001. He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List.

TAB The Sleeping Beauty Mc Allister Melbourne Photo Jeff Busby 2015 3 1

Lucas Jervies


Lucas Jervies is a dance and theatre maker for audiences of all ages. One of Australia’s most sought-after directors, he has created work for The Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, Opera Australia, Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Expressions Dance Company, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Sydney Chamber Opera, Griffin Theatre Company, JACK Productions, Hèrmes, Buzz Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company Pre Professional Year, Korzo Theatre Den Haag, Noverre Society Stuttgart Ballet, CoDarts Rotterdam University for the Arts and The Australian Ballet School.

A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and The Australian Ballet School, Lucas danced professionally with The Australian Ballet, Dance Works Rotterdam and Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, contributing as collaborator/dancer to over 50 contemporary creations and world-premiere seasons. He retired from dance in 2010 and co-founded JACK Productions in Melbourne, presenting three ballet-theatre productions over two years.

In 2012 Lucas was accepted into The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) to study directing. Following his graduation, he became an Affiliate Director with Griffin Theatre Company, where his physical theatre work The Witches, based on the book by Roald Dahl, has toured nationally to critical acclaim. In 2013 he was appointed Artistic Director of Buzz Dance Theatre; in 2014 he joined Sydney Dance Company as interim Rehearsal Director and in 2015 became a freelance artist, choreographing works for Opera Australia, Sydney Dance Company and Louisville Ballet.

Marius Petipa

Original choreographer

David Mc Allister’s The Sleeping Beauty uses the original choreography by Marius Petipa with some new original additions such as The Garland Dance.

Born in Marseilles, Frenchman Marius Petipa first went to Russia as a dancer and stayed to become the century’s most influential choreographer. While at the Imperial Theatres he created over 50 ballets including La Bayadére, Don Quixote, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. He created lavish evening-length works featuring exotic costumes and settings. This glamorous combination of dance and spectacle gave birth to the grand Russian style, which still means "ballet" to most of the world. Although he choreographed all three of Tchaikovsky’ ballet scores, The Sleeping Beauty is regarded as Petipa’s masterpiece.

The Sleeping Beauty was produced at a time when full-length story ballets with sumptuous sets and costumes were the vogue. It was a time of La Bayadère, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. However, the action was usually advanced by mime sequences interspersed between the dancing. Today, choreographers attempt to minimise the use of mime, preferring to allow the dancers to tell the story through their dancing.

David McAllister added new choreography to his production of The Sleeping Beauty, designed to keep the style of choreography used in the original 1890 version by Petipa. He also wanted to showcase the technical ability of todays' dancers. He was especially interested in the use of patterns and the way the garlands could be used to create moving tableaux within which the dancers could dance and interact.

The Sleeping Beauty

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