The Sleeping Beauty Ballet

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.   It is based on the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty.   It is one of three ballets composed by Tchaikovsky.    It is my personal favorite Tchaikovsky ballet, and actually my favorite ballet of all time!   I am, in fact, walking down the aisle to a piece from this ballet!

The story of the ballet is the same basic tale of the original fairytale.   Princess Aurora is cursed as a baby to die when her finger is pricked on her sixteenth birthday.   The curse by the Dark Faerie is mitigated by one of the Light Faeries into just being in an enchanted sleep for one hundred years.

When her sixteenth birthday comes around the curse cannot be averted, and the Princess pricks her finger on a spinning wheel spindle.   She ends up falling into the enchanted sleep for a century, along with the rest of the people in her palace.    Over the next century the castle remains untouched and unchanged.   

One day a young and strong Prince happened upon the ruins of the castle.   He ventured inside to find all of the inhabitants in a deep deathlike slumber.   He then finds Princess Aurora on her bed, laid out in beauty and splendour.   The Prince is so taken with her lovely visage that he cannot help but kiss the beauty awake.    The curse is broken!

The two are set to be wed immediately following his triumph of freeing the castle from the curse.   And everyone lives Happily Ever After.

Interestingly Walt Disney utilized the original Tchaikovsky music when he was developing his animated feature film in the late 1950s.    The song “Once Upon a Dream” is actually Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty Waltz” with lyrics set to it!    I love that the only Disney princess movie to utilize classic ballet music is that depicting my favorite ballet!

When Matthew Bourne set out to do his own production of the classic ballet he found the same issue as Walt Disney had.    The Prince and Princess fall in love instantly after true love’s kiss, never having met before.   So both versions (Disney and the Bourne ballet) have the two lovers meet prior to falling in love!   For the Matthew Bourne ballet he kept the one hundred year curse in place, so he had to make it so that the Prince would be alive one hundred years later.   To do this he chose a brilliant strategy of having the faeries also be vampires, and they turn the Prince allowing him to be alive a century later!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my favorite ballet!   Let me know your thoughts, and your favorite ballets the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is the DVD cover art for the Matthew Bourne ballet.   I found the image on

Further Watching

  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance (2013)
  • Imagine-A Beauty Born: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (2013)