The Sleeping Beauty ballet, originally choreographed in 1890 by Marius Petipa, is a masterpiece of choreography and music that has become beloved worldwide. In the 130 years since it premiered, it has become the epitome of the classical ballet art form. The idea for the ballet came from Ivan Vsevolozhsky, director of the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1888. He envisioned a ballet that would not only tell the story of an enchanted princess but would also pay tribute to the opulent, 17th-century court of Louis XIV, a French king who loved ballet and who profoundly influenced the progression of ballet as an art form.
Because of this vision, the costumes for The Sleeping Beauty are also traditionally quite lavish. For the 2023 version of The Sleeping Beauty, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) has changed the costumes that it had used for the past 40 years. According to PBT Costume Director Kristin McLaiin, the costumes from the 2019 production were very regal, with intricate trims and fabric and more texture. The overall appearance of the stage was very compositional and painterly. McClain says the costumes for the 2023 production are much brighter and more defined. The costumes stand out as individual pieces, which allows for more storytelling, as the audience can visually identify characters more easily.
Below are some visual representations from PBT’s last version of The Sleeping Beauty in 2019 to this year’s updated version in 2023. The costumes from 2019 were rented from Boston Ballet and this year’s costumes will be rented from Charlotte Ballet, with a few exceptions that are noted.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will present The Sleeping Beauty with the PBT Orchestra May 19-21, 2023. Tickets and show information can be found at pbt.org.
Both costumes are youthful, pink and feminine. The 2023 costume features stronger colors and more defined decorative elements, while the 2019 costume is more ornate and intricate.
Each fairy has a color to represent her character. In past versions, the colors were pastel with ornate and intricate trim. This year, each fairy still has a signature color, but they are brighter colors and feature leaf motifs.
Carabosse at PBT has traditionally worn a dress made up of a bodice and full skirt with a petticoat that was dark, earthy colors and had shredded and torn fabric as well as layers of fabric for texture.
Our new 2023 version of Carabosse consists of an androgynous unitard with barnacle/algae growing up the body. It is nature inspired– and reflects dark, mucky places. It has been created by the PBT Costume Department.
Puss-n-Boots and the White Cat
These storybook characters are cute, playful, fun in both the 2019 and 2023 versions. In 2019, the White Cat was detailed with ears and makeup, but in 2023, the cat details come from a half-mask. Our 2019 Puss was more princely with a jacket and tights. Today he looks more like his storybook counterpart with a cape and fur pants.
As with Princess Aurora and the fairies, the Lilac Fairy costume features bolder colors and more defined decorative elements compared to the pastel version from PBT’s 2019 production.