‘Sleeping Beauty’ will cast a spell at BYU


“Four, five, six, up!” the ballet teacher instructs a roomful of dancers in the Richards Building. As a piano in the corner plays a light, dreamy tune with a six-beat count, the male ballerinas practice lifting their female counterparts above their heads. Some of the dancers are princes, fairies, or courtiers. The ballerina with the bright stage makeup and the sparkling tiara is a princess.

During Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 14–16, an orchestra will replace the piano, and the sleeping princess will be lifted above the de Jong Concert Hall stage floor during the BYU production of “Sleeping Beauty.”

“It’s a dream come true,” said Hannah Brown, the crowned dancer who will play the Sleeping Beauty “once upon a dream.”

Hannah Brown as Princess Aurora in BYU Theatre Ballet’s production of “Sleeping Beauty.” Courtesy BYU

“I don’t know a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than a romantic ballet,” said Shani Robison, the artistic director of the BYU Theatre Ballet.

Children (and others) can meet the ballerinas in pre-show parties one hour before each performance.

“Children will come in tutus,” said Hannah Brown, one of two dancers playing Princess Aurora, the lead role. “It’ll be one of those ballets that children will love.”

Brown is only a sophomore, but this is not her first lead role. She has also been Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” among other roles, back in her hometown of Rodgers, Ark.

Hilary Wolfley will also play Aurora. Robison said that two casts are involved in “Sleeping Beauty,” and they will be used equally.

Brown explained that dancers are chosen for roles based on both skill and ability to play the character. Sweetness, innocence and elegance are a must for Princess Aurora.

“I worked really hard to show them that I wanted the role,” Brown said.

The hard work helped her fulfill a personal dream. Brown has wanted to play Aurora since childhood.

Hannah Brown and Hilary Wolfley will alternate as Princess Aurora with Ruger Memmott as Prince Florimund. Courtesy BYU.

Robison said that, in everything from keeping the original choreography by Marius Petipa to the live accompaniment by the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra, they have tried to keep the BYU production true to everyone’s dreams.

“My parents called me Sleeping Beauty when I was little,” Brown said. “I always wanted to be that princess they said I was.”

Then she tucks her hair back into her tiara and pirouettes back to rehearsal. Her prince needs to practice a few more lifts before he can kiss her awake on Valentine’s Day.

Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, and matinees will be on Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. Ticket prices are $15, with a discounted price of $7 for children, and tickets are available at the Fine Arts Ticket Office. All of the performances will feature live orchestral accompaniment by the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra.

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