For most of us, the first thing that springs to mind when we hear the word 'ballet' is the traditional image of pink tutus and pirouettes: not an archetypal teenage boy’s idea of a fun evening out. Despite this, in keeping with the idea behind Culture Club, 30 Year 12 students challenged themselves to step outside their comfort zones by attending a performance of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.

Fortunately, Bourne’s exhilarating take on this innocuously familiar fairy tale soon cast aside any initial trepidation, drawing everyone into his unique blend of dazzling enchantment and gothic horror. As expected the dancing was incredible, perfectly demonstrating how this genre can be used to fully explore a stage and flawlessly blend one scene into another.

Opening curtain - Patrick Merchant, Year 12

The adapted story focused on the princess Aurora and introduced the son of the infamous Wicked Witch, Caradoc, as the main villain of the play. This ominous figure resembled a vampire, garbed in red and black to compliment the varied scenery on stage and make his ghastly pale face stand out in stark contrast - a terrifying spectacle for the audience.

Blessing Aurora

The innovative set even featured a captivatingly realistic puppet playing the role of a baby Aurora, allowing the cast to experiment with some hilarious scenes in which the puppet climbed curtains and caused havoc for the royal family. This was just one of the ways in which Bourne’s production deviated from a traditional ballet, surprising all of us with its modern, dramatic twists.

The ballet did not abandon the original tale altogether, concluding with a conventional happy ending in which the princess is reunited with Leo, a romantic gamekeeper and her former suitor.

Culture Club continues to be a resounding highlight of extracurricular Sixth Form life here at Challoner’s and I look forward to more enriching experiences throughout the year.