Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty back on tour across the UK
Dancer Cordelia Braithwaite talks about her leading role in Bourne’s popular fairytale re-make
She didn’t know it at the time, but as the house lights went down in Milton Keynes Theatre in 2009, a teenage Cordelia Braithwaite was about to have a life-changing experience. Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake was in her home town for a week and the 14-year-old young dancer was instantly mesmerised.
‘I was so inspired by it,’ recalls Braithwaite. ‘The storytelling is wonderful – he’s like the Tim Burton of theatre. I loved the way everything is slightly twisted, and so different from everything else around. I was captivated straight away.’
Five years later and fresh out of dance school, Braithwaite bagged her first professional engagement, right back where it all began, in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.
From there, she quickly rose from playing ensemble parts to understudying lead roles. Until now, just 18 months after joining Bourne’s New Adventures company, Braithwaite is playing the lead role of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
‘It’s been such a whirlwind,’ she says with a laugh. ‘I honestly thought you had to work your way up and prove yourself, so to suddenly get an opportunity like this is absolutely amazing.’
Bourne is quoted as saying that Braithwaite has a quality of movement ‘that can just stun you’, so it’s no surprise he promoted her so quickly. And, hearing the dancer talk about her new role, it’s clear Bourne saw something in Braithwaite that suited the part perfectly.
‘I really wanted to make Aurora a real person,’ says Braithwaite, ‘and for the audience to see who she really is. And in a way, she’s like me when I was younger – a free spirit out in the fields without a care in the world.
‘Aurora has nice shoes but refuses to wear them, and likes to be out in the rain and dancing in bare feet. All the men at the party are trying to court her, but she doesn’t realise because she’s in love with the gardener. So I wanted to get across that sense of freedom. But the more I play her, the more I find, so the character is constantly evolving.’
Mattthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty is on nation-wide tour now.