Carmel High School freshman embraces iconic role in ’Sleeping Beauty’


For Carmel High School freshman Anya Stephenson, playing the role of Aurora in “The Sleeping Beauty” is special because the character is iconic.

“Getting the chance to perform the role is something I am so grateful for, and I’m excited to continue working on it,” she said.

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Ballet Theatre of Carmel Academy’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty” is set for May 26-27 at STAR Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville. Miriam Danek, a Cardinal Ritter High School freshman, plays Aurora in the 7:30 p.m. May 26 show, while Stephenson is cast in the 2 p.m. May 27 performance.

“One of the greatest challenges while performing Aurora is the stamina that you need to sustain throughout all of the acts,” Stephenson  said. “Her variations are incredibly demanding, as is the rest of the dancing.”

This is Stephenson’s largest role.

 “I have been lucky to dance many roles that I have enjoyed, but I think Aurora is easily one of my favorites,” she said. “‘Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite ‘great classic’ ballets, and I love watching it being performed almost as much as I love dancing it.”

CHS senior Aiko Ileleji portrays Carabosse, the evil fairy, in the May 26 show. She shares the role with CHS sophmore Ella Williams, who plays the role May 27.

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“Carabosse challenges me to embrace acting in a more constructed style,” Ileleji said. “Carabosse is, after all, an established role with a predetermined character, quite unlike minor roles I’ve played where the characters had no established name and personality. I also can’t ignore the fact that I can wear gorgeous costumes and ride a chariot.”

The biggest challenges for Ileleji are the fouettés, a type of turn in classical ballet.

“In my 15 years of dancing, I have never had to balance my dancing with my acting as much as I have to now,” she said. “I have played other villain character roles, but there has never been a combination of dancing, character and pantomime required as it is for this role. It’s particularly challenging because Carabosse is not quite human, she’s a fairy but adheres to human qualities that gives her human emotions that should reflect in her dancing and movements.”

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