THE opulent world of Imperial Russian ballet, with its marvellous mixture of virtuoso dance, fairy tale characters and dazzling spectacle, has delighted audiences for over a hundred years.

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the grandest ballets in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory, with a classical score by Tchaikovsky and original choreography by Marius Petipa.

Sir Peter Wright’s 1984 production for Birmingham Royal Ballet, with designs by Philip Prowse, is acclaimed as one of the best in the world.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty opens its new tour on Wednesday at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

Resplendent in a shimmering palette of blush pink and gold, the wardrobe of The Sleeping Beauty is the largest and most complex of any ballet in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repertory. The expert costume and wig departments begin work as soon as the ballet is announced, preparing themselves for months of repairing and renovating original costumes, dressing wigs and ponytails, fitting new costumes on dancers and ensuring every fine detail will be ready for the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty.

The company's biggest production in terms of costumes and wigs, it is the only one which requires an entire articulated lorry just for wardrobe.

There are 66 wigs, 31 ponytails and one beard in The Sleeping Beauty. There are 40 rails of costumes and 17 wicker skips – including four rails of Princess Aurora tutus alone.

The dancer playing Princess Aurora wears three tutus throughout the ballet. With nine ballerinas cast in the lead role, each with their own complete set of costumes, the wardrobe team must prepare 27 Aurora tutus.

The wardrobe also includes eight baskets of shoes – some ballerinas will use 10 pairs of pointe shoes or more throughout the tour.

The run, which ends on Saturday February 3, is close to a sell out, but limited tickets remain available from 023 8071 1811 or

Birmingham Royal Ballet will also present First Steps on Friday February 2. This hour-long, interactive show, specially adapted for children aged three plus, features ballet excerpts from The Sleeping Beauty, performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet's amazing dancers and orchestra, interspersed with scenes in which a storyteller introduces the children to the music and the leading characters, and shares some technical magic. A feast of dance, music, costumes and lots of fun, this is a perfect introduction to ballet.