Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty ballet.

Cats in Ballet Roles

With their lithe bodies and graceful movements, it is perhaps surprising that cats have not been represented more often in either classical or contemporary ballet.

Two of the few cats in the ballet repertoire appear in the final act of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty (first performed in 1890) when, among other fairy-tale characters, Puss in Boots dances a pas de deux with a white cat at the wedding festival of newly awakened Princess Aurora.

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011), the huge Cheshire Cat that drifts creepily on and off the stage is not a dancing role—the head and body comprise a series of disjointed parts worked by puppeteers.