Liverpool Actress Emma Rigby & Fabio D’Andrea’s Sleeping Beauty video reaches 1 million views on YouTube

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Sleeping Beauty

Actress Emma Rigby stars in Sleeping Beauty, a stunning video exploring the importance of childhood dreams for British composer Fabio D’Andrea’s new album.

Released last month, ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ is the latest from the award-winning composer and neo-classical pianist’s “24” album – the first ever classical video album – which consists of 24 original piano pieces by Fabio (one in every key), each accompanied by a video starring a Hollywood actor. Previous stars include Natalie Dormer and Russell Tovey in these dance-oriented performances.

A short-film director in addition to acclaimed musician, Fabio directed these surprising and visually striking technical works which shed new light on stars who we’ve not previously seen dancing. Through the prism of a magical fairytale, ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ features Emma performing a choreographed piece that examines such pertinent themes as the father-and-daughter relationship, grief, childhood dreams and the sacrifices made by parents.

Set to Fabio’s beautifully emotive and flowing piano composition, ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ sees Emma play the Princess – who a little girl, who’s recently lost her mother, dreams she becomes. As she twirls gracefully through the palace among a cohort of dancers, Emma meets her prince before the little girl awakens to find a pair of ballet shoes at her bedside: a gift from her newly widowed father.

The idea was sparked when Fabio witnessed a little girl gravitating towards Emma when they met up for a coffee in London.

“She was like a magnet,” recalls Fabio. “I just thought it would be really great to do something based around this little girl dreaming of becoming Emma.”

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In the video, the ballet shoes become a symbol of fulfilling dreams and creative expression. This is something Emma identifies closely with, having grown up in St Helens, Merseyside, as the little girl never losing sight of her dreams despite external pressures – dreams which she is now fulfilling as a film star.

“I’ve never ever felt good enough,” Emma says. “I’ve always been told ‘no you can’t’ and I’ve lived in great fear and I think so many people are brought up with that mentality and led to believe that they can’t do it and they will never be good enough. I’ve always had a dream and I still do today.”

The video urges viewers to pursue their dreams no matter what the barrier, their background or circumstances. At a time when people are struggling in the wake of emotional and financial devastation caused by coronavirus, such a positive message is not just valuable; it’s essential.

“I want to say it can come true for you,” says Emma. “Don’t listen to anybody else. It’s important to show people that all it takes is hard work and dedication and real enjoyment for whatever you’re doing. This video is about inspiring people to be whoever they want to be. Change is possible no matter where you’ve come from or what you’ve experienced.”

As parents around the country continue to homeschool their children while many classes remain shut due to COVID-19, it is apt that the sacrifice parents make in order to ensure their children are happy and live out their dreams is a key theme of the video.

“I wanted to touch on things that are universal,” says Fabio. “The sacrifice that parents make for their children is not something we talk about often. I keep thinking about the sacrifice my own parents went through, taking me to numerous music lessons all the time and the financial costs.”

Grief is another universal subject tackled by the film, as life continues for the little girl while her father puts on a brave face. A recurring theme of Fabio’s videos is the masks that we wear to conceal what is going on underneath to convey different things to the world.

Fabio says: “I think when a child goes through anything really traumatic like losing a parent, it feels like their childhood’s robbed. It’s really important for anybody – especially children – to have that normality and happiness brought back into their life so that it doesn’t become the dominating force. It’s easy for people to be shaped negatively. It’s the people around a child who can really help shape how they’re able to cope as an adult and whether that can be turned into something positive in their life.”

The video’s theme of father-daughter relationships especially resonated with Emma who experienced trauma in her childhood.

“I think fundamentally the most important relationship for a woman is with her father,” she says. “I want people to see this and recognise how relationships are so important. We need that connection as human beings.”

The fluid music itself reflects the cycle of life, as it creates variation after variation on the main theme, a sense of ongoing repetition while simultaneously evolving. “It’s a little bit like life – we go through repeats but everything is always changing,” explains Fabio.

Filmed in the opulent Stamford-based Burghley House built in the Elizabethan era, the video was choreographed by Dane Hurst, the esteemed ex-principal dancer of Rambert Dance Company, who also appears alongside Emma as the first butler. Dane’s students from the London School of Contemporary Dance perform around the precious artefacts and paintings, and Emma’s Princess wakes up in a lavish bed last slept on by none other than Queen Victoria. There is a cameo, too, from the composer himself. Other videos in the series feature dancers from The Royal Ballet and hip-hop dance companies.

Dance was Emma’s first love and led to her first audition for the role which launched her career, as Hannah Ashworth in Hollyoaks, when at 14 she was spotted by an agent on stage at a festival dancing to ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’ from the musical Chicago.

“I desperately wanted to dance and that’s how I got my first role on television,” recalls Emma. “My favourite thing has always been to dance and my fondest memory as a child was to listen to music in my kitchen and to dance around with my mum. So when this opportunity came along to dance, something that was my first love that I’d not done for so long, I couldn’t wait. This combines everything that I love: classical music, ballet and a different concept.”

The video shines a light on a side to Emma we’ve not seen, after years of her feeling stigmatised by the very role which brought her fame. “I’d love people to see me in a different light,” she says. “In my career, no matter what I do everyone associates me with Hollyoaks. There’s always this prejudice against me.”

‘The Sleeping Beauty’ has won more than 20 international awards including the Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival (LA Shorts) which is an Oscar contender, while it has been screened at the Hollyshorts Festival in LA, and the infamous Chinese Theatre.

“I’ve been really amazed at the response so far,” says Fabio. “It’s really interesting that people seem to love this piece. It does touch on issues that are there for everybody. Whatever culture or language, or wherever you are around the world, family is important.”

Emma Rigby says: “Fabio is so talented. It’s such a beautiful piece of music and it’s so moving similarly to Russell’s video, which really choked me up. I think it allows people to see something new and connect with their hearts; we all have our own experience that’s different and equally important.”

Since the 2012 release of his debut album “Reflections”, which was made Classic FM’s Album of the Week, the classically-trained Fabio has performed, conducted and produced music around the world. He performed for stars from Leonardo DiCaprio to Sharon Stone at the Cannes Film Festival, while his compositions received premieres at London’s Royal Festival Hall and St-Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Paris Opera House. He was the youngest composer to be commissioned for a ballet production at the Royal Opera House.

“I would love to reach a whole bunch of people who would never put on anything classical,” Fabio says. “And the same with dance. That’s my mission. I’m hoping that we’ve tapped into something so universal that it can show people that the arts are accessible. The problem is classical music has become this elitist thing. The challenge for me was to create something that people can consume quickly, but that opens up the conversation and opens people up to looking at art and listening to other music. The arts are going through a really hard time so it’s nice that we can release this video now to remind everybody of the best in the arts world.”

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