Les Sylphides, Sensorium, The Firebird, Royal Ballet, May 2009


This was a lovely triple bill, with a new ballet by Alastair Marriott sandwiched between two well-known works by Mikhail Fokine.

The first item, Les Sylphides was very well danced, with Johan Kobborg and Yuhui Choe doing an excellent job as the principal couple. They were backed up by Laura Morera in the waltz, Lauren Cuthbertson in the Mazurka, and Iohna Loots and Bethany Keating as leading sylphs, not all I’m afraid as musical as Yuhui Choe. But with good technique it’s difficult to go wrong with Fokine’s glorious choreography and Chopin’s wonderful music.

Sensorium, choreographed by Alastair Marriott to music of Debussy, was a sensuous and cleanly performed dance work that lasted almost half and hour, and didn’t flag for a minute. The costumes were simple leotards for the girls and full length leotards for the two men, Thomas Whitehead who danced with Leanne Benjamin, and Rupert Pennefather who partnered Alexandra Ansanelli. All danced well, as did the ten girls who backed them up, and Pennefather in particular showed a lovely line, and very clean technique. One fault was that dancers moving across the front of the stage were in the dark, but otherwise the lighting, designed by John Read, gave just the right texture for this work.

Finally The Firebird was a terrific show of colour, with Mara Galeazzi heavily made up for the part of this magical bird. Her dancing however seemed to lack fluidity, and Thiago Soares as the Tsarevich did not cut as strong a figure as he might. But Elizabeth McGorian was a lovely Tsarevna, and Gary Avis was simply superb as the immortal Kostcheï. The supporting cast did a very fine job, and this might have been a successful Firebird were it not marred by Barry Wordsworth’s sloppy conducting — the music is Stravinsky and should sound like it.

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