Apollo/ Jeux/ Le Train Bleu/ Suite en Blanc, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, March 2012Posted on 29 March 2012
The second part of ENB’s spring programme Beyond Ballets Russes has a charming middle section comprising Jeux and a solo from Le train bleu, sandwiched between two glorious works in white: Apollo and Suite en Blanc.
Apollo was choreographed by the 24-year old Balanchine in 1928, though he later revised it, cutting out the birth of Apollo at the start. Even without that prologue the backdrop is the deep blue of the night at the beginning, quickly changing to the lighter blue of the day. Against this background, Zdenek Konvalina was a fine Apollo, with his three muses dancing perfectly together. Daria Klimentova in particular as Terpiscore showed huge musicality, and Gavin Sutherland drew clean musical lines from the orchestra suiting the clean physical lines of the dancers. A wonderful performance making a serene start to the evening.
In the second part came the premiere of Wayne Eagling’s clever new take on Jeux, originally a 1912 creation by Nijinsky to music composed by Debussy in the late summer of that year. Eagling’s staging was fun, with wonderful performances by the seven dancers, and great lighting design by David Richardson. Then from sporting games to solo endeavour came a brief scene from the 1924 ballet Le train bleu. The blue train was the Calais-Mediterranean express, so named for its dark blue sleeping cars, and this was a piece of brilliant solo dancing by Vadim Muntagirov as le beau gosse in his swimming suit.
Finally the pièce de résistance was Maina Gielgud’s re-staging of Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc, to music by that remarkable nineteenth century French composer Edouard Lalo. This neo-classical showpiece, performed by Festival Ballet in the 1970s, was revived by the ENB in 2011 and it really is super. Most of the dancing was outstanding, and Elena Glurdjidze was incredible in the cigarette variation, which Ms. Gielgud originally learned from the choreographer himself. Ms. Glurdjidze showed glorious control, and those very fast entrechats six were a wonder to see.
From the three girls in the Sieste at the beginning to the excellent pas-de-deux between Erina Takehashi and Zdenek Konvalina, followed by her solo and the ensemble at the end, it was a feast of fine dancing. Yonah Acosta in the mazurka showed huge control and panache, the three girls at the start were fascinating to watch — the one in the middle in particular being supremely musical — and thepas-de-trois was performed with great classical style.
All praise to Wayne Eagling again for his artistic leadership, and how strange that the board of trustees care so little that they want to replace him. Great pity, but these performances of Beyond Ballets Russes II are worth every penny, and continue until April 1 — for details click here.