Royal Ballet Triple: Viscera/ Infra/ Fool’s Paradise, Covent Garden, November 2012

This wonderful evening of dance featured two interesting works receiving their first performances by the Royal Ballet.

First came Viscera by Liam Scarlett, commissioned by the Miami City Ballet and premiered in their home-town during January 2012. With costumes by Scarlett himself, beautifully pure lighting by John Hall, and music for piano and orchestra in three movements by American composer Lowell Liebermann, this was riveting.

Nuñez and Hirano in Viscera, all images ROH/ Andrej Uspenski

Music in the first movement was fast. A flurry of turns and lifts, swiftly accomplished by the sixteen dancers led by Laura Morera moving and interchanging with one another, produced a visceral impact. Then suddenly as the lighting turned from red to turquoise the tempo changed to a mood of great tranquillity, and the piano, ably played by Robert Clark, started the second movement with the orchestra directed by Barry Wordsworth joining in later. This section was a pas-de-deux, beautifully performed by Ryoichi Hirano and Marianela Nuñez as they cut interesting poses expressing a great spiritual attraction between them. As she leaves, he walks off, and the final section starts. Slower than the first, but as the lighting changed to pink, so the music changed to a bolder form. The choreography of arm movements was intriguing, and the colours changed again: a moment of turquoise changed to red, and firm chords from the orchestra led to a final denouement. It was all superbly danced, and this 20 minute ballet formed a terrific start to an evening that ended with Fool’s Paradise by Christopher Wheeldon.

Watson and Hamilton in Fool’s Paradise

This 30 minute ballet was first performed in 2007 by Wheeldon’s own company, to music by Joby Talbot, who later delivered the score for Wheeldon’s full-length ballet on Alice in Wonderland. Lovely flesh coloured costumes with subtle highlights by fashion designer Narcisco Rodriguez were complemented by distant lighting from high above by Penny Jacobus, with fluttering white leaves descending to the stage. It all starts with two men and a girl standing at stage rear. As she moves to join them in a pas-de-trois the action warms up, and couples come into play, moving and disappearing. Beautiful partnering here by Federico Bonelli with Sarah Lamb, Edward Watson with Melissa Hamilton, and Steven McRae with Yuhui Choe in the sensual choreography underpinned by Talbot’s mellifluous music, which at times sounded like early Schoenberg. After complex variations among nine dancers, they come together at the end to form an extraordinary tableau of bodies, arms and legs.

Fool’s Paradise final tableau

The second item of the triple, Wayne McGregor’s Infra with its interesting music by Max Richter, was surrounded by two half hour intervals, making a good dinner interlude for those who are already familiar with it. But this triple bill, superbly danced and with two works new to the Company, is worth every penny of the tickets at bargain basement prices. Terrific value and very well worth seeing.

Performances continue only until November 14 — for details click here.

One Response to “Royal Ballet Triple: Viscera/ Infra/ Fool’s Paradise, Covent Garden, November 2012”

  1. susannah wight says:

    It’s the two half-hour intervals that put me off going to more triple bills. Maybe I will go for this one after all, on the strength of your review!

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