La Bayadère, with Acosta, Nuñez, Kobayashi, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2013

This marvellous classical ballet by Petipa, in a three-act version by Makarova, provides scope for alternative portrayals of the main roles, and the ones given on May 14 by Acosta, Nuñez and Kobayashi gelled beautifully.

Carlos Acosta as Solar © Bill Cooper

Acosta as Solor ©ROH/ BillCooper

Carlos Acosta as Solor came over as a decent fellow placed in an impossible position by Christopher Saunders as the Rajah. Hikaru Kobayashi as his daughter Gamzatti, and Marianela Nuñez as the temple dancer Nikiya, were young women out of their depth in the circumstances, and the huge emotional energy they brought to their fateful meeting in Act I set the scene for the tragedy that ensued. Sparks flew between them and things got easily out of hand. Huge emotional commitment too from Gary Avis as the High Brahmin desperately protesting his love to Nikiya when he finds she’s involved with Solor.

The cowed scheming of Genesia Rosato as Gamzatti’s servant Aya suggested that the deadly snake in the basket of flowers for Nikiya was given on the orders of the Rajah, but interfering with emotional power is a dangerous game and the forces of nature eventually take control with the earthquake at the end.

In the meantime there were some terrific performances. In Act I, Acosta’s pas-de-deux with each girl had an engaging gentleness, and he showed effortless control in his big solo. The entrance of the shades in Act II, so choreographically simple, was beautifully performed, and there were lovely solos by the three main shades, Yuhui Choe, Elizabeth Harrod and Claire Calvert. Choe showed a wonderful lightness in the first variation, and Harrod coped beautifully with the very slow tempos in parts of the second variation. Acosta danced his solo with a beautifully relaxed ease and grace, and Nuñez turned simple choreography into magic, as with her chainé turns towards the end. These two gave an airy perfection to Solor’s dream world, before the denouement of the third act.

In Act III, after Valentino Zucchetti danced a wonderfully precise and mechanical Bronze Idol, the drama of the story returned. Excellent hesitancy from Acosta, and fine nervous tension from Kobayashi, foreshadowed the destruction of their world, rounding off a performance of enormous commitment from the whole company. Fine conducting by Valeriy Ovsyanikov allowed Minkus’s music to inspire the dancers, and if you can get tickets there is one further performance with the same three leading principals.

This is on May 22 — for details click here.

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