Tag Archives: ballet review

Nutcracker, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, December 2017

In this beautiful and perennially popular Peter Wright production, Drosselmeyer appears in his workshop at the start, gazing at a portrait of his nephew Hans-Peter, now maliciously trapped inside the Nutcracker Doll. To escape he must slay the Mouse King, which becomes a turning point when Clara clobbers the monster with her shoe, and in …

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Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude/ Tarantella/ Strapless/ Symphonic Dances, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2017

The main focus of this mixed bill is its final item, Liam Scarlett’s new work to Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. The abundant melody of this 1940 composition allows ideas to emerge in and around each other, skilfully expressed in Scarlett’s choreography. For the forces of nature in this music, brilliantly conducted by Koen Kessels, Scarlett and …

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

In January 1889, fifty years into the reign of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, his son and heir Crown Prince Rudolf died in an apparent suicide pact at the Mayerling hunting lodge with his new mistress Mary Vetsera. In late 1916 Franz Joseph’s death after a reign of 68 years ended an era wonderfully brought to …

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Royal Ballet Triple: The Human Seasons/ After the Rain/ Flight Pattern, ROH, March 2017

This wonderful triple bill of modern ballets sees revivals of two very successful works and a new ballet by Crystal Pite, all superbly conducted by Koen Kessels. First came David Dawson’s Human Seasons, inspired by Keats’s poem that refers to human life in terms of its spring, summer, autumn and winter. Dawson refers to a …

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, ROH, February 2017

The second run of Sleeping Beauty this season started in grand style with Marianela Nuñez as Princess Aurora and Vadim Muntagirov as her prince, and a cast close to that for the live cinema relay at the end of the month. In Act I Nuñez showed the thrill of a teenager at her own coming …

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Anastasia, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2016

In 1971 when Kenneth MacMillan produced this three-act ballet — following an earlier creation in Berlin of what became the final act — there was still uncertainty about whether the main character had once been Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. Now there is none, but the ballet retains its grip …

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La Fille mal gardée, with Morera and Muntagirov, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2016

The setting of this ‘late-summer’ ballet with its wealthy farmer, hay bales and young peasants makes a great season opener, with Morera and Muntagirov repeating their excellent Lisa and Colas from April last year. As dawn breaks, Tristan Dyer’s cockerel and his hens opened the performance in fine style, before Morera and Muntagirov’s beautifully gentle …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Obsidian Tear/ The Invitation/ Within the Golden Hour, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2016

Royal Ballet triple bills rarely begin with a new ballet, but this one started with the world premiere of Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear to a half-hour orchestral piece by Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. Salonen, better known as a conductor, takes up the baton to direct his own music, named Nyx after the Greek goddess of the …

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Frankenstein, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, May 2016

Liam Scarlett’s interest in German myth and murderous intrigue, already apparent in his ballets Hansel and Gretel and Sweet Violets, now finds its full flowering in Mary Shelley’s 1818 story of Victor Frankenstein. This meditation on loss, the yearning for love, and fear of the outsider shows the folly of taking on oneself the gods’ …

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Winter’s Tale, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2016

Christopher Wheeldon’s representation of this Shakespeare play, where King Leontes of Sicilia goes insane with jealousy, only recovering after the damage is done and then many years later seeing the younger generation sort out the mess their elders have made, is a marvellous evocation of the story presented in fine Shakespearean style. A painting is …

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Giselle, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2016

For the opening night in this new run of Giselle, Sarah Lamb took over the title role at short notice from Natalia Osipova and delivered a flawless performance. Her emotional energy and light, floating steps in Act I portrayed the slightly out-of-this world girl she represents before her beautifully executed mad scene, and in Act …

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Wheeldon Triple: After the Rain/ Strapless/ Within the Golden Hour, Royal Ballet, February 2016

This was the first outing at Covent Garden for each of these three ballets, and for Christopher Wheeldon’s new narrative work Strapless a world premiere, framed here by the two abstract pieces. The first, After the Rain is a lovely ballet in two sections to music by Arvo Pärt, premiered by the New York City …

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Royal Ballet: Rhapsody/ Two Pigeons, ROH, Covent Garden, January 2016

Under Artistic Director Kevin O’Hare the Royal Ballet is thankfully giving more time to the choreography of Frederick Ashton, a genius at creating movement attuned to the music. He originally created Rhapsody for the Queen Mother’s eightieth birthday in 1980, to be danced by Baryshnikov, and in this performance its quick darting steps and rapid …

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Le Corsaire, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, January 2016

English National Ballet’s Corsaire marks a tremendous achievement for Tamara Rojo since her appointment as artistic director less than four years ago. The staging by Anna-Marie Holmes, complemented by Gavin Sutherland’s musical rearrangement, provides thrilling male choreography fully realised in this performance by the four principal male dancers. Ms Rojo has brought in men well …

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Elizabeth, Royal Ballet, ROH Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, January 2016

This ballet on the life and loves of Elizabeth I, originally shown in 2013 at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, is now making a well deserved appearance at the Royal Opera House. It is a remarkable creation by Will Tuckett, with text and co-direction by Alasdair Middleton, and music by Martin Yates. Yates has …

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The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, December 2015

This Christmas sees the Royal Ballet reviving Nutcracker — absent last year in favour of Don Q and Alice — in the Peter Wright production that has been with the Company for over thirty years. Yet it still looks entirely fresh, as did the dancers on opening night with Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell making …

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Royal Ballet Double Bill: Monotones I and II, The Two Pigeons, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2015

Why were there inexpensive empty seats? This is a wonderful mixed bill of Ashton ballets, including his delightful Two Pigeons featuring Jacques Dupont’s glorious set with its window to the city and sky of Paris beautifully lit by Peter Teigen. Yet before this colourful drama of two lovers reunited after one flies the nest, we …

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Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: Viscera/ Afternoon of a Faun/ Tchaikovsky pas-de-deux/ Carmen, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2015

The big draw of the evening was Carlos Acosta’s new Carmen, but the three preceding ballets, all superbly danced, were arguably worth the whole evening. Liam Scarlett’s Viscera made a welcome return after its first performances three years ago, with Leticia Stock and Nehemiah Kish in the tranquil pas-de-deux that shows the tentative attraction between …

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Romeo and Juliet, with McRae and Lamb, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2015

Things are looking up at the Royal Ballet with new music director Koen Kessels. From the first bars it was clear that a new hand was at work, and his conducting on the opening night of the Company’s new season put recent musical performances deservedly into the shadows. At the end of the first Act …

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La fille mal gardée, with McRae and Osipova, Royal Ballet, ROH, April 2015

Inspired by a mid-eighteenth century painting, Jean Dauberval first created this ballet in 1789, and it was premiered in Bordeaux two weeks before the storming of the Bastille. Two years later it was presented in London where the musicians wrote ribald comments on the pastiche score, though that all changed in 1828 when a student …

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La fille mal gardée, with Muntagirov and Morera, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2015

Wonderful freshness and vitality from the whole company in this revival of Ashton’s delightful ballet, and Vadim Muntagirov as Colas was perfection. His deft technique and control — and those glorious split jumps in second — combined with a boyish charm made him an irresistible foil to Laura Morera’s quietly understated Lisa. The idyllic happiness …

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Swan Lake, with Osipova and Golding, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2015

The performance on 21 February was the best I’ve seen so far in the present run, not least because Boris Gruzin in the orchestra pit gave a superb rendering of Tchaikovsky’s score. It was far better than the brash energy of the first night — given no doubt after insufficient rehearsal time, since Gruzin has …

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Onegin, with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, January 2015

For John Cranko’s 1960s take on Pushkin’s verse narrative the husband and wife partnership of Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares is about as perfect as it gets. The tearing up of one another’s letters — a Cranko innovation absent from Pushkin, where Onegin rejects her advances in a far gentler way — was effected with cool …

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Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, January 2015

Peter Farmer’s wonderful designs for ENB’s Swan Lake, beautifully lit by Howard Harrison, suggest a world of mystery behind the real world of courtly conformity, all brought to life by Tchaikovsky’s music under the excellent baton of Gavin Sutherland. The dancers respond magnificently, and the Company’s ensemble work is showing glorious precision. The swans of …

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2014

The great charm of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s original story is the interplay between the real and imaginary worlds of Clara’s life, both inhabited by her beloved godfather Drosselmeyer. This production emphasises Drosselmeyer’s ambiguous role in his pursuit of a dancing butterfly in the Act II mirliton section, but the clever main idea is to …

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Don Quixote, with Nuñez and Acosta, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2014

What joy to see Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez in a beautifully rehearsed first cast for this year’s revival of Acosta’s new Don Q. Gone was the tension of the Gala opening last year, and from their first appearance in Act I he made a superb young Basilio, with Nuñez on fire as his beloved …

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Royal Ballet Triple Bill: Ceremony of Innocence, Age of Anxiety, Aeternum, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2014

This triple bill takes us from the loss of childhood innocence to the memory of parents passed away, ideas that frame the first and third items, both to music of Benjamin Britten. Ceremony of Innocence appears in W B Yeats’ poem The Second Coming as ‘The ceremony of innocence is drowned’, a line that Britten …

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Royal Ballet Mixed Bill: Scènes de ballet, Five Brahms Waltzes, Symphonic Variations, Month in the Country, Covent Garden, October 2014

Four Ashton ballets in one evening — what a spoil. The first and third created just after the Second World War, the other two in 1976. Scénes de ballet is a perfect opener. Stravinsky’s music, originally commissioned for a Broadway revue, was conducted with suitable astringency by Emmanuel Plasson, making a striking contrast to one …

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BRB Triple—Shadows of War: La Fin du Jour, Miracle in the Gorbals, Flowers of the Forest, Birmingham Royal Ballet, October 2014

This triple bill is aptly titled, starting as it does with the bouncy laziness of a summer’s day in the 1930s before World War II, and ending with David Bintley’s excellent Flowers of the Forest, whose two parts contrast light with darkness, to music by Arnold and Britten. The hedonism of La Fin du Jour …

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Manon, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2014

First seen in March 1974 this ballet has aged beautifully, and opening night of the current run fully recaptured the vivacity and despair of the story. Marianela Nuñez’s subtle development of Manon’s character, from the gentle grace of her first entrance in Act I to the femme dangereuse of Act II and eventually the victim …

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Solo for Two, Osipova and Vasiliev, London Coliseum, August 2014.

Want to know the back story for Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis in Giselle? In Facada, the final item of this triple bill, choreographer Arthur Pita shows a bride having been jilted at the altar finally destroying her man and dancing on his grave. This merciless ending is a fitting one to an evening that …

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Coppélia, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, July 2014

ENB’s Coppélia is not only a huge bundle of fun, but Delibes’ music really found its heart under the baton of music director Gavin Sutherland. Sometimes dancers are let down by indifferent conducting, but Sutherland coaxes a sensitive, loving performance from his orchestra, with real bounce when needed. Sets and costumes are a delight, and …

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Romeo and Juliet with Acosta and Rojo, English National Ballet, ENB, Albert Hall, June 2014

Ballet in the round has its advantages, particularly the greater scope for patterns when playing to all sides of the auditorium. These can involve lots of dancers, or just a few as in early Act III with the Capulet parents, Paris, Juliet and her nurse interweaving in an intriguing way. You need a little height …

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Royal Ballet Triple: The Dream/ Connectome/ The Concert, May 2014

The clever mockery in the first and third items in this excellent triple bill contrasted well with the brilliant new ballet by Alastair Marriott that lay between them. Connectome is named after a scientific term referring to the neural connections of a brain — in other words its ‘wiring diagram’ — and though only that …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Serenade/ Sweet Violets/ DGV, Covent Garden, May 2014

Liam Scarlett’s dark narrative ballet Sweet Violets was beautifully framed here by Balanchine’s Serenade and Wheeldon’s Danse à grande vitesse. The Balanchine work, his first in America, originated from a series of evening classes he gave in New York, the seventeen girls at the start being the number who attended the first class. Among sixteen …

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Winter’s Tale, Gartside and Nuñez, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, 16 April 2014

This was the first performance by the second cast, originally scheduled for last Saturday but postponed due to lack of rehearsal time. Second cast it may have been, but prima ballerina Marianela Nuñez gave a beautifully nuanced performance of Hermione filled with emotional expression. Her solo in Act I, with her husband Leontes (Bennet Gartside) …

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Winter’s Tale, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2014

For Christopher Wheeldon to take on Shakespeare is a bold move. The words are of huge importance, but so they are in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which Wheeldon successfully produced as a ballet three years ago, and when he expressed an interest in tackling the Bard at that time, Nicholas Hytner suggested Winter’s Tale. …

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Lest We Forget, English National Ballet, ENB, Barbican, April 2014

One hundred years after the start of The Great War, this commemoration of its horrors opened at the Barbican last night with three new ballets specially commissioned by artistic director Tamara Rojo. The evening started with Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land connecting women at home with their men at war via the factory work of …

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Sleeping Beauty, Choe and Golding, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 27 March 2014

Tonight Natalia Osipova was supposed to have made her role debut for the Company as Princess Aurora, but a day earlier she fell in rehearsals and was hospitalised. Her replacement, Yuhui Choe was the star of the evening, sensational in the Rose Adagio of Act I, looking her princes in the eye and moving with …

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Kings of the Dance, London Coliseum, March 2014

This feast of male dancing, brought to the London Coliseum by impresario Sergei Danilian, is carried off by five of the World’s finest, including the extraordinary Ivan Vasiliev. His solo performance in Labyrinth of Solitude, with fabulous leaps and spins in the air, inspired a standing ovation, and was immediately followed by the evening’s finale, …

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Sleeping Beauty, with Choe and Hirano, and Lamb and McRae, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 13 March 2014

What a huge pleasure to see Yuhui Choe and Ryoichi Hirano in the main roles at the matinee. Her dancing, so full of joy, was absolutely on the music, and a better Rose Adagio one could hardly hope for. With Hirano’s noble and dashing Prince their partnership gave a beautiful expression of the story, helped …

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Sleeping Beauty, with Cuthbertson and Golding, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 22 February 2014

This is a brief review of the Saturday matinee on 22nd February, in which Matthew Golding made a wonderful replacement for Rupert Pennefather as the Prince. The easy grace of his entrance in Act II, followed by his solo adagio exhibited a glorious lightness of being, complemented by an air of quiet authority as he …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Rhapsody/ Tetractys—The Art of Fugue/ Gloria, Covent Garden, February 2014

When Frederick Ashton choreographed Rhapsody to Rachmaninov’s Variations on a theme by Paganini he created the principal male role on Mikhail Baryshnikov, and the quick darting steps were sublimely performed here by Steven McRae. He has the power, he has the leaps, and his fast chainés towards the end were stunning. It was an extraordinary …

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Giselle, with Osipova and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2014

Out of this world — Natalia Osipova took us to realms where dance and emotion combine into an ethereal unity. The easy grace of her first appearance in Act I drew distant kisses from Carlos Acosta, and I have rarely seen young love so beautifully expressed in this role. As Act I moves forward the …

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Le Corsaire, with Rojo and Golding, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, 11 January 2014

Congratulations to artistic director Tamara Rojo for overseeing the ENB’s hugely entertaining production of Le Corsaire. Its central section is the pirates’ lair of Act II where Medora foils the assassination of her beloved Conrad by his Lieutenant Birbanto, following gloriously exuberant dancing by the lovers and Conrad’s slave Ali. The thrilling choreography for Ali …

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Le Corsaire, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, 9 January 2014

Britain now has its very own version of Le Corsaire, and what a wonderful romp it is. To the original score by Adolphe Adam, composer of Giselle, producers have almost always interpolated additional material by Pugni, Drigo et al, and what ENB have given us is a pot pourri of glorious music, excitingly played under …

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Nutcracker, with Osipova and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 27 December 2013

Christmas feasting may have affected the orchestra, but certainly not the dancers in this 27th December performance. The party scene in Act I was full of joie de vivre, with Gary Avis as a magical Drosselmeyer. The élan of his conjuring tricks was matched by the liveliness of Valentino Zucchetti as his assistant, and the …

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2013

The high point of this first evening was the big pas-de-deux for Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares in Diamonds, in which she brought a fairy tale quality to this abstract yet sublimely romantic third section of Balanchine’s Jewels. The music is from Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony, his last composition before Swan Lake, and the ballerina exhibits …

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Romeo and Juliet, with Acosta and Osipova, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2013

Having now joined the Royal Ballet as a Company member rather than a guest artist, Natalia Osipova’s performance of Juliet was much anticipated. Her technique and dramatic flair served her well, particularly in the final scene of Act III when her body crumpled like a rag doll in Carlos Acosta’s arms. It was a fine …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Chroma/ The Human Seasons/ Rite of Spring, Covent Garden, November 2013

The world premiere in this triple bill was the second ballet by David Dawson, making his Royal Ballet debut as a choreographer. I know someone who skipped the first item, and another who skipped the third, but both were in full anticipation of the second and neither was disappointed. The evening started with Wayne McGregor’s …

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Romeo and Juliet, with McRae and Obraztsova, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2013

For dancing and characterisation of the roles this second performance in the current run was close to perfection. Steven McRae and Evgenia Obraztsova, guest principal from the Bolshoi Ballet, took us to an ethereal world beyond technique. When we first encounter her with her nurse she charmed us with her airy grace, and her sweetness …

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BRB Triple: E=mc2, Tombeaux, Still Life at the Penguin Café, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, October 2013

After a 20-minute delay caused by computer problems — oh, for the days when stage equipment at Sadler’s Wells could be operated by hand — this excellent triple bill of David Bintley ballets proved well worth the wait. In the first, Bintley uses Einstein’s equation E=mc2, expressing the equivalence of energy E and mass m, …

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Don Quixote, with McRae and Salenko, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2013

When Carlos Acosta’s new Don Quixote opened at the end of September, most critics were cautiously optimistic but only gave it three stars. Making the opening performance a Gala may have been a good idea for ticket receipts but not for the dancers, and nothing really gelled until the final scene. By contrast, last night’s …

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Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 30 September 2013

The Royal Opera House knows how to put on a celebration, and on this Gala opening for Carlos Acosta’s new version of Don Quixote the House was decked with hundreds of red carnations. As the ballet ended scores of flowers were thrown down onto the stage, a fitting end to the final scene, in which …

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Mayerling, with Acosta and Benjamin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2013

Retiring from the Royal Ballet this season is Leanne Benjamin, who made her debut with the Company as Mary Vetsera in Mayerling in 1992. She rounds off an immensely varied career by including the same role, and what a performance she gave last night. With Carlos Acosta in the dark role of Crown Prince Rudolf, …

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Raven Girl/ Symphony in C, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2013

Choreographer Wayne McGregor’s strength is as a visual artist, and this ballet is based on a fairy tale by Audrey Niffenegger, a novelist and visual artist. A postman falls in love with a raven that gives birth to their child the Raven Girl, who yearns to be bird rather than human. Despite the range of …

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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 Solor came over as a decent fellow placed in an impossible position by Christopher Saunders as the …

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Hansel and Gretel, Royal Ballet, ROH Linbury Studio, May 2013

Entering the Linbury Studio you go downstairs — the whole venue is underground, as is the witch’s kitchen in Liam Scarlett’s new dark version of Hansel and Gretel, where the children are tied up in a dungeon. Scarlett’s ballet is set in 1950s America, and by coincidence the big news story of the moment concerns …

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Ecstasy and Death, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, April 2013

This intriguing triple bill is the first programme artistic director Tamara Rojo has put together for the Company, and she even dances in it herself. The second item Le Jeune Homme et la Mort is worth the whole programme, and on the first night Rojo was the coolly callous young woman, with Nicolas le Riche, …

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Laurencia, with Osipova and Vasiliev, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum, April 2013

Soviet Realism meets Don Quixote, with the good Don replaced by an evil Commander whom the peasants destroy. He abducts the beautiful Laurencia, imprisoning her lover Frondoso, and there is a nasty sexual assault by two soldiers on a peasant named Jacinta. The women are both badly used and emerge with dirty torn skirts, but …

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Don Quixote, with Osipova and Vasiliev, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum, March 2013

For classical ballet in glorious costumes with plenty of bouncy music it is hard to equal Don Quixote, and the Mikhailovsky Ballet did us proud with the feast they served up at the London Coliseum. The feel-good music by Minkus, plus some additions by Drigo, is a favourite of pianists in ballet class, and Lanchbery …

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Giselle, with Osipova and Vasiliev, Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum, March 2013

What a pleasure this was. I’ve not seen the Mikhailovsky Giselle before, but it’s a fine production created in 2007 by Nikita Dolgushin, with excellent designs by Vyacheslav Okunev well lit by Mikhail Mekler. And the orchestra under Valery Ovsyanikov played with huge spirit, giving a performance far better than some of his work with …

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Aladdin, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, March 2013

While Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland plays at Covent Garden, the Birmingham Royal Ballet brings David Bintley’s new Aladdin to the London Coliseum. The former is sold out, and the latter deserves to be too, because both are equally great fun though entirely different. Aladdin is a ripping yarn based on those Tales of the Arabian …

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with Sarah Lamb, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2013

This cleverly whimsical ballet, reflecting the essence of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, provides stage magic for the whole family. You don’t need any experience of ballet to appreciate the various vignettes, including the Adagio for the Queen of Hearts and four playing cards in Act III, a wicked take on the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty. …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Apollo/ 24 Preludes/ Aeternum, Covent Garden, February 2013

Two completely new ballets, plus one staple from the Balanchine repertoire, made a very well judged triple bill. Alexei Ratmansky’s dances to Chopin’s 24 Preludes were sandwiched between the ethereal Apollo, and Christopher Wheeldon’s powerful new creation to Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem. More on that later, but first to Apollo. Patricia Neary’s staging goes back to Balanchine’s …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Yanowsky and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This review is for the cast on the second night, and what a treat it was again to have Emmanuel Plasson as maestro for this delightful mixed bill of short Aston pieces. As a serious conductor who is happy to perform ballet music he showed a sure touch with orchestra, instrumental soloists and dancers. Musically, Plasson is ideal for …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Rojo and Polunin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This was Tamara Rojo’s evening, ending with a lovely bouquet of flowers for her — making up for their lack of such tributes in her last days with the Company, after accepting the artistic directorship of the ENB. In Ashton’s take on The Lady of the Camellias, she was a captivating Marguerite, glamorous and consumptive, showing fine textures …

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Onegin, with Reilly and Cojocaru, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2013

This performance on January 23 showed an interesting difference of interpretation from the previous evening with a cast led by Bonelli and Morera. In her Act III pas-de-deux with Prince Gremin, Alina Cojocaru expressed a wistful sadness as she floated almost semi-consciously across the stage, quite different from Laura Morera’s joyful serenity in the same duet. …

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Onegin, with Bonelli and Morera, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2013

After John Cranko worked on the choreography for Tchaikovsky’s opera he wanted to turn the story into a ballet, which he later did in Stuttgart. Apparently he intended to use music from the opera, but the Stuttgart Ballet commissioned a score by Kurt-Heinz Stolze, using alternative music by Tchaikovsky. The resulting creation is rather different from the opera, …

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Sleeping Beauty with Rojo and Muntagirov, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, January 2013

Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Sleeping Beauty, with its glorious costumes by Nicholas Geogiardis, is a joy to watch, the sets by Peter Farmer reflecting a mistiness in the world beyond the action like some famous Renaissance paintings. The expression of the action is crystal clear in its use of mime, and for anyone unfamiliar with the conventions a helpful …

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Firebird/ In the Night/ Raymonda Act III, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2012

What a terrific triple bill this is, and on the evening of 29 December it was beautifully danced. Among cast changes in Raymonda, Zenaida Yanowsky and Ryoichi Hirano replaced Nuñez and Pennefather in the main roles, and Ricardo Cervera replaced Whitehead in the Hungarian dance. Cervera showed a fine cutting edge and dramatic sense, and his …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Firebird, In The Night, Raymonda Act III, Covent Garden, December 2012

A triple bill ending with the third act of Raymonda is a fine complement to Nutcracker for the Christmas/ New Year period. Raymonda has a wonderful finale with stunning costumes, and the sets drew audience applause when the curtain opened. With fifteen soloists including the principals, Zenaida Yanowsky and Nehemiah Kish on this occasion, it is …

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The Nutcracker with Klimentová and Muntagirov, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2012

The clever concept behind English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is not that the toy comes to life, but that in Clara’s mind he takes on the form of Drosselmeyer’s handsome nephew, seen in a blue uniform at the party in Act I. After the death of the Mouse King, which occurs in Act II of this production, the …

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The Nutcracker with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2012.

At the start of this Peter Wright production, we see Drosselmeyer in his workshop comparing his toy Nutcracker with a portrait on the wall of his lost nephew. Then at the very end, where some productions show Clara being put to bed by her mother, the Nutcracker prince finds his Uncle Drosselmeyer and they embrace. …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Concerto/ Las Hermanas/ Requiem, Covent Garden, November 2012

The central feature of this triple bill is Kenneth Macmillan’s wonderfully intense ballet Las Hermanas (The Sisters) based on The House of Bernarda Alba by Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca. Las Hermanas tells of a tragedy about a domineering mother and five unmarried daughters. The fiancé of the eldest is seduced by the youngest, and one of the other sisters, being furiously jealous, betrays …

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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 …

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Grand Tour/ Faster/ The Dream, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, Sadler’s Wells, October 2012

The Grand Tour, a charming ballet by Joe Layton based on Noël Coward’s 1930s transatlantic trip on a liner, is to music by Coward himself, adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay. It’s a colourful ballet with lovely designs by John Conklin, well lit by Peter Teigen, and in this cast the most striking performer was …

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Grosse Fuge/ Lyric Pieces/ Take Five, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, Sadler’s Wells, October 2012

This triple bill, titled Opposites Attract, concludes with Hans van Manen’s fine 1971 ballet Grosse Fuge to orchestral music by Beethoven, but in the meantime we are treated to two more recent works with music of a lighter texture. The programme starts with David Bintley’s Take Five to jazz music created by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. This is fun. Lighting …

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Swan Lake with Osipova and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2012

For those lucky enough to have tickets for last night’s Swan Lake, Odette/Odile was danced by Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova partnered by the Royal Ballet’s Carlos Acosta as Prince Siegfried. They were terrific together. Osipova was in the news recently when she and Ivan Vasiliev quit the Moscow’s Bolshoi and joined the Mikhailovsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, one reason being frustration …

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Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, August 2012

The English National Ballet’s production of Swan Lake is hard to beat, and it was beautifully danced, so don’t miss it. Wonderful designs by Peter Farmer with clever lighting by Howard Harrison, give a misty otherworldiness to the background in Acts I and III. That other world is where Act II and IV take place, and the stage and …

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Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, July 2012

This triple bill, inspired by three Titian paintings currently on view at the National Gallery (Diana and Callisto, Diana and Actaeon, and The Death of Actaeon), is a tribute to Monica Mason who is retiring as artistic director of the Royal Ballet. The three ballets involved seven choreographers! The theme of the paintings finally came to life …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Birthday Offering/ A Month in the Country/ Les Noces, Covent Garden, July 2012

A second view, with a different cast — see my opening night review for more details. As before, Tom Seligman conducted Birthday Offering with Barry Wordsworth taking the other two ballets, and things got off to a fine start as Seligman produced swelling sounds from the orchestra to Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No. 1. Later the music interleaves excerpts …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Birthday Offering/ A Month in the Country/ Les Noces, Covent Garden, June/July 2012

This triple bill offers an evening of glorious choreography, opening with the exuberance of Ashton’s Birthday Offering. Birthday Offering, first shown in 1956 for the 25th anniversary of the Company (then known as the Sadler’s Wells Ballet), starts with the melodious phrases of Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No. 1, and Tom Seligman in the orchestra pit made it swell …

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The Prince of the Pagodas, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2012

King Lear meets Sleeping Beauty in this mid-1950s fairy tale creation by John Cranko, to music commissioned from Benjamin Britten. After the Cranko ballet fell out of the repertoire, Kenneth MacMillan made his own version in 1989. This revival now contains some cuts to the music that he originally intended, but was not permitted to make. …

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Ballo della Regina, with Nuñez and Kish/ La Sylphide, with Cojocaru and McRae, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2012

Ballo Della Regina (The Queen’s Ball) is a short Balanchine work set to music that was cut from Verdi’s opera Don Carlo. This ballet involves a sequence of variations, first with twelve girls in blue, joined by two principals in white. After a pas-de-deux for the principals, four soloists in violet come on one at a time, and …

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La Fille mal gardée, with McRae and Marquez, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2012

La Fille mal gardée is one of Frederick Ashton’s most delightful ballets, and this review covers the same cast as for the live cinema relay on May 16. The story is simple. Widow Simone wants to marry off her very pretty daughter Lise to the son of a wealthy landowner, thereby assuring her and her daughter’s financial future. There are …

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La Fille mal gardée, with Choe and Maloney, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2012

For a witty pastoral story of young love triumphing over a widow’s desire to marry her daughter into wealth this ballet is hard to beat. First created in 1789, the year of the French revolution, its characters are ordinary folk, unlike the stylized shepherds and shepherdesses seen on stage at that time. The scenario is …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Polyphonia/ Sweet Violets/ Carbon Life, Covent Garden, April 2012

This was an entirely twenty-first century triple bill. The first work, Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, set to ten piano pieces by Ligeti, was first shown in New York at the start of the century, January 2001. The large Covent Garden stage gave space to the spare minimalism of Wheeldon’s choreography, with darkness sometimes surrounding a spot for the dancers. …

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Apollo/ Jeux/ Le Train Bleu/ Suite en Blanc, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, 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 …

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Firebird/ Faune/ Rite of Spring, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, March 2012

Beyond Ballets Russes celebrates the legacy of Diaghilev’s famous dance company, and is the title of two programmes the ENB are putting on. This first one was very cleverly put together, placing The Afternoon of a Faune, with its gentle music by Debussy, between two longer works to intensely dramatic music by Stravinsky. In fact there are four ballets here, …

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Romeo and Juliet, with Cuthbertson and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2012

This was the evening of a live cinema relay, though I was seated in the Royal Opera House itself. Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Romeo and Juliet with its wonderful choreography is what the Royal Ballet performs, and this jewel has been taken up by some other ballet companies such as American Ballet Theatre. There is no comparison with …

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2012

In the world of dreams real people can take on strange identities, and so it is here. It all starts at tea in a large garden, where Alice’s mother ejects her daughter’s beloved Jack, the gardener’s son. To distract the disappointed Alice, Lewis Carroll conjures up a large hole in the ground and disappears down it, …

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Coppélia, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, March 2012

London Coliseum audiences who went to Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann recently saw one version of Coppélia in the first act of that opera. It involves a young man who falls for a mechanical doll built by Dr. Coppélius, based on an 1816 tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann himself. This ballet was created in Paris in 1870 less than two months before the …

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Daphnis and Chloë/ The Two Pigeons, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, March 2012

Essential for first rate ballet are music and choreography, and this double bill provides them in spades, along with some very fine dancing. Both ballets involve young lovers splitting apart, yet reunited at the end, and both are choreographed by one of the great masters of the twentieth century, Frederick Ashton. His creations were entirely new, the …

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The Dream with Marquez and McRae, Song of the Earth with Watson, Benjamin and Hristov, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2012

When Frederick Ashton choreographed Dream in 1964 to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, he created a magical evocation of the play with Oberon and Titania danced by a very young Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, and every time I see this ballet I recall Dowell’s performances. But Steven McRae rose to the challenge of this fiendishly …

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Romeo and Juliet with Rojo and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2012

This was stunning. MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet is full of wonderful choreography, and on the opening night of the present run it was superbly danced by the whole company, with the lead roles gloriously performed by Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo. She was among the finest Juliets I have ever seen, so shy and playfully girlish when she first …

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Sleeping Beauty with Cuthbertson and Polunin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2011

This performance, broadcast by live cinema relay, had a super cast along with plenty of musical excitement from the conductor and the orchestra, right from the very beginning of the Prologue. As we start, at the christening of the baby princess, those wonderful fairy variations were danced by Yuhui Choe, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Fumi Kaneko, Iohna Loots, and Emma Maguire. Yuhui Choe in particular was wonderfully …

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2011

The original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann  interweaves the real and magical worlds, with Drosselmeyer’s toy Nutcracker based on his own nephew. Wayne Eagling’s production, based on a joint idea with Toer van Schayk, combines the two worlds in various clever ways and the nephew, who appears in the party scene of Act I, later interchanges with …

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Manon, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2011

Manon is one of MacMillan’s most beloved full-length ballets, and the first night of the present run was performed with huge conviction. Rupert Pennefather — always an extremely talented dancer with a lovely line — seems transformed, his body language and facial expressions eloquently exhibiting the emotions and frustrations felt by Des Grieux. He showed a sense of attack …

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, with Rojo and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2011

Colourful new costumes with Oliver Messel’s original designs updated by Peter Farmer, fine ensemble dancing and some excellent solos, what more could one want? Well … coordinating the conducting better with the dancing would help. During the first interval, a lady from the audience told me she thought only one of the fairy variations in the Prologue …

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BRB Triple: Checkmate, Symphonic Variations, Pineapple Poll, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, October 2011

The tranquil centre of this triple bill is Symphonic Variations, one of Frederick Ashton’s greatest ballets. He produced it in spring 1946 as something of an antidote to the recent war, providing a wonderful serenity to the mystical calm of César Franck’s music. Yet for the dancers this serenity is a great challenge. The six of …

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, September 2011

All in all this is a wonderful evening’s entertainment with glorious choreography and dancing aided by delightful sets and costumes, and the House was deservedly full.

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Petit Triple Bill: L’Arlésienne, Le jeune homme et la mort, Carmen, English National Ballet, ENB at the London Coliseum, July 2011

Roland Petit died less than two weeks ago, and the remarkable timing of this triple bill made it a wonderful tribute to his choreography. That I happened to go on July 22, rather than the first night was entirely fortuitous, and we were rewarded by an incredible performance of Le jeune homme brilliantly danced by guest artist Ivan Vasiliev, shown in …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Scènes de Ballet/ Voluntaries/ The Rite of Spring, Covent Garden, May 2011

The three works in this mixed bill fit beautifully together. Scènes de Ballet is a wonderful work by Frederick Ashton to a piece Stravinsky composed in 1944 for a Ziegfeld review. The stylised brilliance of Ashton’s choreography, with its unexpected poses and épaulement, suits the sharp elegance of music, evoking an era wiped out by the …

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Ballo della Regina/ Live Fire Exercise/ DGV:Danse à Grande Vitesse, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2011

This triple bill made for a rather fragmented evening, because the first two pieces took only 36 minutes between them, while the two intervals lasted half an hour each. But it was all worth it because the final item, Christopher Wheeldon’s Danse à Grande Vitesse, was wonderfully invigorating and performed with great energy. A clear stage …

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Manon, with Benjamin and McRae, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, April 2011

The performances had a wonderful freshness, and Leanne Benjamin brought Manon beautifully to life, showing her complexity: frivolity and teasing, anguish, fecklessness and the desire for pretty clothes, jewellery and a good time.

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Cinderella, Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB), London Coliseum, March 2011

… the nasty stepmother [was] brilliantly portrayed by Marion Tait. Her ball dress was stunning, and when the prince brings the slipper to the house she follows her awful daughters in trying it on . . . before Cinderella herself comes forward.

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Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, March 2011

With the recent success of the movie Black Swan, Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake is filling auditoriums, so tickets are getting scarce. In London at the moment both the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet have productions on stage, so there’s a choice. If you want to hear Tchaikovsky, then I’d go to the London Coliseum where Gavin Sutherland’s …

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Swan Lake, with Rojo and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Tamara Rojo is the quintessential Odette/Odile … Carlos Acosta as the prince was wonderful … his deft partnering allowed her to shine

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Rhapsody, Sensorium, and Still Life at the Penguin Café, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Why were there empty seats? This is a wonderful Triple Bill, and the Royal Ballet gave a glorious performance, yet on the Grand Tier four boxes in a row were empty. All paid for no doubt, but unused for some of the finest dancing the Company can produce. The evening started with Rhapsody to Rachmaninov’s well-known Rhapsody …

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Swan Lake, with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Marianela Nuñez was lovely as the white swan, and seductively assured as the black swan in Act III. Thiago Soares was excellent as her lover, …

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2011

When the performers came on at the end, even the trees took a bow. It was that sort of evening, when the whole cast did a superb job, and the audience loved them all. And why not indeed? This was the world premiere of a brand new full-length ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon to specially …

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Giselle, Royal Ballet, live relay from Covent Garden, January 2011

This two-act ballet creates a wonderful dichotomy between daylight and night-time. Act I is set in the everyday world, but the second act takes place in world of the wilis, spirits of dead maidens who rise up and destroy any young man they encounter.

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Giselle with Benjamin and Watson, Royal Ballet, January 2011

Giselle is a jewel in the Royal Ballet’s repertoire, and this production by Peter Wright carefully preserves the nineteenth century mime sequences in Act I, where Giselle’s mother warns about the legend of the wilis who will capture some carefree young fellow and make him dance to his death. The young Count Albrecht, sowing his wild …

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Romeo and Juliet, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, January 2011

Nureyev’s choreography gives a real edge to the fight scenes, and the punch-up in Act I sets the stage for the ensuing spitefulness between two feuding families. He first created the production for this company … in 1977, dancing the role of Romeo himself. This revival … has a thrilling energy, just like Nureyev himself …

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Peter and the Wolf/ Les Patineurs/ Tales of Beatrix Potter, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2010

The Royal Ballet are delivering wonderful fare this Christmas and New Year, not just with Cinderella, but in two double bills containing Frederick Ashton’s Tales of Beatrix Potter. The first combines it with Matthew Hart’s Peter and the Wolf, and the second with Ashton’s Les Patineurs.

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB at the London Coliseum, December 2010

In the Hoffmann original the Nutcracker is a magical version of Drosselmeyer’s nephew, a feature represented in Eagling’s production by having the two characters interchange on stage several times.

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Cinderella with Rojo and Côté, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2010

… in Act II, Rojo and Côté, surrounded by the ‘dancing stars’ gave a display of classical ballet at its best. Ashton was a master of large ensemble dances and this was magical.

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Cinderella, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2010

One of the lovely things about Ashton’s Cinderella is the intermingling of the real world with the magical world.

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La Valse/ Invitus Invitam/ Winter Dreams/ Theme and Variations, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2010

The high point of this lovely mixed bill was Theme and Variations, created by Balanchine in 1947 for Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch. The following year Ms. Alonso founded the Cuban National Ballet, and now at almost 90 years old did us the honour of attending, and appearing on stage at the end flanked by Monica …

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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2010

This was a second view of John Cranko’s wonderful ballet during the present run, this time with an entirely different cast of principals: Federico Bonelli and Laura Morera as Onegin and Tatiana, Sergei Polunin and Melissa Hamilton as Lensky and Olga, and Gary Avis as Prince Gremin. For my previous review of the first night …

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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, September 2010

John Cranko’s choreography is a delight . . . creative, always appropriate to the drama, and this fine ballet is worth seeing again and again.

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Firebird, in concert at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, August 2010

After the dreamy first half, Gergiev built momentum and there was a wonderfully swinging quality to the later part when the prince gets hold of Kashchey’s heart in the egg, before breaking it and releasing the princess from Kashchey’s magic

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Cinderella, English National Ballet, ENB at the London Coliseum, August 2010

This is a very welcome revival of Michael Corder’s production, with beautiful dancing by Daria Klimentova as Cinderella, very well supported by Vadim Muntagirov as the prince.

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Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, August 2010

This thrilling spectacle of classical dance was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1869, choreographed by Marius Petipa, who had just become artistic director of the Maryinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg. More than twenty years earlier he’d spent three years in Spain and learned to love Spanish dance — much celebrated in …

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Le Corsaire, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, August 2010

After seeing an excellent Spartacus when the Bolshoi opened their London season, this was a let-down, but I look forward to a thrilling Don Quixote, which I have seen this company do before to great effect.

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Spartacus, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, July 2010

What really made it memorable, however, was Ivan Vasiliev as Spartacus. He was phenomenal. This is a ballet that gives us stage-devouring leaps and extraordinary lifts, performed to perfection by Vasiliev, with Nina Kaptsova as a captivating Phrygia, but there was also a musicality here that rendered their performance a sublime experience.

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Royal Ballet Triple: Chroma, Tryst, Symphony in C, Covent Garden, May 2010

…putting on this triple bill is quite a feat. Three different conductors, dozens of dancers, many with difficult roles — the Royal Ballet surpasses itself, and the auditorium should really be full to bursting.

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Royal Ballet Triple: Electric Counterpoint, Asphodel Meadows, Carmen, Covent Garden, May 2010

Asphodel Meadows is a very interesting new ballet by Liam Scarlett, to Poulenc’s Concerto in D minor for two pianos and orchestra.

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Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, April 2010

This production has some wonderful moments, and I particularly liked the way Carabosse reappears in Act I as a shrouded old woman, apparently willing to be arrested after giving Aurora the spindle, yet suddenly throwing off her disguise and creating havoc.

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Cinderella, Royal Ballet, 17 April 2010

Yuhui Choe danced Cinderella with exceptional charm and refinement. Her elegant footwork and sympathetic body language marks her out as an exceptional future performer of this role.

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MacMillan Triple: Concerto, The Judas Tree, Elite Syncopations, a second view, Royal Ballet, March 2010

Marianela Nuñez was outstanding in the second female solo [of Elite Syncopations], so musical, and with enormous precision and attack.

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Triple Bill: Concerto, The Judas Tree, Elite Syncopations, Royal Ballet, March 2010

If you need a reason to go to the ballet, the final item alone is worth the price of the ticket, but there are only six performances of this triple bill, with the last one on 15th April.

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La Fille mal gardée, Cojocaru and McRae, Royal Ballet, March 2010

McRae danced with precision and snap, and being still such a young member of the company he fitted the part perfectly.

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Triple Bill: As One, Rushes, Infra, Royal Ballet, February 2010

The second item, Rushes — Fragments of a Lost Story, by Kim Brandstrup is a beautiful description of a relationship between a man and two women.

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, January 2010

…the dancing was excellent, so why was it that the applause during the performance was lukewarm?

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Romeo and Juliet, Royal Ballet, January 2010

The cast for this first night of the present run was a strong one headed by Tamara Rojo, whose portrayal of a convincingly distraught Juliet at the end could hardly be bettered.

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Les Patineurs and Tales of Beatrix Potter, Royal Ballet, December 2009

These two delightful ballets by Frederick Ashton are a joy to watch.

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Review — Royal Ballet Triple Bill: Agon, Sphinx, and Limen, 13th November 2009

In Cocteau’s 1934 play La machine infernale the Sphinx challenges her own destiny. Weary of immortality she desires love and freedom, and takes the guise of a young woman.

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Review — Cyrano, Birmingham Royal Ballet, at Sadler’s Wells, November 2009.

it’s rather remarkable to turn into dance a story about a man who is good with words, but I think Bintley has succeeded.

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Quantum Leaps, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB at Sadler’s Wells, November 2009 — Powder, E=mc2, and The Centre and its Opposite

E = mc2, was the main focus of the evening for me … a new work by artistic director David Bintley, in four movements

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Triple Bill — Agon, Sphinx, and Limen, Royal Ballet, November 2009

The choreography [of Limen] fitted very well with the lovely music by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, 29th October 2009

As the programme noted, it was on this same day 17 years ago that he died back stage at the Royal Opera House — his creative talent is sadly missed.

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, October 2009

This lovely production by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, using the old Oliver Messel designs with additions by Peter Farmer, is one of the company’s gems

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Mayerling, Royal Ballet, October 2009

his was the second night of the present run, with Johan Kobborg in the main role as the 30-year-old Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary.

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Goldberg, The Brandstrup-Rojo project, Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio, September 2009

This is definitely worth a visit to see the eclectic style of choreography, and the dancing of Rojo, McRae, and Franzen.

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Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Visit to London, July/August 2009

This summer [the Mariinsky] brought to London the works of some great composers: Wagner’s Ring, and three great full-length ballets (two Tchaikovsky, one Prokofiev), along with a Balanchine triple bill.

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

The corps de ballet danced superbly, Igor Kolb made a very fine prince, and Maxim Zuzin danced delightfully as the bluebird. All might have been well if Pavel Bubelnikov could have done a decent job conducting

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Homage to Balanchine, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

Symphony in C … to Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 … is a blaze of action, … designed to show off a classical ballet company…

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Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

… the evening belonged to the corps de ballet, which danced magnificently …

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Romeo and Juliet, Maryinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

The music was excellently conducted by Covent Garden’s Boris Gruzin with the Maryinsky Theatre Orchestra, but that is not enough to compensate for staging that belongs in the dustbin of Soviet relics.

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2009

… the ensemble work of the other dancers was superb, and this was altogether a terrific evening with a simply wonderful cast.

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Tribute to Diaghilev, Royal Opera House, June 2009

This was a delightful mixture of divertissements, very ably conducted by Valery Ovsianikov with the orchestra of the English National Ballet.

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Les Sylphides, Sensorium, The Firebird, Royal Ballet, 21 May 2009, return visit

The cast seemed very much in tune with [Sensorium], and Melissa Hamilton was simply wonderful. It’s astonishing that she’s a mere 21 years old.

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

… a lovely triple bill, with a new ballet by Alastair Marriott sandwiched between two well-known works

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Review — Serenade, Enigma Variations, and Still Life at the Penguin Café, Birmingham Royal Ballet, April 2009

brilliantly danced by the company, with the music beautifully played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the baton of Philip Ellis

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Giselle, Royal Ballet, April 2009

…altogether a fine performance of Giselle, and Boris Gruzin did an excellent job with the music, conducting with vibrancy and sensitivity.

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Swan Lake, American Ballet Theater, March 2009

Irina Dvorovenko was a lovely Odette-Odile, alternating well between a sublime white swan, and her seductive black counterpart in Act III.

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Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet, London Coliseum, Dec 2008

Carping aside, Andre Portasio stood out as a magnificent Carabosse, but even he couldn’t overcome the plodding work of the conductor, and that is what killed this performance. The dancers tried their best, but there was no sustained applause, and it was a sadly dull evening.

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