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.

Muntagirov as Colas, all images ROH/ Tristram Kenton

Muntagirov as Colas, all images ROH/ Tristram Kenton

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 of their ribbon pas-de-deux in Act I, her joyously musical solo in Act II, and the superb lightness of his dancing brought out Ashton’s choreographic brilliance for these two roles, without excessive dramatisation.

Lisa and Colas, Act I scene 1

Lisa and Colas, Act I scene 1

In fact the entire performance was achieved without strain or excess while making the most of those gloriously funny moments. The weighty importance Gary Avis gave to the role of the prosperous vineyard owner Thomas helped emphasise the absurdity of his simpleton son Alain, so very well danced by Paul Kay as a picture of perfect folly and clumsiness. As Widow Simone, Will Tuckett was a hoot with his clog dance and feigned unwillingness to join in with the young people at the vineyard. The wittiness of the role, such as the Act II incident with the key, was kept entirely within bounds, and any excess was left to his curtain calls at the end. Superb.

Colas, Lisa, Alain, vineyard scene

Colas, Lisa, Alain

This was as good a performance of Fille as I remember seeing, and in one respect even better. During the Act I scene change as widow and daughter are taken by pony and trap to Thomas’s vineyards, the white pony executed a pas-de-cheval with its left leg. Remarkable!

Performances with various casts continue until the live cinema relay on May 5 — for details click here.

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