Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Royal Opera House

Marking the 25th anniversary of the choreographer's death, a unique mini-season of mixed bills, performed by five of the UK's great classical dance companies.
A very varied triptych opened with Birmingham Royal Ballet in Concerto, an abstract piece from 1966 set to Shostakovich’s second piano concerto. The opening and closing movements are precise patterns, the corps in red, ochre and yellow. The finale had the yellow team in an almost Soviet drill. The dreamy central movement has legato lines and lifts to match the lyrical pianism of Jonathan Higgins; beautifully danced by Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton.
Most interesting perhaps, was Scottish Ballet's rare revival of MacMillan's original Baiser de la Fée from 1960. Like Stravinsky's music, the piece has a post-classical feel, with the choreography striving to respect the traditions of Romantic ballet – peasants, fairies, Hans Andersen – while bringing some realism to the tale of the young man kissed by a fairy when but a baby, and stolen away by her on the eve of his wedding. Andrew Peasgood brings a boyish energy to the role, with Bethany Kingsley-Garner outstanding as his betrothed, joining him in an urgent, emotional pas-de-deux, and Constance Devernay as the wickedly sensuous fairy. The moment when the two women dance around him, as four friends look on, was a dramatic highlight, as was the dying fall of the final moments, set in the bleak, cold Land Beyond Time and Place.
A crowd-pleaser to finish – Elite Syncopations, MacMillan's ragtime ballet danced to Scott Joplin and his contemporaries. A delight from Sunflower Slow Drag to Cataract Rag, with turns from all five companies, in the casual setting of a dance hall, with Robert Clark's band at the back. A witty duo from Karla Doorbar and Mathias Dingman [BRB] in The Golden Hours, four chaps from the home team in an energetic Hot-House Rag, a witty, virtuosic Friday Night from Northern Ballet's Riku Ito, a wistful and sassy solo from Precious Adams [English National Ballet] in Calliope Rag, a hilarious pas de deux from Marge Hendrick and Constant Vigier [Scottish Ballet] in the Alaskan Rag, and a stylish solo – cane and striped pants – from the Royal Ballet's Akane Takada, who joined Nicol Edmonds for a polished Bethena Concert Waltz.

production photograph: Tristram Kenton

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