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English National Ballet, Romeo & Juliet, Saturday 21st June 2014 7.30pm, Royal Albert Hall
Circle (T), Row 4, Seat 115 (Door 4), £19.50 – fine, people don't seem to mind me leaning forward and only the rear entrance is hidden, still seems a little expensive for this high up when compared to the Coliseum. However this is a gimmick that needs to be seen from above anyway and the sound from up here is amazing.

Deane's choreography is nice, if a little repetitive sometimes, but, despite it often being the same as the MacMillan, there were famous moments from the latter that I found myself missing. Sometimes the 360° seemed a little forced and the moments of stillness, whilst usually effective, were perhaps ever so slightly overused. Apart from occasional instances such as the Capulets' ball and the lights in the tomb (a sort of equivalent of the sixty swans and the only thing that was really added to by this setting) the 'in the round' aspect was obeyed rather than skilfully used.
The characterisation is tremendously interesting if not strictly faithful; Lady Capulet's relationship with Tybalt is made explicit and this impacts on her relationship with her husband later on. Romeo too is affected by the more in depth portrayal of his relationship with Rosaline – feelings which, in this instance, appear to be reciprocated. In many ways, he is shown to be more passionate in Deane's version - it is he who puts Juliet's hand on his beating heart, rather than the other way around.
Souza's Romeo displays long, lean, flexible beauty, very precise with exquisite rotation, and he is complemented well by the lovely Oliveira; no delicate Juliet here but a fiery, passionate, fiesty, hotheaded, brave, thirteen year old. The supporting cast was incredibly strong – particularly Acosta's brilliantly characterised Mercutio – and what a joy it was to see Heydon again!
However, I am just not sure that this 'in the round' gimmick is justified, for that is what it is. Even with the Swan Lake last year, I felt that a traditional version still had the edge and in that instance there were definite artistic gains from doing it in the new setting. Here, there are no such gains; only the crowd scenes really change and then there is simply too much going on at once, too much to see on stage at a single moment. Romeo & Juliet, I feel, also requires more set than is possible here. The only real reason for doing this that I can think of is to fit more people in, but the Hall was not nearly full. If the gimmick sells tickets, as I am sure it does, then I understand that this is a way to compete. But does it economically make sense, when so many more dancers need to be hired? This is a strong enough production for the Coliseum anyway. Tickets would sell. But, then again, I suppose this company has no home, and they simply need more venues.
Overall, it is interesting, and it is worth seeing purely because it is a damn good performance of Shakespeare's beautiful romantic tragedy. And because, finally, someone has created a Romeo & Juliet that does away with the ridiculous passing wedding party.
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Royal Ballet, Draft Works, Wednesday 4th June 2014 7.45pm, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre
Arena Right, Seat D1, £10.50 (excellent)
Les deux, comme un
The figure skating link was clear - a clever, pretty piece
Untitled (Aakash Odedra)
Actually a rather powerful piece, very nicely performed
L'inverno
Nicely danced with a few clever moments but mainly repetitive and unimaginative
Matriarch
McNally's usual spirit and wit - I could happily see a full evening of her work and cannot wait to see her piece for Balletboyz. Really nicely performed. Forskitt is always perfect for her pieces.
DW2
Found this rather meaningless and dull. A few clever moments but really it just seemed like a bit of fluff. I can see why Hayward is being given so many great roles this coming year though, she reminds me of a young Cojocaru.
Untitled (Ludo Ondiviela)
Really clever and brilliantly performed, I was very taken with Pajdak
Prometheus
Unmemorable
Ingemisco
So interesting, very beautiful, I really liked this
Preparations for the last TV fake
Loved it. Clever, funny...a real talent to watch.

Overall, less impressive than last year but still lots to be of interest in this great platform. One thing though is the issue of facial expression. Lots don't bother when it's only in this rehearsal-state, but I cannot understand it. It is still so absolutely necessary - to us and to the dancers. How can they dance a piece without feeling it? If Nuñez has taught me anything, it is that even in class one ought to truly dance. Why else dedicate your life to such an art?
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Royal Ballet, Monday 26th May 2014 7pm, Royal Opera House Main Stage
Amphitheatre Left, Seat A35, £6 (web student standby) - great, tiny corner obscured but not a problem if you crane a little. The student price makes this probably the best value ticket I've ever had here.
Serenade
This is not my favourite Balanchine, but I only realised that after it started to feel rather unusually long. I'm not sure he's always very good at doing 'sad' and making it mean something. Still, there were many interesting shapes (so much of Balanchine is about this complicated spacing) and it was wonderfully executed to beautiful music in gorgeous dresses (that looked rather difficult to dance in sometimes). The Royal is perfect for this kind of technique and there was such charisma right down to the corps. It is odd seeing loose hair on stage - rather distracting for audience and dancers but sensually very beautiful, especially when seen beside the scraped back bunheads. Hamilton, as always, looked utterly like one of the principals, Hirano was - mostly - a very nice partner for the most complex movements, Cuthbertson in particular was on top form tonight, while Nunez looked just slightly less sure than usual (although that means little when we're talking about her). I am never too sure about Golding as a partner; he doesn't seem to inspire his women with confidence. This piece was beautiful, near-perfect and yet somehow underwhelming - mostly, but not all, due to ever so slightly substandard choreography from Balanchine. A little problem with noisy pointe shoes tonight?
Sweet Violets
Scarlett is truly the king of the pas de deux; so complex, the dancers perform it with astonishing vigour and skill. This vivid, instant choreography, partnered with the sublime set, music and costumes, creates a dark, visual feast. The sets in particular are manipulated very cleverly (the chair reminded me of 'Le Jeune Homme et La Mort'). McRae's portrayal of Jack is basically the same character as the Sandman in Scarlett's 'Hansel and Gretel' but, apparently superfluous at first, it develops into something rather effective. Basically, I think this works, and is certainly less confusing second time around. The descent into this all-consuming world left me feeling surprised that there was still another ballet to come. And I loved the appreciation shown for the musicians.
DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse
Well, it certainly is the pace that sets this apart, although in so many ways it is unlike anything else I have ever seen. Even the simple costumes are particularly nice. What a versatile choreographer Wheeldon really is, and the dancers perform this excellently. If this is the modern world, it is something of which I want to be a part. The music is a sort that might be thought 'undanceable', and yet, clearly, it is perfectly danceable. The animation of the piece extended right into the audience (I heard someone give an involuntary amazed whistle as the curtain fell). Every moment was an incredible image - the lines reminding me of Khan's 'Dust'. For once, Osipova looked like a company member rather than an angel among mortals, but that is probably to do with the fact that even her charisma is only equal to that of Yanowsky, Morera and Nunez. All have a gravity that retains dignity in a piece that might otherwise appear slightly silly if interpreted wrongly. The Titanic-esque moment when Soares held Nunez just by her foot...well, she flew. And we all with her. Wheeldon is king.

There was something about tonight that seemed more a tired final night than an exuberant one, but the pieces only got better, and it is certainly a nice programme - including the much-maligned Scarlett piece, which I think is definitely a keeper - even if DGV did make the night.
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Northern Ballet, Saturday 10th May 2014 7pm, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre
Arena Left, Seat C7, £15 (student) - brilliant and easily worth it but still feels a little pricey for a student discount. Could possibly be slightly too close/low for some.
Concerto Six Twenty-Two
This is what the world would look like if we danced rather than spoke to one another. On a good day, obviously, because this (mostly) could not be more joyful. This was perhaps most of all thanks to the ballerinas, whose expression of the wordless joy of dance surpassed any I have ever seen; such intensity of genuine smiles, real individuality and, apparently, spontaneous reactions. Therein lies the genius of this piece, really - it isn't madly complex but is simply so enjoyable and well-performed. It did also, however, boast the most original and daring male pas de deux I have seen in ballet, simply because it did not radically alter the form but proved that two men can perform as tender and gravity-defying a duet as any male/female partnership. Which of course shouldn't need proving in the first place. The prize however goes to Rachael Gillespie; I believe the sun was shining from her eyes.
Concertante
Very striking, very powerful and occasionally very sinister - the rape pas de deux with the strangling being an example of the latter emotion. The stripy costumes made the piece, accentuating every curve and movement until it was overtly sexual throughout, almost painfully so at times, and yet very beautiful. The only problem was that Abigail Prudames kept smiling, which seriously detracted from the steely gaze of the others.
Luminous Junc•ture
Symbolic, beautiful, clever, moving, striking and, as ever, excellently performed. Memorable and affecting in the extreme. Benjamin Mitchell and Hannah Bateman looked as if they were genuinely close to tears.

An excellent programme, each piece complementing the others - and the company - to perfection. Come back soon, Northern Ballet! I have never known them not brilliant; wherever, whenever, whatever.
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Thank you!
Will be sure to share this with the whole Company.
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The Winter's Tale, The Royal Ballet, Tuesday 15th April 2014 7.30pm, Royal Opera House Main Stage
Stalls Circle Right, D36, £9 – if this wasn't a standing place it would easily be a top price ticket

Well, I've never seen a standing ovation from the orchestra stalls before! At the beginning I was unsure, but it's the piece as a whole that makes everything slot into place and such a response was well-deserved indeed. A beautiful, moving, tragic and unbelievably natural piece, Wheeldon's style is fast becoming instantly recognisable – it flows almost like improvisation, but far more perfect. It is very similar to Alice but with such a different feel, although in parts the music was almost too similar. As for the aesthetic, I think Crowley should just make an agreement to do every subsequent production design! The costumes were exquisitely simple, beautiful and perfectly symbolic (although comical that Wheeldon's heroines are once again in purple frocks) and I was surprised that the length of the dresses worked. Even the peasant outfits were not ridiculous!
The final pas de deux between Hermione and Leontes was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The necessary peasant-dance-plot-interruption was superb – such fun. All the pas work was interesting and there was a nice avoidance of cliché in the corps. Act I provided some Mayerling-esque moments for Watson in the visceral and immediate nature of the movement. Amazing characterisation too, such as the moment Leontes climbed up on his chair like a child. And I was tremendously impressed by the heartrending little Mamillius. I have simply never seen any choreographer play to the strength of individual dancers so well – and bring out more than I have ever seen in each. The casting was inspired. Yanowsky, in an almost fairy-godmother role, was the star of the night, but even Lamb began to act! What a set of dancers.
It is proving a very difficult ballet to sum up in any way; it really is just so very novel. I particularly liked that the ballet ended with the note of tragedy. However it is a strange piece, I'm not quite sure why, and yet it many ways it is perfect for what it is. After a few false starts, the company seems finally wonderfully confident in such teasing/cheering roles. And, though I am never one to bemoan the international nature of the company, there is something rather nice about seeing two English principals for the Shakespeare anniversary. The Royal Ballet have set something of a standard here and Shakespeare would be proud of this faithful adaptation, as should everyone involved. It also proved that Wheeldon, not McGregor, is the real company choreographer.
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English National Ballet, Lest We Forget, Wednesday 2nd April 2014 7.30pm, Barbican
Gallery, Seat AA3, £10 - actually quite a nice seat despite the fact that it is extremely claustrophobically hemmed in. View is good, feels nice and close, and it's really only some of the set that is obscured. It's good value but still seems rather pricy for what it is. The theatre space itself is very nice and I think the most important aspect of this evening is that the company now have this space to use.
No Man's Land
I am never really sure just how original Liam Scarlett's choreography really is. It is pretty, with some really complex pas de deux performed particularly well by Westwell, but it seems just a little predictable. If Rojo had not imbued her finale with such tragedy, it really would have had little connection with war at all. The music was very beautiful and the set was fantastic, and there was one moment of real virtuosic promise from Berlanga, but the only parts that were truly interesting were the male/male pas de deux. Scarlett is always best at this (his piece for BalletBoyz is in my opinion his best yet) although I did like the moment when the men put the women's arms around them as though they were putting on a rucksack.
Firebird
I just don't understand choreographers fascination with 'The Firebird', unless the pull is simply that it is difficult. It seems to have been proved now that creating something moving, lyrical and effectively flowing - in other words, a good ballet - from it is impossible. There were moments when I thought I saw what Williamson was trying to do, such as when the dancers all attack the Firebird at once, but it always then fell apart again. The whole thing ends up confusing and distracting. Ovsyanick was physically perfect for the role if unexpressive (but I blame the music and the ballet, not her) but Cao was very wobbly. The rest of the company are all very good and extremely tight but the piece can never spark real interest or meaning. Essentially, I think it's a piece better left alone, even for new workings of it such as this. On another note, I am fast falling for the sweet Osbaldeston but what did any of it have to do with war?
Second Breath
One could read warlike connotations into any of these if one tried, but they could all have been performed for something entirely different by changing only the sets. I am beginning to wonder if war is a topic that simply cannot be tackled through dance. This piece was fairly interesting and pleasant enough but still left me rather cold.
 Cojocaru's star turn seemed a bit of a waste - there was nothing for her to do!
Dust
This piece made the evening. Finally, something original and exciting! The images created were stunningly hypnotic, too many amazing moments of shape and movement to detail, and the mix of live and recorded music was completely successful. With another beautiful set, I felt that this was a more effective comment on war than anything more literal. All had a wonderful energy and commitment - there was an unusual strength throughout - and the structure also seemed to work better; the other pieces followed a well-worn blueprint whereas I liked the way Khan used a big corps.
 Khan himself was mesmerising and the creative chemistry between him and Rojo was practically tangible. This is the piece that will not be forgotten.
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Royal Ballet, Thursday 5th June 2014 7.30pm, Royal Opera House Main Stage
Amphitheatre Left, Seat A33, £13 (student) restricted view apparently but not really, and certainly not any more so than the non-restricted view seats just a few further along
The Dream
I spent a lot of this piece trying to work out why I felt I knew the music. I never managed it. I just kept hearing strains of Nutcracker, amongst others. Aside from everything else, it is an exquisite aesthetic. However, this is a very difficult narrative to choreograph, especially in so short a time and it does, particularly at the beginning, feel extremely rushed. There was also an excess of mime, until it became rather like the farcical silent film of the play from 1899. However, where movement corresponds to individual lines of the original text is delightfully clear (it is interesting that even here the text is retained, in the choir). Even the movement is clumsy to start with but it very much comes together by the finale, and the typical Ashton humour of the pantomime ballet is strong throughout. It risks going too far into tweeness and farce, but is saved by the wonderfully sinister Oberon. It is a strange piece, but endearing as an oddity.
Connectome
I ought to have realised, when I discovered that the name of this piece was not pronounced 'connect-to-me' after all, that it would lack meaning. Dull and unoriginal, this whole style is a cliché now. Not to mention the ugliest costumes known to man!
The Concert
I'm not quite sure what I just saw, but I do know that, whatever it was, I loved it. Utterly bizarre, genuinely hilarious (I had tears in my eyes) it flitted effortlessly between beautiful, gawky and eccentric. Great fun, great to see the company like this, great end to the season.
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Dutch National Ballet Junior Company, Wednesday 28th May 2014 7.45pm, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre
Arena Left, Seat E1, £12 (student) - a top price seat, at student rate = perfection
You know the company is world class when their juniors are this good. Here, unlike the previous Springboard event, the dance speaks for itself and the varied and demanding pieces are well-chosen to show off what the company can do. These classics are unforgiving, and these dancers rise to the challenge, with their strong technique and wonderfully individual charisma. My only issue is with the videos: the dance does speak for itself here, so let it. The projections are entirely unnecessary, showing what we are about to see and telling us what we already - or do not need to - know. It also forces the dancers into a medium which does not always compliment them - public speaking - and feels a little unfair. The dancing is what we came for, and it is easily good enough to forgive the pointless, jarring intervals of video. The spirit of the evening is spot on, and powerful. I am delighted to know they'll be returning next year. This time, it does feel like we may be watching the stars of tomorrow.

One more thing: when the programme is free, you might as well read it before making a fool of yourself and irritating everyone. One gentleman, during the advertised - advertised, mind you - break between two pieces, shouted very loudly "well, tell us what's wrong!" The programme was free. FREE! Read it!
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Ballet Central, Sunday 11th May 2014 7.45pm, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre
Upper Gallery Left, R10, £11 (student) - excellent seat
These are very nice young dancers, but that is what they are - they look like children, never easy or natural. They are not always completely sturdy, there are some floppy or turned in feet (sometimes both) and expression is not quite honed, particularly for the Coppélia excerpt. They do not look comfortable on the stage, but then I suppose that's what this platform is intended to improve. This just has too much of a school-recital-feel to be appropriate for ROH.
The dancers suit the contemporary/musical theatre a little better, but that is probably because ballet requires a different level of maturity.
It's an unoriginal programme but I know that isn't the point. It is perhaps a little worrying that lighting is being used to distract and obscure the dancers, as surely this ought to be a showcase of their capabilities. Everything just needs to be stricter; at no point did I feel that I was watching the next generation of great dancers. It's almost concerning that this is what they have decided to specialise in, considering the competition out there.
The finale was certainly a step up, and it was a fairly enjoyable evening, but I probably won't be coming to see Ballet Central again. I think it was aimed at friends and family more than the general public.
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Royal Ballet, Mayuri Boonham, Tuesday 29th April 2014 7.45pm, Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre
Arena Left, H8, £12 (student - there should be student prices for everything!) - great seat, but certainly not worth spending the money on for this piece. I won't be tempted to book to see her stuff again.

Ex nihilo, eh? Out of nothing? Well, Boonham would have done well to remember that, as Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer so famously put it, nothing comes from nothing, and this was the longest nothing I have ever had the misfortune to suffer through. I was so pathetically excited by the hanging forest of lightbulbs but that was the most enthusiastic I got all night, as jarring transitions, the ugliest costumes known to man, and an aeroplane drone (that must have made rehearsals hellish) made this the worst £12 I have ever spent. It was not interesting, or clever, or impressive, or even pretty - just interminably boring. And, just when I was nearly asleep, they started singing. Cruel. The dancers weren't even that good (they weren't from the Royal) so I don't feel sorry for them. Get rid of Boonham, Royal Ballet.
Choe and Kura are too exquisite for watching them to ever be anything but beautiful. They undoubtedly provided The Human Edge to the evening as they revealed such an unexpected depth of expression that I found myself picturing them as Giselle and Albrecht, Romeo and Juliet...certainly a pair to see together again. But with a different choreographer, please. Here's another quotation for you to bear in mind, Boonham: "nothing will come of nothing" (thanks, King Lear).
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Royal Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, Saturday 5th April 2014 7.30pm, Royal Opera House Main Stage
Amphitheatre Left, Seat M43, £24 - excellent seat, clear view and good value though getting slightly far away for my taste. I didn't book this myself but would be happy to sit here again.
I've already reviewed this production so here are just some comments on tonight's cast:
The show tonight had an odd feel to it; the atmosphere was of a final night and yet it was still mid-run. Everyone seemed to be pushing especially hard, and not always with entirely successful results. However they all seemed to be having great fun, in that fond way similar to Alice's Adventures or Nutcracker. The cats especially seemed to be having a good time! Choe is like a Royal Ballet brand in herself now, so reliable. By her second set of balances in the rose adage she had more than quelled the doubters and the one, albeit major, slip in the grand pas I blame on the effect of a little, compact ballerina replacing a very long, lean one at fairly short notice. Golding and Choe played it safe at the beginning and then went wonderfully over the top to make up for it, totally revamping the coda. I actually thought that they suited each other very well and it would be nice to see them dance together again.
As for Golding, his dancing is beautifully self-assured, his pirouettes being particularly divine. I liked the way he lengthened the hops in his Act II solo because they often look rather absurdly out of place. However his film-star confidence makes him an unconvincing prince, especially in the vision scene (though this isn't a role for which it really matters). I can't see him as an actor but it will be interesting to see how he tackles a more meaty role in Des Grieux this Autumn.
Whitehead's Catalabutte was absolutely the highlight of the night. I have never seen anyone make so much of this role. McNally was as wonderful a Carabosse as ever, Howells made the most of his moment (it was a night to push for laughs apparently) and I thought Pajdak really stood out too, making more of these small but important solos than one usually sees. She looks as if she is being pushed for promotion as just maybe, which would be surprising but delightful at this stage, does Stock (whose arms, I noticed tonight, are exquisite). Takada shone over and above everyone in her solo and Kobayashi–well, whatever has happened?! She was beautiful! And the easy grace (not a phrase I would have expected to ever apply to her) of her Florine was simply stunning. She and Zucchetti are a very good match.
Harrod is always so endearing but when one sees Naghdi in her role instead one realises that Harrod can just never achieve that ease. However, a much more worrying lack of ease came in the form of Crawford's Lilac Fairy. She wobbled so alarmingly during her solo that I thought something had happened and she might bow out. Why on Earth did she keep pushing for triple pirouettes when she could only manage about two and a half and had to cheat her way around to a finish?
Overall, there was something precarious about tonight throughout the company, and yet it balanced. Balances, always a highlight of The Sleeping Beauty of course, were even more of a theme here as everyone for some reason went all out to show off their own virtuosity. Was someone important in the audience? Choe, Kobayashi, Takada and Pajdak at least succeeded in proving that they can stay on balance forever, whatever else happens.
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The Royal Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, Tuesday 25th March 2014 7.30pm, Royal Opera House Main Stage
Amphitheatre Left, Seat A38, £24 – possibly the best seat I have ever had! The hand rail is not in the way and I had a clear view of the stage while still feeling relatively close. The acoustics in the amphi are good, and one gets a nice perspective on formation; I think it was De Valois who said that, for ballet, the front of the amphi was the best seat in the house. Well, I think I must agree, and it's even fantastic value. My new favourite seat!

This is quite simply a stunning production: visually exquisite, music a treat of course, touching, humorous and a great technical showcase that also calls for real presence. Despite all the wonderful Cecchetti footwork, this is a true Royal trademark (although I always want to see more actual dancing from the prince).
It was the prince for whom I booked but he (Trzensimiech) was replaced by Muntagirov a few weeks ago – physically they are of a piece – and I can't say I was disappointed! He looked less at home than I had expected – something about his presence tonight came across as uncharacteristically young and inexperienced but I think he only needs time. He was lovely, I am a huge fan, and practice will soon give him the necessary confidence. God knows he has it from praise already, and deservedly! It was interesting seeing him after McRae because their styles could not be more different; McRae goes for fast turns whereas Muntagirov takes his variation slower, highlighting his elegance of line; his calm fouette sequence was absolutely phenomenal. It is also fascinating to see the whole thing as a mirror image for this left turner. Having said that, the mime sequences and the vision scene were slightly rushed – not so as one would notice in the steps, but he always arrived just a little early, and not using gesture to fill out the excess music. He needed to use it much more in the boat journey (and Stix-Brunell could have helped him with this).
As for Takada, I was ambivalent when I first booked but in the last few months she has positively shone in several solo roles so I had begun to feel excited to see her as Aurora. Rightly so – she was enchanting. Endearing, beautiful and technically exceptionally adroit, she is perfect for the character. She has the underrated talent of making the most of her particular assets – that turnout, those quick feet and oh her extensions to the side! – and when she finds the balance she holds it. At the same time, she is unusually musical, with just the right spring in her step when she first entered, and she interacts with everyone well. A nice little actress, she manages to keep that all-important air of spontaneity. Nerves could briefly be seen in the rose adage and, though less, in the grand pas but the reception tonight should give her more confidence for next time. She and Muntagirov are not quite a fit but they do admirably, and there is nothing to suggest that they couldn't be a nice fit in the future. My only problem is that I think she has a stiff back; her arabesques are low (though kudos to her for not sacrificing line for height) and her attitude is low enough to pull her back in those famous balances. She is at her most exquisite in her Act II variation – those cool, collected, extensions à la seconde are perfect for her. In fact, the whole vision scene was an unusual highlight, though her wedding variation was gorgeous too.
As for the rest of the cast, it was an interesting and unusual one in parts, including seeing Hamilton in smaller roles and Stock for once out of the corps and doing very nicely indeed. I know injury and illness were a big problem tonight so this may or may not ever happen again, but it is always nice to see a shakeup, even if it does only show you why things are as they are. Stepanek's 'aura' to which I am always referring is just right for Florestan and Arestis and Marriott are always great character actors. Forskitt is just as brilliant as I imagined she would be, very similar in style to the wonderful McNally.
The Lilac Fairy is, in my opinion, one of the very hardest roles in all of ballet simply because of its uncertain characterisation compared to the importance of the role. She has little set personality, and yet must have a strong enough presence to be the one constant thread that weaves throughout. For perhaps the very first time, I saw one tonight who managed this feat perfectly. Stix-Brunell played it as a kind fairy-godmother with just the right mix of superiority and friendliness. And of course her technique is always lovely. Sweet little Elizabeth Harrod has been everywhere lately but her parts are usually similar and make me wonder if she is capable of tragedy. We know from Gretel that she can act but she does always look as if she is thinking so very hard about her dancing and everything she has been told. If she manages to move into the next level – the point where technique becomes automatic and allows expression to come to the fore – she could be really lovely. Dyer looked tired and then suddenly fantastic in his coda – this piece is too short to allow for such a warmup but it did show what his capabilities are. Each fairytale pas de deux was great fun (wonderful characterisation from Pajdak) and Sambé was simply made for the bluebird, though he needs to hide his fatigue a little more. I've never before seen him in a pas de deux though and he is too small for Choe; it was successful but that final lift so easily might not have been.
As for Choe, she was a dream of perfection easily over and above Takada, and yet never overshadowing her, despite her showoff arabesque balances! Quite back to form, she knows how to make the most of herself within the music too. She has become a kind of national treasure for the company now and the ease and poise with which she performs this is enough to merit her permanent return to principal roles. I am so glad she is being given them again because she absolutely deserves it. Just gorgeous.
On a night when none of the big stars were out (with the exception of Muntagirov who, as the prince, hardly carries the show) we were nevertheless treated to a starry performance. This ballet has so many opportunities for dancers and characters and the fact that a non-principal cast carries it this flawlessly is a testament to this fantastic company.
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Have them in circles
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Young Londoner reviewing the best ballets from the cheapest seats
Introduction
Reclaiming and reinvigorating ballet for our generation: no, it doesn't have to cost the Earth; yes, it is fresh, still relevant and evolving; and yes, it is for everyone.