Gulnare was danced by another rising star, Laurretta Summerscales. She had her debut as Medora a few days later. In an utterly disarming way she never seems to be working very hard although her technique is fierce: limbs instinctively finding textbook positions and her fifths dovetailing to perfection. In Act 1 she teases the Pasha with coquettish charm then brings lyrical beauty to the dreamy pas de deux in Act 2.
She also spurred her Conrad, Arionel Vargas, to increased heights charging his performance with renewed energy. There is wisdom in pairing a newcomer with a more experienced partner and it paid off in the ease they showed in the spectacular lifts and the confident supported work. Ali was danced by Zdenek Konvalina in a high quality performance, no tricks, just clean classical lines and a pleasure to watch.
The English National Ballet are in fine form and Le Corsaire gives plenty of opportunity in the many soloist roles. I particularly liked Fernando Bufala’s Birbanto, a tough character played with great integrity and a dash of virtuoso flair. The tall elegant Ken Saruhashi was an unlikely Lankendem but after a low key entrance took on the character in a very convincing manner. He was well teamed with Ksenia Ovsyanick’s Gulnare.
She is a dancer with a particularly warm and appealing stage presence who brings something special to each role and was an excellent foil to Summerscales’ Medora. Of the Odalisques Jia Zhang and also Alison McWhinney, both dancers with exceptionally long legs and an enviable ballerina line of neck, were outstanding, as was Senri Kou is the bouncy allegro solo.
Company stalwart, Michael Coleman has clocked up another great part, waddling with glee as the lusty impotent Pasha in a costume encrusted with jewels.
22 January 2014