Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Artiklar från 2008 – till idag

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in Sleeping Beauty, act III. Photo ROH Johan Persson

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in Sleeping Beauty, act III. Photo ROH Johan Persson

London Buzzing with Ballet

LONDON: It was a treat to be able to see the Royal Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty on screen and on stage in the same week: two exceptional casts and each presentation offering its own special charms.

The live screening hosted a stellar line up led by Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae. Aurora is one of those benchmark achievements for a ballerina and Lamb,who combines rosebud prettiness with the strength of graphene, is perfect for the role.

This was not her best night for balances but that was the smallest of blips in a wonderful evening. She was a delightfull youthful 16 year-old, a will-o-the-wisp vision and a radiant ballerina in the grand pas.

Sarah Lamb as Aurora. Photo ROH Johan Persson

Sarah Lamb as Aurora. Photo ROH Johan Persson

But this was McRae’s night – an amazing achievement in a pretty thankless role.

His easy charm and film star presence won the audience over from his first entrance and his third act solo was nothing short of spectacular.

His timing and phrasing as he built to a thrilling manège culminating in a brief whizz of chainés then, the slightest of pauses before he quietly stepped into fifth with a smile that said it all.

Even in the cinema, the audience burst into applause.

Valentino Zuchetti as the Bluebird was another showstopper. There was a lyrical sweep in his torso that contrasted with the crystal clarity of his batterie and power in his jumps.

The cine viewing offers the benefit of close-ups but in this production, Act 2 suffered. The stage lighting, never bright enough for the cameras, left the hunting party in murky gloom and the magical transformation as the Lilac Fairy’s carriage swims through a sea of dry ice in a forest of descending greenery was sadly lost in the cinema.

Federico Bonelli as Prince in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo ROH Johan Persson

Federico Bonelli as Prince in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo ROH Johan Persson

However, I was able to appreciate the full beauty of the setting in the Opera House a few nights later with Hikaru Kobayashi and Federico Bonelli in the leads. The Sleeping Beauty makes demands on the full company – it has to, the ballerina arrives late and her Prince even later! It needs a company in top condition for the dozens of solos and coryphée roles and the Royal Ballet was able to deliver.

The Fairy Attendants were timed to the nanosecond as every needle pointe stabbed in unison; the heads magically coordinated. The Fairies, too, were a treat especially the Song Bird: Francesca Hayward on screen and Leticia Stock on stage. In the same performance Stock also danced a delightful White Cat – surely a conflict of interests?

Marcelino Sambe as the Bluebird. Photo ROH Johan Persson

Marcelino Sambe as the Bluebird. Photo ROH Johan Persson

The cavaliers, a quality cohort, displayed their form in clean beats and tours, and fine ballon. It was good to see Benjamin Ella back in their ranks and looking strong and confident. An Australian who graduated with great expectations in 2009 he has been plagued with injuries that are hopefully now behind him.

Kobayashi has a formidable technique and delivered a rock solid Rose Adage, softened with a gracious smile and genuine interest in her suitors. She brought the same generosity of spirit to her beautifully phrased solos. Bonelli is a true ‘danseur noble’, a rare and wonderful breed. One of his colleagues said of him, ‘he walks on the stage – does a tendu - and he’s worth the ticket money.’ Together they made the grande pas truly grand.

Hikaru Kobayashi as Aurora. Photo ROH Johan Persson

Hikaru Kobayashi as Aurora. Photo ROH Johan Persson

There were plenty of gems along the way. Hayley Foskitt’s Carabosse rose to magnificent heights while still mean enough to kick one of her own rats. You wonder how a creature so exotically evil could be missed off the guest list? Fernando Motaño’s turbo thrust Bluebird partnered a fluttering Princess Florine and the Florestan pas de trios was a moment of classical excellence. James Hay has a wonderfully easy jump and his textbook pirouettes spin until the music calls time, with Yuhui Choe and Arkane Takada they made a spirited triad.

The Royal Opera House is wooing the younger generation with imaginative marketing schemes. Each season students are offered very reasonably priced amphitheatre tickets (£15 top price) for several of the most popular ballets and operas including La Traviata and The Sleeping Beauty. These shows sell out within minutes and together with the cine world screenings it seems ballet is becoming as popular as football!

The Wedding dance in An Awfully Big Performance. Photo Antonia Jater

The Wedding dance in An Awfully Big Performance. Photo Antonia Jater

At the furthest reaches of the Piccadilly tube is Chickenshed Theatre, an inclusive theatre company that works with people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to create outstanding and inspiring theatre
that changes lives.. Rather than being at the end of the line, it represents the beginning of life as it ought to be.

From an idea hatched in a chickenshed and under inspired leadership they have grown to a community institution where the overused and devalued word, ‘inclusive’ finds its true meaning. This year they celebrate their 40th anniversary with a montage performance combining physical theatre, dance and music. Titled, An Awfully Big Performance, it was just that.

The most memorable moment came in excerpts from “as the mother of a brown boy” (2007) a work of grief and hope. Mischa, nephew of choreographer Christine Niering, and part of the group was tempted by easy money and died in a car chase after a gang robbery. Chickenshed commemorated his life by creating a work of unrivalled honesty that tears at your heart.

Redemption Song in An Awfully Big Performance. Photo Antonia Jater

Redemption Song in An Awfully Big Performance. Photo Antonia Jater

The themes are often contemporary and hard hitting. In Globaleyes of 2002, gaudy costumes are used to highlight the exploitation of garment workers. Wedding Dance came from their collaboration with the Daimohk Chechen Dance Ensemble and showed the same commitment and enthusiasm. The evening closed most suitably on a triumphant chorus We Need Each Other. Their soul is in the right place and the joy just keeps bubbling up.

Shape shifting Pilobolus Dance Theatre is back in town in a lengthy run at the Peacock Theatre under the new guise of Shadowland. Their powers of inventive are put to the test as a whole world of humans and animals are created through highly imaginative use of shadows.

Shadowland  with Pilobolus. Photo John Kane

Shadowland with Pilobolus. Photo John Kane

The central figure is Dog Girl, played by Lauren Yalengo who combines sensually fluid body movement with a warm and appealing persona. One of the problems with groups that work from a figurative base is to find a strong narrative concept to glue the ideas into a valid whole. This was an issue here as the rather thin story was manipulated to absorb the burgeoning ideas.  However there was no mistaking the talent of the group whose very physical brand of contemporary dance was always riveting to watch.

Maggie Foyer
9 April 2014

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Grundad 1995. Est. 1995

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