Review – Homage to Nureyev – various dancers at the London Coliseum


Ah, the gala. What are they all about? For me, they’re a chance to see dancers I might not ever see performing the peak elements of works I might know – or be completely unfamiliar with. It’s a chance to celebrate teh best of ballet. Or, rather, it celebrates certain aspects of ballet, pushing showy technique over story telling. Despite it’s shortcomings, I’ve been finding galas well worth attending to expand my knowledge of the world of dance.

Tonight’s “Homage to Nureyev” featured a lot of the typical elements – a horde of imported dancers, an audience full of preening plutocrats, a late start, an overly long interval, recorded music (not all, thank goodness), and 32 fouettes (though thankfully no dying swan). It also had an original pieces (“Elegy”) and two male solo pieces (“Adagietto” from La Muette and “A Picture Of” by Patrick de Bana) that I had not seen before.

The quality of the evening was, again typically, mixed. Unfortunately, the Adagietto (or “A man and a chair”) took an opportunity for some really acrobatic dance and turned it into a tortured set of poses and stretches, and “A Picture Of” managed to do even less – an hour later and both are already fading from my memory. Sadly, “Elegy” is memorable due to the Olga Esina being dropped on the floor by Vladimir Shishov. Celebration of Nureyev and Fonteyn? More like a celebration of the need to rehearse before performing.

In retrospect, the thing I enjoyed most about this night was the chance to see two truly outstanding women performing: Uliana Lopatkina (Russkaya and Trois Gnossiennes) and Svetlana Zakharova (Tristan and Isolde). Zakharova was fluid, willowy, with great extentions and … well, she just reminded me of a naiad in a painting by Waterhouse. Lopatkina came on for an amazing solo in Russkaya which actually gave me the giggles as it started with her holding a white hanky that I couldn’t help but think she’d found from “The Moor’s Pavane” (a retelling of Othello). But her footwork – I just don’t know how to describe it. On pointe, she was so in control that it looked to me like she might just have casually done calligraphy with her feet. Then she flung herself into some Russian folk dancing that was lively and energetic and amazing. She came back with a much more modern “Trois Gnossiennes,” which had her displaying beautiful positions, angling her feet in ways that seemed impossible and unnatural. I’m not sure if either of these women are coming back to London any time soon, but I’m going to make an effort to see them.

Unfortunately, due to the late start(s) and then the video, I wasn’t able to stay for the entire show – I’ve seen Afternoon of a Faun twice already this year, and while I was curious to see “Black,” what I wanted to do even more was to get a full night’s sleep for the start of my work week. And so what am I doing? Writing this up instead. Still, I managed to do most of it while I was on the train. Verdict? This one was probably missable, but then, I didn’t stay until the end, so who knows how much better it might have got? Still, I’m glad I went. (Full program here. Info on ENO site here. Their ad is a bit off as it mentions “La Bayadère, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, and Le Corsair” as possible ballets in the show and only Swan Lake was excerpted. Shame!

This review was for a show that took place on Sunday, March 21st, 2010. Other reviews: Zoe Anderson in the Independent, and Sarah Crompton in the Telegraph.)


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5 Responses to “Review – Homage to Nureyev – various dancers at the London Coliseum”

  1. TBB Says:

    We’re always amazed at how fast you can whip up a write up! Totally agree with you on Lopatkina, the woman is a miracle dancer.

    You didn’t miss much by the time you left except Alina Cojocaru & Sergei Polunin in Coppelia pas de deux – thoroughly amazing as one would expect from them.

    If you liked Zakharova she will be opening night Giselle during the Bolshoi visit to London but I have more of a soft spot for the second night lead Natalia Osipova (wish she would have been at this gala too…).


    • webcowgirl Says:

      How exciting! I will buy my Giselle tickets ASAP, which in this case is pronounced “right after payday.”

  2. jacqueline Says:

    Enjoyed your review,as was unable to attend this gala.Out of interest,what time did it start/finish?had the late finish problem with the Mariinsky last summer.Makes travel hard work and kind of puts you off!Did you see the Diaghilev gala at the ROH last year?I see it was the same Ensemble people.Would like to know how the galas compare,as last years left something to be desired.In my opinion!

    • webcowgirl Says:

      It started at least ten minutes late and the intermission went almost forty minutes instead of 30. I’m guessing it ended around 10:40 or so but I left at 10 because I needed to get home before 11! I also saw the Diaghilev gala and I have to say, the quality was better this summer, but there was the same problem with everything just feeling put together at the last minute.

  3. Casting for 2010 Mikhailovsky London Coliseum visit « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] so useless!) and have been wondering if I would be getting a chance to see any of the ballerinas I’d enjoyed seeing before. I was already feeling peeved about Zakharova’s disappearance from the Bolshoi’s summer […]

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