Posts Tagged ‘roland petit’

Review – Pavlova Gala – London Coliseum

March 7, 2012

Sunday night was yet another of those Russian gala evenings in which a fistful of different dancers who normally never share the stage are dumped together for one event and only allowed to dance for about 8 minutes each. At times, these have been recipes for disaster (under-rehearsing a perennial problem, lack of chemistry and bad programming another); sometimes, though, it’s a true showcase with a rare chance to see outstanding performers who rarely grace the London stage in works that showcase them at their best (and a bonus opportunity to see works I am not familiar with). I hadn’t been planning to go to Sunday’s Pavlova gala at the London Coliseum (the advertising passed me by), but fortunately (as it turns out) Graham Watts’ Twitter feed pointed me to it and gave me enough feel of who was performing that I rolled the dice on a Sunday night out … and won!

Pavlova, I think, does not need me to discuss her; however, this was a charity event and the hall was stuffed with shockingly overdressed folks not normally seen in my upper Amphitheater hideout at the Royal Opera House. But it was the dance that brought me and it was great.

Two dances for me provided the best performances of the evening. The first was Ulyana Lopatkina (“Big Red”) in “Russkaya” (new for me). With her Russian headdress on, Lopatkina utterly commanded the stage, dancing very slowly to traditional(ish, by Tchaikovsky) music on her toes, smiling quietly to herself, almost toying with us. Then … as if Mama Rose has shouted, “Sing out, June!” she went into overdrive, suddenly a whirlwind of white gauze and flickering feet.

Also top of the heap was the “Raymonda” duet performed by Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin. Polunin did moves I’d never seen before, with spins in the air with one leg half bent underneath him, and amazing landings with his legs arranged in ways that made my knees ache: only for the young! As I watched him power through the solo work, unaware of who was performing, I thought, “The incarnation of the danseur noble!” Afterward, reading the program to see whose performances I had enjoyed so much (Rojo was a charmer, too), I couldn’t but selfishly hope that Polunin stays in the dance world.

In the “strange curiosities” department were “Splendid Isolation” and “Life Is a Dream.” The first will probably be known forever as “the dance with the really big skirt.” A woman is on stage in the center of a ten foot diameter circle of fabric: her partner walks around her but seems to not be able to get close to her. The expression of their isolation is overly reliant on OTT arm gestures; the use of the skirt is primarily as stage dressing when flamenco shows us just how much more you can do if you try. I found it shallow. (See: “Marcia, next time do it without the chair.”) Meanwhile the world premiere performance of “Life Is a Dream” left me with the uncomfortable feeling that Rojo’s talents were being wasted: I had no desire to see her imitate a fish (even though having one onstage was a novelty).

Finally (though I could praise Alina Cojocaru and Alexandre Riabko’s joyous “Dame Aux Camelias” duet) we have the gala “bonus points” which I award if I get to see pieces that make me long for the whole. “La Prisonniere,” with choreography by Roland Petit, was a fabulous interpretation of Proust’s narrator’s relationship with Albertine that I guessed few people could enjoy as much as I did (see Sarah Crompton’s review for photos). The obsession, the voyeurism, the desire to control were all brought to life by Marlon Dino; the innocence, the arrogance, the love of life and the desire to hold on to her sense of self all expressed richly (and appropriately coolly) by Lucia Lacarra. The entire piece showed the arc of their relationship (yet to me somewhat shuffled together), from innocence to lust to manipulation (she tries to escape, he holds on to her ankles; later he rolls her along his legs) and finally to her death: the sheet falling down on her at the end nicely bookending it. I barely managed to take notes: if only I could see all of Proust ou Les Intermittences du Coeur!

The second (and probably more generally popular) “discovery” piece was the balcony duet from Cranko’s “Romeo and Juliet,” danced by Iana Salenko and Marian Walter. What utter joy this was! I adored the way Salenko’s knees bent as Romeo turned her; she was so excited she was weak at the knees! Walter was as wonderfully strong as the “older” partner should have been, exactly the kind of youth a teenaged girl would fall head over heels for – and yet both of them were passionate and somehow shimmering with new love. Again, it was a dance that captured my attention to a degree that my notebook sat ignored while I enjoyed myself. Overall, it was a great evening and I feel so lucky to have been able to see so much great talent and such a diverse set of choreography. Thanks to all!

(This review is for a performance that took place on Sunday, March 4th, 2012.)

Review – English National Ballet Roland Petit program with Vasiliev – and Preview, Mariinsky ballet 2011 London visit

July 25, 2011

This is shaping up to be a fantastic summer for dance in London. Not only do we have a huge, three week visit from the Mariinsky ballet, we’ve got a wonderful end of season program of ballets by Roland Petit from English National Ballet and the return of Carlos Acosta at the London Coliseum. All of this follows the Vasiliev/Osipova “Romeo and Juliet” week (also at the Coli). Our cups runneth over even if our wallets do not!

I’m afraid I said no to the Vasiliev/Osipova Romeo and Juliet (it sounded like a disappointing staging), but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see Vasiliev in action when I heard that he was going to perform in “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” (on Friday, July 22nd) as an homage to the late master. The piece itself is very high-impact, all rolling eyes and death-defying leaps, with a clear, emotional narrative (tortured young man commits suicide) greatly enhanced by its stylized setting. And Vasiliev left me (and others) gasping in amazement; he took a piece that could have been pure schlock, whizzed up the sex appeal (with help from the hair-raising Jia Zhang), met the passion and overblown emotions shamelessly, and took us on a wild ride where the walls flying away to reveal the desolation of a Parisian rooftop seemed only too perfect – like we’d all just had a fantastic dream where death is a beautiful woman in yellow who caresses us with her arched foot before kicking us away. Oh man. It was fifteen minutes on a rollercoaster but it could have been fifty or five, time just stood still much like Vasiliev seemed to do when he hovered in the air like Trinity about to take on the cyborg police force in The Matrix.

The night opened with L’Arlésienne, another tight tale of love and death and madness, with a stylized corps that reminded me of a Greek chorus commenting on Frédéri (Esteban Berlanga) and Vivette’s (Erina Takahashi) relationship. While the two of them danced together beautifully (and mad Frédéri had great solos), I was entranced my the movement of everyone else on stage, forming lines and circling and lifting the principles. Despite enjoying this greatly, I still ran out before Carmen came on – I would very much like to see more Petit but time was not on my side.

And with this lack of time and money I’ve had to make some decisions about what else I can see this summer. I don’t have a budget that can afford seeing multiples of shows going for £45 a pop; so though I’d love to compare multiple casts for the Mariinsky, it’s one viewing per show. And Eric Taub’s slaughtering of Anna Karenina meant it was off the short list. So, sadly, is Carlos Acosta’s show: I found last year’s show painful and announcing it was basically being remounted for this year meant I felt positive about saving the pennies for a little more Mariinsky. I blew my ballet savings on stalls seating for Swan Lake, but got some help with the Balanchine/Robbins mixed rep thanks to a nicely timed deal on Lastminute.com. And this means I’m seeing basically one of everything – maybe not as much as some but enough to ensure a lovely, dance-filled summer.

Here’s my schedule for the Mariinsky’s visit. What are you going to see? If you’re a ballet fan and you’d like to meet up, speak up and I’ll try to find you during the interval.

26 July (Tuesday): Swan Lake
1 August (Monday): Homage to Fokine
2 August (Tuesday): Don Quixote
4 August (Thursday): Balanchine/Robbins program
12 August (Friday): La Bayadere