Monday, 25 February 2013

Ashton Mixed Bill

La Valse/ Meditation from Thaïs/ Voices of Spring/ Monotones I and II/ Marguerite and Armand, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House - reviewed on 15th February
Edward Watson, Marianela Nunez and Federico Bonelli in Monotones II
Photo: Bill Cooper, courtesy of ROH
My £6 back-of-the-amphitheatre ticket seems especially good value when there are five ballets on display. And with the exception of La Valse (which was chaotic and out of sync), this mixed bill of Frederick Ashton choreography made for a supremely enjoyable evening.

Méditation from Thaïs and Voices of Spring, at six and five minutes each, are both duets that offer just a brief taster of Ashton's cleverness. The former, performed by Mara Galeazzi and Rupert Pennefather, is exotically-tinted with fervent and graceful movements revolving around an orange scarf. The latter has all the joy and vibrancy of the season after which it is titled. Emma Maguire shone with her neat, springy footwork and appeared light as a feather as she was lifted expertly by partner Valentino Zucchetti.
Tamra Rojo and Sergei Polunin in Marguerite and Armand
Photo: Bill Cooper, courtesy of ROH

Next was the stunning Monotones I and II, two exquisitely sculptural trios set to Erik Satie's indulgent piano scores, Gymnopédies and Gnossienne. Forming striking shapes in lime green were Emma Maguire, Akane Takada and Dawid Trzensimiech, with Edward Watson, Marianela Nuñez and Federico Bonelli providing a contrasting a lunar-like and interweaving elegance.

The evening’s closing narrative ballet provided a perfect showcase for two former Royal Ballet stars with very different reasons for departing the company. 22-year-old Sergei Polunin left suddenly in January 2012 following artistic disagreements, a desire to run a tattoo parlour and the mounting pressure of his rapid rise to success. Tamara Rojo made instead the transition into dance management, taking over as English National Ballet’s artistic director last September. Together the pair were a superb Marguerite and Armand, with their passion and sincerity making the tragic story (inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s La Dame aux cam
a radiant finish to the evening.

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