Ballo Della Regina/ Live Fire Exercise/ Danse a Grande Vitesse, the Royal Ballet –reviewed on 13th May
Balanchine’s Ballo Della Regina, a virtuosic showcase set to music from Verdi’s Don Carlo, has the instant drama of a bright blue backdrop and costumes shimmered with glitter. With lightning-quick jumps combined with poise, exuberance and charm, Marianela Nuñez looked as if the steps had been created for her. She danced with a sense of fun, showing off her immaculate technique and timing as she made complicated patterns with her feet and jumped with perfect balance onto pointe. Sergei Polunin jumped explosively, leaping high into the air continuously without tiring. Four short solos were also well-performed, especially by Yuhui Choe who danced playfully, making her movements look deceptively simple and light. The work is a wonderful addition to the Royal Ballet repertoire and a great chance for dancers to entertainingly show off their technical prowess.
Wayne McGregor’s latest work, Live Fire Exercise, attempted to highlight the links between ballet training and military drills. Against a background projection by John Gerrard, showing trucks and cranes driving across a bleak landscape, dancers marched onto stage in darkness. An explosion ensued on the screen, followed by typical McGregor choreography of swirling, contorting and rippling bodies. However, despite the captivating movement, the piece felt underwhelming; its theme didn’t make cohesive sense or provide the emotional drama intended. The projection was more innovative and attention-grabbing than the choreography.
Inspired by the speedy French TVG, Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse a Grande Vitesse creates the dynamic feeling of a train and its people in motion. With excellent lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Zenaida Yanowsky and Eric Underwood made simple arm movements defined and enticing, moving their bodies in waves. Melissa Hamilton glided with the sleekness of a cat from knotted poses to high leg extensions and lifts. The corps provided a backdrop to the four main duets, travelling in group undulations across the stage. With beautifully orchestrated music by Michael Nyman and awe-inspiring dancing, this was a superb finish to the evening.
The programme’s main weakness was the fact that it was almost 50% interval. If only the ROH could rethink their scheduling (or offer free interval drinks!), it would be as near to a perfect triple as could be hoped for.