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An Evening of British Ballet

Artists of the Royal Ballet

by Cassandra

July 28 and 29, 2004 -- Orchard Theatre, Dartford

The two performances by artists of the Royal Ballet at the Orchard Theatre Dartford have been quite amazingly successful. On Wednesday night the theatre was close to full, and last night it was quite simply packed. The audience was a satisfying mix of local theatre-goers and London ballet fans lured to this friendly Kent theatre by the prospect of an imaginative programme of works organized by former RB principal Bruce Sansom.

I have to say that the high level of performance reminded me of the Danses Concertantes group of dancers from New York City Ballet that appeared at Sadler’s Wells a couple of years ago. They also presented just ten dancers in a similarly rewarding evening of carefully selected works, proving just how satisfying an evening of “chamber ballet” can be. Sansom is certainly adept at putting together a varied programme by British choreographers; with works ranging from William Tuckett’s Celtic ho-down, “Puirt-a-Beul,” to Ashton’s masterpiece “Symphonic Variations.”

The company was led by principals Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg together with a well-chosen group of artists and soloists, most of whom were performing their roles for the first time. Special mention should be made of Edward Watson, who actually hails from Dartford and whose appearances (in no fewer than four of the items) could be described as a triumphal homecoming.

After the second performance a special reception was held in honour of the occasion, and among the guests were RB director Monica Mason, Lady MacMillan and Wayne McGregor. As Edward Watson is probably the most celebrated former Dartford citizen since Mick Jagger, he was given a special present to mark the occasion by Council Leader Kenneth Leadbeater, much to the amusement of his RB colleagues.

Incidentally it was due to the initiative of Councillor Leadbeater that these performances took place at the Orchard, and hopefully this visit by the RB artists will put this excellent theatre on the map as a first rate and highly accessible venue for dance.

Edited by Lori Ibay

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