Royal Ballet

"Enduring Images"

Royal Opera House, London, UK

March 20, 2002
By Stuart Sweeney

I was keen to see the second cast for the Enduring Images programme as it gave some real chances to the younger members of the Royal Ballet to show what they can do. In the event, despite all the pressure they have been under for the past couple of months, the evening was a success and in some ways more enjoyable than the first cast performance I saw.

One gripe was the fact that despite there being unsold seats 10 minutes before curtain up, no concessionary stand-bys were available. Frankly, if they are not on sale for the second cast of a late 20th Century mixed bill, then they are never going to be available and the ROH needs to change the system or stop advertising that they offer these concessions.

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated had been hit by injury and Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle replaced Marianella Nunez and Inaki Urlezaga. This piece is all about energy and making sense of Forsythe’s delight at creating on the superb dancers of Paris Opera Ballet in the mid-80s. I suspect that it is also a work where you have to pace yourself otherwise the going can get tough in the later stages as the explosive movement makes great demands on the dancers. Laura Morera brought much verve and finesse to her early solo and Bussell attacked the steps with great confidence. However, about two-thirds of the way through I began to wonder whether it was maybe rather longer than it needed to be. Then I realised that this may have been because for some of the younger dancers the strain of the work was beginning to tell and the edge of precision and energy had left their dancing. Nevertheless the final stages burst to life again. Ethan Stiefel danced with great power and wit in his late solo and clearly showed why he is in such demand. And finally Bussell and Bolle gave it their all in their concluding duet with that wonderful instant of intense staring at each other before the lights snap off.

Remanso had Soloist Ricardo Cervera and Artists Ernst Meissner and Johannes Stepanek. I was looking forward to this, but a little concerned that some tension would mar this exposed work on the big stage for the dancers. No fear, as all three had the time of their lives in the piece and showed that it works wonderfully as a young man’s dance. Cervera is one of my favourites at any level in the Company and he gave a performance with pace and elegant finishing. I again enjoyed the intriguing shapes that Nacho Duato makes from the various combinations of three men and a rectangular wall.

As I said for my first review The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is not my favourite ballet. However, I ended up with a grin on my face this time due to good ensemble work and two fine individual performances. Jenny Tattersall’s speed and precision meant that she could put more humour and élan into the steps than any of the other dancers I have seen in this season’s performances. Also, Ivan Putrov pulled off some spectacular jumps in the final stages.

The London critics have been unconvinced by Por Vos Muero, but it retained my interest throughout the performance. Its fusion of baroque, contemporary and ballet movement gives it an unusual look and I’d much prefer to see this than a dull rehash of classical steps. The Spanish songs give a variety of pace and mood, but melancholy is never far away. The strength in this performance was the ensemble movement of the young dancers with Jaimie Tapper again showing her versatility.

At the end of the evening I was pleased that I had made the effort to see this cast and felt reassured that Ross Stretton’s methods are providing chances for the dancers down the hierarchy. In addition he seems to be giving them the confidence to tackle roles without the observable tension that beset similar experiments in the past.


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Edited by Marie.

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