Monday 11 June 2007

Royal Ballet Triple bill

Friday's triple bill at the Royal Ballet included 3 works that I am particularly fond of. First off was Dame Ninette de Valois's Checkmate. The only one of her ballets to be regularly in the Royal Ballet repertory. It is a strong dramatic work and one that works well if there are strong performances from the Black Queen and the Red Knight. The Black Queen was danced by Zenaida Yanowsky and she gave a wonderfully icy, sexy performance. Benet Gartside was a last minute replacement as the Red Knight. He did not seem quite as bravura as some dancers in the role but conveyed well the characters conflicted nature when he fails to kill the Black Queen.

The performance of Ashton's Symphonic Variations was simply the best that I have seen at Covent Garden in a long time. Despite a number of replacements in the cast all 6 dancers succeeded in creating a classical unity with all of them managing to be uniform in their style of dancing. Something that you can't take for granted nowadays at the Royal Ballet when their dancers come from such wide backgrounds.

Then finally, Song of the Earth with Catherine Wyn Rogers and David Rendall singing the vocal solos. The singers were placed on the stage, at the very edge at the front. This was, I think, an innovation and a welcome one; it was good to see the singers properly. The performance was simply magical; Darcy Bussell, Gary Avis and Carlos Acosta danced the 3 lead roles. The evening might have been memorable for the reception Bussell received at the end, but it will also stay in the memory for the quality of the dancing and the performance.

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