Arts: Dance: Moonlit mystery and moustaches
CITY BALLET OF LONDON PEACOCK THEATRE LONDON
Saturday 05 September 1998
This features music by the gifted and eccentric English composer Lord Berners, whose output included ballets for Ashton and Balanchine. The present score brings together several of his colourful short pieces, including some that he put together for a puppet show which he called The Man with a Moustache, thus providing the new ballet with both its title and (so far as it has one) its theme.
Mike Baldwin is the choreographer, and has been bold enough to present his dancers in tights, tutus and toe-shoes: something rare nowadays even from the most classical ballet-makers, let alone one who, like Baldwin, made his own dancing career almost entirely in modern companies.
What he has done, in effect, is give the dancers the steps they are most comfortable with in sequences that show the whole cast of four couples dancing fluently and brightly, sometimes all together, often singly or in smaller groupings.
What gives the ballet its distinctive flavour is the way Baldwin manipulates them on or off stage, and the unusual phrasing of the dances. That, and the fact that at times one or more of the men, and the leading woman too, wear a moustache as promised in the title, usually combined with a bowler hat.
No explanation for this becomes apparent - it simply happens out of the blue, just as Andrew Flint Shipman's setting of a mysterious, dark moonlit garden suddenly dissolves into giant colourful flowers in bright sunlight.
These designs and the flatteringly handsome costumes are sheer delight.
The ballet could have played up its surrealist touches more strongly, and that would probably have overcome any feeling that it is running on longer than it ought.
However, the dancing is fine throughout. Laura Hussey and Bernat Pascual in the central roles, with (if I understand the programme rightly) Alison Croft and Dincer Solomon hardly less prominent, lead a cast who all look happy and in first-rate form.
If only I could be as enthusiastic about the rest of the show, but the sheer energy of the company in Sinfonietta Giocosa, banging away enthusiastically at Istvan Herezog's shamelessly formless choreography, ensured a warm reception for this puerile work's British premiere.
Neither the ballet nor its Martinu score lives up to the title.
Completing the bill was Balanchine's Donizetti Variations, a pretty showpiece that the dancers, led by Joanne De Souza and Vitali Malko, tackled bravely if not always really with enough virtuosity and finish.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss