Dance: Romeo and Juliet The Kirov at the Coliseum, London

Name that tune. The music was unrecognisable at first but gradually it crystallised into "Happy Birthday" and the audience burst, almost gratefully, into a rousing chorus of the song as the Queen Mother sat down next to the Queen in the centre of the Coliseum's Royal Box to enjoy her 97th birthday treat.

Good decision. The Kirov Ballet, clearly well on the road to recovery after a nasty period of post-Communist adjustment, has had a triumphant London season. The programming's mixture of novelty and box-office favourites has been largely successful. Their Don Quixote was a thorough delight and the demand for the three performances of Sleeping Beauty proves that audiences are not tired of the classics when danced and presented with grandeur and conviction. The corps de ballet continue to perform marvels of organic precision. The generous premiere-league casting has often meant a chance to savour two principal ballerinas a night. Altynai Asylmuratova, Empress of Russian ballet, has returned to prominence as the company's greatest asset and Igor Zelensky and a stag line of enormously promising young men all promise a bright future.

On Monday the company danced Lavrovsky's Romeo and Juliet. The production is very different from the 1965 Kenneth MacMillan version which, on a weak night, can degenerate into a few virtuoso pas de deux held together by yards and yards of very bad business. Although Lavrovsky's pas de deux may lack the athletic abandon of MacMillan's pairwork, Lavrovsky's production is, overall, a more sustained theatrical pleasure. The almost operatic staging gives the street scenes a verismo and vitality enhanced by the full-blooded dancing and zestful mime of the chorus.

In the fight scenes the piazza is awash with testosterone and Sergei Vikharev (a handsome version of Michael York) excelled as Mercutio. The character's volatile blend of charm and machismo was ably expressed in Vikharev's silky precision and steely attack. Some of the character acting comes a little close to scenery-chewing for some tastes but the histrionics suit the production and balance Prokofiev's marmoreal score. Can you imagine a British ballet dancer climbing on to Tybalt's bier and being carried off screaming and raving astride his corpse? Of course you can't. Nina Mikhailova pulled off this climax to Act 2 with astonishing power. Her performance provoked not merely pity for the bereaved Lady Capulet but terror of the vengeance that her ululation would unleash. She was well- matched by Vladimir Ponomarev at his eye-rolling best, despite a costume that looked like he'd popped out for a pint of milk in his Sulka dressing- gown. Wigs and costumes are not a priority for the impoverished Kirov at the moment but their artistry ensures that they succeed in spite of this.

At the ballet's heart was Altynai Asylmuratova as the playful child forced into early bloom by the coup de foudre that sabotages her life's happy ending. Even the Queen Mother had her opera glasses out for a squint at this magnificent performance. Asylmuratova's raised shoulders and arching torso express Juliet's yearning for an alternative future in which her love for Romeo will be sanctioned. We share her pain as her exotic, tip- tilted beauty stares sightlessly into the upper circle in a plea for understanding. Her partner was Viktor Baranov, who handled the overhead lifts with great success and whose acting seemed to grow in confidence as the story progressed. By the time his body lay draped head-first down the steps to Juliet's tomb, we could well understand the attraction. The ballet concludes, not with the two corpses, but with the grieving families who, as in the play, console each other and see the error of their enmity. Two further performances today, 2pm and 7.30pm (0171-632 8300)

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there