Does a prima ballerina bounce?

FOR ALL the thousands of column inches devoted to the performing arts, one area remains almost permanently hidden from view. It is the rehearsal room. Audiences and critics are virtually never allowed access. And, for the sake of their own reputations, directors and performers rarely divulge what mistakes, tantrums, sobbing and sackings go on.

So we should all thank the Royal Ballet. Someone has let slip that at a recent rehearsal someone let slip. To be precise, Bruce Sansom let slip Viviana Durante.

To let any prima ballerina slip through your fingers is unfortunate. To let slip the beautiful, sultry and technically outstanding Durante, one of the company's brightest stars, is verging on carelessness. Not least because she is a self-confessed passionate woman. When Sansom dropped her he felt the full weight of that passion, directed verbally at him.

Durante, who fell heavily, flew into a rage and is now not going on the Royal Ballet's tour of Japan. The Royal Ballet at first seemed to imply that she had chosen not to go. But Durante is unusual among international artists of any art form. She talks, honestly and openly and on the record. And she has let it be known that she has been dropped from the tour by the Royal Ballet's director, Sir Anthony Dowell.

We can surmise that relations between the two dancing partners are not good. In non-choreographic parlance, the one who ended up on the floor no longer wants to be lifted and twirled by the one who put her there.

Perhaps classical dance could take a lesson from premier-league soccer. Ballet has no disciplinary committees. Robbie Fowler and Graeme Le Saux, who fell out on the pitch, have been told to act in comradely fashion, suspended for a few games and fined. Had there been a ballet disciplinary committee, Durante and Sansom could have been forced to sit out a matinee and told to shake hands, or do a pas de deux as they emerged from the Covent Garden disciplinary tribunal.

But while Fowler and Le Saux can and will play together for England again, it may not be wise for Durante and Sansom to partner each other too often. The audience reaction could be a problem. Again, just as in football, where the goalkeeper often has to take the goal kick to a rising cry of "aaaaAAAAAAH" from the fans behind the goal, it might be hard for the occupants of the front stalls to resist a similar climactic gasp each time Durante and Sansom combined.

Personally, I rejoice that we have Viviana Durante. The passion of her Italian background is much needed in the very English, repressed confines of the Royal Ballet. Of the present mess, she says: "Things happen in rehearsals, which are always sensitive situations. There are a lot of people in the room and there are vibes flying around. I did react, but there is a way of taking things in hand and dealing with them without taking away my shoes... There are problems at the Royal Ballet, such as communication, that are not being addressed and I don't want to find myself in a situation where my shows are being taken away from me."

Durante is passionate, but no prima donna. She has come to the rescue of the company often, stepping into leading roles at the last minute when other dancers were injured, including the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty in Washington, before President Clinton.

If the Royal Ballet parts company with Durante now, then she will have paid the price of honesty. That would be deeply unfair of Sir Anthony Dowell; and Miss Durante's fellow ballerinas, one of whom sits on the Arts Council, should be brave enough to say so publicly. Plain speaking by artists is all too rare in the arts, but the passions, pride and mistakes of the rehearsal room are also part of the process of making a work of art. Does it really do any harm for the public to hear about them occasionally?

Sir Anthony should not be alarmed that a bit of butterfingers in rehearsal and a subsequent shouting-match have reached a wider public. There is nothing wrong in our knowing that these magical dancers are also human beings.

For those of us lucky enough to go and watch the Royal Ballet regularly in performance, it comes almost as a surprise to discover they are mortal. On stage they make perfection look so easy that it is almost a relief to learn that behind the locked doors of the rehearsal room there's no knowing whether Manon will leap into her lover's arms or end up with a thud on the floor.

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test