Louise Levene on dance

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The Independent Culture
James loves Effie. Effie loves James. Enter the Sylph and this happy Scottish menage is destroyed in the twinkling of a toe shoe, as the young Scot turns his back on bourgeois bliss in the reckless pursuit of his light-footed lady-love. La Sylphide is considered the archetypal romantic ballet. First created in 1832 for the legendary ballerina Marie Taglioni, the ballet exploited the popular taste for Walter Scottish romanticism. Taglioni, her shoes bravely stuffed with cotton wool, turned dancing on pointes from a circus act to a feat of genuine artistry. All Europe was aflame with enthusiasm for the 28-year-old dancer, protegee of her father, the choreographer Filippo. Popular though this version of La Sylphide was, it was reworked and improved four years later when the Danish choreographer Auguste Bournonville put his mark on the ballet in a version that has survived largely unchanged to this day.

Scottish Ballet's 1973 production has been successfully revived this spring by Sorella Englund, former ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet. The straightforward production has been highly praised: "It looks as La Sylphide should look: simple and unpretending. It is the purity of the dance and the subtlety of the playing which makes sense of its drama, not interpolations of Romantic flummery... the poles of the action, the Romantic dilemma of unattainable love and the tragedy it begets are exactly balanced," enthused the Financial Times. The Sunday Times was equally keen: "Peter Cazalet's refurbished designs, always attractive and apt, look delightfully fresh as does the company's performance in a work that blends comedy and tragedy, the zest of Scottish folk dances with the poetic lyricism of the sylphs, all within the framework of clear narrative."

As if this wasn't enough, the ballet is generously presented in a double- bill with a new work by the company's choreographer in residence, Mark Baldwin, who has crafted a piece using Stravinsky's Le Baiser de la Fee and 14 of the company's dancers.

His Majesty's Theatre Aberdeen to Sat; Eden Court, Inverness (01463 234234) 3-6 April

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