Review: Harrogate Festival Dancers from the Paris Opera Harrogate International Centre

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The Independent Culture
Since it would take wholly disproportionate space to do justice to all the eight young dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet who appeared at the Harrogate Festival on Wednesday, let me invidiously go straight to the youngest of them. I wish wider audiences could see how proudly Herve Moreau carries his handsome head and shoulders, and how beautifully he uses his feet too.

He must be about 18, and I should be surprised if I do not see his name often in future; likewise that of Eleonora Abbagnato, his only marginally older and no less gifted partner in the captivating and unfamiliar duet Carnival in Venice.

But then I must say how prettily Muriel Zusperreguy danced as Swanilda in the big duet and solos from Coppelia, with Benjamin Pech as her dashingly virtuosic Franz. And what about Jeremie Belingard's voluptuous and virile arm gestures in the Corsair pas de deux - not to mention his soaring jumps, and Myriam Kamionka's scintillating fouettes in the coda of that number.

Most of these danced also in the programme's opening work, Alla Fuga, created by one of the Paris Opera's younger principal dancers, Jean-Guillaume Bart, for the company's young choreographers' evening earlier this year. Set to Mendelssohn's youthful string quartet in E flat major, it consists of three duets - fluent, well phrased and pleasing enough - followed by a more ambitious fourth movement bringing on all the dancers in fugal patterns.

Paquita, which provided the evening's exhilarating finale, is an elastic title, comprising a recognisable introduction and finale framing a different group of solos in almost every version. What can be guaranteed is that they will, depending on the cast, generally be varied, brilliant and stirring.

On this occasion, besides the dancers already praised, plus Jean-Guillaume Bart in proud form as the leading man, they included good solo performances from Alexandra Cardinale, who had danced the tender central duet in Alla Fuga, and Herve Courtain - his high, clean entrechats are something rather special.

Warmly applauded, this is the sort of lively, entertaining programme the Royal Ballet ought to take to the regions; but, alas, it is impossible to think of an equivalent English cast to match these young French dancers. The secret (and this is the same as with the Kirov Ballet's new soloists presently at the London Coliseum) is that the Paris company has a first- class school providing it with an apparently never-ending supply of talent. Once that was true in London too; why no longer?