Observations: Jump to the music
Friday 13 February 2009
The Royal Ballet's Sergei Polunin jumps up – and seems to soar further, hanging in the air. An "oooh" runs around the audience. High leaps are one of ballet's spectacles, particularly for male dancers. For women, pointework and flexibility get the headlines; for men, it's the jumps.
At 5ft 11in, Polunin is tall for a high jumper. In ballet, as in gymnastics, the highest leaps tend to come from smaller dancers. Nijinsky, Baryshnikov and Nureyev weren't tall.
Wayne Sleep, whose technique was phenomenal, found that his ballet career was restricted by his height: it was hard to find ballerinas who wouldn't tower over him. Dancers like Sleep can find themselves typecast in virtuoso soloist roles. La Bayadère has one of the most famous in the Bronze Idol, who spins and jumps for all he's worth – but has nothing else to do.
The excitement comes from more than the height of the jump. Polunin surges upwards, but he also holds his pose in the air, clear and bold. Back on the ground, he moves with considerable authority. At the very young age of 19, he is already dancing leading roles – carrying a whole ballet, not just brightening it with glamorous bursts of technique.
In La Bayadère, the hero Solor has a vision of his beloved. She vanishes as the scene ends, Solor bounding after her. As Polunin landed, you could see the moment in which his hero woke from his dream. The soaring jump was followed by a moment of surprise and loss, visible in his whole body.
Polunin appears in 'DGV: Danse à grande vitesse' tonight and in 'Dances at a Gathering' from 11 March (www.roh.org.uk)
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food