In the name of Spain's national dance company, "ballet" simply means dance; in this case, a watered-down flamenco that lacks force or passion. Only guest star Tamara Rojo, here deprived of her pointe shoes, gives this evening some energy.
Dualia is choreographed by Rojas and Rodríguez, who recently brought their own company to Sadler's Wells. This work for Ballet Nacional de España is in the same vein. Women in ruffled cream dresses, with fussy corset detail, clump together or stride across the stage. Soloists strut and pose. There's very little shape to the performance, which meanders on through number after number.
La Leyenda, by company director José Antonio, is a tribute to 20th-century flamenco legend Carmen Amaya. Antonio casts two women as Amaya, "the woman" and "the immortal"; it's not often clear which is which. Cristina Gómez and Elena Algado glare and stamp, but don't establish themselves as individuals, let alone as aspects of an icon. It's a problem throughout the repertory. The dancers are polished enough, but strangely bland: nobody stands out.
The work is padded out with group dances for the corps, some dull stamping solos for other dancers. This time there is live music from a flamenco band, though it's sugary. Antonio can bring a sequence to a flourishing close, with applause-provoking final poses.
So I was grateful for the Royal Ballet's Tamara Rojo, who dances at some performances during this Coliseum season. In Antonio's Romance de Luna, created for himself and ballerina Natalia Makarova, Rojo plays both the moon and inspiring muse to Miguel A Corbacho's bullfighter. She dances this nonsense with admirable drive and authority. The choreography makes her waft about waving fabric, but Rojo always looks as though she's going somewhere. It's not something I can say about the rest of this evening.
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