Ballet review: A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, London Coliseum
Friday 26 July 2013
2013 marks 75 years since the birth of Rudolf Nureyev, twenty since his death. English National Ballet’s new triple bill pays tribute to one of ballet’s greatest stars, and to the range of his career, which stretched from classicism of his Russian schooling to the new and older ballets he discovered on defecting to the west. ENB’s tribute is wide in scope but patchy in execution.
A short, intelligent documentary opens the evening, introducing Nureyev and his connection to the various ballets. It’s followed by Petrushka, one of his favourite roles, in a weak revival. Created for the Ballets Russes in 1911, this puppet tragedy is a difficult masterpiece. Stravinsky’s music and Benois’ designs are marvellous, but modern dancers often struggle with Fokine’s naturalistic choreography. In the busy crowd scenes, English National Ballet’s dancers don’t bustle; they just stand there until it’s their cue to act out a bit of business. Worse, details of the choreography are wrong, or badly paced. What should be a vivid fairground is flat and dead.
Fabian Reimair is a determined Petrushka, railing against fate. Shevelle Dynott is a spontaneous Moor, putting warmth into his gestures, while Nancy Osbaldeston’s Ballerina has a bright-eyed, doll-like precision.
Song of a Wayfarer, created by Maurice Béjart for Nureyev in 1971, is a duet for a wandering hero and a figure of death. It’s a sentimental duet, with the vague joys and sorrows of life overshadowed by melancholy. Vadim Muntagirov is superbly lyrical in the Nureyev role, flowing through jumps and turns with linear clarity. Esteban Berlanga is vivid and engaged as the death figure. Guest baritone Nicholas Lester gives a cleanly-phrased performance of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.
Nureyev’s own staging of Raymonda Act III makes a splendid finale. It’s a Hungarian-themed grand divertissement, full of mazurka footwork and grand czardas arms. Barry Kay’s gorgeous designs are a fantasy cream-and-gold Byzantium, as sumptuous as Glazunov’s music and the glittering steps.
The male group dance was shaky, but English National Ballet’s women take on the demanding solos with flourish and flair. Crystal Costa sparkles in the contrasts of the fourth variation. Daria Klimentová is both grand and mercurial in the ballerina role, switching from imperious to flirty in a dazzle of footwork. Muntagirov is a dashing cavalier.
Until 27 July. Box office 020 7845 9300.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Last Tango in Halifax, BBC1, review: Cosy familiarity and real surprises are perfectly in step
Game of Thrones named most-pirated TV show of 2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE over 'religious mistakes'
Marilyn Manson breaks silence on Lana Del Rey rape clip: 'I wouldn't make a video of that nature'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg