La Sylphide, London Coliseum, review: Romantic tale features fleet-footed footwork from the Queensland Ballet

Australian company's dancers shine, but some of the acting is heavy-handed

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The Independent Culture

Queensland Ballet comes to London being very Scottish. Peter Schaufuss’s production of La Sylphide has plenty of tartan and misty glades, with fresh dancing from this Australian company.

Now directed by Li Cunxin, subject of the film Mao’s Last Dancer, Queensland Ballet is raising its profile, with ambitious repertory and international touring. August Bournonville’s 1836 La Sylphide is a Romantic tale of a Highlander who falls for an elusive sylph. It’s a lovely, demanding work, needing speedy footwork, buoyant jumps and naturalistic mime.

Queensland Ballet are fleet-footed and cheerful, though some of the acting is heavy-handed. Sarah Thompson’s Sylphide is light and quick, with a sense of mischief. Luke Schaufuss – a guest artist, and the producer’s son – is a technically strong dancer with a good jump, but doesn’t yet have the emotional depth for the hero James. Greg Horsman is very broad as Madge the witch, tipping too far towards pantomime.

Queensland Ballet’s own dancers shine in supporting roles. There’s nimble, strongly-phrased dancing from Mia Heathcote as Effie, James’ fiancée, while Vito Bernasconi is a charismatic Gurn. The big Highland reel has dashing energy, and the woodland sylphs are appealingly airy.