Oh, what dancing! There's a thrill about the Royal Ballet's new triple bill: two new works, a cheering audience, some of the company's best dancers in full flight.
Wayne McGregor's Chroma is by far the best thing I've seen from him. This choreographer goes in for post-Forsythe extremes of speed and flexibility, knotting and unknotting his dancers. In Chroma, he adds a new sense of craftsmanship; the steps begin to have an impact as dance, not just contortionism. The dancers wear soft shoes, but the women's feet have the sharp-etched detail of pointe work.
John Pawson's white box set changes colour with Lucy Carter's lighting. The music, by League of Gentlemen composer Joby Talbot, blares with James Bond brass and Hitchcock suspense. The dancers tug at themselves and each other, or stand watching, framing the stage picture.
McGregor's best work is for Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae - or is it that they dance with the greatest lucidity? Lamb's poise turns the oddest inventions into elegance. McRae is supple and steely, movement flowing powerfully.
Christopher Wheeldon's DGV (Danse à grande vitesse) is a big, confident work. Four leading couples, with full corps, plunge through Michael Nyman's Musique à grande vitesse, written to celebrate the French high-speed train. Wheeldon's biggest problem is to get past Nyman's trademark chugging rhythms to give his dance shape and contrast. The finale goes on for an age, though it's fun to see how well Wheeldon copes with it, building cumulative corps de ballet patterns.
There's glorious dancing, most of all from Darcey Bussell. Wheeldon has made several ballets for Bussell, responding to her long limbs, her sheer radiance. He gives her an entrance for a goddess; Gary Avis carries her on, held high. It's a moment of wonder: Avis lifts her lightly, letting her swim through the air. She is astonishingly beautiful.
The four duets have too much tangled partnering, but each is distinctive. Zenaida Yanowsky and Eric Underwood are coolly assured, Edward Watson and Leanne Benjamin tightly entwined. Bussell's flights are followed by a slow, lush dance for Federico Bonelli and Marianela Nuñez.
The bill includes Balanchine's 1946 masterpiece, The Four Temperaments, cleanly danced. Nuñez is fierce and bold in Choleric; Bussell, with Carlos Acosta, dances Sanguinic with gorgeous abandon.
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