Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The Royal Ballet's latest triple bill should have more impact. It starts with a new Ashton revival and ends with MacMillan's The Rite of Spring, with this season's only new work in the middle.

The Royal Ballet's latest triple bill should have more impact. It starts with a new Ashton revival and ends with MacMillan's The Rite of Spring, with this season's only new work in the middle.

Three Songs - Two Voices is danced to the violinist Nigel Kennedy's reinterpretation of songs by Jimi Hendrix. The two voices must be Kennedy and Hendrix: Christopher Bruce doesn't impose his own. This is Bruce's first work for the Royal Ballet, but his style and his choice of taped music are familiar from his dances for Ballet Rambert. It's a plotless work with hints of emotion, danced on a bare stage.

On the soundtrack, Kennedy strums and scribbles. The music isn't undanceable, but Bruce's response needs much more rhythmic edge. His steps are all curls and tilts, fluid but indefinite. Dancers keep stopping in fifth position, a leftover of classical technique. Three Songs drifts easily along, but it's blank.

The Royal dancers do Bruce proud. Zenaida Yanowsky, especially, gives Bruce's vague steps a long-limbed elegance. Deirdre Chapman sweeps through an interminable duet with Ricardo Cervera. Tamara Rojo gets whatever drama she can from these dances. The corps try hard to raise energy levels.

The Dream is Ashton's lovely, condensed version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This first-night performance was well cast, well rehearsed and well danced, without quite coming together.

Alina Cojocaru dances Titania with crisp attention, steps brightly phrased. But she misses the wildness and sensuality of Ashton's Fairy Queen, and she just isn't regal. Johan Kobborg's fierce, proud Oberon has more authority. His dancing is fluent, the drama is always sharply focused. José Martin gives Puck a wicked eye and a bold jump.

Jonathan Howells needs to give Bottom more weight, but he dances with nice attention. There's a considering tilt to his head as he remembers his donkey's ears. As Hermia, Isabel McMeekan curls into the arms of Joshua Tuifua's Lysander, then pushes him away with pointed maidenly haste. Tuifua's springy footwork is delightful, especially in his bout of fisticuffs with David Pickering's Demetrius.

The evening ended with The Rite of Spring, which returned to the repertory earlier this season. It's lost a little of its bite. Mara Galeazzi lacks the stamina, the upper body strength, for MacMillan's chosen maiden.

To 11 June (020-7304 4000)

Comments