Ballet companies are often accused of playing safe with classic works; Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty appear with such regularity that the occasional ballet-goer could be forgiven for thinking that the repertoire had nothing else to offer. La Sylphide has been shamefully neglected. Although Peter Schaufuss revived it for English National Ballet in 1979, you don't often have a chance to see this sorry tale of James, the young Scottish laird beguiled on his wedding night by a beautiful fairy who is destroyed when he tries to bind her to him.
The ballet was originally created in 1832 by the Italian dancer and choreographer Filippo Taglioni with a starring role for his daughter Marie Taglioni whose transcendant lightness on pointe as the sylph led a number of admirers to casserole and eat her shoes. The version we know today was created in 1836 by the Danish choreographer August Bournonville using the now familiar score by Herman Lovenskjold.
Scottish Ballet are now touring with the Bournonville version and the two-act ballet is generously supplemented by Robert North's Troy Game. Scottish Ballet move on to High Wycombe and Sheffield in March.
EYE ON THE NEW
Matthew Bourne, renowned as the loving grave-robber of the classical repertoire, began his Burke and Hare career with his 1993 Nutcracker and continued in 1994 with Highland Fling, `a romantic wee ballet' that reworks La Sylphide. The work is being revived again by Adventures in Motion Pictures this spring and opens in London on Tuesday as part of the `Spring Loaded' festival. Bourne swapped James's baronial hall for a Glasgow high-rise and transformed the wispy sylph from a playful pixie to a deranged harpie who trashes the flat. The result is his characteristic mixture of humour and horror. Few audiences resist a gasp of shock as the shears slice through the sylph's little wings...
The Place Theatre, London WC1. (0171 387 1507), 25 Feb-1 March. Anyone buying tickets for two Spring Loaded events at The Place can see a third event freeReuse content