Our Royal family has never been particularly free with its Royal Charters: the National Theatre only became Royal in 1988 and the NSPCC can whistle for it, but over in Manitoba, North America's oldest continually operating ballet company has been the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. On stage since 1953, it was also the first ballet company to go Royal - our Royal Ballet didn't get its Charter until 1956.
The company, which hasn't visited Britain for more than 10 years, opens at the Peacock Theatre in London on Tuesday and journeys to Edinburgh next week. The London run features two programmes of short works on alternate nights. The first programme consists of George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco (so deliciously parodied last month in Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's Go For Barocco) and Jerome Robbins's witty and taxing pas de deux, Other Dances. New to London will be an ensemble work to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony by the Dutch choreographer Toer van Schayk and a glimpse of some Canadian talent in Miroirs by Mark Godden. The second programme also provides a showcase for some home-grown choreography (L'Etiquette by Joe Laughlin) but the rest of the evening is supplied by Balanchine's lively Ballo Della Regina, Antony Tudor's wistful The Leaves are Fading and the pas de deux from Act II of Giselle. (In Edinburgh, the company dances the whole of Giselle).
The highlight of the company's last visit was the presence of Canada's prima ballerina Evelyn Hart and that may well be the case again, although London's balletomanes are in a state of breathless anticipation at the promised guest appearance by Paris Opera Ballet's delicious Manuel Legris. He will partner Evelyn Hart in Other Dances, a piece originally danced by Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1976. Legris, a product of Nureyev's directorship of the Paris Opera Ballet and former Paris partner of Sylvie Guillem, has occasionally partnered her in emergency guest appearances at Covent Garden. Handsome and classically pure, he should be worth the ticket price on his own.
Peacock Theatre WC2 (0171-314 8800) 14-18 Oct (Programme One: 14, 16, 17 Oct; Programme Two: 15, 18 Oct mat & eve); Edinburgh Festival Theatre (0131-529 6000) 21-25 OctReuse content