Dance: Spicing up love's young dream

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This time last year, when English National Ballet needed a bit of publicity, they had only to ask the Princess of Wales to sit and be photographed at the centre of their 60-swan Swan Lake. This year, they've had to make their own publicity.

Fortunately, Derek Deane is no stranger to the task. The man who found endless column inches by banning the corps de ballet from sunbathing to preserve that Swan-like whiteness has come up trumps once again.

This time, newspapers have salivated over his diktat that dancers should be sure to have lots of sex before this month's performances of his Romeo and Juliet (right). I'm not sure if he means immediately before the performance or just the night before.

But it's a PR masterpiece all the same. Although dancers with pretty legs and well-packed lunchboxes may cause the audience to think about sex, they seldom ever imagine these highly trained creatures actually doing it. But the idea that they were hard at it only moments earlier will lend a certain frisson to the enterprise.

So. A PR success. But will the ballet be any good? Deane's Swan Lake in the round at the Albert Hall last year was a box- office success but was given the thumbs-down by critics. In fact, although Swan Lake in the round is a stupid idea, Deane pulled it off very smoothly - in the white acts at least - and had the sense to import the fabulous Altynai Asylmuratova as his star.

This year, he has again assembled some major talents, both young (Tamara Rojo and Roberto Bolle) and old (Lynn Seymour, giving six performances as Lady Capulet). But Romeo and Juliet may not lend itself to massed spectacle in the same way as Swan Lake's squadrons of waterfowls. For much of the time, all you get is a boy and a girl on a balcony which may not be enough to fill the space, however naughty they've been.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 (0171 589 8212) to 30 June