The latest edition of the Ballet Icons Gala was remarkable not only for the quality of the dancing on offer, but for its well-thought-out programme, which went beyond the usual facile crowd-pleasers.
Sure, Le Corsaire pas de deux was present and correct (more on that in a moment), but there were also unusual pieces, some of them UK premieres.
Among the latter was Borealis by the American choreographer Edwaard Liang, danced by Lucía Lacarra and Matthew Golding to an urgent Max Richter score, was particularly impressive. There was real passion in this pas de deux, Golding’s earthy presence contrasting with the fire in Lacarra’s flexible, elfin figure.
A stirring habitué of these galas is the Spaniard Sergio Bernal, his usual blend of classical ballet and fierce flamenco doused with liberal quantities of sex present again in the new piece Temperament. Dressed in blood red and performing in moody penumbra to Joaquin Turina’s rousing score, Bernal brought his ‘be still my beating heart’ moment to the show. You know what to expect, but it always gets you.
It did so particularly last night because it followed Liam Scarlett’s genteel Chopin Romance, set to the slow movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1. Faultlessly danced by ENB’s Katja Khaniukova and Aitor Arrieta, it was harmonious and elegant but ceased having anything to say well before the music ended.
We hardly ever see Paris Opera Ballet in this country, so it was particularly interesting to watch lead dancers Dorothée Gilbert and Audric Bezard in a pas de deux from Rudolf Nureyev’s Cinderella. One of Nureyev’s most felicitous creations, it is also fiendishly difficult with constant changes of direction, and waist-high lifts in motion.
London audiences are more familiar with Royal Ballet dancers, performers of the calibre of principals Marianela Nuñez, William Bracewell, Francesca Hayward, Yasmine Naghdi and Reece Clarke.
Nuñez and Bracewell gave a delicious rendition of the Grand Pas de Deux from Coppélia, making short work of its technical difficulties (Bracewell slowing his turns à la seconde and picking speed up again will remain in the memory for a long time) and accentuating the playful, flirty aspects of the choreography.
Bracewell returned to dance Oberon to Hayward's ethereal Titania in the pas de deux from Ashton’s The Dream; (pictured top) and Naghdi and Clarke opened the proceedings with a creditable rendition of the bedroom pas de deux from MacMillan’s Manon.
He was matched step by step by Fernandes, whose fouettés brought an eruption of applause long before she serenely brought them to their natural conclusion.
|What||Ballet Icons Gala 2023 review|
|Where||London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, , London , WC2N 4ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
On 19 Feb 23, 19:00 Dur.: 2 hours 45 mins
|Website||Click here to book|