Whether or not it is great ballet, it is certainly true that this jazz triple bill is a wonderful evening in the theatre and it was thoroughly enjoyed by last night's very enthusiastic audience. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a fine opening piece and finds Balanchine in a very light-hearted mood. It gives Monica Zamora another chance to show us what glorious legs she has and Joseph Cipolla has a super role which brings out one of his very best performances. Both are seen again, equally successfully, in the other two ballets.
Bintley's Shakespeare Suite received its world premiere. Obviously it is going to be compared to Sweeties but it is sufficiently different for it not to be a problem having both ballets on the same bill. On the inadequate basis of one viewing, I think the choreography is better in the new ballet. It consists of a series of pas de deux which are funny (Ander Zabala as Richard III, Ambra Vallo as a tipsy Titania with David Justin as Bottom), very funny (Carole-Anne Miller waiting at the church for a late Krzysztof Nowogrodzki as Petruchio), dramatic (the Macbeths and Cipolla as Othello with Sabrina Lenzi as Desdemona) and lyrical and, I thought, rather moving (Leticia Muller and Andrew Murphy as Romeo and Juliet). The biggest role is that of Hamlet (Robert Parker) who opens the ballet with a solo and has another one at the end which is long, fast, full of jumps and spins and must be completely exhausting to do, especially if you are then expected to be the sailor in Sweeties.
The audience liked S. Suite a lot and, as is usually the case, they adored Sweeties which, for the most part, was danced by the original first cast. It was nice to see them leaving the theatre obviously having had such a good time.
I mustn't finish without praising the jazz band Echoes of Ellington who played for the last two ballets. They had a lot to do with the success of the evening by the sheer drive of their playing and by keeping many of the audience happy during the intervals with mini jazz concerts.