A good week for English National Ballet (ENB) at the Coliseum and a chance to see again some ballets that registered strongly with me in the autumn.
I've written about my great appreciation of Ronald Hynd's Coppelia a time or two before. Suffice it to say I revel in the plot and its straightforward telling, the design - particularly for Dr Coppelius's house - the humour, the choreography (of course) and the perfect length of it all. In fact I think it possibly the only 3 act ballet that I would not like to shorten.
Opening the brief run at the Coliseum were ENB Principals Monica Perego and Yat San Chang, a couple I have not seen dance before though I have admired them individually in mainly soloist roles. From Chang I expected a strong performance, since the philandering funster that is Franz seemed somehow made for his cheeky face and ways. But the reality was something very special - no wonder they were opening the run I thought later.
Perego is a gutsy Italian dancer - quick, nimble and winning. Chang is also a strong and speedy fireball and does all the crowd pleasing virtuoso jumps you could wish for. Neither is tall and they fit well together, more to the point they both have a great sense of comedy and timing. They play their roles big, almost how one imagines it would have been danced in the 19th century and everything is telegraphed to the audience who lap it up. If you like subtlety this is neither the production nor the partnership to see. But if you like a good uncomplicated ballet to soothe away the crap of a fast moving world this is the place to go and this cast is just superb. Highly recommended (again).
It's fun uncovering the ENB senior dancers. I remember a year or so ago really noticing Daria Klimentova and Dmitri Gruzdyev and I now regularly seek out performances by the wider span of principals and soloists - just like at RB and BRB (though I get to Birmingham less these days it seems). One just wishes that ENB would handle casting in the same way as the other senior companies and make the information more readily available and much earlier too. I'm sure it would result in more sales - certainly it would do no harm.
Earlier in the Week ENB's Rite of Spring Triple Bill made its London debut. I was pretty impressed when I first saw this at the Southampton premier in the autumn. One remains impressed still - it's a good mixed bill and with the particular pleasure of a piece of MacMillan not seen for some time.
The opening night cast was exactly the same as I saw in the original opening - and hence rather good! La Bayadere Act2 (Kingdom of the Shades act) looked good on the ENB corps and Agnes Oaks was oh, so pretty. Tom Edur did his mannered stuff, but it was definitely a little muted. It's been a long Christmas season and he was on in the exhausting Sphinx next as well...
Sphinx - the three-handed Glen Tetley piece inspired by a Cocteau play based on Greek myth - steadily grows on me. Perhaps it is a curse on me gradually to come to like it, but it did not seem so long this time and Daria Klimentova, very busy this season, looked particularly svelte as the Sphinx. But I still hate the MFI installation set I'm afraid.
Rite of Spring looked less crowded on the Coliseum stage and I think this detracts a little from the look. But one is still amazed by the angular, pumping nature of the choreography that is so primeval, rump orientated and alien. Tamara Rojo's Chosen One (the sacrifice...) has got more scary with the extra performances and her eyes particularly seem to say so much about her predicament. If she is this good now goodness knows what she will be like as an actress in a few years.
For those who only really associate MacMillan with the narrative works this will hopefully be an eye-opener to catch sometime and it fits well alongside the RB MacMillan Inheritance bill that charts other of his single act works.
A good triple bill and at a good price - £19 in the stalls at the Coliseum has to be good. Class job ENB.