Apologies for the delay in posting this:
Diversions, nIghT LiFe, Rapture
by Jennifer Delaney
When the low point of a triple bill is not only by the beginning, but is also by Kenneth MacMillan, you can safely assume that someone is doing something right.
Not that thereís anything wrong with Scottish Balletís production of MacMillanís Diversions, the opener on a triple bill at Sadlerís Wells. It features an impressive four leads-the divine Ari Takahashi, about whom I can never rave enough, Sabine Chaland, an impressive guest from Dutch National Ballet, a reliable Vladislav Bubnov and an increasingly confident Oliver Rydout.
Takahashi is wonderful, a treasure for the company. She has an exquisite line that has to be seen to believe. Chaland looks good - one hopes that she will continue with the company for a while - and Bubnov is impressive. I have yet to see him dance a traditional "prince" role, but he carries himself with the air of a danseur noble. Rydout, a coryphee, looked nervous at first, but acquitted himself well in impressive company. If there was a fault with Diversions, it was the corps, who looked shaky and uncertain in the work.
Tim Rushtonís nIghT LiFe doesnít sound promising, but turns out to be an unexpected delight. Six characters at a sterile party or museum follow well-trodden paths before two dare to break out in a romantic pas de deux, an effort that the rest try to stymie. Unusually, Rushton has chosen to use music by Bach, including part of the Brandenburg Concertos. Itís an ambitious plan - music like that can easily be too overpowering for the choreography, but Rushtonís choice complements the scenario, and his choreography, while nothing spectacular, blends happily with Bach. As the central couple, Lorna Scott and Ivan Dinev create romance from quirky characters - Scott in particular, is impressive, both as a dancer and in her characterisation of her slightly anxious wallflower who blossoms in the sterile environment. A simple set bears the hallmarks of the consistently excellent Lez Brotherston. NIghT LiFe doesnít make any heavy claims towards "serious art" but it doesnít need to. This lighthearted and fun piece deserves to return to the repertoire.
Rapture continues the high note. Lila Yorkís work is both fast and unashamedly pretty, with a joie de vivre that is infectious and an easy, flexible movement that suits the dancers. In addition to the excellent Yi-lei Cai, now deservedly a principal with the company, the tiny Clare McMahon is wonderful, as is Paul Farrell.
This triple bill, in addition to being the best on offer from Scottish Ballet for some time, offers some great opportunities for more junior members of the company, who grab it and make the best of it. As Kenn Burke prepares to hand the company over to Robert North, itís looking in increasingly good shape. If this is a presage of things to come, the futureís bright for Scottish Ballet.