Tamara Rojo's debut as Giselle with the RB last night (29 July) was a patchy affair; she disappointed in the first act with some disastrous over-acting, but redeemed herself throughly in the second act with some glorious dancing.
When, in Act I, Giselle discovers Albrecht's treachery, Rojo went overboard in the mad scene with hysterical laughter, sobs and gasps clearly audible all the way up to the amphi (in fact, I covered my ears). Her dancing, though, was technically excellent and her interactions with Albrecht (Inaki Urlezaga), Hilarion (Luke Heydon) and her mother (Rosalind Eyre) were touching. In this act, the Peasant pas-de-six was danced as brilliantly as I've seen it for a long time. Marinela Nunez and Yohei Sasaki danced the lead couple with dazzling technique and command. Nunez was wonderful; easy control, exquisite line and apparent enjoyment of dancing. No wonder everyone's getting excited about her. No less brilliant were the other pas-de-six dancers - Mara Galeazzi, Laura Morera, Ricardo Cervera and Jonathan Howells, all worthy of note. (A diversion: I spotted Morera at her School performance in Holland Park some (seven?) years ago as the Gypsy Girl in Ashton's 'The Two Pigeons' and noted in a letter to a friend in Ireland: 'She's definitely going places - she already has total stage command').
In Act II, Zenaida Yanowsky opened proceedings as the chilling Myrthe in an unexpectedly muted manner, but soon warmed to her evil purposes. She's a thrilling dancer with a huge soaring jump and a Garboesque face, but her tallness may rule her out for some important roles, which is a pity.
Rojo was all silent beauty in Act II, light as air and excellent in her explosive emergence from her grave. Urlezaga's dancing was clean and crisp with easy elevation and he was wonderfully strong in the difficult overhead lifts. I really like him, though, lookswise, he always reminds me of a nice young country vet. The corps was excellent in it's brutal disposal of Hilarion, but otherwise a little ragged and I thought they failed to get the right dramatic tension into that famous slow converging hop across the stage; it all seemed a little rushed to me.
Rosalind Eyre danced Berthe, her last stage performance after 46 years with the company, latterly as Ballet Mistress. She got a heartwarming ovation from the audience as she took her bows in evening dress.
And that wasn't the only last performance. In the interval, David, a very knowledgable fan I meet from time to time, told me that Jerry Douglas had also danced his last RB performance, but dressed as a woman, according to the archaic tradition for a final performance by a man. I only wish I had known so that I could have looked out for him, but I am sure all of us here wish him every success in his future dancing career.