Kenneth MacMillan – A National Celebration
Royal Opera House
Wednesday, 18th October 2017
Concerto – Le Baiser de la Fée – Elite Syncopations – 10/18/2017
CONCERTO: Birmingham Royal Ballet
LE BAISER DE LA FÉE: Scottish Ballet
ELITE SYNCOPATIONS: Royal Ballet
Being the Royal Ballet Kenneth MacMillan’s home company for the main part of his career, the company’s choice to host the national celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the choreographer’s death (actually right at the Royal Opera House) was no surprise.
MacMillan has had a huge impact on Royal’s greatest productions, such as his unforgettable Romeo and Juliet, his heart aching Mayerling and others like Manon, Anastasia and shorter ballets. Personally, MacMillan is a favourite of mines, and I’m happy to see all the programs honoring his genius this season at ROH.
The opening night scheduled three of his one act works such as Concerto (performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet), Le Baiser de la Fée (Scottish Ballet) and Elite Syncopations (Royal Ballet and other company’s artists), and even though I thoroughly enjoyed the program, I definitely not moving to Birmingham or Edinburgh either.
Concerto (1966) is a great piece by MacMillan, combining his abstract choreography to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no 2: it’s a beautiful and rigorous work composed of different movements, and in the first one Momoko Hirata was lovely and finely partnered by Tzu-Chao Chou, whilst in the second one Jenna Roberts and Tyrone Singleton were outstanding with their slow linear pas de deux. In the third one the solo went to Delia Mathews: she showed a great technique and I liked the perfect combinations of the corps throughout the entire ballet. It’s been a really fine opening by BRB, but with me being the ultimate RB fan, I found like something was missing on stage.
Then, Le Baiser de la Fée, which I actually didn’t really like. Coming on stage as a revival of MacMillan’s 1960 production of Baiser, I did not find the choreography interesting nor the plot (based on Hans Christian Andersen’s libretto): a fairy imprints her magic kiss on an infant boy. Twenty years later, when the boy is about to be married, she reclaims him with another kiss and his bride is left abandoned.
Andrew Peasgood, as the young man, danced good alongside Bethany Kingsley-Garner as his fiancee, Mia Thompson as the gipsy girl and Constance Devernay as the Fairy. Actually, I did not like Devernay’s fairy very much, as I suddenly thought she lacked charm and personality.
And finally, here comes the Royals! I have to say that Sarah Lamb’s injury is giving young dancers tons of possibilities to debut in new and demanding roles, such as Akane Takada replacing her as Mary Vetsera last spring in Mayerling and as Titania in the Dream, Anna Rose O’Sullivan dancing as a beautifully enchanting Alice at the beginning of this season, and now Yasmine Naghdi wowing in Elite Syncopations.
With the funny cartoonish and bright-colored unitards and witty choreography, Elite (1974) comes as a great feast on ROH stage, so uniquely performed in high style by the Royal, with guest cameos from other companies.
Yasmine shone with a great technique and brilliant musicality in Stop Time Rag, showing off an amazing and charming charisma that, I’m sure, will lead her to be one of the greatest pillars of Royal Ballet in the next years: she really deserves to be the next greatest ballet star and I’m very happy with her promotion to Principal. With Ryoichi Hirano’s mischievous partnering, they made a great central couple. I enjoyed the three girls’ The Cascades as well, with Yuhui Choe delightfully stealing the show, and the four boys’ Hot-House Rag with a great debut by Valentino Zucchetti.
Impressive Northern Ballet’s Riku Ito in Friday Night, but the best surprise was English National Ballet’s Precious Adams dancing the jazzy Calliope Rag with an entertaining smile and great musicality skills.
I have to admit I was not sure the collaboration between all UK’s major ballet companies would have work but so far it’s genial and the first triple bill of the celebration was electric and thoroughly enjoyable, filled with great atmosphere and a great tribute to MacMillan.
Can’t wait for the Judas Tree and Song of the Earth next Tuesday and Gloria, Elite and the Judas Tree again on Friday!