Reviews of the English National Ballet.The Guardian
The audience at the London Coliseum was treated to a thrilling display of virtuosity on Friday night when Ivan Vasiliev, the 22-year-old Bolshoi sensation, took the lead role in Roland Petit's ballet Le Jeune Homme et la Mort.
The work featured in a triple bill of Petit's work presented by English National Ballet and, when the veteran French choreographer died earlier this month, Vasiliev offered his services free of charge. He told ENB director Wayne Eagling that he would perform the famously demanding role (which Mikhail Baryshnikov danced in the Hollywood film White Nights) as a personal tribute to an artist he greatly admired.
The evening is dominated by Carmen, perhaps his most famous work. The title role, created in 1949 for his wife Zizi Jeanmaire, is a bold image of Bizet's heroine. Like Jeanmaire, English National Ballet's BegoŮa Cao wears her hair cropped as short as her costume. Petit's choreography puts Carmen's allure and defiance into her legs, which stalk and stamp out rhythms on pointe. Carmen's hips dip and thrust as she eyes prospective lovers over the top of her fan. Cao's big eyes and frank presence make her a dynamic Carmen. She rubs up against Fabian Reimair's Don Josť, arching a strong back in Petit's famously explicit choreography.