Reviews of the Royal Ballet in "Limen," "Marguerite and Armand" and "Requiem."
The Arts Desk
Wayne McGregor's Limen (2009) is shaped profoundly by its decor, the light and video installation of Tatsuo Miyajima. Miyajima's preoccupation with time, his projected number sequences and flashing LED lights, are matched by dancing where the performers appear like playthings of speed, forced and frantic as they submit to McGregor's superhumanly detailed choreography. But the eerie, exquisite middle duet, framed in a redemptive mist of light, reverses both the pace and the perspective. Limen may be one of McGregor's most characteristically abstract ballets, yet it is also a moving evocation of mortality, and an affirmation of the power of the human imagination to inhabit its own, brief, visions of infinity.
The Financial Times
This latter is the formula of Marguerite and Armand, a compression of the Dumas tragedy on which Verdi’s opera La traviata and Garbo’s Camille are based. Once dismissed as an unrepeatable star vehicle for its 1963 dedicatees, Fonteyn and Nureyev, this fragrant, hothouse ballet was revived magnetically a decade ago by Sylvie Guillem and Nicolas Le Riche at Covent Garden. Now with Tamara Rojo and the young Sergei Polunin debuting as the mistrustful young lover Armand, here was another pair of exceptional stage artists who weighed out the ballet’s period drama and suggestions with the fastidiousness of jewellers.
The Evening Standard
And, to show just how much we miss when we neglect one-act ballets, MacMillan’s faultless realisation of the Fauré Requiem. Its griefs tear at us. Its terrors chill the soul, yet its hopes are those of unshaken faith. Great swathes of movement speak the words of the text and give flesh to the score. It was superbly danced. For Leanne Benjamin at the very core of her artistry, to Marianela Núñez and their colleagues, vast respect. To them, and to the musicians and singers under Barry Wordsworth, much gratitude.
Ashton's gestures are lavish by today's lower-key tastes, and Polunin could have toned these down a notch. Excepting this, he and Tamara Rojo as Marguerite were a compelling combination.
No less impressive was Lauren Cutherbertson who made her debut in Kenneth MacMillan's Requiem. It is a complex, serious ballet set to Faure's famous score, and shows MacMillan at his most spiritual.