Reviews of the English National Ballet.
There is a loud buzz around ENB these days, an unmistakable sense of upsurge, and the presence at this first night of Monica Mason - former director of the Royal Ballet - seemed to signify as much. Tamara Rojo, ENB’s artistic director, was until recently one of Mason’s stars. Now she bestows her lustrous talent upon her own company, to which she has just lured Covent Garden’s erstwhile darling, Alina Cojocaru. Not only that, in Vadim Muntagirov she has a male dancer whom any company on earth would want. Nureyev himself - in whose honour this tremendous triple bill was conceived - would have acknowledged Muntagirov’s arabesque to be a thing of classical perfection.
Closing the programmes is Nureyev's production of Raymonda, act three. Muntagirov again dances beautifully, but here he has the rosy, nuanced and glittering Daria Klimentova to react against. Together, they not only honour the choreography's rich detail, but in their intimations of grandeur and sensuous delirium they evoke the love story that motored the original Petipa ballet.
Between these two demanding old treasures a contemporary work created for Nureyev by Maurice Béjart, the Frenchman whose better work so rarely reaches our shores. By repute the master of grandiosity, In Song of a Wayfarer he made a male duet so pared of excess that you see how prim and modest a step-maker he really is. Set to Mahler’s song cycle, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, it’s a male duet that purports to show a man’s existential journey, accompanied by another man who one supposes to be his guru, teacher, mentor, angel.
A short, intelligent documentary opens the evening, introducing Nureyev and his connection to the various ballets. It’s followed by Petrushka, one of his favourite roles, in a weak revival. Created for the Ballets Russes in 1911, this puppet tragedy is a difficult masterpiece.......