Reviews of the English National Ballet in "Le Corsaire."
At present, though, it is not fully focused. Absurd as its story may be, there are dramatic opportunities for romantic comedy and melodrama that need to be pointed up. Too much of the stage action is a kind of wallpaper – ballet mime – and indecisive characterisation and timing suggest the dancers need more direction. Yonah Acosta, for instance, is far more outstanding than he should be for the glinting, avaricious swagger with which he portrays Birbanto; for all the beauty of Vadim Muntagirov's dancing and partnerwork, his Conrad looks almost insipid by comparison.
Anna-Marie Holmes, the former ballerina who has made recreating Le Corsaire her labour of love, uses a fairly free hand with the choreography of Petipa and Sergeyev. Yet it is notable how deliberately she has embraced the old-fashioned nature of the ballet. The creed is pile-everybody-on-stage, the score is a boom-bang-a-bang patchwork of nine different composers, and the spectacle – as realised by the superb designs of Bob Ringwood – is stunning.
The focus on the men shifts with the arrival of Cojocaru. A world-class ballerina, she made headlines by leaving The Royal Ballet for ENB: this was her company debut. A romantic, ethereal dancer, she also has killer technique and glowing presence. She can flirt and ham with the best of them, lighting up the silly story with teasing warmth.
The Arts Desk
Muntagirov didn’t look like he was having quite so much fun - it was only in the bedroom pas de deux that he started to seem more like a man in love and less like a man very concerned not to drop his new partner. But the attraction that began to surface in that scene bodes well for both the partnership and Corsaire’s audience appeal; and Muntagirov can be relied on to execute crowd-pleasingly big jumps and turns and still land neatly on those long, classical legs.....