Reviews of the English National Ballet's new "Le Corsaire."
Hollywood designer Bob Ringwood was inspired by Byron's artistic contemporaries to create a magnificent fantasy world of oriental opulence. It works beautifully with Anna-Marie Holmes's smart updating of Petipa's original choreography.
As the heroine Medora, Alina Cojocaru gives the flash steps exquisite finish, while romping gleefully through the melodramatic plot. Vadim Muntagirov, a princely dancer, finds his inner swashbuckler as her pirate lover. As the slave Ali, Junor Souza carries off the firework steps and shiny trousers with aplomb. Yonah Acosta gives the villain Birbanto real dash, with snarling flourish to his leaps and turns.
Vadim Muntagirov plays her seafaring hero Conrad and his steps are technically pristine, although he can’t match Cojocaru’s passion. Plus there are big-leaping roles for the impressive Junor Souza and Yonah Acosta (Carlos’s nephew), whose bad-guy acting might be one-note, but his dancing sings. Essential viewing? Hardly. But certainly an antidote to January gloom.
How silly is ballet allowed to be? It is a question that is not, well, as silly as it looks. English National Ballet’s director, Tamara Rojo, has set out her stall with a glitzy production of this 19th-century classic, her first full-length commission for her new company. What she’s selling from that stall, however, is moot. Le Corsaire has a great pedigree: choreography by Marius Petipa, with a central pas de trois that is (reduced from trois to deux) endless gala fodder for its spectacular swoony razzmatazz.