More reviews of the Royal Ballet.
The Financial Times
Then, the first performance of Alastair Marriott’s Connectome (a trisyllable, I gather). The message, advises a programme note, concerns the brain’s “wiring” and our emotional states – I was lost from the start – and the score is a selection of music by Arvo Pärt, without which I can very well do. Marriott made this work at a time of parental loss, and we observe images of grief, of a quest for consolation and justification of sorrow, in the four movements entrusted to Natalia Osipova, Edward Watson, Steven McRae and a quartet of male dancers, all of whom determinedly agonise.
There’s plenty of gusto elsewhere. McRae is a dazzling Oberon in Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, a commanding fairy king with quicksilver dancing. Flitting through the scherzo, he whirls with impossible speed, and then gets faster, as if mortal laws can’t catch him. As Titania, Roberta Marquez can’t match his authority.
In The Dream, Gartside is outstanding as Bottom, his buffoonery rooted in real emotion, while Steven McRae brings a fine, cold fury to Oberon. On opening night, though, the loudest cheers were for Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, once the original Oberon and Titania and now coaching others in the very particular combination of fantasy, romance and rigour that makes this Ashton ballet a charm.
If the term ‘computational neuroscience’ in the programme notes for Alastair Marriott’s Connectome makes the heart sink, it is buoyed by the actual performance. Behind glittering rods of throbbing white lights, Natalia Osipova moves like a cyber nymph, slicing through the air while six men roll and foam around and beneath her. There is something vaguely eastern in Marriott’s languid, opiated choreography which prevents direct comparison with Wayne McGregor’s similarly science-rooted dance works