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Dance in London, 2003

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2003 ended up being a lot more interesting dance-wise than expected, due to the departure of Ross Stretton from the RB. Call me conservative, but I'd much rather sit through "Apollo" and "Raymonda" than "Le Parc", especially when "Apollo"'s performed by Darcey Bussell and Carlos Acosta. I love Bussell in any Balanchine, but I think the pairing of her with Acosta in my favourite Mr. B ballet is something I'll never forget. Acosta was also magnificent in "Manon", with Tamara Rojo. Rojo really brought a depth and realism to Manon. From being quite cool about this ballet in general, Rojo and the rest of the cast (inc. Jose Martin and Laura Morera) made me fall in love with it. Although no other cast as a whole came close, Johan Kobborg's beautifully deliniated Des Grieux was one of the best interpretations I've ever seen. (Btw, it would be criminal not to mention his triple pirouette that slowly sunk to knee at the end of his first variation- made you understand why Manon ran away with him so quickly!)

Kobborg's "Out of Denmark" was another highlight. I loved "The Lesson" (reminded me of Silent Cinema for some reason), whilst Kobborg's "Napoli" variation was worth the ticket price alone!

My dancers of the year? Edward Watson (esp. in Gloria), Tamara Rojo, Carlos Acosta, Johan Kobborg, and (most of the time) Alina Cojocaru. The rise and rise of Edward Watson has been especially exciting; no matter how small or large the part, his personality always shines through. Compelling to watch.

As for new works, I loved Micheal Corder's "Melody on the Move" for ENB, thought McGreggor's "Qualia" for the RB was fascinating, but thought that David Bintley's "Les Saisons", although well constructed, was drab and disappointing.

Other disappointments this year included the RB's revivals of "Gong" and "Sinfonietta". Although I feel that I may be missing the point a bit with "Gong", as most of the critics seem to love it, I can't be persuaded that "Sinfonietta" is anything more than one cheesy, predicable cliche after another. Large scale productions that disappointed me were the Kirov's old/new "Bayadere" (why dance when you can parade across the stage for half an hour?!?), and the RB's new "Beauty" (why cupid?!?! WHY?!?)

Overall though, a very enjoyable year's viewing, although I stupidly missed the chance to see Cunningham's company at the Tate Modern. I just may stop kicking myself by the time we get to look back on 2004.

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