I recently watched a live screening from the Royal Opera House of a Frederick Ashton double bill of Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons, neither ballet I had seen before. I really like abstract ballets, especially those with true classical ballet at their heart, so I was excited about the prospect of Rhapsody.
Steven McRae is a great dancer, his petits tours were amazing, he performed excellent pirouettes followed immediately by controlled jumps and you could see he was trying to embody the spirit of Michel lasix furosemide buy onlineBarishnikov on whom the role was created. However, although this ballet was created in 1980, it seemed more dated than that to me. The lead male costume was very traditional and the chorus girls hardly had any nice moves to do. The male chorus had a much better time of it and danced an exciting section as a line, which included neat royales and sissone changés. However, the contemporary moves which were thrown in throughout with turned in legs and strange jumps in second position, didn’t do anything for me and I felt they detracted from the potential elegance of the piece quite considerably.
Now, the leading lady, Natalia Osipova, I had only heard the greatest things about. Quite rightly, as she is amazingly fleet of foot which perfectly suited this role. She is very light and ethereal and very girlish in her dancing, which are charming qualities, however I did find her long arms and especially her fingers very distracting. There was also no chemistry at all between McRae and Osipova, and I found the love pas de deux flat and unemotional. I wonder if we have been spoilt by our red-blooded friend Carlos and we now expect love on the ballet stage to be fairly heart-racing and realistic? I enjoyed aspects of this ballet, and I would be interested to see it again with different leads, but for me, it won’t be one to return to frequently.
The Two Pigeons however left me feeling very positive towards Ashton and admiring of the principals involved. Perhaps it’s because it is very similar in style to La Fille Mal Gardee, which is a ballet I have enjoyed a couple of times. This is a typical English pastoral ballet. it is a story about a boyfriend and a girlfriend, he is trying to paint her but she is being playfully infuriating to him, he is distracted by a cheap lasik eye surgery in houstonGypsy girl who lures him back to their camp where things get threatening, he realises his mistake and returns to his girl to ask for forgiveness, accompanied by a pigeon.
Lauren Cuthbertson danced the young girl and she was brilliant – technically perfect and her characterisation was beautiful, just the right amount of humour without being silly. Vadim Muntagirov danced the young man and he did a very good job too. He was very sweet in a behind the scenes interview shown during the interval, saying that if he’d stayed in Russia he would never have got the chance to dance a role like this. And indeed it suited him so well it is a benefit to us all that he has danced it.
The gypsy girl was danced by Fumi Kaneko who again did a fantastic job and was very technically sound and brought energy and verve to the stage. However, my only negative on Ashton for this ballet is the pas de deux of the young man and the gypsy girl in her camp. It was like Ashton had forgotten where they were and they danced something very traditional and proper. Instead of the gypsy ruling the style and key movements in her camp, the style of the young man over-rode her, which didn’t seem plausible. He ran away for the heat and passion, and I didn’t feel that was reflected. Again, I wonder if I am prejudiced now after seeing Acosta’s Carmen previous to this, where the spirit of each dance fitted the situation perfectly and couldn’t fail to be seen as true.
So a mixed bag for me on this double bill. A good education though on some new ballets, and the extra content shown during the intervals did bring the preparation and behind the scenes aspect to life very well.