By Dolce Fisher.
The Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney.
It has been years since the English National Ballet toured Down Under. The company’s last Australian performances were the epic tour of Derek Deane’s Arena production of Swan Lake in 1999.
This year, touring with a small team of just 22 dancers, English National Ballet performed a gala in Sydney to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
Opening the gala was American classic, George Balanchine’s Apollo. The title role was danced by Vadim Muntagirov and the muses were performed by Daria Klimentova, Anais Chalendard and Adela Ramirez. The cast tried so very hard to look like a bunch of Balanchine dancers and executed the choreography well, but years of American training to pull of the style perfectly can’t be matched. The four dancers were technically strong and each of the characters were well portrayed.
Act two, Celebrations, gave the audience a line up of pas de deux. First was Trois Gnossiennes choreographed by Hans Van Manen. Originally choreographed in 1982 it still came across as a very current piece, despite being 30 years old. It was an extremely sultry dance and ballerina Adela Ramirez captured the intensity so well that one really had to force oneself to look at her partner Fabian Reimair. Set to the music of Eric Satie, the mix of dance and music was quite intoxicating.
Then it was onto some very English ballet with Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon. Dancers Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas performed the pas de deux from Act 1, scene 2, where Manon and Des Grieux are caught up in their passion. MacMillan’s choreography encapsulates the crazy young love that makes one think that they can conquer the world. If one does not know how the story ends, seeing the pas de deux stand on its own is very enchanting.
Closing Act Two was the classic Black Swan Pas de Deux. Odile was danced by Daria Klimentova and partnered by Vadim Muntagirov. The role of Odile was played convincingly. Klimentova was very strong in her solo but showed that dancers are still just humans when she had to quickly recover in the middle of the coda’s 32 fouettes. Muntagirov, although technically wonderful, lacked that charisma that one expects from a prince.
Act Three closed the evening with Serge Lifar’s Suite En Blanc. Finally the audience saw the dancers present as a company. With an array of solos, duos and trios, this work showed the company off as a whole. Lifar’s choreography is demanding on the dancers’ stamina and technique! This time Klimentova nailed her 32 fouettes!
The gala was a wonderful celebration of dance, music and of course Her Majesty’s Jubilee. Even though the company is titled ‘English National Ballet’ the dancers themselves are very international with only two English dancers on this tour. Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait so long to see the company back in Australia this time.
Photo: English National Ballet’s Anais Chalendard and Vadim Muntagirov in Suite en Blanc.