Cloud Dance Festival | Displaying items by tag: shakespeare
The opening night of the Royal Ballet's latest double bill was special for two reasons: a unique opportunity to watch Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta in the same evening, and the focus placed on The Dream after Sergei Polunin unexpectedly resigned a week before his debut in the leading role.
From the opening scenes with shadowy fairies, pausing intermittently for effect, The Dream was peopled with a dizzying cast of characters, both fairy and non-fairy. Frederick Ashton compressed the story of A Midsummer's Night Dream into 52 minutes, so in addition to the lead roles, we also saw the two pairs of lovers, Helena and Demetrius, and Hermia and Lysander, and a wonderfully entertaining ensemble of Rustics, with plenty of hayseeds between them.
Steven McRae had already been scheduled to perform Oberon with Roberta Marquez as Titania, so he was a natural choice of replacement for Sergei Polunin, and his confident masterful performance easily banished any thoughts of Polunin. While his other performances, for example in Manon, may have been tinged with a little too much self-confidence, this was perfect for his portrayal of Oberon, which resulted in being one part otherwordly, one part regal, one part untouchable. London audiences have been starved of Alina Cojocaru lately, and despite being almost unrecognisable in a curly blonde wig, her performance was as captivating as ever - few dancers have the ability to dance with such lightness, or appearing so full of delight. But both were easily overshadowed by Valentino Zucchetti as Puck: all enthusiasm and leaps, his Puck resembled a puppy on speed, overcome with eagerness and overexcitement! Much of the audience was in laughter at his antics - only to bid him a sad farewell at the end of The Dream.
Song of the Earth is one of MacMillan's best-loved one-act ballets, set to Mahler's song cycle, and drawing on the ancient Chinese poems used in the songs for inspiration. It was recently performed by Scottish Ballet in their recent visit to Sadler's Wells, and it was a treat not only to see it again, but to watch it performed by the familiar faces of the Royal Ballet's dancers. A further treat was the return of Rupert Pennefather and Lauren Cuthbertson in two of the lead roles, following recent injuries.
Song of the Earth is about two lovers who are stalked by Death - performed by Carlos Acosta on very good form; the lovers were portrayed by Tamara Rojo and Rupert Pennefather. The constrained choreography suited Acosta, a technically challenging role which provided him with moments of virtuosity amid a beautifully nuanced performance. Rupert Pennefather was making his debut as the Man, and although he did not appear to be entirely comfortable in his role at times, he gave a strong performance, starting with his and Acosta's dramatic entry onstage. As Song of the Earth uses such a wide cast of dancers, it's an excellent opportunity for them to shine, which certainly Olivia Cowley, Alexander Campbell and Ricardo Cervera did - but special mention goes to Lauren Cuthbertson for her wonderful joyful solo during the fourth song.
Along with a number of MacMillan's one-act ballets, the choreography is distinctively stylised, and Song of the Earth draws on the Chinese inflections in the music to infuse his choreography with Chinese imagery, from elegant curves to the men's upside-down horse-riding stance, which provoked laughter from the audience. While the actions the depicted by the dancers are not always identifiable, every moment of the choreography is so beautiful, it hardly matters.
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