The Russian Ballet Icons: Ave Maya – March 6 2016 – The Coliseum

Lots to enjoy in this gala which was lightly sprinkled with ballet stars from the stages of the world. The air of the Coliseum was thick with excitement, and in fact, one could have been mistaken for thinking its foyer and halls, cluttered as they were with avid fans, was instead a theatre in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, such was the representation from the Russian population of London (and doubtless elsewhere). As such outside, sleek limos, burly guards; inside, stoles, a few fancy dresses and even, in the auditorium for added Russian-gala authenticity, one or two gentlemen tossing very Russian BRAVO! and “VO! VO”s with glee and generosity (as well as volume…).*

We fans were rather treated. Fourteen couples, a gamut of dance from the 18th Century up to the present, a few showstoppers, a few snores (for me) and happily, only one real stumble. There were more fouettés and cabrioles than you could shake a stick at, and enough sequins to please even the most ardent lover of sparkle and glitter (me).

To proceed in the order of running:

There was as with last year, a video shown on the far back wall of the Coliseum stage, which was more a tribute to the largesse of the stalls perhaps rather than to Plisetskaya herself, as those in the dress circle and above (certainly in the balcony) could really only see pointeshoes and ankles, rather than her full lush line. Her face became instead lips, a smile. Shots of limousine glamour became instead knees and calves, arms clutching flowers. Thrown flowers in ovation became legs below the knee. You get the picture – or rather, we in the cheap seats didn’t. Ballet is of course about footwork, but it is about features, too – faces, smiles, laughter, despair. The parade of shots and clips of a headless Plisetskaya wasn’t quite the best start.


Maya Plisetskaya. (Most of us saw the mouth only of the picture on the left…)

However, fine features there were, the gala a celebration of the beautiful (just about everyone,) and the bold (Kimin Kim, for example, and one Ivan Vasiliev – of whom more later,) and a range of those same emotions (smiles, laughter, despair) fully explored in mostly  digestible snippets.


The evening started with the Grand Pas de Deux ‘Sleeping Beauty’, danced with charm, a nice amuse bouche. There were good turns from Victor Lebedevand crisp cabrioles but the partnership with Angelina Vorontsova felt a bit scrappy. There were nice relevés from her, although some of the choreography looked a bit weird to me, a few chutzpah poses Lebedev felt a bit more Don Q than Prince D, but there again, there was a correct (and lovely to my mind,) recognition of each other, a mutual bow during the dance, ballet’s beautiful politesse asserted. I was also pleased to see there were in fact no fish-dives in evidence but the choreography in general was unfamiliar and in many ways not fitting. (I have since learned that these were Nacho Duato’s own choreographic inventions.)

Second came the Balcony Scene from McMillan’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, with the Royal Ballet’s Frederico Bonelli and Sarah Lamb. This section is a tricky one to do on an open stage. Juliet lacks stairs to rush down, and there’s no balcony at the end to yearn from and reach for her lover’s hand. Bonelli fizzed in his turns, full of youthful verve, however the partnership didn’t quite effervesce the same. There were fine moments, Lamb’s “feel my beating heart” well telegraphed but in places her dancing felt more a case of steps, rather than invested with life. One or two moments felt a bit mannered. It here also became apparent that a gentleman in a stalls box decided to urgently answer emails on his phone, or instant message Kanye West, or play Candy Crush Saga…or just check his phone. In fact, every time he was slightly bored (which was often, it appeared,) his phone would flash on and that was that act lost to him.

Thirdly came Gusev and Petipa’s ‘The Talisman’. I had noted the delicacy of Ekaterina Osmolkina and was rather taken with her dainty dancing – until she stumbled. She quickly righted herself and recovered well. Her plush jetés in particular were lovely to watch, and she showed lovely form and shape in the large number of carried lifts, and her variation carried the same breath of delicacy and charm. As one rather expected though, Kimin Kim came blazing on stage bounding and leaping in his trademark way and obliterated what charm she established, but hey, it’s what galas are for. I am rather less taken by his line in turns, but his prowess in the air was clear.

Piped-in piano (Phillip Glass on playback) brought the fifth act (Benjamin Millepied’s ‘Together Alone’) to a start. Aurélie Dupont and Hervé Moreau danced this whirring structure of movement, the narrative a little less clear to my eye, which finds the modern (perhaps modernity wholesale…) rather inscrutable. There was here ceaseless flow, an abhorring of static poses and clear phrases. At one point the dancers seemed to end as they began: supine, Dupont pointing to a corner of the stage, and thus people applauded, more perhaps in gratitude to find the piece ending as it felt a little over-long. But ended it was not. (Can people not recognise a musical cadence which announces “not finished yet!”?) There was more twirly-whirly-ness for a minute or two and then the spotlight faded. It was nice to see Dupont, who like Rojo heads up a ballet company yet still dances, but the piece didn’t affect me greatly.

A bit of comic relief with ‘The Bright Stream’ from Bolshoi’s Ekaterina Krysanova and Andrei Merkuriev. Merkuriev knowingly applauded his partner, made impressed faces at her fouettés, denied her the nicety of acknowledging her applause, and then hustled her offstage. He wasn’t quite mercurial, he seemed a bit too old perhaps to play this cheeky young man, but more worryingly he was a tiny bit sloppy, particularly in the arms. Nevertheless I found (perhaps misplaced?) consonances with Ashton in the choreography – there was that same sunniness in address, a touch of capering in the writing for the male dancer, the same cheekiness which Ashton’s males enjoy too. Krysanova’s razor sharp fouettés impressed as they travelled toward us with laser-like intent, and both dancers earned those distinctive Russian whoops from those who cried them out.

The renunciation scene from Cranko’s ‘Onegin’ was next but it felt rather robbed of passion in isolation. Onegin (Jason Reilly) himself felt slightly anonymous. Polina Semionova‘s Tatiana showed a grief well done, but the push-me-pull-you of emotional torment and suffering in Cranko’s narrative didn’t quite develop. And how could it really, in eight or so minutes? More desperation from Reilly could have helped. (Still, I liked Semionova’s costume.)

Next up, Xander Parish and Kristina Shapran in a section from Act II, ‘Giselle’. Parish still seems so young, and with it so full of promise. Those seemingly never-ending legs signify nobility he has yet to fully attain. Giselle herself had (aptly) beautifully airy feet but didn’t quite portray the spirit-girl as she should have been. At one point though, I think Xander pulled off one of the nicest grand jetés of the night.(Certainly this section was different from his act last year!)

Russel Maliphant’s ‘Spiral Twist’ lived up to its rather uncreative name, in fact for me transcending that name to show itself as a piece of beauty. I was impressed by its innovations, its search for different statements of passage and movement, and how it achieved a poetry almost as a celebration of Being. There were many striking moments therein, the various spiral turns, whirligigs, twists and lifts never ostentatious (perhaps too transient to seem so). The lyricism of the piece stood in contrast to that which had come before it in the evening. I am old fashioned and love Petipean ballet, but the modern sometimes has an appeal to me too. Here this modernity was akin to kinetic sculpture, alive and wondrous, but again, sadly perhaps a tad too long. Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino danced to Max Richter’s music, which I enjoyed.

I saw ‘Bolero’ listed and imagined it to be Béjart’s famous treatment of the score, but instead Farukh Ruzimatov danced half naked in choreography which left me underwhelmed. It was perhaps the most singularly camp thing I have seen for a long time. I do not wish to denigrate Mr Ruzimatov’s abilities, which are considerable, nor his artistic intent, which is admirable, but merely to suggest that the piece was not to my liking. He is to be commended for shouting a heartfelt “YAHHH!” at one moment. The lady behind my is to be likewise commended for keeping accurate rhythmic time to the pulse of Ravel’s score, although I rather would have wished her not to have done so with her knee on the back of my chair in the small of my back, forcefully thrusting forward with each enthusiastic beat of her leg.

The way Mr Ruzimatov left the stage was perhaps worth the preceding ten minutes alone. A slow balletic walk which brought to mind The Trocks, and which closed act I.


Daniel Simkin and Maria Kochetkova in Ave Maya: Russian Ballet Icons Gala 2016. Photo (c) John Ross, used without permission.

The opening of Part II of the evening, a section of Act II from ‘Le Corsaire’ would have made a Best in Show for me. It was said elsewhere (by Isemene Brown, I believe) that in the English National Ballet’s run of Le Corsaire, some of the male Principals treated it as an audition for an international ballet competition: the male variation lends itself to this ridiculous effervescent style, its Soviet stylings made to show Soviet supermen defying gravity (before they really did, for the first time…) Stakhanovite levels of dedication (perhaps the norm for ballet dancers?) dominating the stage. As such, plaudits to be awarded to the no-holds barred work of Daniel Simkin in particular. Splendidly macho leaps and 540 degree turns, muscular attack and an approach which said “sod it” to finesse, this was glorious, gleeful chutzpah in spades, and a cracking spectacle. In fact, it sounded like some of the brass section were watching the antics on stage, I heard quite a few wobbles from them, perhaps in response to the feats on display? Maria Kochetkova’s fouettés were taken at a tempo which was almost openly absurd, and even though her arms weren’t the most elegant in doing so, applause for her came loudly and without restraint. The bravura fireworks had achieved their intent, and I think they got the loudest ovation on the night.

If Maliphant’s ‘Twist’ showed the virtues of modern elegance, Christopher Wheeldon’s noted pas de deux from ‘After the Rain’ was the poorer for it. Which is not to say Marianela Nuñéz and Thiago Soares didn’t dance it with conviction. But I do not understand how crablike positions, writhing a bit on the floor or kicking a girl over can be seen as graceful. The famous “Titanic” type pose was particularly well done though. I was also struck my how nice Marianela’s hair was (yes, I was.) Not my favourite selection from the night but inoffensive enough I suppose.

Matthew Golding is a favourite dancer of mine (which, I gather is a minority opinion…) contentious to believe, it seems. He and Liudmilla Konovalova gave us the Act III pas de deux from Swan Lake. Konovalova was not the most mendacious Odile, nor the most outstanding I had seen. She was however, technically secure and a bright presence on-stage. Golding’s variation found wonderful musicality and phrasing (this I judged mainly on concordance of his hands with cymbal crashes, those same hands and fingers always clean in expression and consistently fine, as if a flourish themselves). All variations were well done, fouettés present and correct, Golding launching some lovely turns from second position, to Tchaikovksy’s rousing score. Fun to watch.!

Of the ‘Spartacus’ we saw I can say very little except that Mr Grigorovich’s choreography doesn’t quite inflame my passion as much as it did Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov. Danced to a taped score, it lost some of it’s drama. Nevertheless they gave it conviction. (And here the bravos came thick and fast…)

Antonio Ruiz Soler’s ‘Three Cornered Hat’ seemed a bit out of place by virtue of not being ballet. There was great dancing from Sergio Bernal. The fun flamenco-inflected dance and cape whirling passed by a little too quickly in fact, and it was a treat to watch him.

Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová’s in ‘Moshkovsky Waltz’ was fun, and it had some thrilling throws. Memorable was the distinctive spinning fishdive. Brave Daria to do these, but as it shows in their dancing, they are a strong partnership. The trust is there, the maturity of expression, and the joie de vivre sings loudly, clearly. A real pleasure to see. Their “curtain call” was addtionally delightful. Muntagirov running onstage with Klimentová aloft, totemic yet humble in the applause she was receiving.

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Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová in the Russian Ballet Icons Gala 2016. Photo (c) John Ross, used without permission.

Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernández were next in Albert Alonso’s Carmen Suite. Hernández pulled off a few of his deliciously speedy spins, but too few. He is a dancer of pantherine dimensions, his comfort the brazen and the large scale. The choreography seemed to hem him in somewhat. As in his star turn in Le Corsaire, he needs a stage to bask and revel in, and smaller gestures, more limpid phrasing does not become him.

And thus, a full twenty five or so minutes after scheduled/advertised end time, came the star, nay, icon almost, everyone had been waiting for. Ivan Vasiliev came striding on-stage for a star turn as Don Quixote. And turn he did. In his variations he could not quite best Simkin for intent of expression but his “helicopter turns” and barrel turns were present, and lauded. (He could flick his big toe and garner acclaim…). His chaine turns seemed the poorer when one thinks of for instance, Steven McCrae’s same, yet Vasiliev’s disposition, his eagerness to show his abilities endeared him to an audience. One precarious moment of near overbalance from Kristina Kretova was saved by willpower and experience, notable for her focus in the face of near overbalance. Brava, Kretova. Her pointe was steely, her gaze the same. This was a Kitri not so much kitten as vixen. Was it worth nearly missing my train connection home to stay and wait for Vasiliev? Probably not as it happened. But as my friend said afterwards, had I not stayed, I would never have known.

I’d encourage everyone who enjoys ballet to attend the next one of these if it rolls around. The site listed the event as sold out, yet there were empty seats everywhere here and there. There may not, as last year, have been some stars as advertised, but London was well treated to a good collection of dancers.

Overall, 8/10!


*Those who have seen the film Bolshoi Babylon may not be too surprised to learn of the identity of one of these gentlemen…….

Twitter Roundup


como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si… – Tanztheater Wuppertal – Sadler’s Wells – February 14 2016

Bausch’s final piece (loosely translated as “Like moss on a stone, ah yes yes yes”) celebrates her dancers’ capabilities in extended solos, but fails to knit together into a satisfying whole.

Bauschean elements permeate the show, with a few video effects which are well used. The stage (Peter Pabst) moves apart and together in fractured pieces, like a jigsaw which (unlike the show itself) knits together seamlessly, and then pulls apart. One can fruitfully read ideas of dislocation, physical separation and divorce into it, these tectonic monoliths as shorthand for selves which never can know another, except to abut their neighbour – but mainly the set was just merely interesting, and the dancing rather the same.

A list of things that happen in “como el…”


A Swan Lake sublime

Swan Lake – Birmingham Royal Ballet – Mathews, Lawrence, Dingman – Jan 28 2016, The Mayflower, Southampton.


John Keats and Russian myth don’t seem at first sight to be related but seeing Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence dance together was an event underlining the idea that sometimes truth is really beauty, and beauty truth. In the hands of these strong dance communicators there was here beauty, and so too truth, recognisable as great art.  The Swans may (and to pun, slightly) like Keats ancient vase, be mute, but thanks to Marius Petipa and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s fine body of dancers, they sing in other ways.
The Greeks may not have quite romanticised the Swan as the Germans and Russians did in the 19th Century (Leda is a close comparator, even though Zeus is in his potencies rather more mighty than Rothbart, who is of a more rural, domestic, druidic type of evil) but they surely understood the power of Terpsichore, the Muse of dance, whom they held to be sacred, and the line from her to Petipa and Ivanov is, despite the distance of millennia, traceable at least in shared ideals. Why else do we watch dance, and stories in-dance in particular if not to be edified, or even moved?


Corsaires ahoy! (Le Corsaire, Jan 23, 24 2016)



Bounding out of the wings like some kind of piratical dervish, Isaac Hernández‘s Conrad looked like he was truly skimming the surface of the stage as he leapt and turned. He also looked constrained by the size of the Coliseum’s stage, a creature needing to stretch but instead caged.


Rhapsody/Two Pigeons – The Royal Ballet – McRae, Osipova; Campbell, Choe, January 20 2016

Everyone really only wants to hear Variation 18 from Rachmaninov’s famous piece, and anything additional is probably a bonus. A big bonus is to see Steven McRae leap and bound with some ridiculous over-the-top, laugh-out-loud moments of dancerly pyrotechnics. Scything scissorring jumps, his trademark chaine-tornado, McRae revelled in Ashton’s writing. There’s flash, flair and brio which is McRae’s metier, and he showed glorious definition in tours especially.


Tosca-Gheorghiu, Youn, Massi – January 12 2016 – the Royal Opera House

“Where else can you pay £16 and experience world class opera?” enthused the man next to me, enthusing likewise to his son, at his first ever opera performance. Normally I am as enthusiastic about value for money, and credit must go to Arts Council for heavily subsidising the ROH, otherwise tickets would be at least a third more expensive. Normally I am a boring proselytiser for value for money/accessibility  (as opposed to being normally just boring.) We were, the man said, being treated to world class opera in one of the top five opera houses in the world with top name stars.

Le Corsaire – English National Ballet

One man, one day, two Corsaires. The man: TheOperatunist. The Day: January 16 2016. The Two Corsaires: by English National Ballet.

Or rather, the two Corsaires, Osiel Gouneo and Yonah Acosta. Their Medoras, Tamara Rojo and Erina Takahashi.

Let’s face it, the Corsaire/Pirate is thin on story. It is whimsy, nineteenth century hokum, one of the many many ballets churned out to please the Parisian masses in the mid 19thC which only somehow scraped through into our era due to that man Petipa, and practically partly through – as with most ballets – the heroic memories from réptitéurs, choreographers, dancers, and partly from Sergeyev notation (once more we praise Sergeyev for his notation system).  As with most old ballets, ENB’s show hasn’t been hauled from a time-capsule nor preserved in aspic. Having it performed by a British company is rather rare. (I think we like our ballet’s rather less boisterous, but the Soviets couldn’t get enough of it.)

The story is thin as the pirates’ hilarious fake moustaches and falls into the category of PG-13, “contains mild predicament”. Its glorified rescue narrative claims inspiration from Byron, who must be chortling in his grave (I hope) to know that his poetry is the basis of such roisterous good fun.

A quick synopsis: Pirate fancies girl. Girl (Medora) has been abducted. Guy meets girl. Girl is abducted again. Pirate abducts her back + some other women. His mate gets angry at Conrad promising all the treasure to the girl. Former slaveover (now a prisoner of the pirates)  abducts her back to the Pasha/slaveowner. Pirate rescues girl. Shoots mate. The good guys escape. Much rejoicing. Shipwreck, some deaths: much rejoicing. Also the Pirate has some kind of almost magic supernatural genie type guy, called Ali, of whom much more later.*

Along the way a pot-pourri of rum-te-tum, oomh-pah type music, instantly forgettable, but giving strong beats for all to dance to, which is really only all they wanted back then.

Le Corsaire needs a company to pull out all the stops so that the music isn’t yawn inducing, to see that the plot advances if it doesn’t edify, and to make us feel that we’re having a good time, money and time well spent. Here, all boxes ticked. In having fun, the ENB pull out the stops. Townswomen cavort with pirates, harem girls are variously pulled around, sashay, seduce (and poor Precious Adams is dragged onstage by one leg…) pirates wave swords leap around with bravado (and bad moustaches) and at the end, there’s even a nice dream sequence for some Petipa-ish rank and file tutu-clad corps-work. Lovely!

Erina Takahashi is a lively Medora, but perhaps a little too winsome. Nevertheless she is buoyant in her dancing, exquisitely exact and technically matchless. Her port de bras is glorious, each movement well formed and lovingly co-ordinated. She radiates calm authority and a confidence that comes with that total security of technique. With her, nothing was ever not beautifully danced.
Tamara Rojo is a different dancer of course. She gave us an ebullient Medora, one who chucked the Pasha’s chin, teasingly beckoned him, toyed with his affections.  As in the Nutcracker (and really anything she has to do it in) her turning was impressive as were her balances in the dream variation, with only a small steadying bouree necessary.

In her dancing with her Pirate/Conrad (Yonah Acosta) Takihashi was partnered strongly and with believable interplay. One felt he cared for his slave girl and would move heaven and earth to win her back. Their dances in the pas de action were excellent. His variations were nicely done, tackling the great excesses of style with ease. By contrast in his pas suel, Oziel Gouneo‘s Conrad seemed a little troubled in his connections and phrasings. Moments seemed moments, rather than flow, and I felt there was a noticeable feeling of stopping/starting in his variations. He hid this well with a megawatt smile, but looking beyond it, one sees slightly more care needed at times. Not a huge disappointment but some tidying up would bring his impressive skills to the fore.

I must mention Katja Khaniukova as Gunare. In the evening show as the same character, Lauretta Summerscales showed a finer line at times, with greater care in some descents to pointe than Kournikova, but that’s minor. Khaniukova has I think, the edge in phrasing, ballon and illusion. In lifts she gave a perfect illusion of weightlessness. It helps that she is (I think) shorter than Summerscales, who gave perhaps the finer display of acting. Both ladies did well in their variations of balances, travel en pointe etc. Summerscales may have been abducted and borne away slightly better, and gave us a a narrative of captivity, bondage and plea for release, but on a level of pure dance, I think Khaniukova was the better crafted and performed choreography. I was spoiled: for acting, one could delight in Summerscales. For dancing, Khaniukova. Great casting for the role.

It is no exaggeration to say that Jinhao Zhang‘s slave Ali actually hinted at the arcane. His Puckish flights and interpolations were delightful, mysticism shimmered in all he did and his solo in the pas de action was strong. Nothing however could compare with Isaac Hernández, almost an Apollo in his pretensions and danced as if auditioning for  that same, gamely deciding to let loose a whirl of tours fit to drill through the floor – or take off in elevation. As a spectacle of physicality, the effect was truly astonishing. As an aspect of performance, it left me in two minds. Exhilarated to see it, but then querying its call to the attention. Still, ballet is about feats of wonder, usually quieter in tone than this, but not in Corsaire, a boy’s ballet, with big boys dancing. And this was dancing as spectacle at its best, sixty or so seconds of outrageous, laugh-out-loud testosterone driven display. The audience cheered after the first few turns, and the acclaim only grew. His performance in the action was worth the ticket price alone.

Ken Saruhashi was a Lakendem lankily menacing and scurrilous. Junor Souza’s Lankendem was about as menacing as a pirate’s parrot, being rather than an nasty slave-market owning villain, more like a nice guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Max Westwell as Birbanto didn’t overwhelm me but his evening’s counterpart Cesar Corrales was incisive, dynamic and full of presence. His acting was sharp and travelled all the way to the balcony where I was sat. One felt he was a true foil to Conrad’s goodness. In terms of acting alone it was excellent. And for dance, the same. Another excellent portrayal from this fine dancer.

The trios of Odialesques gave their demanding variations well, Michael Coleman as the Pasha was ridiculously pantomime-y and the corps bashed through the text with glee, and well, why not? How often does a guy get to take a girl over his shoulder, imitate whipping, boister around with a sword, or a girl get to be variously a harem girl, a dream-maiden, a townswoman, all in one show? The shared enjoyment was infectious.

Minor flubs with the a drop curtain in the evening near the end were forgiven. Less so were the sightlines visible to the rear of the stage, where actors could be seen making their entrances from a brightly lit doorway in preparation for curtain call whilst the finale was still going on*. At that same call, great applause for all, cheers for Hernandez, Gouneo and Rojo. Her company can be proud of this show, and it behoves everyone to go and see it.



* I think actually he just a slave, but in his ways of doing things he is rather mysterious.

(*It was also fun to see Jinhao Zhang fall out of the pirate boat as the show calls for, then crawl away on the floor to get to the wings).

The Nutcracker – Nunez, Muntagirov, Hayward, – January 8 2016 – The Royal Ballet

The main event here for me was to see Vadim Muntagirov.  The role he was performing is light on content, being truly a supporting role – that of partnering Marianela Núñez gallantly. The demands of the performance, the classical stylings and steps are firmly within his comfort zone, and allowed him to display his considerable skill to good effect.


The Nutcracker – English National Ballet -Rojo, Gouneo, Westwell – January 2 2016

Once more Eagling’s production charmed its audience. And I was – with a few minor reservations – included.

With ENB’s boss Tamara Rojo cast as Clara, the matinee seemed in sure hands. Things went a bit awry during the snowball throwing moments, a particularly bouncy and stubborn snowball just kept on returning to the stage, as if unwilling to leave the spotlight. (It was probably on loan from the Bolshoi theatre). That said, the skating clowning was the best I have seen it, but by God, falling like that every day and night must take it’s toll. Bravi to the intrepid skaters.*


The Operatunist’s 2015 in Review

I saw ninety four shows give or take, this year. Factor in those I had booked in but didn’t get to, and the number would be probably a neat one hundred, or just over.

I travelled far but not very widely in pursuit of beauty and I am glad I did. Paris saw a lacklustre Swan Lake, but New York gave me Sara Mearns (and an un-reviewed American in Paris) as well as the Met at its most overblown. Milan offered me a very fine Sleeping Beauty.

And then London. How lucky I am to be close to this city, and able to get to see things. Not as much as I would like perhaps, but I am well satisfied.

I consider myself lucky to have seen so much, and to have been made happy.

I continue to wish this for those shows I can see in 2016.

Dance Highlights

Bournoville by the Danish National Ballet

Ratmansky’s remaking of Sleeping Beauty (x2) .

NYCB’s Swan Lake for Sara Mearns

Woolf Works (acts I and III)

The Trocks uproariously funny show at the Peacock – with dazzling dancing from all (a show I did not get round to reviewing, mainly as to do so felt a bit churlish!)

Memories that linger:

Ferri’s kiss in Woolf Works. Her surrender to the Waves.

Sara Mearns’ hands, her Odette’s sadness.

Delia Mathews’ exquisite Odette

Osipova’s Fille Mal Gardée

Iana Salenko’s Act II Adagio in the White Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake.
McRae’s soaring grand jete in Act III of the same.

Nunez post-Onegin, grief stricken, as if still Tatiana.

Soares as Romeo (a brave statement, I realise, but I enjoyed his acting!)


Wheeldon’s Cinderella.
Acosta’s Carmen
Guillem’s farewell.

2016 promises much, Ratmanky’s Zurich Swan Lake for one (if I can get to it!) and I hope to see Mathews as Odette one more time in Southampton.



I saw less opera this year. Dance has won my heart for now.


As above, the Met’s ridiculously overblown Turandot
Matilla’s Ariadne
Finding Bayreuth experiencing the magic of the auditorium, and the discomfort of the auditorium.


Un Ballo in Maschera.

ENO’s Boheme

Opera takes a backseat in 2016. I hope to see Tannhäuser at the ROH at least, but Lord knows how I will find a ticket. The Southbank Ring beckons, but the same applies: tickets are rarer than Fafner’s missing specks of gold!

To all those who have read my posts and thoughts: Thank You. I am humbled to se that readers from 116 countries around the globe have at some point decided to read something I have written. I only hope that you found it worthwhile.

I wish you all well, wherever you are in the world.