Friday, 20 February 2009

Friday evening

Whoof, Friday already, thank goodness…

I’m on a list of volunteers for a clinical trial at the moment and am drinking a pot of sickly-sweet orange-flavouring-flavoured liquid each morning before breakfast – it’s a new health drink, supposedly intended to reduce hunger pangs and cravings between meals. Which it does, for me, by dint of giving me vile indigestion. I’m having trouble stomaching food at all, I feel so dreadful; I’m blown up with gas, am unable to help periodically belching like a marine, and am permanently uncomfortable with heartburn. If I’m in the control group, gods help me…

But I get two days off at the weekend. Thank goodness.

Let’s talk about something else.

Last night I was at the Royal Ballet; a triple bill, and a mixed bag. I’m a big fan of Zenaida Yanowsky, and “Seven Deadly Sins” was made on her; she’s just come back to work after a few months off, post-baby, and I was glad to see her in action again, but frankly I’m not that impressed with the ballet. It looked an awful lot to me like one deadly sin (guess which) in seven semi-differentiated forms. A very good cast, but basically uninvolving, and less-than-inspired choreography with far too many splayed legs.

The second piece was Mats Ek’s “Carmen” which was weird. Effective, but weird. A completely, deeply bizarre piece of work, a very peculiar set, thoroughly strange costumes, and very in-your-face, I-have-to-be-different choreography; but, in the end, powerful and convincing. Tamara Rojo was born to play Carmen, Lauren Cuthbertson was severe, snakily sinuous and creepy in the Micaëla role, and the blokes were all good. Oddly enough, though, the highlight of the piece was a terrific solo for a woman mourning the officer murdered by José, danced with riveting passion by a young lass called (I think) Melissa Hamilton.

Finally, and fabulously, Christopher Wheeldon’s “DGV - Dance à Grande Vitesse”. This was a real wow, a knockout, glorious piece of beautiful, exciting, almost totally non-narrative dancing, with a dazzling score by Michael Nyman. The corps were on the top of their game, and the octet of soloists I saw was to die for. Eric Underwood and Sergei Polunin are two bright young up-and-comings with great futures ahead of them. Leanne Benjamin was as wonderful as ever; Edward Watson was athletic and intense as usual and a joy to watch. Mara Galeazzi and Lauren Cuthbertson were also both excellent. For me the cream of the crop was young Ms Hamilton again, breathtakingly good in a big rôle full of twisting stretches and difficult balances, originally made for Darcey Bussell, and the marvellous Gary Avis partnering her with his usual excellent and attentive care. I’ve never understood why he isn’t a huge star; he’s tall and powerful but possessed of tremendous natural grace, has both strength and tenderness as a partner, can act, and is, in a quirky sort of way, very good looking, with strong facial bones and large eyes, and a sudden broad smile full of delight – a smile which came out rather a lot last night. This particular duet he and Melissa Hamilton danced was simply gorgeous. “DGV” lifted the evening from hit-and-miss to solid hit, and Mr Avis and Ms Hamilton lifted “DGV” from hit into absolute stunner.

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