Like pink champagne… [Royal Ballet: Raven Girl/Symphony in C]

There’s probably some mileage in the old adage about getting back on a horse when you fall off it, but as I’ve never had any particular desire to get on a horse in the first instance I won’t be testing out the wisdomosity of it. On the other hand, with my ovaries still reeling a little from last Wednesday’s performance of Mayerling (and further compounded by the news that Sarah Kundi is coming up to the end of her last season with Ballet Black *woeface*), I headed back to my spiritual home on Saturday evening to catch the last performance of the Raven Girl/Symphony in C  bill. I tend to avoid Saturday evening performances as a general rule – through sheer laziness rather than anything else, it’s vastly easier to go from work to a performance than motivate myself back into town after a day spent communing with my duvet, knitting and current televisual entertainment. There’s also that whole thing of being the not drunk person getting the train home afterwards – selfish, I know, but if I’m not drunk then nobody else should be either 😉 But on to the ballet…

Wayne McGregor’s new offering Raven Girl, has been subject to a mixed bunch of reviews and reactions so I went with few expectations, figuring that was the easiest way not to be disappointed. Sadly it’s not a tactic that’s worked terribly well with some of his recent offerings (I have such blistering love for both Chroma and Infra that nothing else has been able to match) but actually seemed to hit the spot for Raven Girl. Based on the Audrey Niffeneger story, the ballet has a lot to commend it. Unfortunately it also has a lot that needs to be done to it and it did feel somewhat interminable in places (also: woeful underuse of Edward Watson L). But to focus on the positive: there’s a lot to commend it. The use of the visual effects is stunning and really does help to move the action along. The faceless townspeople are an intriguing concept: either they’re bland and worn down, a comment on their society (à la the LED people in infra) but it also had a feel of Rite of Spring to it, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. The final pas de deux for the Raven Girl and her Raven Prince (incidentally, where on earth did he appear from) was quite lovely. Sarah Lamb’s Raven Girl was stunning and Eric Underwood was a glorious partner for her in the final pas de deux. Thiago Soares’ Doctor was appropriately sinister and creepy (to a slightly worrying extent… such a good actor *sigh*). And there’s just something about Olivia Cowley and McGregor choreography that is a really, really winning combination.

On the other hand, if Raven Girl caused a mixed bag of feelings and an indecisive thumb… Symphony in C was all the thumbs up all round. I really, truly and honestly, feel that this is my favourite ballet in all the world ever, ever, ever. It just… it truly is my happy place. Symphony in C with a G&T is probably my idea of heaven. I read it described as ‘the ballet that keeps giving’ somewhere once and it really is. Just when you think Balanchine can’t pull anything else out of the bag, he does. It’s a half hour of sheer delight and the perfect tonic. Mostly I was being exceptionally appreciative of Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares’ divinely sublime second movement but also Roberta Marquez’s minimum 50,000 megawatt smile. Speaking of Marquez, whoever decided to pair her with Alexander Campbell was an utter genius because that is a partnership that – not entirely unlike a Rice Krispie – definitely goes snap, crackle and pop in all the right places (for the record I really like Rice Krisipes, even more so covered in chocolate with jelly beans and marshmallow…). And then there was Zenaida Yanowsky – she of the gloriously luxurious port de bras and épaulment – and Riyochi Hirano in the first movement with style and panache. And not to mention Laura Morera and Ricardo Cevera blistering their way through the fourth movement completely in tune with each other. All the props also go to the soloists and corps who supported them so gloriously and beautifully. I truly defy anyone to have left that performance without a huge whacking great grin on their face.

And that rounded up my Royal Ballet viewing for the 2012/13 season. It seems funny to think that it’ll be October before I’m back watching them again (I mean fortunately in the interim there’s ENB’s Nureyev triple and the Boston Ballet and Bolshoi are in town so I won’t be ballet starved, hurrah!) for the 2013/14 season. I’ve already got my Autumn dates planned out, scribbled on a post it note and taped to my computer monitor so I have one thing left to say: BRING IT ON. Even Don Quixote*…


*Long term hatred caused by having had to study it for one of my Senior Honours Spanish modules to the extent of coming out in hives etc… fortunately my need to see Osipova/Vasilev when the Mikhailovsky were over earlier this year meant I managed to get over it enough to deal with the ballet. It hasn’t happened with Manon yet though and I have a feeling it never will – hideous, hideous tome.


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