5 September 2022
NUREYEV: LEGEND AND LEGACY (Theatre Royal Drury Lane) Review

This wonderful tribute to Rudolf Nureyev is a collage of pieces danced by Nureyev at some point in his career.

1. Guillaume Côté (The Sleeping Beauty): Very technical and almost clinical performance.  A lot of technique, but not a lot of feeling.

2. Maia Makhateli and Oleg Ivenko (Gayane): Brilliant, exciting, and mesmerising.  They were extremely proficient, yet playful and charming, and downright joyous.  I would’ve loved to see the full ballet danced by this pair.

3. Iana Salenko and Xander Parish (La Bayadere): A friend of mine really liked this performance, but, for me, it looked like two accomplished dancers executing their moves next to, rather than with, one another.  I didn’t think there was any chemistry or connection.  (Same friend said this could’ve been due to lack of rehearsal time together, so perhaps it got better in subsequent show).

4. Ida Praetorious and Francesco Gabriele Frola (Flower Festival in Genzano): A captivating and beautiful rendition.  The way these two played off one another made them one of the “Top 3” vignettes for me.  Every move was precise, but felt like a conversation between two people rather than an exhibition piece.

5. Natalia Osipova, Cesar Corrales, Yuhui Choe, Daichi Ikarashi, Marianna Tsembenhoi, and Benjamin Ella (Laurencia): Lively and cheerful.  Osipova and Corrales looked a bit more technical than the other four, but an even and very enjoyable piece all the same.

6. Natascha Mair and Vadim Muntagirov (The Sleeping Beauty): A picture of elegance.  Mair looked weightless and floated across the stage.  Muntagirov gave a good show, but my eyes kept going back to Mair for maximum enjoyment.

7. Francesca Hayward and William Bracewell (Giselle): Having seen Giselle just last year with Osipova and Clarke, this wasn’t my favourite take on it.  There was nothing overly wrong with it per se, but it seemed a little lifeless by comparison.

8. Alina Cojocaru and Alexandr Trusch (Don Juan): So graceful and fluid!  Between this and Romeo & Juliet, it seems Cojocaru is destined to dance ethereal parts, and she does it superbly well.  Trusch put out a fantastic combination of dancing and acting, and the whole piece felt like ballet+.

9. Yasmine Naghdi and Cesar Corrales (Le Corsaire): A fiery ending to the evening and a terrific showcase of skills for both of them.  A stunning display really.

It’s worth pointing out that there is no set, and most of the stage is occupied by the orchestra (Royal Ballet Sinfonia).  There is translucent curtain separating them in the back from the dance area in the front.  Given this wasn’t one cohesive piece, I thought this staging was really well and allowed us to focus on the dancing.

The first performance was opened by Ralph Fiennes and Dame Monica Mason.  She seemed genuinely excited to be there, but he made it very clear that ballet was not his thing (which begs the question of why he was there…).

There was also a short film that had the dancers talk about Nureyev and what his art meant to them.  It was a nice touch, but I thought they really should’ve included [at least] one clip of Nureyev himself dancing.  Perhaps not one of the pieces included in the programme but something different that would’ve shown the great artist as he was.  A missed opportunity, sadly.

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £12.

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