23 November 2022
THE ROYAL BALLET: A DIAMOND CELEBRATION (Royal Opera House) Ballet Review

The programme comprised of 8 pieces spread over 3 acts.

“La Fille Mal Gardée” (overture and pas de deux) danced by Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Alexander Campbell was one of the better pieces of the night.  They both looked effortless with beautiful clean lines.  Such a joy to look at!

“Manon” bedroom pas de deux with Akane Takada and Calvin Richardson was oddly measured, as if the two were drawing a painting on the canvas of the stage, and it worked brilliantly.

“Qualia” danced by Melissa Hamilton and Lukas Brændsrød I loathed with passion.  Between the headache-inducing music and contortionist modern dance, this was the least enjoyable piece by a long margin.  This piece is strictly for the hardcore lovers of this style, and that’s just not me, so I couldn’t find anything redeemable about it.

“For Four” was stunning with a lit string quartet accompanying Matthew Ball, Marcelino Sambé, Matthew Ball, and James Hay.  Christopher Wheeldon choreography was beautiful, and the gents did a stellar job with it.  The only thing that kept itching my brain is that there were a few places where the the dancers in a given pair were not parallel or symmetrical in a way that made me think it wasn’t intentional…

“See Us” was a 10-dance ensemble piece, but one of the dancers was Joseph Sissens who I first caught in some ballet or other a while back, and he stood out by a mile in how splendid his lines looked.  He is such an entertaining dancer to watch, so I sat back and enjoyed him having a bit of stage time.

“Dispatch Duet” with Anna Rose O’Sullivan and William Bracewell was also on the side of modern dance, but far, far more palatable than “Qualia”.  The music was less harsh, and dancing was a lot more pleasant.  Not my favourite piece, but I certainly wouldn’t object to seeing it again.

“Concerto Pour Deux” danced by Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae was as beautiful and enjoyable as can be given it was these two on stage.  I couldn’t get past McRae’s costume though, as it made him look like he ran out onto the stage to dance in the state of mid-undress.  Randomly distracting, but it was a gorgeous piece with lovely music, and it was great to see Osipova and McRae in a pairing together (which I hadn’t seen before).

“Prima” was a spectacular showcase of Yasmine Naghdi, Mayara Magri, Francesca Hayward, and Fumi Kaneko.  Each dancer gets plenty of stage time to wow us.  Dancing together and separately they produce an incredibly rich visual experience.  I was a little baffled by Kaneko’s costume.  Whilst it was beautiful, I felt it obscured the legs way too much, so the audience missed out as a result.  This was probably my second favourite piece of the evening.

“Diamonds” from “Jewels” was breathtaking.  Lead by Marianela Nuñez and Reece Clarke, I wished it’d go on for hours.  ROH really needs to stage Jewels in full some time soon.  This was such an incredible feast for the eyes (and ears), and Nuñez just stole the show.  I simply can’t rave about this piece enough (and would’ve happily paid the admission price just for this one).

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £10.

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