This was a sumptuous evening of technically flawless, visually exciting and emotionally compelling ballet. The combination of classical exactitude and contemporary flourish was thrilling, the narrative scope of the production was convincing and impressive and the individual performances were warm and commanding. As part of English National Ballet’s 60th anniversary tour this was a magnificent revival of Rudolf Nureyev’s version of Shakespeare’s tragedy.
It was outstanding in so many ways, but undoubtedly the most impressive feature of the evening was the dancing. Nureyev’s ambitious and exhilarating choreography supported the storytelling brilliantly. The central performances are strong and subtle. The radiant intensity of Romeo, played by the virtuoso Vadim Muntagirov, who covers the stage in awe-inspiring arcs and leaps, is particularly moving. His ardent athleticism underscores the passion he feels for Juliet, sweetly and affectingly danced by Daria Klimentova, who makes a very credible teenage girl. Similarly, Yat-Sen Chang brings a very particular vibrancy and flamboyance to the role of Mercutio, his dancing is full of warmth and élan. The audience loved him generously, and were genuinely shocked at his death. Laura Hussey brings great personality to her performance of the Nurse, and Jane Haworth is superb as Lady Capulet, majestic in her grief at Tybalt’s death. The corps de ballet are impressively unified and dance with clarity and conviction.
Every aspect of the production was equally intelligent and extravagant. From the wonderfully atmospheric sets and costumes referencing Sienese art and architecture, right down to the heraldic codpieces and the greens and reds of the Montagues and Capulets, to the lighting, staging and music. The orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland, were also superb.
All in all it made for a stupendous, transporting evening.