Ballet changed forever when Serge Diaghilev brought a visiting troupe of dancers from St Petersburg to Paris 100 years ago. There are galas and exhibitions and concerts to mark the centenary, including the BBC Proms which this year is performing almost all the music Stravinsky composed for Diaghilev.
English National Ballet has a clear connection to Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. It was formed by Alicia Markova and Anton Dolan, he a Diaghilev dancer and she to become one after he spotted her at as a child pupil in Seraphine Astafieva’s dance school in Chelsea.
ENB still dances many ballets from the Diaghilev era, which is has assembled for this Sadler’s Wells visit. There are two programmes, with Apollo and Scheherazade bookending divertissements in programme 1, and Les Syphide and The Rite of Spring bookending the same diverts in programme 2.
Neither programme was without problems, but the overall impression is the rich legacy Diaghilev left and how well ENB dance it. Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks were flawless in Apollo, as was, pretty much, Elena Glurdjidze in The Dying Swan, despite a woeful costumes designed by Karl Lagerfeld – anyone who creates a collar for a swan knows little of its anatomy or its place in ballet.
Also on programme one was Gina Brescianini and Daniel Gaudiello in Le Spectre de la Rose, and a new male duet by David Dawson inspired by Nijinsky’s infamous ballet Faune.