The Prickle (@ThePrickle) December 20, 2019
The point of a triple bill is to showcase the variety that a dance company is capable of. This mixed programme highlights the outstanding versatility of The Royal Ballet, featuring MacMillan’s 1966 Shostakovich-inspired Concerto, a delightfully period version of Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and the third act from the Russian ballet Raymonda.
All three acts can be described as “plotless” – in a good way. The aim of Concerto is to celebrate the simple beauty of bodies in motion, to the music of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. While many in the audience won’t help thinking about the Tin Soldier in Disney’s Fantasia 2000 (which is set to the same score), this routine by MacMillan is bright and exuberant, and imbued with lyricism.
The Enigma Variations offers a more of a real-life feel, but stays true to Elgar’s enigmatic genius by remaining deliberately hazy: it’s recognisable, but not necessarily realistic. In Julia Trevelyan Oman’s superb set design and costumes, full of ochre, terracotta reds, and velvety textures, we see a carousel of characters passing by. Each of them, from young ladies to naughty children, is rendered with gusto and vivacity, as well as impressive technical abilities.
Raymonda Act III is a suitably celebratory end. Taken out of its original context, the nuptial scene becomes a triumph of beautiful couples marching in unison, and a series of gorgeous duets featuring Raymonda (Marianela Nuñez) and Jean de Brienne (Vladim Muntagirov). Under the brilliant conduction of Pavel Sorokin, this triple bill is a feast for the eyes and ears.
The Royal Ballet’s triple bill runs 23 October – 21 December 2019.