Venus as a boy
Currently English National Ballet have an embarrassment of riches regarding principal dancers for their December/January run of Nutcracker at London’s Coliseum – Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojacaru and Royal Ballet new recruit Matthew Golding can all be seen at various performances (check the ENB website for the full casting list). For the opening night the effervescent Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentová donned their sparkling costumes to take the lead roles.
They’re a beautiful couple to watch and the moment they took to the stage together for the first time, the entire ballet was raised to a totally different artistic level. Muntagirov is an astonishing partner; never hurried, he oozes elegance and assurance (for Micaela Infante from the Tring Park School who performed a short duet with him as Young Clara, it must have been a dream come true). His leaps are enormous and softly landed and he just looks so easily in control of himself. In truth, Klimentová was not at her scintillating best but she was still a joy to watch, the protractor-like angles of her arms and legs were precise and purposeful and she always looks like she’s enjoying what she’s doing.
There were other excellent performances too, not the least of which was Ken Saruhashi in the Russian Dance. He was strong and tireless in his multiple jumps and turns and it was good to see Yonah Acosta successfully fusing his undoubted solo virtuosity with some thoughtful partnering in the Spanish Dance. Ksenia Ovsyanick was a charismatically charming Mirliton.
Apart from a narrowly avoided crash at the start for the Snowflakes, the corps were sharp and fluent throughout. The surprise of the night was the short burst allowed for the men of the Flower Waltz after the Grand pas – they flung themselves across the stage with a vigour and dynamism that really deserves more of the spotlight.
Wayne Eagling and Toer van Schayk’s ‘concept’ for this Nutcracker is a tad messy – the first 20 minutes or so are particularly scrappy and I still don’t really get the point with the Arabian Dance – but Peter Farmer’s designs are attractive enough and the ultimately the dancing holds everything together really rather well.
Nutcracker runs at the Coliseum until 5 January 2014 and tickets can be found on the English National Ballet website.