It’s undeniable that Le Corsaire is a pretty silly ballet. Its jolly japeries concerning pirates, slaves and human traffickers doesn’t sit too comfortably on modern eyes and the story is virtually incomprehensible. What saves it, and what’s kept it in the repertoire of so many companies, is the in-yer-face virtuosity of the choreography.
Nowhere is this better shown than in the famous pas de trois of the second act and this evening Tamara Rojo, Osiel Gouneo and Cesar Corrales brought the house down. Personally, I blame Corrales. He flung his Ali onto the stage and leaped ,turned and sprang with such immense grace, control and steely fire that he forced the other two to up their already considerable games. Inflamed, Rojo immediately nailed her fouettes with dazzling fearlessness and attack. Gouneo then strutted on and didn’t so much jump as fly – I was sitting next to a family of owls and they were in awe of the heights he reached. It was a real event, one of the most exciting displays of ballet I’ve witnessed for some time.
Elsewhere Yonah Acosta did his best bad boy thing and demonstrated he was no slouch in the pyrotechnics department either. Lankendem is a pretty thankless role but Brooklyn Mack brought plenty of life to it. Likewise Gulnare flits in and out of proceedings but when called upon Laurretta Summerscales showed how well she’s developed under Rojo’s directorship – she looked assured, authoratitive and completely at home when the centre of attention.
The dancing throughout was sharp and time skipped merrily along. Another highlight were the three Odalisques of Ksenia Ovsyanick, Alison McWhinney and Shiori Kase. Not only were they beautifully in synch when dancing together but their individual variations were exceptional; Ovsyanick stood out even further with her extraordinarily quick feet.
The show looks great – Bob Ringwood’s sets and costumes are spectacular – and the orchestra were in good nick too. An excellent night out that the watching Antonio Banderas clearly enjoyed too.
English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire continues at the London Coliseum until 24 January 2016. Tickets and casting can be found on the ENB website.