Ballet is suffering a Black Swan hangover. Darren Aronofsky’s movie has unwittingly re-fuelled debate over the prevalence of eating disorders amongst dancers. With contradictory accounts creating a maelstrom of controversy, it once again raises the question: What is the truth?
American Ballet Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Washington DC – February 3–5, 2012
Tucked away in a Saturday afternoon matinée at the centre of a weekend mini-season of Natalia Makarova’s production of La Bayadère, padded out on either side by more experienced casts, came a trio of debuts in the leading roles. This protective programming, though understandable, proved an unnecessary precaution for Vadim Muntagirov’s first outing, both with American Ballet Theatre and in this ballet. Americans might describe his guest appearance as a “try-out” but they will never need to do so again, since it was a spectacular debut in every sense, closely matched by Hee Seo’s first reading of the Temple Dancer, Nikiya. Muntagirov is already confirmed for more performances in ABT’s New York “Met” Season, early this summer; reprising the role of Solor with Seo and partnering Irina Dvorovenko in Swan Lake. Given the lack of strength in depth within ABT’s cohort of male principals (even worse than The Royal Ballet’s current predicament in the same department), it seems that English National Ballet will now be sharing their star danseur across the Atlantic (and elsewhere) on a regular basis.
This was my second visit to the wonderful new Opera House in Oslo. My first was to attend the opening of the National Ballet season in May when the company presented an all Kylián programme and I now wanted to see them perform a classical work. The Sleeping Beauty is a challenge for any ensemble and was not part of the repertoire when I directed the company in the late 1970s.