Following the success of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s visit to Sadler’s Wells last year, the company made a swift return visit to London in early September with a repertoire consisting of the full length Don Quixote and a mixed programme of ballet “lollipops” called Magia de la Danza. Part of the success of the Cubans’ previous visit, for me at least, was the revelation of a troupe of dancers with a uniformity of schooling and style – a style that harks back to the era of the former Ballets Russes companies with whom Alicia Alonso, the founder of the Nacional Ballet, was a celebrated ballerina. The company also employs a variety of very talented principals and soloists, who could justifiably grace the stages of any number of ballet theatres across the globe. One cannot help but appreciate the high standards of dancing that Alicia Alonso has been able to develop – she is the Cuban equivalent of Britain’s Ninette de Valois and Marie Rambert. What cannot be disguised, however, is the utter poverty of the company’s production values: threadbare backcloths and rudimentary scenery; costumes and wigs that look as if they had been made 50 years ago for a school production – they do little to enhance the quality of the dancing or the veracity of the acting. Regular Dancing Times readers will be aware of the poor state of the rehearsal studios for the company and school in Havana, and there was an extraordinary response to our request for donations of new dance shoes and practice clothes for the company last summer. One can only hope that with more regular visits to Western Europe, the Nacional Ballet’s bank balance will become healthier.
By Robert Penman
Founded in 1982 and now well-known and widely respected throughout Europe and North America, the appearance of San Francisco-based choreographer Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Festival Theatre on August 26 was a Festival first for the UK. With King’s ballets already established in the repertoires of major companies on both continents, the UK has been particularly slow to come to the party (especially as the British politician Oona King is a relative).
By Gerald Dowler
For the third year running, Henry Roche, devoted company pianist for The Royal Ballet, has brought young dancing friends and musical colleagues together to raise money for a small charity, Ashanti Development, which works in Ghana to help local communities. At the Royal College of Music’s delightful Britten Theatre, he put together this year a toothsome evening of small-scale instrumental and dance works, not the least of which was a personal revival by the ballet’s owner, Jelko Yuresha, of Anton Dolin’s famous Pas de Quatre. Before that, however, were several dance vignettes, starting with a rare glimpse of the Bride’s solo from Frederick Ashton’s war-time ballet The Wise Virgins; a short excerpt focusing mainly on plastique and an almost oriental placing of hands and wrists, it was serenely danced by Romany Pajdak.