Wednesday, 18 October 2017

REVIEW: Song of the Earth / La Sylphide by the English National Ballet

Song of the Earth / La Sylphide by the English National Ballet with the English National Ballet Philharmonic at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 21st October

Song of the Earth. Music by Gustav Mahler:- Das Lied von der Erde, dance by Kenneth MacMillan. The main dancers, the woman- Tamara Rojo, the man- Joseph Caley, the messenger of death- Aaron Robison. The singers, Mezzo Soprano- Flora McIntosh, Tenor- Simon Gfeller.

The performance is set on a bare stage, with either of the singers appearing at the side to accompany each song and its dance. The dancing and the music were quite abstract, and describe the reality of love, loss and mortality. The dancers were nimble, agile and graceful in the emotions that they portrayed and were ably supported by the dancing ensemble.
Overall an excellent performance although not to our own particular taste.

La Sylphide. A romantic ballet by August Bournville, recreated by Eva Kloberg and Frank Anderson. The Dancers. The Sylph- Erina Takahasha, James- Jeffrey Cirio, Effy- Francesca Velica, Madge- Jane Haworth.

Act one, at the house:- James is about to marry Effy his fiancé, but awakes to become bewitched by beautiful Sylph (a fairy) and eventually follows her to the forest leaving his distraught fiancé. However, this is not before, he is unkind to a beggar woman and throws her out of his house whilst entertaining his wedding guests, but not before she has put a curse on him.

Act two, in the forest:- The beggar lady is a witch and puts a spell on a magic scarf, telling James that this will make the Sylph his bride, sadly following much ensemble dancing from all the Sylphs, the magic scarf kills the Sylph and James dies of a broken heart.

This is a most enjoyable ballet with an excellent story telling through the music and the great dancing. The costumes and stage set played an important part in the overall atmosphere of the performance and added greatly to this exceptional ballet. The combination of music, dance and story telling was quite extraordinary, it possessed an ethereal and lyrical atmosphere but ably portrayed the highlands were the scene was set.

In both performances all of the dancers carried the story with great ease and agility, were ably assisted by the fine playing of the orchestra. As usual the sound quality at the theatre was crystal clear and the volume just right. We would recommend both these ballet to both lovers of more traditional ballet as well as those who prefer more new wave performances.

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