The current Royal ballet triple bill, Chroma, Tryst and Symphony in C runs counter-clockwise. This is wise. Balanchine's paean to classical form - its spectacle of spins, militarily precise corps de ballet and here with Sarah Lamb partnered by Steven McRae (standing in for Ivan Putrov). She was an exotic ingenue at her coming out ball, leaving me giddy and exulted. It's champagne cocktails on an empty stomach. If we'd begun the evening with this, we'd have ended up feeling deflated no matter what came next.
The Royal's embrace and mastery of Balanchine (this was their 51st performance of Symphony) is now total. Paris Opera Ballets Jewels revived last November (with ecstatic sets and costumes by Christian Lacroix) surpasses the Royal for glamour, but our home team's lyrical and technical mastery of the Russian master's 'pure dance' is also world class. It can even outshine New York City Ballet's more thrusting, athletic approach. When will more Balanchines become core repertoire for the Royal? What about an evening of all Stravinsky ballets? Apollo is already in the rep. Why isn't the violin concerto in there too?
Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon are choreographers have Janus-like responses to the body. McGregor is like a schoolboy holding a magfnifying glass and wondering what happens when you pull, contort or otherwise disturb the balance of dancers spiderish limbs. His movements are deliberately ugly and off kilter yet end up stressing physical perfection when each throw of the hips or awkward head angle resolves itself. It's like Kate Moss gurning followed by her dimpled smile. With nude costumes, a compulsive orchestrated score by Jack White III, Chroma is face-pinching a crowd pleaser.
Tryst should be an even bigger hit. Wheeldon's choreographic language is no dissection of classical technique. It is the beauty and unexpectedness of his positioning of groups, the coming together and parting of couples and his creative collaborations which keep his work up-to-date. Tryste, however, is played out to James MacMillan's discordant, repetitive and sometimes harsh score which is only leavened in the later sections.
Melissa Hamilton's solo followed by her pas de deux with Eric Underwood was pure Wheeldon magic. She danced alone into statuesque arabesques on a back lit stage while Underwood prowled the outer stage like a hungry shadow. Ballet has no more beautiful image of what? Ennui, alienation, loneliness? Whatever, it was poetry manifest. A line from Satre's Being and Nothingness made flesh.
This is the couple to watch.