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Serenade, Sweet Violets, DGV

Published Thursday 15 May 2014 at 09:59 by Sarah Frater

The strength of the Royal Ballet is often said to be the diversity of its repertory and the range of its dancers - this is on clear view in this mixed bill, which includes both narrative and plotless ballet as well as lyrical and athletic styles.

Sarah Lamb (Marie) and Thomas Whitehead (Robert Wood) in Sweet Violets from the Royal Ballet's Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London

Sarah Lamb (Marie) and Thomas Whitehead (Robert Wood) in Sweet Violets from the Royal Ballet's Triple Bill, Royal Opera House, London Photo: Tristram Kenton

It opens with George Balanchine’s Serenade, a sublime interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s music of the same name. It is a pure dance work made when the Balanchine first arrived in New York in 1933. It evokes the process by which ordinary women become ballerinas, just as Balanchine demonstrates how movement becomes choreography - that is, how it adds up to more than just steps. Marianela Nunez is excellent as the lead, although occasionally her gesturing was overly emphatic.

Next is fledgling dancemaker Liam Scarlett’s narrative ballet Sweet Violets. Revived from 2012, it is an intense reimagining of how the artist Walter Sickert was influenced by the murder in 1907 of the prostitute Emily Dimmock. The sets by John Macfarlane are inspired, and the dancers cannot be faulted, but the hour-long piece is dramatically confusing. It features a lot of characters with multiple cross-relationships in several locations - all of which is muddling.

Last is Christopher Wheeldon’s fast-paced Danse a Grande Vitesse, first produced in 2012. Set to Michael Nyman’s eponymous score, it is an exuberant if mono-tonal work with a daft set. However, it is notable for Natalia Osipova’s debut in the ballet. The Russian dancer - new to the Royal Ballet this season - once again demonstrates her impressive range and style.

Production information

Royal Opera House, London, May 14-26

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninoff, Michael Nyman
George Balanchine, Liam Scarlett, Christopher Wheeldon
The Royal Ballet
Cast includes:
Marianela Nunez, Lauren Cuthbertson, Laura Morera, Sarah Lamb, Federico Bonelli, Natalia Osipova
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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