Scottish Ballet: Stravinsky review at Theatre Royal, Glasgow – ’emphatic theatricality’
Christopher Hampson’s tenure as artistic director of Scottish Ballet has seen a widening repertoire and an increasing emphasis on the precision of the corps de ballet.
This double bill takes the music of Stravinsky as a theme and revives Kenneth MacMillan’s 1960 Le Baiser de la Fee (The Fairy’s Kiss) as a striking companion piece to Hampson’s version of The Rite of Spring.
The discipline of the dancers, and their emphatic theatricality, lends MacMillan’s choreography an elegance that hides his dated storytelling.
A young man is seduced by a predatory fairy and stolen from his peasant companions on the eve of his wedding. MacMillan’s distinctive style is roughly divided between the innocent romping of the villagers and a dynamic and erotic pas de deux between the young man and the fairy. Andrew Peasgood and Constance Devernay bring appropriate intensity and passion to their duet, pushing ballet’s conventions in an energetic sexual display. While the fiancee (Bethany Kingsley-Garner) is depicted as simpering, the ballet does showcase MacMillan’s sensuality.
In Hampson’s Rite a mysterious woman goads two brothers to violence and militarism. The storytelling is abstract, but there is plenty of masculine ferocity and a terse moral about corrupted innocence.
That both ballets feature a predatory, manipulative woman suggests that ballet is still most comfortable with traditional gender roles, while Hampson’s contemporary movement vocabulary shares some of the fairytale anxieties seen in MacMillan’s Baiser. Yet Scottish Ballet continues to establish the brilliance of its dancers as well as its broader interest in styles.