Who needs tinsel when you can see in the festive season with high-shine his ‘n’ hers cod pieces? Metallic groin carapaces are just part of the awful absurdity of McGregor and Mugler, a new 15-minute ballet in which the titular choreographer sends Royal Ballet principal Edward Watson and Bolshoi prima Olga Smirnova through the usual boneless motions while gussied up in Manfred Thierry Mugler’s designs. Egregious feathered wigs also feature, plus spangled nipple covers and hirsute sprouts at the calf and elbow.
The whole thing smacks of money and misguidance, while the dancers seem sadly underpowered, hurriedly reeling off high extensions, peeling off or putting on face masks to a booming soundtrack.
Opening the bill is Edward Clug’s Radio and Juliet, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s tragedy in which Juliet doesn’t die at Romeo’s side but instead remembers her story to the drab sounds of Radiohead. Poor lass. Though purporting to take the female perspective, most of this bleak 55-minute piece is made up of bare-chested men in black suits intimating violence via jabbing physicality, while occasionally holding up a portentous piece of fruit.
The talents of English National Ballet’s Katja Khaniukova are largely wasted here, although there’s a lightly intriguing duet of flickering flourishes for her and Romeo (Mariinsky principal Denis Matvienko) before the lemon of doom appears.
Elsewhere, Bolshoi principals Anastasia Stashkevich and Vaycheslav Lopatin engage in some hypermobile coupling to the strains of Debussy in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, a vigorously bendy tribute to Nijinsky’s ballet.