Viscera/Infra/Fool’s Paradise Royal Ballet Mixed Bill, Saturday 3rd November 2012

This triple bill opened with Viscera, a work originally created on Miami City Ballet and presented for the first time by the Royal Ballet. Choreographed by the newly appointed Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett to Lowell Liebermann’s Piano Concerto No.1 this was a thrilling, exhilarating ballet. Laura Morera led a cast that showed a ferocious attack in the opening and closing sections of the work. She danced with an exuberance that was breathtaking to watch. In fact the whole cast danced with speed and precision, executing fast movements and footwork that left me feeling quite out of breath. The slower mid-section gave us a sublime Marianela Nuñez in a pas de deux with Ryochi Hirano. The best description I have heard of her in this section was that she “moved like melted chocolate”. Liam Scarlett’s new role at the Royal Ballet will hopefully mean we get to see much more from him and I for one can’t wait.

Second up was Wayne McGregor’s powerful Infra. Created as a “portrait of life beneath the surface of the city” it includes a collaboration with the British artist Julian Opie. Opie’s contribution shows an LED screen across the stage with figures walking across ignoring the dancers below. This work is typical McGregor with his cast moving their bodies in snake-like undulating waves that left me marveling at how the dancers move their bodies like that. For me the stand out performers were Eric Underwood, Edward Watson, Olivia Cowley and Sarah Lamb. Their flexibility and movement was amazing. I found this ballet to be an emotional ride and in places it was distressing in its depiction of loneliness in the city. Max Richter’s score provided the perfect backdrop with its mixture of melodic strings and electronic sounds.

The final work of the evening represented a stark change of pace. Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise was another new work for the Royal Ballet and was originally created for his own company Metamorphosis. This was a more lyrical ballet than the previous two. The dancers were clad in nude shades on a stage that was lit with warm golden light, and at times petals fell from above. Set to a beautiful score by Joby Talbot it was both glamorous and graceful and a joy to watch.

The main criticism for the evening falls to the order in which the ballets were presented. Most people that I talked to were in agreement that perhaps Fool’s Paradise was better suited to being the slower middle section of the evening. My personal opinion is that the evening would have packed more punch if it had opened with Infra and closed with Viscera. That certainly would have had me bouncing out of the Opera House on a high.

Kate Alford