I had seen Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker once in the 1980s, but its performance by the Royal Ballet on Saturday was a revelation to me.   I had completely forgotten how, by beginning and ending the story with Herr Drosselmeyer, Wright gives the action a unity, logic and coherence that is often lacking in this ballet, which can so easily fall into two virtually separate parts.

The conjuring and special effects, above all the magical growing Christmas tree, entranced an audience that was liberally sprinkled with small children, but it was the quality of the dancing and the drama that made this performance a special one. It felt like a new ballet. (more…)

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It was a great treat to see four Frederick Ashton ballets (Scènes de ballet / Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan / Symphonic Variations / A Month in the Country) in one programme earlier this week at Covent Garden, and despite some imperfections of performance the sheer quality of choreography carried the evening.

The opening piece, Scènes de ballet, was a disappointment not so much because there were mistakes and some of the cast were clearly not on form, but because evidence of the company’s understanding of Ashton’s style appeared only intermittently. The choreography of this ballet is so subtle, so original and so exquisitely balanced that it cannot fail to delight, but it should have been better danced. (more…)