30 October 2021
THE DANTE PROJECT (Royal Opera House) Ballet Review
This is a new piece created by the choreographer Wayne McGregor for Edward Watson, who is retiring from the Royal Ballet after a long and brilliant career. The ballet is based on Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”. I knew of the poem’s existence but not the contents in detail, so debated whether I should read it before the show or just stick to my ignorance and take the ballet in at face value.
To be honest, had I gone through the poem beforehand, each individual bit of the ballet would’ve made more sense in terms of the plot and who is who. That’s my own fault really. But even with that, watching it “cold”, it was a proper treat: could not take my eyes off Watson. Certainly glad I got to see him on stage live before he stopped dancing.
The rest of the company is solid, all coming together in beautiful and intricate patterns. Sarah Lamb in the last number and Fumi Kaneko as Satan in the first segment were particularly noteworthy.
My only super-picky criticisms were two-fold. Firstly, Watson’s costume was an elongated tunic, which interfered with the long lines of Watson’s legs. Secondly, I wish this ballet had more classical components, as it skewed heavily toward modern dance for Watson’s Dante.
On balance though, a good piece and a fantastic performance from everyone, so definitely worth seeing.
Cheapskate enjoyment value: £15.
*Bonus*: This was the very last performance, so the company played a little video for Watson after the bows. The stage was flooded with flowers. The street outside the stage door was completely blocked by people with flowers wanting to show their appreciation.