9 June 2023
UNTITLED, 2023 / CORYBANTIC GAMES / ANASTASIA ACT III (Royal Opera House) Ballet Review

There was a lot of hype about McGregor’s new ballet, largely because of it having been inspired by the work of Carmen Herrera (who died last year at the age of 106!) and the costumes having been designed by the Chief Creative Officer of Burberry, Daniel Lee.  Additionally, with Laura Morera retiring this year, “Anastasia” was the last chance to see her on stage.

Wayne McGregor’s “Untitled, 2023”

I have a title suggestion for McGregor:  “Endless Boredom”.  This wasn’t as much a ballet as a modern/interpretive dance number.  The set, an angular form like a stubby letter “L” did nothing except occupy a bit of space.  The costumes, partitioned geometrically into white and emerald green, didn’t always help extend the dancers’ lines or worked with their skin tone.  The music was… let’s call it unique.

The 35 minutes of dancers contorting on stage felt like 2 hours.  It was the same piled on top of the same and the same.  Even Joseph Sissens (who has been fast becoming my favourite dancer in the company) couldn’t save it, terrific though he was.  After all the hype, I was bitterly disappointed.  This whole performance was about flexi-bendy dancers and a lot less so about striking lines and beautiful choreography.  Well, for me anyway.

Christopher Wheeldon’s “Corybantic Games”

What a treat, and doubly so after the McGregor’s number.  The ribbons on the costumes were distracting and seemed largely pointless, but the dancing was impecable.  Mayara Magri was breathtaking in both her precision and artistry.  Wheeldon’s choreography is beautiful to look at here:  the classical ballet figures, the crisp lines, the playfulness of the dancers.  I caught myself smiling throughout the piece.  Not all the 5 games were equally engaging, but each had something unique and attractive to offer.

This was the absolute highlight of my night.

Kenneth MacMillan’s “Anastasia (Act III)”

Shockingly dreadful.  When you have the whole ballet, I suppose, there is enough actually ballet dancing in it to carry it through.  Act III on its own mostly involves Anastasia grabbing her head and running around the stage like a mad woman.  It’s not so much a ballet at the point as a silent theatre piece.

Morera did maybe 5-10 minutes of ballet over the course of the 40 minute piece.  It was great to see her do it, but that’s not nearly enough to warrant us to sit through it.

Cheapskate enjoyment value: £3 (for the “Games”; I wouldn’t pay to see “Untitled” or “Anastasia” again).

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