Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire

Ballet News Reviews | English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire

Alina Cojocaru & Vadim Muntagirov in English National Ballet's Le Corsaire. Photograph : Cheryl Angear

Alina Cojocaru & Vadim Muntagirov in English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire. Photograph : Cheryl Angear

As stories go, Le Corsaire isn’t one you’d want to dwell on. At its core, the message isn’t a pleasant one to dwell on, even if it is supposed to be make-believe.

However, staging this new production by Anna-Marie Holmes for English National Ballet has its merits. The dancers look stronger and more confident every time I see them, and the dazzling fireworks enable you to see the depth of talent within the company.

Yes, Alina Cojocaru and Vadim Muntagirov in the lead roles are gelling well together and are both developing their stagecraft each time they perform together. Muntagirov took his time to warm up, but it’s always worth waiting for. Initially it was Yonah Acosta as Birbanto who made the Coliseum stage look too small for him (it’s huge), in a role made for his swagger and brio. His partnership with Nancy Osbaldeston as the Lead Villager was spirited and colourful. Max Westwell was fully in character throughout and the whole cast were animated and lively. There’s something going on at every corner of the stage.

Senri Kou, as one of the Odalisques, shone brightly. It’s so good to see her get some solo stage time. Crisp, with an air of lawlessness, her technique and artistry melded into one beautiful whole.

Other partnerships fared less well, with inevitable casting changes due to injury since the production had its premiere on tour. Shiori Kase as Gulnare and Dmitri Gruzdyev as Lankendem had a very shaky start, though Gruzdyev was superb on his own in the role. Kase loosened up and her solos were beautiful and poised. It can’t be easy dancing alongside Cojocaru.

Bob Ringwood’s sets and costumes are magnificent. Just the right colour palette; this side of tasteful and a pleasure to see. Lovely large tutus delicately coloured in jade and ruby with a hint of amber and lemon. The Jardin Animé scene is beautifully imagined – a dream you’d want to have, drug induced or not!

Cojocaru’s dancing was laced with the joy of being on stage, and Muntagirov’s portrayal as Conrad has deepened over time. This can only bode well for their continued on-stage partnership and they are well worth seeing – in anything.

English National Ballet is a force to be reckoned with. Considering the sheer volume of performances by the company, the dancers have not always looked so polished and comfortable on stage. They do now. Go.

Le Corsaire is in rep at the London Coliseum until Saturday 18th January 2014

English National Ballet's Le Corsaire photographed by Cheryl Angear

English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire photographed by Cheryl Angear


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