Enterprise from Tomasson
A different Swan
Disappointing Rambert

by John Percival
copyright © 2007 by John Percival

Invited to a meeting with Helgi Tomasson at a London hotel, of course we hoped he was going to tell us about a London season next year to celebrate 75 years of ballet in San Francisco, but no such luck — although happily he did say that negotiations are in progress for the San Francisco Ballet to play at Sadler's Wells in 2009. It seems that the company's touring in 2008 will take it to four American destinations: Chicago, New York, Orange County and Washington DC. So what Tomasson most wanted was to suggest that we visit SF next April when his New Works Festival will offer ten world premieres in three days. Sounds interesting.

It was good to be able to congratulate Tomasson not only on a distinguished award from his native Iceland (a whole fifty years since it previously went to someone involved in the arts!) but also on recruiting a new principal dancer, Maria Kochetkova, for SFB — although we shall sorely miss her as a dancer with English National Ballet. Trained at the Moscow Bolshoi, she joined LFB in 2003 from the touring Russian State Ballet, and danced a variety of roles with Festival, vividly amusing in character parts in, say, “Nutcracker” or “Alice in Wonderland”, but equally lively in pure dance pieces. Yet she was — ludicrously — listed only in the corps until this year, when they still made her only a soloist. She wholly deserves the higher ranking in her new company.

Another dancer in the news is the Royal Ballet's young ballerina Marianela Nunez. On her return from bringing the house down with her fantastic fouettes and brilliant footwork in “Corsair pas de deux” at a New York gala (partnered by her husband-to-be Thiago Soares), she was picked by former RB principal Marguerite Porter to learn a very different role. Porter claims that Dame Ninette de Valois taught her Fokine's “Dying Swan” in a version she had noted down years before from Pavlova's early performances, and told Porter that Pavlova later adapted it, this revised interpretation being what has been revived since. Now director of the Yorkshire Ballet Seminars, Porter has a film of Madam, in her eighties, teaching her the true version, and has decided Nunez is the right person to dance this Swan at a special fund-raising gala for the seminars, thanks to “her purity of style, her total unaffectedness and her readiness to listen. She's so open to learn and to broaden her experience. Her qualities go way beyond the physical.”

I wish I could be enthusiastic about Rambert Dance Company's latest season at Sadler's Wells (May 22-26), but alas no. A premiere by Karole Armitage, “Gran Partita”, reveals the choreographer very much off form. She deploys five women and six men in a shockingly unmusical treatment of four movements from Mozart's score of that title. Boring — but that's at least better than “Anatomica#3”, a sloppy mess by Canadian choreographer Andre Gingras, now based in Holland. Ten women and eight men give crude imitations of the Queen, repeated jumps from a ramp on to mattresses, weird double work, accompanied by pseudo-gamelan sonorities arranged by Joseph Hyde. Nasty. Also on the bill was “Pond Way”: not one of Merce Cunningham's best works, and given a sadly dull performance.


Front page: Maria Kochetkova photo by Patrick Baldwin.
Top: Maria Kochetkova in "Synergy". Photo by Daria Klimentova
Bottom: "Gran Partita," Photo by Carl Fox.

Volume 5, No. 21
May 28, 2007

copyright ©2007 by John Percival

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