Royal Ballet dancers Roberta Marquez and Federico Bonelli gave a charming interpretation of the balcony pas de deux, from Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. In spite of the lack of balcony onstage, the pair appeared utterly smitten, grinning at each other and passionately embracing in a beautiful representation of the characters’ youthfulness and ardour.
English National Ballet dancer Alina Cojocaru and real-life partner Johan Kobborg (currently director of the Romanian National Ballet) gave a superb performance of another one of MacMillan’s illustrious pas de deux – the suicide scene from Mayerling. Including drug-taking and ending in double death, the piece’s dramatic take wasn’t in keeping with the otherwise upbeat nature of the gala and would no doubt have been difficult to follow for audience members unfamiliar with the full ballet. Nevertheless, Kobborg captured the mentally disturbed essence of his character whilst Cojocaru gave an impassioned interpretation of hers. The pair was expertly supported by a hat-twirling Alexander Campbell.
At the more contemporary end of the spectrum, Ballet de l’Opera national de Paris dancers Dorothée Gilbert and Audric Bezard gave a secure performance of Benjamin Millipied’s acrobatic Amoveo, including Bezard swinging Gillbert with one arm and later holding her by the hips above his head parallel to the floor. Royal Ballet dancers Natalia Osipova and Edward Watson gave an equally effortless performance of Alistair Marriot’s athletic Connectome.
The Mariinsky Ballet’s Xander Parish performed Ballet 101 with style, replicating the 101 positions of Eric Gauthier’s humorous choreography with such precision and timing as to bring a huge smile to my face. Other works performed included extracts of Scheherazade, Sleeping Beauty, MacMillan’s Winter Dreams, Christopher Wheleldon’s Cinderella and Imre Eck’s The Swan of Tuonela, with the English National Ballet Philharmonic providing excellent accompaniment under the baton of Valery Ovsyanikov.
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