Having just joined the Friends Circle of the Royal Opera House I finally have the chance to attend general rehearsals. So when I had a night off without any plans I decided to take advantage of it and see what the latest programme of the Royal Ballet had to offer – The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude; Tarantella; Strapless; Symphonic Dances.The last ballet performance I have visited was in 2013 at the Opera Bastille in Paris where they paired Mahler’s Third with a Ballet. It is not necessarily my preferred type of performance to attend as I am much more of an opera and concert girl but I certainly will not turn down the chance to see some beautiful artistry on stage.

The evening started with The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude danced to Franz Schuberts Symphony No 9 in C major; IV Allegro Vivace. The 5 dancers where wearing quite vibrant coloured costumes – very much in sync with the very energetic movement on stage. William Forsythe’s choreography is just amazingly thrilling and in those 15 minutes you are definitely taken on a lovely little journey. I don’t remember Schuberts music being overly exciting but I was seriously impressed. The most fascinating bit was actually watching the physicality of the dancers – no tights as part of the costume you could really see the leg and arm muscles – absolutely mesmerising!

Tarantella was the second piece in this mixed programme. Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambe were dancing to Louis Moreau Gottschalks Grande Tarantelle. The costumes were just lovely – very simple but with a Spanish/Latin American touch. From the very first bar to the last this piece was very energetic and a lovely spring in the step – made one feel very good! There were some lovely little touches in George Balanchines choreography – just a stunning 10 minutes of superb dancing!

Christopher Wheeldon’s Strapless was third in line set to Mark-Anthony Turnages music. The story is inspired by Deborah Davis book, the picture in question is Portrait of Madame X. The music was absolutely beautiful and of course the dancing was superb as well. The story telling of the dancers was absolutely beautiful but I personally was missing the singing… I can appreciate the hard work that goes into this ballet but I do prefer a story told the full on way…

Last but not least was Symphonic Dances, choreographed by Liam Scarlett to the music by Sergey Rachmaninoff. This particular piece of music is one of my favourites pieces and very expressive – certainly the perfect score for a ballet. And what an impact this left behind. Fiery costumes, superb lighting, the orchestra on top form and of course outstanding dancers. The one dancer that, quite literally, stood out was Zenaida Yanowsky. At 41 she is retiring from the Royal Ballet at the end of this season and therefore these are her last performances. A very tall dancer she has a very attractive appearance, almost a little androgynous, but simply stunningly beautiful. Even with the fellow dancers on stage my eyes were always drawn to her. Though when she was dancing with Reece Clarke there was a certain spark between them which really was a joy to watch. Liam Scarletts choreography is marvellous – clever use of the accentuation of Rachmaninoffs music. Parts of it had a bit of a tribal and primeval feel to it – partially evoked by the costumes of the male dancers – topless with wide billowing black and red skirts…. very compelling! The whole piece, lasting a total of 45 minutes had a fantastic flow to it and it sucked you right in and spat you out a different person at the last bar. Intense, dramatic, vivid – beautiful craftsmanship on all levels. Especially the last 10 minutes are just so vibrant in music and the action on stage complimented it so well – the last 4 chords were just so intense! This finish certainly was the cherry on top of the icing!

I was very glad that my personal favourite was last in this mixed programme bill otherwise I might have lost interest a little earlier on. It was great to be part of that one last rehearsal before opening night. Rather surreal to look into the orchestra pit and see the musicians wearing their everday wear instead of the usual black and white. This is certainly the best way to enjoy a very inexpensive night out with some superb entertainment in an atmosphere not quite as uptight as it can sometimes be at the Royal Opera House…

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