I never thought I’d go and see Les Sylphides, no story, plain white costumes, set in a graveyard, but last weekend I was offered a ticket to the Royal Ballet. Fokine was influenced by Isadora Duncan so its all grist to the mill. My first impression was of long tulle costumes so white they looked as if they could be dayglo. Can you have fluorescent white? The soloist, Yuhui Choe, put an extra contemporary sideways slant into the Prelude and the Pas de Deux. She took the what now seem like quite drab movements and transformed them really into something fey and whitty at the same time.
Sensorium, designed specially to go between the two Les Sylphides and Firebird, had something surgical about the colours, elastoplast pink and blue. I mainly enjoyed Philip Cornfield’s performance of the Debussy, and the choreography looked more exciting for the dancers, a bit gymnastic. It was thrilling to watch Leanne Benjamin being twirled upside down over her partner’s head.
In all three ballets I was struck by the way the corp de ballet defines the space on the stage by making three sides of a square or circles, rather than the wings or the backdrop which are flat. Usually I’d be up in the amphitheatre. Seen from up there the dancers appear to be making patterns across the stage. This time, sitting in the stalls circle, for Firebird I could really enjoy the spectacle, a mass of colourful, twirling arms and heads.
I was disappointed with patrons of the stalls circle though. Top artists are performing live and they’re sitting as if on their own sofa watching television. Next time its back up to the gods.