La Valse/Invitus Invitam/Winter Dreams/Theme and Variations Royal Ballet 18 October

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Picture from visitlondon.com

The evening started in sprightly enough fashion, with a La Valse that was engagingly silly, and well-danced as well.  Then we had Invitus Invitam.  My companion said that she had heard many explanations of the title.  It appears to come from Suetonius’s Life of Titus, Ch 7:  Berenicen statim ab urbe dimisit inuitus inuitam (He immediately sent Berenice away from the city, he unwilling and she unwilling)–inuitus inuitam is a nice example of polyptoton if you like that kind of rustic humour.  Then there’s something interesting about the dancing eunuchs Titus didn’t send away….

Picture from guardian.co.uk

So there was a ballet, which had a couple of stage hands putting up barriers and dancing and then Titus and Berenice dancing.  There were many changes of cast announced in the programme, but Leanne Benjamin (in place of Alina Cojocaru) hollowed her back expressively as Berenice and Edward Watson (in place of Johan Kobborg) didn’t make much impression on me as Titus.  I enjoyed the music, by Ades out of Couperin, but in general I had the feeling that someone was trying to tug at my hearstrings and not managing to reach.

Then it was the interval and after the interval Winter Dreams.

I think this one comes from markronan.wordpress.com

This was some kind of balletic digest of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and it left me irritated.  What was that dreary trash by Tchaikovsky the poor pianist had to grind through?  (I see there’s a full listing on page 29 of the programme.)  What where those people doing dining noisily behind a scrim at the back of the stage?  Where was the bloody fire and the brass band?  During the interval, my companion said that it had satisfied her storytelling nature, but it would have been better with Darcey Bussell.

And to end with we got Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, a fine example of his everything-is-emphasised-so-nothing-is-emphasised style, and we might actually take more notice if you stopped kicking us in the balls mate.

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