Ballet galas might be the dream of every spectacle-craving balletomane, but they can easily become a nightmarishly boring series of ‘party pieces’ if they are not properly organised. Luckily, this is not the case when a company such as Ensemble Production takes over, as demonstrated by a number of recent and successful events. Not unlike the galas for Maya Plisetskaya’s and Yuri Grigorovich’s 80th birthdays, its latest creation, Flight, organised jointly with the Maris Liepa foundation, brought together a plethora of stars to celebrate a dance artist from the past.
The name of Maris Liepa might not be as familiar to youngish Western ballet-goers as those of Nureyev and Plisetskaya; but he was one of the greatest figures of 20th-century Russian ballet, as demonstrated by the filmed snippets that started the evening last Sunday at the Coliseum. Liepa was indeed one of those charismatic dance–actors whom middle-aged ballet-goers like myself desperately long for today. Fortunately, the live dancing that followed the projections did not create too harsh a contrast, as the various artists stood out for electrifying magnetism and damn good technique. Flight also stood out for the well-structured programme, which alternated classic numbers — including the inevitable but always welcome Le Corsaire pas de deux and the even more inevitable and equally welcome Don Quixote pas de deux — with more daring choices, such as William Forsythe’s In The Middle Somewhat Elevated. In the sparkling Don Q, the Bolshoi’s rising star Natalia Osipova, partnered by a scintillatingly elegant Leonid Sarafanov, repeated the captivating stunts seen last summer on the same stage.
In Corsaire, the Royal Ballet’s sensation Marianela Nuñez showed how technical bravura is not necessarily synonymous with shallow circus tricks, performing breathtaking pyrotechnics with unique aplomb and elegance, while partnered by an equally dashing and impeccable Tiago Soares.