Sadler’s Wells… The Royal Albert Hall…. Cardiff Millennium Centre… Versailles… Just a few of the places English National Ballet is performing this year. Oh, and the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
It seems to me quite amazing that we should have entertainment of this class on our doorstep. So where were you all last night? The place wasn’t empty, but it was far from full.
Perhaps you were afraid of the novelty of a new ballet, The Canterville Ghost, based on an Oscar Wilde ghost story. I must admit, the idea of Scooby-Doo, the Ballet, rather filled me with trepidation.
A top-class outfit
But we can’t go on doing The Nutcracker and Swan Lake forever (unless we give them a new twist, as Matthew Bourne did). So this is a perfectly sensible attempt to create a new, modern classical ballet, and given that the English National Ballet is a top-class outfit with high artistic standards, it works.
We haven’t seen sets, costumes and production work like this since Bourne was here last. What struck me most was the characterisation; everybody on stage was acting as well as dancing. Will Tuckett’s choreography has some wonderfully funny moments as well as some very romantic pas de deux; indeed, the overall feel is so light-hearted that you might not realise just how hard the team is working.
A damn good tune
I found Martin Ward’s music very attractive indeed. All right, you can spot bits of Prokofiev, Elgar, Scott Joplin, even the Shostakovich of the Dance Suite, but things like that never stopped John Williams‘ music being widely appreciated. Martin Ward writes a damn good tune here and there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this music couldn’t have a life off the stage as well.
So our hospital might be debt-ridden and dirty (allegedly), our council leadership failing (apparently), and our football teams not in the Premier League; but our entertainment is world class. I’m happy with that.