ROYAL BALLET MIXED BILL: THE RAKE'S PROGRESS 5TH, 6TH, 9TH JUNE'06
The Rake's Progress is a piece not often performed in the Royal Ballet repertoire. It was first produced by the Vic-Wells Ballet at Sadler's Wells in 1935, by Dame Ninette de Valois. She collaborated with Gavin Gordon, who geniusly wrote the beautiful music for the piece. de Valois suggested that she based her inspiration to the several paintings of William Hogart (1697-1764). This ballet is set in the 1700s, where men were in wigs and powderpuffed face, while the women were in balloon skirts.
I have seen 3 performances of The Rake's Progress, which was performed by 2 different casts. On the opening night, and the last night's performance were lead by Johan Kobborg and Laura Morera as the Rake and Betrayed Girl, respectively. Johan provided excellent performance on both nights, showing both technical and dramatic skills readily and effortlessly. He seemed to be a natural in dancing the expressive role of the Rake. Laura provided neat and precise foot work and good use of her body on the first night. She is a clean and wonderful dancer. On the closing night, she gave a little more, she gave compassion and heart in her role. She made the role of the Betrayed Girl more convincing and more dancing from the heart. Special mention to Steven McRae, a star in the making, for making the role of the jockey exicting to watch. In addition, Paul Kay is such a clean and fuss-less dancer as the Dancing Teacher in The Rake's Progress. I believe more work, and rehearsal for this young man will make him an expectional talent in the company. David Pickering as the Gentleman with the Rope in the final scene, danced with immense insanity. His long limbs and maniac facial expression created intensity, building up the atmosphere in the mad house.
Alternatively, on the 6th evening, I was priveleged to watch the other cast dancing the entire The Rake's Progress. The leading roles were managed by Viacheslav Samodurov and Belinda Hatley. Viacheslav showed immense strength in his jumps and provide a few inconsistent emotional context, which was such a waste, for this piece is strongly based on acting and technical skills. Belinda Hatley gave an extremely convincing characterisation of the Betrayed Girl. Belinda used her soft and fluid port de bras to depict the dejected Betrayed Girl, somehow I felt her performance outshined Samodurov. Special mention to Ludovic Ondiviela, an Artist with the Royal Ballet since 2003, danced and shared the role of The Dancing Master in the first scene with Paul Kay. He had grown to be a beautiful dancer, with precise beats and light jumps. Paul Kay on the other hand, also shared the role of the jockey with Steven McRae. Both dancers in their respective alternate roles showed diverse interpretation and dancing quality. On all 3 performances, Gary Avis as The Rake's Friend, was excellent. He mastered and handled the acting perfectly well.
All in all, The Rake's Progress opened up several walls of creativity, acting and visual artrs.