Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Lauren Cuthbertson Federico Bonelli Alexandra Ansanelli
This evening is a special one. Tonight it marks the debut of Lauren Cuthbertson’s first full length ballet, as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. The only British Sleeping Beauty in this season is supported by the encouraging cast of Christopher Saunders as King Florestan XXIV, and Elizabeth McGorian as his queen, Alexandra Ansanelli as the Lilac Fairy, Federico Bonelli as Prince Florimund and Valeriy Ovsyanikov in the Orchestra pit.

Saunders brought out a wise and gentle side of King Florestan, whilst, Joshua Tuifua presented a lively Cattalabutte. Alexandra Ansanelli is a calm and gracious Lilac Fairy. She seemed to be growing into the character, and a sense of serenity seemed to be glowing from within. The six leading fairies and their cavaliers danced beautifully.
Strong and convincing miming from Victoria Hewitt, however, her solo was handled nervously. A sparkling performance by Caroline Duprot as the Song Bird Fairy and sharp and crispy dancing from Samantha Raine’s Golden Vine Fairy.

Act 1
Wheeldon’s Garland Dance was splendidly performed by the company’s artists. It was a delight to see new faces to perform this sequence. Celisa Diuana, stood out for me, as one of Aurora’s friends for the nice line and stage presence.
Lauren Cuthbertson’s entrance was highly anticipated. The audience welcomed her Aurora with applause. A witty entrance followed by the Rose Adagio, where she handled with care, and supported by strong partners, particularly Gary Avis who gave her sturdy support and encouragement. Halfway into the Rose Adagio, Cuthbertson has found her comfort zone and performed with ease and when it got to her solo, she was confidant and on fine fettle.

Act 2
Vision Scene
Alexandra Ansanelli’s Lilac Fairy brought out grace and beauty. The corp de ballet were wonderful too. The duo of Ansanelli and Cuthbertson on the same stage was a joy to watch. Bonelli tackled his solo (choreographed by Ashton) with care and control. Cuthbertson’s solo in the vision scene, especially her renversés were beautifully crafted. There were some moments where Cuthbertson hovered few seconds longer in her balances making her performance more exciting to watch.

Act 3
Florestan and his sisters, was unfortunately performed awkwardly by Andrej Uspenski, Isabel McMeekan and Christina Elida Salerno. Uspenski had a good attempt at Florestan, but McMeekan and Salerno were not with the music, it seemed that they were dancing with a different music in their head. Ludovic Ondiviela and Leanne Cope lighten up the atmosphere with Puss in Boots and the White Cat. They brought some laughter amongst the audience and tone down the seriousness of the ballet.
Yuhui Choe and Zachary Faruque dazzled as Princess Florine and the Bluebird. Superb performance from the two; Choe had the repertoire at her fingertips, she called the shots. Splendid solo with good sense of musicality, technique and wonderful stage presence. Choe intentionally hovered on some of her balances till the final seconds, and yet still in sync with the music. Faruque’s solo was well executed, commendable performance throughout. However, if I could add a point; if he brought his arms to 5th position faster, crispier, in his temps du poisson, it will be a fine moment for picture perfect. It will be a shame, if a picture is taken in his temps du poisson, displaying his supple use of the back, and strong elevated jump but to have his arms in mid position.
The grand pas de deux of Aurora and Prince Florimund, was stunning. Flawlessly done, and one could see that this pas de deux must have clocked in most of the rehearsals hours. Cuthbertson and Bonelli made their movements in sync with the musical notes. They brought justice to Petipa’s repertoire and Tchaikovsky’s music. Both dancers demonstrated what Tchaikovsky wanted the music to illustrate. Bonelli’s solo was impeccable, he ended all his tours en l’air in neat 5th position, and demonstrated clean carriage of the arms throughout. Cuthbertson may have play safe with only double pirouettes in her solo, nevertheless, she danced the entire pas de deux at ease and assurance.
It was an enjoyable evening of fine dancing on vivacious sets and glorious music from the old master. A special evening for Cuthbertson’s debut and I am thankful to be part of it. Cuthbertson reminded me of a vintage beauty ballerina, with her dazzling smile and lovely features, she also reminds me of a younger Julie Kent. Cuthbertson rose to the occasion and brought out her finest. One would say, Odile/Odette, bring it on!


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