Dance Star Turn

By Poesio, Giannandrea | The Spectator, February 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

Dance Star Turn


Poesio, Giannandrea, The Spectator


Double Bill Royal Ballet, in rep until 5 March Ivan Putrov/Men in Motion Sadler's Wells At first sight, the new Royal Ballet double bill might come across as an odd coupling:

Ashton's sparkling The Dream on one side, MacMillan's metaphorically sombre Song of the Earth on the other. Yet the two works are complementary in that they show two distinctive and historically significant facets of 20th-century British dance-making.

On the opening night, an impressive roster of stars appeared in MacMillan's reading of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.

The refined artistry of Tamara Rojo, Sarah Lamb, Lauren Cuthbertson, Carlos Acosta and Rupert Pennefather turned the performance into one of the best I have seen.

Stars populated The Dream, too. Alina Cojocaru is a splendid Titania and Valentino Zucchetti, as Puck, dazzled viewers with his technique - even though he needs to fine-tune his exuberance. As Oberon, Steven McRae, in his debut, came across as an almost perfect interpreter of the part:

majestic and whimsical, mercurial and charismatic, breathtakingly at ease with the most demanding passages.

This was The Dream that, according to the recent hype, ought to have shattered the dreams of those wanting to see the Ukrainian star Sergei Polunin as Oberon. If it did, I am only sorry for their artistic shortsightedness, as little could be said against the dancers I saw.

Indeed, the Polunin affair is still getting media coverage, in line with the cheap trends of that 'celebrity' - as opposed to 'star' - culture we live in. I have no desire to add to what has become a rather unfortunate game of gossip, aspersions, retaliations and speculation for speculation's sake. Yes, Polunin is a good dancer and, yes, his quitting is a blow. But this is as far as it should go, for, in spite of his being a local darling and, possibly, a 'celebrity' he is not yet the international 'star' some would like him to be, certainly not the 'new Nureyev' - a comparison that I find short-sighted and unfair, as artists ought to be praised for their talents and not for being an idealised copy of someone else. …

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