Scottish Ballet: Stravinsky
- Lucy Ribchester
- 9 October 2017
Scottish Ballet's double-bill showcases the extraordinary versatility of Stravinsky
Though united by their composer, Stravinsky's traditional ballet The Fairy's Kiss and avant garde drama The Rite of Spring seem to make for strange bedfellows. They're conceived in styles that would usually appeal to two different strands of dance audiences, but in the end it feels like a rare treat to be entertained, dazzled and challenged all in the same programme.
The company's full cast flex their classical muscles in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's choreography for the former, while a trio takes on Christopher Hampson's pared down Rite of Spring with brutal gusto.
The Fairy's Kiss tells the tale of a boy saved by the kiss of a fairy during a storm. Twenty years later she returns to claim the now young man, in the guise of a gypsy at a village fete. Created in homage to Tchaikovsky, the ballet shows all the trappings of 19th century fairy tales: hale peasants in dirndls, icy fairies in stiff tutus, a wide-eyed hero chivalrously bearing aloft the prima ballerina.
Sophie Martin's Fairy floats with swan-like poise and her precision in the choreography – which, while classical, has an edge of modernism to its odd twists and angles, mirroring Stravinsky's unexpected discords – is a joy to watch.
Perhaps this modern edge should prepare us for the more radical Rite of Spring, a piece whose stabbing jerks and anxious melodies were soundly booed at the premiere in 1913 for being too avant garde. In Hampson's interpretation Stravinsky's drama of ritual and sacrifice is distilled into a Cain and Abel-ish tale of two brothers.
United at first by monastic drills of movement and timeless, genderless black flowing skirts, the cracks in their fraternal bond begin to deepen after a woman in white appears, and before long we have morphed into a distinctly 21st century portrait of power abuse and cruelty. Hampson's choreography is electrifying and executed with such a committed grip from the cast that the dance flies along at a thrilling pace.
Reviewed at Theatre Royal, Glasgow.