English National Ballet : Black & White

March 17, 2011

Ballet, Reviews

dancer in backbend on stage

Men Y Men

group of dancers on stage
Resolution Photography throughout : Helen Maybanks

Black & White

English National Ballet

London Coliseum

16th March 2011

Five ballets in one hit make quite an impact – first-timers to the ballet will find something to love in this programme.

dancers in a group on stage


Wayne Eagling’s Resolution, based on Mahler’s ckert Lieder is a collection of five songs, beautifully and clearly sung by Elizabeth Sikora. Especially poignant was Liebst du um Schönheit (If you Love for Beauty). Eagling was inspired to make this piece after he worked with the charity Duchenne, and its subject, muscular dystrophy, which predominantly affects men, though females can be carriers. Eagling felt despair when meeting suffers of the disease, but at the same time his spirits were lifted by the courage of the boys he met.

two dancers in a pas de deux

Begona Cao & Arionel Vargas in Resolution

two dancers in a lift on stage

Begona Cao & Arionel Vargas Resolution

two dancers in a pas de deux

Begona Cao & Arionel Vargas in Resolution

The piece begins with very dark, moody spotlights. Four girls end in a muddle in the middle, arms wafting about them in beautiful shapes cut out by the atmospheric lighting.  There are four couples spinning as the lights go out, and a pas de deux for Begoña Cao and Arionel Vargas showing off Cao’s strong arabesque.

dancer on stage

Van Le Ngoc in Resolution

There is a bunch of smoke in the background, a girl who stands on her partner’s chest and three bare-chested men who dance acrobatically, ending when Van Le Ngoc tumbles off stage, the two men pushing him backwards with their hands, though they never touch him.

Black Swan

Erina Takahashi in Black Swan pas de deux

The Black Swan pas de deux is a late addition but fits with the theme of the evening. Who doesn’t want to see those famous 32 fouettes ? Certainly Erina Takahashi had a good stab at them, only losing slight control towards the end and her Prince Siegfried, Dmitri Gruzdyev made light work of partnering her. 

Black Swan on stage

Erina Takahashi and Dmitri Gruzdyev in Black Swan pas de deux

Less easy were his jumps which looked laboured on take-off, but he has lovely precise landings and secure balances.  Takahashi had glittering, flashing eyes that must have reached Cornwall let alone the back of the dress circle, and matched them with her knowing, assured smile.

dancer in lift on stage

Men Y Men

Men Y Men was the section of the programme I was initially least looking forward to – but what a surprise.  I’ve rarely seen the company of men so together, so as one.  For nine bare-chested men, Eagling’s choreography shows their strength but also that they have a fluid port de bras to match any of the girls in the company. Junor Souza (recovered from the wrist injury that you might have seen on Tuesday night’s BBC Four documentary about the company, Agony & Ecstasy) was on form, as was Yat-Sen Chang with some great solo turns, Vadim Muntagirov with his great bursts of speed and Max Westwell, whose torso graces the programme cover. Strength and power, yes; but also elegance and grace.  Bewitching.

two dancers in handstand on stage

Men Y Men

The World Premiere of the evening, Vue de l’autre by company dancer Van Le Ngoc (who had a busy evening) is beautifully lit with silver and blue, the boys in leotards and the girls bare-legged (this is not a night for tights or shirts) in grey leotards.  The piece begins with no music, a group of dancers across the stage walking on the spot.  Then a black out. Everyone leaves the stage and a pas de deux begins in a bright pool of sparkly silver light – Daria Klimentová and Vadim Muntagirov.

two dancers on stage

Vadim Muntagirov and Daria Klimentova in Vue de l'autre

Klimentová, in her grey leotard, could be mistaken for Marianela Nuñez from The Royal Ballet and indeed the choreography had more in common with Wayne McGregor with its extreme splits and off-centre balances.  Muntagirov has a red rose, so although this is an abstract ballet you can apply your own connotations.

two dancers in a high overhead lift

Daria & Vadim in Vue de l'autre

During a high overhead lift, Muntagirov shows both his supreme strength and that Klimentová can’t weigh more than a feather, as he lowers her almost in slow-motion. Then the light dips again, the rose is abandoned and they exit stage right.

two dancers in arabesque

Senri Kou & Fabian Reimair in Vue de l'autre

dancer on stage

Vue de l'autre

two dancers embrace

Elena Glurdjidze & Junor Souza in Vue de l'autre

two dancers kneel

Daria & Vadim in Vue de l'autre

I’m going to mention the shoes.  In the words of Derek Deane “Elephants!”  Ladies, please shoehorn in some time to work on your pointe shoes; the noise distracts from the beauty of the dance and it doesn’t have to.

two dancers on stage

Vue de l'autre

Senri Kou always looks delighted to be dancing and here, in a balletic tug of war between two girls and a man, she looks to be in heaven, beaming away with that beautiful smile of hers. There are solos and pas de deux, with Muntagirov and Klimentová returning at the end, into a very bright circle of light.

dancers on stage dressed in white

Suite en Blanc

Neoclassical Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar is danced to Edouard Lalo’s beautiful music.  There is a long prelude and then the curtain goes back to reveal the full cast on stage, dressed in white tutus or black tights. It’s 35 years since the company last danced this ballet – though that is not the only reason to see it.  Yonah Acosta makes his assured debut with the company (he is a First Artist), and his entrechats, his feet, the height of his jumps and the speed of his turns – even though they are not yet honed for performance – will fair take your breath away.

three dancers on stage in white

Suite en Blanc

The ballet itself is set with two plain staircases to the rear of the stage, and the tutus are not glittering but plainly elegant, as is the dancing.  Re-staged by Maina Gielgud, the dancing begins with three girls in long white floating skirts with Kerry Birkett creating the most elegant lines of the three. 

dnacer on pointe

Laurretta Summerscales in the pas de trois from Suite en Blanc

In the Pas de Trois Laurretta Summerscales was outstanding, in an outstanding trio.  Vadim Muntagirov and Junor Souza matched each other beat for beat and it was thrilling to watch.

two dancers in arabesque

Laurretta Summerscales and Junor Souza in the pas de Trois from Suite en Blanc

Shiori Kase showed off her refined grace in Serenade, and Yonah Acosta made a great start in the Pas de Cinq along with Crystal Costa. 

dancer on pointe

Shiori Kase in Serenade from Suite en Blanc

Elena Glurdjidze had some of the best music in Cigarette and made the most of it, with Dmitri Gruzdyev following in the Mazurka who really started to fly. 

Suite en Blanc

Shiori Kase in Suite en Blanc

Suite en Blanc

Suite en Blanc

Esteban Berlanga has perfect feet, and here partnered with Erina Takahashi in the Pas de Deux they were well matched if a little shaky at times with the very difficult partnering.  Takahashi returned to the Flute, to finish the ballet in sumptuous style with the boys sat in a semi-circle behind her, the girls behind them occasionally mirroring Takahashi’s steps.  It’s a great finale and a feast of ballet – and it’s only on for 4 more performances.  Be fleet-footed if you want to see it.

Suite en Blanc

Erina & Esteban Suite en Blanc

Suite en Blanc
Esteban Berlanga and Erina Takahashi in the pas de Deux from Suite en Blanc


Suite en Blanc

Elena Glurdjidze in Cigarette from Suite en Blanc

Yonah Acosta

Yonah Acosta in the Pas de Cinq from Suite en Blanc

Black & White is in rep until 19th March.  This is the casting.

You can see rehearsal footage of Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov as they prepare for this bill.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “English National Ballet : Black & White”

  1. Make Do Style Says:

    Looks amazing and if only this week wasn’t such bad timing work wise I would have gone.
    I love a simple stage and the theme of the costumes, makes for watching the dancing.
    Can’t wait to have more time to go to see some ballet!

  2. Imogen Dent Says:

    This was a simply gorgeous evening and I am so glad I was there! I was frankly stupefied though to find that quite a few people (at least in the upper circle where I was) left at the second interval. udging by the fact that those on either side of me both asked me if this was the end or not, I wonder if they may have thought the same. Anyone who did leave at 2/3 time missed the stunning Suite en Blanc, and I’m thoroughly sorry for them. But how could someone NOT KNOW there was a fifth ballet in the programme? – something went wrong in the communications front for that to happen, though I can’t for the life of me work out what.

    It seems unfair to single out individuals with such an evenly high quality right through the company, but I will anyway; Erina Takahashi was splendid, likewise Lauretta Summerscales, and so were all the men. Terrific stuff!

  3. LD Says:

    It looks wonderful but those grey costumes are hideous! It takes a lot to make ballet dancers look ungainly, bet they all hated wearing them!

  4. Chris Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures, and thanks to Ballet News, I was able to get what appeared to be the 99th ticket out of the 100 on the Sky offer! I think the pas de deux was a late addition which did make it a late evening so I wonder if some people had to leave early to catch last trains home? Thank you again for the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful evening – a bargain with my Freedom Pass – and for the beautiful pictures to keep.

  5. May Says:

    MYM and Vue were v enjoyable, Vue esp so considering how young the choreographer Van is. Only bit I might have thought needed tweaking was that red rose – a bit distracting, I wish he’d had them put it down more……when Vadim had to lift and turn Daria while holding it, I was really worried he might drop or scratch her (but of course he didn’t!)
    Suite en Blanc so beautiful and a welcome return to the UK stage after 35 years! The soloists and corps were impressive in it, esp Westwell, Atymtayev, Zhang, Chalendard, and of course Muntagirov, together with Glurdjidze. Max and Zhanat did so well with the side by side jumps and turns! Forgot to mention in my FB post Chantel Roulston v good in her solo too – what an impressive number of junior dancers who can handle the solos well…..not even the Royal Ballet or Paris Opera can manage that sometimes.
    Only a great, great shame for Londoners that the theatre was so empty. But great to see so many first time balletgoers in my section (who were ecstatic to discover ENB did free cast sheets – with little synopses!) Yes, there were first timers at my show also who didn’t know that there was Suite en Blanc to follow, and thought there were people who left after the first interval! Good thing they asked and stayed, because SEB was done so well. If anything, I thought the programme was a bit overlong with the inclusion of Black Swan – I don’t think it really added anything to the show, and the lighting for it was wrong on Sat afternoon – the dark, purple-hued lighting from Resolution was left on for BS, and it really spoiled the pdd.

  6. Ed Says:

    A superb production, in a lovely theatre. I had the most enjoyable afternoon. Being new to the world of Ballet, I was gripped from the start, and have purchased tickets for future productions.