Diaghilev and the Red Shoes

Ballet Ireland
National Concert Hall, Dublin

1st November 2005





If Ballet Ireland wants to live up to its bold proclamation of being "the most exciting, stylish new member of the international ballet scene," it would do well to occasionally change Diaghilev's old red shoes for a pair that can navigate today's increasingly dynamic ballet world.

This performance of Diaghilev and the Red Shoes followed tradition in some instances, but other re-interpretations of the classics involved real mis-steps.

Throughout history, ballet has transformed the way its audiences considered movement, and directors since Diaghilev have challenged dancers to jump higher, turn faster and interpret complex music rhythmically, and with passion. Exceptional ballet suggests another realm of possibility, but little appeared transformative in Ballet Ireland's production of Diaghilev and the Red Shoes, other than guest artist Kathrin Czerny's believable interpretation of the Dying Swan, and the company's accurate evocation of Les Sylphides, complete with long, white tutus and ethereal atmosphere to pianist Archie Chen's steady - though rigid - accompaniment.

The first six ballets on the programme (Les Sylphides, The Red Shoes, Le Spectre de la Rose, Dying Swan, L'Apres - Midi d'un Faune and Gopak) showed an understanding of classical ballet, with guest artists Czerny and Mihael Sosnovschi providing the strongest performances. As a young choreographer, Morgann Runacre-Temple shows promise, though her interpretation of Le Spectre de la Rose needed fewer props and simpler costumes.

But the final dance on the programme, Gunther Falusy's Le Sacre du Printemps, proved shockingly disappointing with its outdated costumes and wigs, and repetitive, uninteresting choreography. Although the ballet made musical and theatrical history when it premiered in Paris in 1913, with its Russian pagan theme to Stravinsky's startling, beautiful score, Falusy provided nothing memorable in his version, other than a feeling of being lost in some netherworld between Diaghilev's time and today's vibrant ballet world.

© The Irish Times