Plastic tiaras and wet wipes at the ready as the Easter ballet screenings crank into gear. A few dance company websites content themselves with Skype footage of dancers doing grands battements in their kitchens (seldom have the words “don’t try this at home” felt more appropriate) but others have embraced the opportunity to feed addicts and win new audiences with time-limited streamings of recent productions. Meanwhile YouTube remains a treasure chest of vintage performances — Markova’s Giselle for the BBC anyone? — and Amazon Prime has a dozen productions by the Paris Opera Ballet plus the brilliant-cut Ulyana Lopatkina in George Balanchine’s Jewels. Streaming programmes vary from week to week. Check websites for latest information.
Family-friendly material is in surprisingly short supply but the Bolshoi bourrées to the rescue with a 2011 performance of Yuri Grigorovich’s Nutcracker starring Nina Kaptsova and Artem Ovcharenko (dream casting for Nureyev in the BBC’s 2015 docudrama Dance to Freedom). Pavel Klinichev makes light work of Tchaikovsky’s bittersweet score.
Nikolaj Hübbe takes August Bournonville’s 1842 story of a local beauty rescued from underwater sex slavery by her fisherman fiancé and gives it a Fellini-esque 1950s setting in this bold, characterful makeover. This 2014 performance is cast to the hilt with Alban Lendorf as the embodiment of Bournonville’s “manly joie de vivre”.
Star student Sergei Polunin (remember him?) detonates on the Covent Garden stage as the wolf in this 2010 revival of Matthew Hart’s witty, inventive take on Prokofiev’s guide to the orchestra. Hart stretches and flatters his young ensemble but the young Ukrainian’s elegant lines and effortless elevation adds another dimension to the choreography.
Rudolf Nureyev’s fond and retentive memory enabled him to recreate the glories of this dance-packed Petipa classic as a showcase for his stars and soloists. Nicolas Le Riche is on sublime, scene-stealing form as the villainous Abderam. Sumptuous silken settings by Nicholas Georgiadis ensure that pop-up tents will never seem the same.
Céline Gittens dances from home in a socially distanced reworking of Fokine’s Dying Swan with Royal Ballet Sinfonia’s Jonathan Higgins and Antonio Novais zooming in on piano and cello respectively. Carlos Acosta, BRB’s director, has reworked the ending “for these crazy times . . . so this is a dance about life, about hope”.
Crown Prince Rudolf’s locked down life finds an outlet in hard drugs and rough sex in this enduring modern classic. Stuttgart Ballet stream a performance led by the handsome, expressive Friedemann Vogel this weekend. Meanwhile the BBC have banked Steven McRae’s almost psychopathic reading on iPlayer. Completists might want to struggle with the bootlegged handheld footage of Sergei Polunin’s devastating performances with the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet.
April 11 from 5pm for 24 hours
Two grimly handsome offerings from the Leeds company plus a sugar-coated Little Red Riding Hood. David Nixon’s vampire ballet boasts strong design and an atmospheric Schnittke score. Jonathan Watkins gives physical expression to the dystopian grind of Orwell’s novel with clever use of video and a strong central performance from Tobias Batley.
Stuck in his bedroom and thickly covered in black treacle, Edward Watson goes into self-isolation in Arthur Pita’s harrowing but blackly comic interpretation of Kafka’s novella. Watson’s angular, hyperflexible physique perfectly evokes Gregor Samsa’s terrifying transformation in this Olivier Award-winning performance.
Rosie Kay shows her range in this pair of hits. Five Soldiers is a pocket production that encapsulates the tedium and terror of military life with minimal props and five terrific dancers. MK Ultra, staged in outrageous technicolour, guarantees sensory overload in this kaleidoscopic exploration of contemporary iconography and conspiracy theory devised in collaboration with film-maker Adam Curtis. Free to view but all donations gratefully received.
A palate cleanser from De Keersmaeker who offers a masterclass in close order minimalism in Rain in which ten dancers stride and swivel to the patterns and repetitions of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Repeat. Fade.
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