Kings of the Dance
Author: Katie Colombus
Date: March 20, 2014
Publisher: The Stage
Ivan Vasiliev and Svetlana Lunkina in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, Kings of the Dance, by Roland Petit, London Coliseum
Photo © Tristram Kenton
Bringing Kings Of The Dance back to London for too short a run, Nacho Duato’s Remanso opens the evening - a piece with a touch of the Mats Ek about it, with a light, graceful polish to the deep plie stances and criss-cross hand gestures. Moving around a central wooden square which the dancers peep over, climb on, hang from or cast shadows onto, the choreography is led by the rippling waves of Enrique Granados’ piano score. Leonid Sarafanov jumps like a young deer - light, soaring and soundless.
Roland Petit’s intensely dramatic and ultimately tragic Le Jeune Homme Et La Mort comes next, with the chiseled jaw and brawny good looks of Ivan Vasiliev taking centre stage. With an anguished, fearful expression he dances with both powerful physicality and emotional tangibility. Vasiliev rolls and lands in headstand, performs quick, manic, tripping jumps with obsessive repetition and springs perfect split jumps out of nowhere - balancing perfectly the contained strength of his inner turmoil with the relative freedom of his movements. Svetlana Lunkina, the cruel, faithless lover of Jean Cocteau’s imagining is lithe and ominous as she leads the young man to his grim fate.
Five short pieces round off the evening in Act III, with the anatomy of ballet spelled out with computer graphics, seeing an army of Robert Bolle in double denim - coining a new genre of surreal digitalism, perhaps. There are a couple of clumsy lifts and overtly melodramatic moments in the duet between Matvienko and Gomes, and a bit of a dip with the limp-wristed mickey take of Princely classical ballet in Vestris - although kudos to Sarafanov for having the comic aplomb to pull it off. But Labyrinth Of Solitude and KO’D will leaving you reeling at the pure artistry, explosive grace and expressive power in this dazzling showcase of male ballet dancers.