Kings of the Dance

Kings of the Dance at the Coliseum | Dance review
Author: Alexandra Sims
Date: March 21, 2014
Publisher: The Upcoming

Kings of the DanceSvetlana Lunkina and Ivan Vasiliev's powerful performance

Since 2006 Sergei and Gaiane Danilian have been uniting some of the world’s best male dancers in their popular touring show Kings of the Dance. The performance involves a collection of contemporary ballets created by choreographers from across the globe, aimed at exhibiting the full breadth of masculine balletic artistry.

British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon explained that through this global input Kings of the Dance melds “Russian refinement, American attack and Spanish spontaneity” to give a performance not unlike the showcases of the 19th and 20th centuries, where dance companies with gluts of ballerinas assembled their dancers into bespoke dances, celebrating their individuality in consecutive solo performances. Kings of the Dance uses this technique, but with an array of modern touches, producing a distinctive multimedia dance show.

Nacho Duato’s Remanso begins the evening. A sensuous, homoerotic piece in which dancers Leonid Sarafanov, Denis Matvienko and Marcelo Gomes tumble over each other, supporting one another in vigorous stretches and holds while a lone red rose passes between them. Yet as Enrique Granados’s score swells and soars, the choreography fails to match the turbulent music, with the arrangements seeming all too still and lacking in intrigue. Roland Petit’s Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, performed by Roberto Bolle and featuring guest artist Svetlana Lunkina, while benefiting from the tragic storyline of two bitter lovers, again fails through its choreography, which lacks the passion and bravado usually befitting ballet’s doomed couples.

Not until the third act does the composition finally merit the dancers’ superb abilities. Fausto Dase’s Prototype, performed by Bolle explores ballet’s strenuous physicality, breaking each position – arabesque, plie, jeté – into angles, measurements and intensities each displayed on a screen in the middle of the stage as they are performed in quick succession by Bolle. It is Ivan Vasiliev’s performance of Labyrinth of Solitude that steals the show. Choreographed by Patrick de Bana, Vasiliev’s spiralling turns and tremendous leaps are the showstoppers the audience have waited for and are marked by a standing ovation.

The more classically styled KO’D finishes the evening on an elegant note, however, what could have been a spectacular performance with five of the world’s finest dancers in one of London’s most superb venues was marred by uninspiring choreography.