2015's Year Of New Cultural Doings found us acquiring an appreciation of dance productions other than those choreographed by Matthew Bourne and I think this year will see a continuation of this (with maybe the odd opera thrown in to test that particular water). So 2016's third theatre visit was to see the English National Ballet's LE CORSAIRE at the London Coliseum.
I must admit to knowing precious little about the ballet, only that it involves a number of virtuoso solos - but then that could be any of them! First staged in 1858 by Russia's Imperial Ballet, the scenario is based on the 1814 poem by Lord Byron which also served as a basis for an opera by Verdi. I must be honest and say I was expecting something a little more than we got from Anna-Marie Holmes's production which is actually a revival of her original 2013 premiere of this work.
A dashing pirate, a winsome slave girl, an energetic slave, a nasty slaver and pirate's double-dealing deputy - all this and swordfights and a shipwreck at sea. Now with those elements you would expect something at least full-blooded but... how to put this? The big selling point of English National Opera is that they sing their productions in English, I fear with their CORSAIRE, English National Ballet seemed to dance their production in English too, it was all a bit too polite.
There were certainly good performances that I enjoyed despite the slight Home Counties feel to it all. The pirate Conrad was danced by Brooklyn Mack whose leaps and Grand Jetes were quite astonishing but his ready smile at all times did rather rob his performance of some gravitas. As Ali, Conrad's loyal slave, Junor Souza from Brazil struck more Nijinsky poses than humanly possible but did it with a muscular grace and style.
Despite these two fine performers, LE CORSAIRE is from the time when the ballerina ruled productions so everything seemed to be geared around Laurretta Summerscales' captured Mendora and, while she danced well, it made one wonder why they didn't just call it MENDORA and have done with it.
I knew things might not be as I expected when the nasty slavers entered the market square with their female captives flicking their whips as if they were seeing how much they could make their bracelets sparkle and we later had a sword fight which resembled nothing more than a Morris dance.
Bob Ringwood's set and costumes were a feast for the eye however and the lighting was up to Neil Austin's usual high standard. Maybe I have already decided I am a Royal Ballet person?