The Royal Ballet: Raven Girl/Connectome Review

“There are no words to describe this 30-minute piece.”

The Royal Ballet opened its first double bill of the 2015/16 season last night, 6 October.  The double bill featured the return of Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl and Alastair Marriott’s Connectome.

While McGregor’s dark fairytale based on Audrey Niffenegger’s 2013 novel showcases some intense images, creative costumes and circus-like stunts, the narrative ballet seems to be an broken puzzle.  I felt as though the ballet was meant to be understood only by the dancers and not the audience – creating a disconnect between the two.  Furthermore, the music – with very few exceptions – seemed to act only as a means through which the dancer’s landings could be masked.

Outstanding though, was Royal Ballet Principal, Sarah Lamb, on whom the role was created.  The contemporary movements suit her and her portrayal of the Raven Girl was far more convincing than her Juliet.

Luckily, Marriott’s Connectome saved the night for those disappointed by the first half of the show.  Dancing the lead roles were Principals Steven McRae, Edward Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson.  The trio is supported by a small, male corps danced by Marcelino Sambé, Tomas Mock, Luca Acri and Matthew Ball and the ballet is inspired by a scientific theory of human identity.

There are no words to describe this 30-minute piece.  Marriott’s electric choreography kept me at the edge of my seat as Cuthbertson – who replaced an injured Natalia Osipova – kicked her leg sky-high and scurried around the stage in quick courus and gripping pas de deux with McRae and Watson.

McRae brings an indescribable energy to the stage – presenting the attack the ballet demands yet maintaining ballet’s grace.  Sambé, too, stands out as he bursts across the stage in a blur of timed turns and insane jumps.

The sets were also visually stunning – with thin, moving columns enhanced by projections taking over the stage.

The double bill runs until 24 October.   For tickets and further details visit the website of the Royal Opera House.

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