Ballet Review: An evening of effortless charisma

★★★★★☆

Charm will only get us so far sometimes.

Originally debuted in 1898 at the Marinskij Theater in Saint Petersburg, Raymonda has travelled around the world to delight the most avid ballet-goers.

At the premiere showing on Saturday, the queen herself was in attendance, elegantly enjoying a splendid night out to view director Nikolaj Hübbe’s exquisite rendition of this timeless story.

Moorish pleasures
J’aime Crandall stars as Raymonda, the principal figure betrothed to a Hungarian noble (Alexander Bozinoff). It unfolds into a true drama as a Moorish prince (Jón Axel Fransson) falls for her. Abderam (the foreign prince) dazzles her with spectacular split jumps and courting moves.

The cliche battle for the girl unravels in a character-dancing sword fight with dramatic lifts. Yet unlike the trope about the indecisive damsel, Raymonda steals the solo-spotlight through her striking shenae turns and heartfelt expressions.

With a little help from higher powers and dear friends Henriette (Holly Jean Dorger – an exceptional ballerina) and Clémence (Caroline Baldwin) and their suitors (Jonathan Chmelensky and Marcin Kupiñski), Raymonda (albeit somewhat hesitantly) decides to stay with Otto (her real love).

Inspired setting switch
Hübbe replaces the Middle Ages setting with an interpretation of 18th century rococo Southern Europe. The lead dancers and corps de ballet effortlessly glide through complicated formations, classical choreography and sassy flamenco-style promenades.

Richard Hudson should be especially noted for his masterfully meticulous scene and costume designs. Blue, gold, and white glittered about as the dancers twirled to waltzes and peké arabesques. Ornate headpieces stayed firmly in place as they leapt miles high and extended spectacular grand-battements into infinity. The stage transformed from a bright ballroom into an eerie forest.

Aleksandr Glazunov’s symphonies were chimed out by the sensational Det Kongelige Kapel orchestra, led by conductor Graham Bond.

After the charismatic display concluded, the queen was not the only one beyond pleased with the entire performance as a standing ovation from the audience resounded throughout the theatre.





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