Astana Ballet; Akram Khan’s Giselle review – Steppe to it
Royal Opera House; Sadler’s Wells, London
Astana’s springy young Kazakhs make their UK debut, while Tamara Rojo weaves her magic with Akram Khan’s insightful Giselle
Astana Ballet, a young Kazakhstani troupe with a wide-ranging repertoire and near-gymnastic levels of elasticity, gave their first UK performances in London last week. Opening number, Ricardo Amarante’s Love Fear Loss, deploys their trademark litheness across three neoclassical duets set to piano versions of Edith Piaf songs. The sweeping lifts of Hymne à l’amour channel new love’s delights, while Ne me quitte pas transmits the ache of a breakup with urgent tilting extensions. It’s a graceful offering that sings on the intimate Linbury stage, particularly in the final moments of Mon Dieu, when Ilya Manayenkov sends Ainur Abilgazina skittering across a dusky netherworld.
Mukaram Avakhri’s Salomé, by contrast, packs the stage with snaking shoulders and splayed legs, odes to the eroticism of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play. The effect is cluttered, with dozens of dancers jostling for space around a chunky platform. There’s oomph to the leap-heavy group routines, but the ballet is let down by underwhelming characterisations, including Abilgazina’s crotch-pumping Salomé. Avakhri’s choreography errs on the side of indignity, epitomised in an ungainly love scene with the decapitated John the Baptist.Continue reading...