Reviewed by Jan Mellor
It felt like a real bargain, an evening of sheer classical indulgence, two ballets for the price of one from the English National Ballet; Song of the Earth – a dramatic portrayal of the bittersweet reality of love, loss and mortality and La Sylphide – a story of devotion, betrayal and evil.
First the stage was bare, no props but a plain dark backdrop that gave the performers the entire stage to work their magic – and they certainly did. The scene enfolded with a tenor (Samuel Sakker) and Contralto (Rhonda Browne) singing in German the haunting songs that portrayed the story of a man and a woman who are shadowed by a messenger of mortality. The choreography, exquisite and incredible dance moves and passion displayed throughout this tale were stunning. Moves that at previous ballets I (and as I was informed by fellow punters) had never seen before.
For the second tale, the curtain rose to an amazing scene of an old Scottish manor and of an open fire, elaborate stairway and French windows. The image and dancing had a completely different feel and again the audience were carried into another world. The dancers giving us a unique blend of Scottish Highland dancing and pure ballet and was a sight to behold, with amazing routines performed by adults and children alike. The costumes were astounding and each dancer showed perfect timing and precision. The story of a groom falling for a Sylphide (fairy is my nearest comparison) and leaving his devastated bride to be, Effy, to run off with his precious mystical being to the woods only to lose his treasure to an evil witch was both awe-inspiring and emotional. The dancing was absolutely sublime and had the audience spellbound. I cannot pick out one star, as of course, the leads were phenomenal but so were all the cast.
I adored both performances. I am not a connoisseur of ballet but the talent shown on stage was astonishing and swallowed me up into its world of fantasy and passion. The choreography of August Bournoville and music by Gustav Mahler were both entrancing and mesmerising. I would recommend this to ballet lovers or to those that enjoy sheer talent in its rawest and most unpretentious form. An amazing performance. Well Done!
One of the best and unique ballets you will ever see!
Tickets cost from £13.90 to £49.15 (plus £4 transaction fee).
The English National Ballet’s Song Of The Earth / La Sylphide is at the Palace Theatre in Manchester from 11-14 October 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/palacetheatre or call the box office on 0844 871 3019.
Palace Theatre, 97 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6FT | 0844 871 3019