Life & Culture

Dance review: The Beauty Mixed Programme

A mixed experience as the Royal Ballet gets back to business


Covid has meant that dance companies’ programmes have had to be imaginative and flexible. So the Royal Ballet’s latest offering is a good example of what can go right – and wrong – with this process. 

The Beauty Mixed Programme at the Royal Opera House begins with Anemoi, a new work created by one of the company’s dancers, Valentino Zucchetti. Anemoi were the Greek gods of the winds, and the ballet certainly has a breezy feel about it, with fast entrances and exits, explosive leaps for the men and sharp footwork for the women. There are moments of particular beauty: dancers are silhouetted against a lit backdrop, and a lovely adage contains original lifts. There is a general feeling of optimism, and this ballet, danced by some of the younger members of the company, definitely gives cause for hope. Zucchetti is a name to watch, and I look forward to seeing more of his choreography.

Then follow five duets, which display the versatility of the dancers. Morgen is by Wayne McGregor and was danced at the performance I saw by Yasmine Naghdi and Joseph Sissens, with soprano Sarah-Jane Lewis providing the vocals.  It may be short, but I could only admire the intensity which the two dancers bring to the piece, and Sissens appears to have a spine made up of water, he moves with such fluidity.

Next is MacMillan’s ‘Farewell’ pas de deux from Winter Dreams, danced with incredible passion by Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov. After the Rain, by Christopher Wheeldon, follows, with all its soothing beauty brought to the fore by Fumi Kaneko and Federico Bonelli.

Natalia Osipova showed she can tackle the most contemporary of pieces in Woman with Water, a weirdly comic work by Mats Ek in which she gyrates and convulses around the stage….and drinks a glass of water. Yes, it’s a long way from her Giselle.

Valentino Zucchetti showed off his own dance talents when he partnered – and outshone – Meaghan Grace Hinkis in Ashton’s Voices of Spring pas de deux. Set to the famous waltz by Johann Strauss, it is a sugary piece, complete with falling petals, luscious jumps and lots of flirting.

The evening finishes with Act III of The Sleeping Beauty. Presented without the rest of the ballet to build up the story, it was rather muted. Francesca Hayward, usually so secure, seemed underpowered at the performance I saw, but Mayara Magri was a fine Princess Florine and Alexander Campbell made Florimund’s solos look easy. Perhaps it was because there were fewer dancers than usual on the stage, but this grand finale lacked the sparkle and oomph it needs.


The Beauty Mixed Programme is at the Royal Opera House until 11 July and will be live-streamed on 9 July. It will be available on demand until 6 August.  

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