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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 13, 2008 @ 10:21 am

    Reviews: Cork City Ballet – Cork Opera House

    Fiona McCann

    Expertise is a good partner but no substitute for sophistication, and in The Sleeping Beauty Suite , Cork City Ballet director Alan Foley makes no mistake about the distinction.

    The dancers are experts, and in some cases more than that. But the vision, the approach and the style is utterly sophisticated.

    This is particularly the case in the first half of this programme, which consists of four divertissements, two of them contemporary works set to modern music.

    The muscular lyricism of Gira Con Me (music by Josh Groban, choreography by Alan Foley), expressed by Yuri Demakov, Leigh Alderton and Charles Washington, is carried into a different rhythmic context in Willing and Able (music by Prince, choreography by Foley again, Patricia Crosbie, and Sher Roberts), with the dancers led by Monica Loughman and Robert Gabdullin in a well-conceived performance involving the entire company, their austere costuming exploding into jewel-bright fragments for the finale.

    With a quarter of contrasts completed by the lovely Pas d’esclaf from Le Corsaire (the Petipa version with music by Delibes and Minkus), danced by Chikka Temma and Akzhol Mussakanov, and La Vivandière (Saint-Léon, with music by Pugni), danced by Asami Taki and Leigh Alderton, it becomes clear, as so often with Foley, that contemporary and classical dance can enrich one another in terms both of technique and interpretation.

    And of excitement too, for it is obvious again that these dancers must love Foley, who lets them revel in what they do best and puts them in gorgeous costumes as well.

    Meanwhile, Lisa Zagone’s setting of translucent drapes is constantly transformed by Paul Denby’s lighting design.

    With skill, brio and sheer enjoyment beaming from the stage (this time less successfully converted to a palace ballroom), it is no surprise that the dances from Aurora’s wedding scene in The Sleeping Beauty follow in sequences relying on the miracles of timing which ballet makes commonplace.

    Swept along by Tchaikovsky’s music, with Ekaterina Bortyakova as Princess Aurora, Monica Loughman and Robert Gabdullin as the Bluebirds and Chika Temma as the Lilac Fairy, and often with the entire stage a rainbow froth of glitter and tulle, it is easy to admire the elan of individual virtuosity and ensemble composure.

    Perhaps this is what prompts the desire for more context: after all, the wedding party is only the end of the story as told by Marius Petipa, although it’s a terrific party. MARY LELAND

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