One of the most thrilling moments of my theatregoing life was seeing Rudolph Nureyev in the pas de deux from Petipa’s second act, a dazzling display of tartarian pyrotechnics.
His soaring leaps were so high and so fast that you could hear the audience taking in its collective breath. The dancing lasted 10 minutes. The applause went on for 20 minutes.
The pas de deux is regularly revived on its own; the full ballet rarely so. English National Ballet is the first British company to stage Le Corsaire and their version has been completely re-imagined by Anna-Maria Holmes. Audiences however, expecting exotic sensuality and wild savagery will be very disappointed. ENB’s Le Corsaire is empty spectacle, merely a showcase for the dancers.
There is no story. There is no characterisation. There is nothing sexy going on between Alina Cojocaru and the tall, elegant, light of foot Vadim Muntagirov. She is hardly a harem girl and he is hardly a dashing pirate. Yonah Acosta and Junior Souza are much more believable in their respective roles of leaping baddie and gentle slave boy.
The music by nine (sic) composers is poor. The shipwreck is tame. The production lacks humour. The lecherous pasha is dire unfunny pantomime. What is needed is somebody like Matthew Bourne to get hold of Le Corsaire and to give the Oriental kitsch a witty send-up.
Le Corsaire is at Manchester Palace Theatre 11-15 February