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Radio & Juliet – Faun – MсGregor + Mugler | Review

'McGregor + Mugler' featuring dancers Edward Watson and Olga Smirnova. Photo by Sasha Gusov.
‘McGregor + Mugler’ featuring dancers Edward Watson and Olga Smirnova. Photo by Sasha Gusov.

The famous duet, the Faun, describing the meeting and joining of two woodland spirits by way of the distinguished choreographer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the gorgeous music of Claude Debussy usually thrills and this performance in Act II of a triple bill of dance at the London Coliseum certainly does.

Vaychesla Lopatin, a principal dancer of the Markinsky Ballet performs in the duet with the athleticism demanded of the role while Anastasia Stashkevich is appealingly fey in this production as a contrast.

The contemporary on stage dance piece, Radio and Juliet, performed to the music of Radiohead and interspersed by film opens the show occupying the whole of Act 1. Lasting 55 minutes it is a dystopian vision. A warning perhaps against the consequences of insularity while pursuing a perfect life.

Choreographed by Edward Clug the six male dancers which include The Marinsky Ballet Principal Dancer, Denis Matvienko, move rapidly with restricted limb extensions as if each of them is confined by an invisible force. They wear dark suits with bare chests beneath and these costumes by Leo Kulas follow their movements perfectly. English National Ballet First Soloist, Khatja Khaniukova is charismatic in her role as the sole female on stage.

The insularity being described however ultimately makes any connection through love unbelievable and the piece feels too long as it lacks sufficient variation in tonality. It is notable the filmed sequences somehow carry more resonance than what is performed on stage. Dystopian has its limits when being watched.

The final piece of the evening is an extraordinary fifteen minute duet by Wayne McGregor, Resident Choreographer of the Royal Ballet. The theme is that of two gods meeting in their splendour, clashing in the chaos of the flailing power of emotions before joining in vulnerability. Many gorgeous ballet lifts are executed, Royal Ballet Principal, Edward Watson and Bolshoi Prima Ballerina, Olga Smirnova, beautifully describing this coming together.

What is most attention drawing however are the costumes worn by the dancers designed by Manfred Thierry Mugler. These are sparkling body suits with light reflecting armour and masks that are removed during the piece, using the beauty of the dancers bodies to describe the superhuman qualities essential to the piece. These costumes are so striking focus is often on them rather than the fine choreography and dancing. It’s brave and it’s fun, perhaps a bit gimmicky but it’s Christmas time and the Coliseum audience left the show after many bravos with wide smiles.

3 Star Review

Review By Marian Kennedy

The programme heralds the UK premiere of Edward Clug’s Radio & Juliet set to the music of Radiohead performed by the SNG Maribor Ballet with the main parts performed by English National Ballet First Soloist Katja Khaniukova and Principal of the Mariinsky Ballet Denis Matvienko.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun (2009), a re-make of Nijinsky’s classic L’après Midi d’un Faune (1912) has become a true contemporary classic on its own and will be performed by two of the Bolshoi’s finest Principal Dancers: Anastasia Stashkevich and Vaycheslav Lopatin.

The triple bill is crowned with the world premiere of McGregor + Mugler, a contemporary ballet choreographed by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, art directed and designed by legendary creator Manfred Thierry Mugler and performed by Bolshoi Ballet Prima Ballerina Olga Smirnova and Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson.

Creative Team
Edward Clug – Choreography – Radio & Juliet
Radiohead – Music – Radio & Juliet
Leo Kulaš – Costume Design – Radio & Juliet
Tomaž Premzl – Lighting Design – Radio & Juliet
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui – Choreography – Faun
Debussy – Music – Faun
Nitin Sawhney – Additional music – Faun
Hussein Chalayan – Costume Design – Faun
Adam Carrée – Lighting Design – Faun
Wayne McGregor – Choreography and Direction – McGregor + Mugler
Manfred Thierry Mugler – Art Direction & Costume Design – McGregor + Mugler
Yuri Baranov – General Producer
Kate Matlashenko – Executive Producer
Tim Ovsenni – Head of International Projects
Patricia Murray-Bett – Official Representative in the UK
Gregor Mendaš – Sound and Video Design – Radio & Juliet
Lucy Carter – Lighting Design – McGregor + Mugler

Cast
Katja Khaniukova – Soloist – Radio & Juliet
Denis Matvienko – Soloist – Radio & Juliet
Matjaž Marin – Cast – Radio & Juliet
Gaj Žmavc – Cast – Radio & Juliet
Christian Dominique Guerematchi – Cast – Radio & Juliet
Filip Jurič – Cast – Radio & Juliet
Tiberiu Marta – Cast – Radio & Juliet
Anastasia Stashkevich – Soloist – Faun
Vyacheslav Lopatin – Soloist – Faun
Olga Smirnova – Soloist – McGregor + Mugler
Edward Watson – Soloist – McGregor + Mugler

Presented by MuzArts and PMB Presentations
Radio & Juliet | Faun | MсGregor + Mugler
A thrilling triple bill including the world premiere of a unique collaboration between Wayne McGregor and Manfred Thierry Mugler
https://londoncoliseum.org/

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