Yesterday I went to the premiere of Ivan Putrov's Men in Motion at Sadler's Wells. I had bought a ticket a while ago, enticed by 'the beauty of the male form in ballet' - if you know what I mean.
It turned out to be a good buy as one of the stars of the evening, Sergei Polunin, resigned from the Royal Ballet only a few days before these performances, giving them a 'you have to be there', special dimension. No matter when or why we had bought the ticket, seeing him perform had become the main reason we were there. It must have been a stressful week for him - how would he perform? Would he even be there? Of course he was there, and he was astounding.
I was very impressed by his performance in the solo ballet Narcisse, originally created by Kasyan Goleizovsky for the great dancer Vladimir Vasiliev (check out this video) - some big jumps and seemingly never-ending turns showed off his style, and the ending, with Narcisse dancing in front of a big spotlight projecting a large shadow at the back of the stage, felt quite relevant and symbolic. 'You want to see me? Here I am!' But also, in the original Narcissus way, 'I am so beautiful, so good, it will be the end of me.' Good, if lucky, bit of programming! (Check out some pics over on Ballet News)
The other good bit of programming was to include a tid bit of contemporary dance in the mixed bill. Last night, a lot of ballet fans discovered the beauty of Russell Maliphant's AfterLight (Part One). With stunning lighting by Michael Hulls and a gorgeous performance by Daniel Proietto, the solo was the big winner of the evening. I was sat next to a real ballet fan who had never seen the piece, and all he could say at the end was 'What artistry! What artistry!'. It surprised part of the audience, who probably had no expectation about this piece, and completely blew them away.
Most of my most memorable moments as a dance spectator have been at performances I knew nothing or very little about: I went to see Rosas danst Rosas based on the advice of a friend or I bought a ticket for William Forsythe's Impressing the Czar because of a cheap deal, for example.
So here's to being surprised!