I’m sorry folks, but I’ve just got to rave about Vienna Festival Ballet.
I’ve been watching them for years off and on, but even in these cash-strapped times they’ve gone on from strength to strength and just got better and better. Their current programme for the Garrick is both a celebration of their 35th anniversary and a kind of taster menu for classical ballet but instead of tiny nouvelle cuisine portions what they serve here is a feast.
Starting at the pinnacle of classical ballet with highlights from the Sleeping Beauty they go on to offer a crash course in both the history and the highlights of 200 years’ worth of the classical repertoire.
I know I’m used to big companies with budgets the size of a small EU state, but what Vienna Festival Ballet has in spades is the pure freshness and zest of their delightful young cast – I really can’t fault them for enthusiasm or technique. Their 15 minute Swan Lake is a miracle of concision retaining all the charm and magic of the full length work. And look out too for meaty excerpts from those other classical must-haves The Nutcracker and Coppelia.
It’s not all classical – the chic modernity of Daryl Raizal-Ming Tan’s choreography for Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue really made me sit up.
But the company’s main charm is the beauty, youth and skill of the dancers – they really are world class, despite travelling constantly with all its rigours magnified for dancers who need exercise and class every day, and yet come evening must look fresh as a daisy.
I recognised a lot of the corps from past visits and this shows how much they enjoy their work – good young dancers can work anywhere on the globe in this universal art form and some move around constantly. But these guys so obviously enjoy what they’re doing. This is in fact a company of stars who obviously love performing.
Long may they continue – because for those of us who truly love it, newcomers and veterans alike, ballet’s the thing.