Ballet West USA

IN THE normal run of things, a mixed bill is exactly that - mixed. Different choreographers, different styles. But the International Festival has a licence to triple-bill, and once again, they’ve used it to highlight the work of a single choreographer. Although in many ways, this felt like the work of three separate men.

Antony Tudor is one of the most important British choreographers of the 20th century and yet his work is performed far less frequently than his peers. The Ballet West USA programme has been cherry-picked from a vast repertoire, each dance representing a different era in his prolific career. Opening ballet, The Leaves Are Fading, was made by Tudor in his 1960s. An absence from choreography of over seven years preceded its creation, and as such it has a whimsical, laid-back feel, with few risks taken. But Tudor’s use of symmetry, and exquisite pas de deux, show a mastery. As do the uncluttered, well-edited steps. It was once said of Tudor that he left most of his ballets on the cutting-room floor - a lesson many modern choreographers would do well to learn.

What is most striking about The Leaves Are Fading, however, is Tudor’s musical ear. Each note of Dvorak’s score is treated with respect, and matched perfectly to movement. Music proved to be the dominant factor in The Lilac Garden, one of Tudor’s earliest works from 1936. Guest violinist, Kelly Parkinson packed more passion into her playing than any of the dancers on stage; few of whom looked at home in their individual characters. Not so with closing number, Offenbach In The Underworld - as perfect a ballet as one could wish for. Tudor at the height of his powers in 1954, and the Ballet West performers dancing roles they were born to play. the perfect tribute to Tudor’s choreographic genius.

Final performance tonight

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