There is a moment in Kenneth Tindall’s impressive biographical ballet that sums up everything the choreographer is trying to achieve. Visited by a portrait painter, Giacomo Casanova poses in the way he feels most captures his spirit: clasping a piece of writing paper and looking scholarly.
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh ****
The painter, however, is having none of it and repeatedly pushes Casanova back into a position of loucheness – all body, no brain. It speaks volumes of how this fascinating 18th century man has become more of an adjective than a three-dimensional person.
Tindall sets out to redress that balance, and does a magnificent job. Yes, there are sexual encounters, and lots of them, but he is careful to portray them in the appropriate way. Moments of brief, orgiastic hedonism are in sharp contrast to the tender pas de deux which capture the meaningful love affairs in Casanova’s life.
Sex aside, we also learn about a man who lived the fullest of lives, from trainee priest to teacher, musician and writer. Storytelling is to the fore here, and reading the synopsis beforehand is a must if you’re to follow Casanova’s epic adventures in Venice and Paris, including a spell in prison and the attention of various benefactors.
Credit for this opulent and thoroughly enjoyable ballet must go to the entire team, however, most of whom (Tindall included) have never created a full-length ballet before. Kerry Muzzey’s score is wall-to-wall drama and beauty, Christopher Oram’s set and costume design is ravishing, and Tindall’s movement heralds a choreographer of incredible promise.