I went to the Madinat Jumeirah’s ballet gala, I’ll admit, for the tutus and pink satin slippers, the excerpts from Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliette; I walked away stunned by two contemporary pieces. If you want to see ballet as you’ve always imagined it as well as seeing how else it can be interpreted, don’t miss the performances by the Paris Opera Ballet in Dubai, which run until Saturday.
Ten soloists from the company — one of the world’s best, the real deal, in case you’ve been burned by less-than-proficient touring companies who have performed in Dubai before — perform selected dances from six works, spanning the classical and the contemporary in a mix balanced to please and surprise.
As always, a live orchestra would have made a difference; there were several hitches with the pre-recorded music starting, making it visibly difficult for the dancers to take their cues.
The show begins with a nice choice from one of the best-known ballets — the Black Swan’s seduction of the prince, aided by the evil wizard — fun to see the saucy bit of Swan Lake rather than the usual synchronised cygnets.
Speaking of saucy, Adagietto, by Oscar Araiz, is unapologetically seductive, dancers Sabrina Mallem and Alexis Renaud moving as one in astonishing ways.
The youthful, fragile Marion Barbeau is perfectly cast as Juliette in the Rudolf Nureyev version of Romeo and Juliette (Nureyev adapted it while director of the Paris Opera Ballet).
But the highlight for me (and from the fierce applause from the crowd, it would appear many others) was a pas de deux from William Forsythe’s 1987 In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated. It’s totally ’80s in feel and sound — industrial, beat-driven clanging music and sharp, precise physicality — and utterly impressive. This excerpt alone is worth the ticket price.
The second part of the show features several dances from Don Quixote, full of energy and colour as would be expected from the Spanish-inspired ballet famous for extended spins from the dancers.
Performances on Friday January 10 at 8pm and Saturday January 11 at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets, Dh250 and Dh450 at the Madinat Jumeirah box office. Call 04-3666546.