Ivan Putrov in "Dance of the Blessed Spirits"

Ivan Putrov’s Men in Motion

10th Anniversary Gala in London Coliseum

Photos © Elliott Franks

The occasion was the 10th anniversary celebration of Ivan Putrov’s Men in Motion, his homage to the importance and evolution of the male dancer. Its continued success relies on Putrov’s ability to invite both dancers and choreographers who we do not often see in the UK to perform alongside some of our most highly regarded artists based in Britain. What he gave us was twenty different pieces from a huge range of choreographic languages, old and new.

Ivan Putrov in Dance of the “Blessed Spirits”

His own contribution was in Frederick Ashton’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, looking in remarkably good shape, given his semi-retired status. It’s clear he is still very popular as a dancer and as an impresario.

It opened with the Royal Ballet’s Luca Acri and Fumi Kaneko (the token female dancer of the evening) dancing the pas de deux from Le Spectre de la rose. After a serious delay opening front of house, then a further fifteen minutes once we were seated, it was a relief that the curtain went up at all. Both are accomplished dancers and gave perfectly credible performances but they were very present day interpretations.

Luca Acri and Fumi Kaneko in “Le Spectre de la Rose”
Edward Watson in “A Sheila Dance” Ch.  Arthur Pita

There followed many different accounts of solos and duets which were all of interest at the time and superbly danced, yet somehow the lines became blurred quite quickly and it was difficult to distinguish each choreographic voice. BRB’s Jack Easton created a lovely but not necessarily striking solo, Fremd, for himself. Stuttgart’s Matteo Miccini, a dancer of remarkable talent, danced two solos, Edward Clug’s SSSS… and Marco Goeke’s Äffi. Both of them suited him well but felt like overkill by the end of the second one. The Royal Ballet’s Vadim Muntagirov showed once again his sublime elegance in the Prince’s solo from the end of Act I, Swan Lake and in Alexey Miroshnichenko’s Adagio.  No one seems able to touch him when it comes to purity of line and classicism. The first real surprise came in Hans van Manen’s witty solo from 5 Tangos and the introduction to UK audiences of Koyo Yakamoto from Dutch National Ballet. Not only does he possess an enviably smooth technique but he has a strong connection with the audience, a charming and winning smile.  Later, he and his colleagues Isaac Mueller and Guillermo Torrijos, gave an engaging and warm performance of Milena Sidorova’s Bloom.

Isaac Mueller, Guillermo Torrijos, Koyo Yamamoto in “Bloom”
Matthew Ball in “Swan Lake” Ch. Matthew Bourne

Dmitry Zagrebin, currently with Royal Swedish Ballet, gave firecracker performances in the Gopak from Taras Bulba, the Mazurka from Suite en Blanc and in the last performance of the evening, Lacrymosa by Edward Stierle. The latter had the advantage of having exquisite voices singing in the box closest to the stage: Belinda Evans, Vanessa Heine, Stephen Kennedy and Peter Wilde-Willcock. Ballet Black’s José Alves danced two very contrasting solos and was equally good in both. Eightfold: Love by Peter Leung was the more lyrical of the two and it was fascinating to see Bronislava Nijinska’s Le Train Bleu (1924) performed alongside so much contemporary choreography and still hold its own.

The Royal Ballet’s Matthew Ball had a trio of excerpts. A startling and powerful performance as the Swan in Matthew Ball’s Swan Lake, pas de deux from Act II (Acri was his captivated Prince). I was not as taken with the solo from Christopher Bruce’s Swansong – perhaps my concentration (near the end of the show) was beginning to fade by then.  However, his duet with Joseph Sissens, Christopher Wheeldon’s Us was a sublime rendition from both.

Matthew Ball and Joseph Sissens in “Us”

The end of the first half and the start of the second, saw a couple of stand out performances bring delight to the Coliseum audience. Both were choreographed by the inimitable, imaginative, theatrical and unforgettably quirky Arthur Pita, and both pieces smacked of charisma before one even began to analyse the attributes of the individual artists. As it happens, the two dancers revealed new dynamics to their talents. Soloist Leo Dixon (RB) danced Volver Volver (originally created for Edward Watson), a piece that examined the secret vulnerabilities of a superhero (Spiderman). With his chiselled good looks and clean technique, a wicked sense of humour emerged combined with an uncanny ability to turn the humour into pathos. A star turn! Watson, coming out of retirement, was the protagonist in A Sheila Dance to Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major. Dressed in a sequinned swimsuit, high heels and a fag hanging out of his mouth, it was simply delectable to watch him strut his stuff and prove he will be eternally watchable, in no matter what guise. Bravo Ivan Putrov – for providing us with an evening of treats.

Deborah Weiss