Rojo & Acosta, Covent Garden, London

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The Sleeping Beauty continues in repertory at Covent Garden, and I do not expect to see a more brilliantly achieved reading of Aurora than that given by Tamara Rojo on Thursday night, when she took the stage on radiant form, with Carlos Acosta making his London debut as her Prince. Both artists, of course, produce marvels of classic dance. Both artists have an almost intuitive (and emotionally perceptive) response to their roles. Beauty demands purest style, and exposes every least flaw in a dancer’s skills.

Earlier this year, Tamara Rojo proposed a view of Aurora which was centred on her ability to turn prodigiously and to balance interminably. I thought it unworthy of her in its bravura emphasis. We know her extraordinary talent, and we admire far more her desire to subsume these into interpretations of penetrating truth: her Ondine, her Marguerite, her Woman in Song of the Earth are cases in point. On Thursday, we saw her Aurora in all its grace and sweetness of temperament, as well as her uncanny skills – quadruple pirouettes, as if pouring some golden essence; balances where gravity seems to have no place. The reading was softly radiant, even at its most prodigious moments. The dance was everywhere phrased with rare musical sensitivity. We knew the young princess, and loved her. (My one quibble: her tempi in the Vision Scene solo were too leisurely; the shape of the choreography was lost.) It was a portrait drawn with line and emotional colouring that could not be faulted. From Carlos Acosta we saw a reading, as we now expect, that makes something real and persuasive from Florimund’s shadowy character, the dance glorious in classic skill. His costume in Act Three is unflattering (some Quasimodo-ish effects) but his account of the solo was exemplary. A magnificent debut.

To both artists, all gratitude, as also to Elizabeth McGorian for a subtly, mockingly vile Carabosse, and thanks, too, for Boris Gruzin’s account of the score. No gratitude at all to the management, who still believe that Carabosse’s entrance is inadequately done by Tchaikovsky, and that reverberant thunderclaps are needed to drown the score and make yet another vulgar point. Philistines.

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