Ballet under the stars, Covent Garden Dance at Hatch House

revuCoventGardenLOSS – lost love, death or separation – is a powerful theme, expressed with explosive physicality in Tim Podesta’s Architecture of Loss, at Ballet Under The Stars, with Covent Garden Dance.

Mara Galeazzi, former principal dancer and guest artist of the Royal Ballet and a favourite with Hatch regulars, was the soloist in this short, dark work.

It was a shock to many in the audience, relaxing with their excellent wine under starry skies in the transparent marquee in the 17th century walled garden at Hatch House.

“Architecture of Loss” had evidently conjured expectations of languid longing but this was angular and angry, a painful geometry danced by Galeazzi in minimal exercise wear, her tiny body exposed in its spare muscularity.

I watched the dancing with Podesta’s wife Jennifer and his step-son Dominic, a ballet dancer who is about to join the Philadelphia Ballet. Dominic and I agreed that the impact of this piece was so strong that we wished we could immediately see it again.

Galeazzi was the central character in Les Copines, the longest of the new commissions at this year’s Ballet Under The Stars, inspired by a famous Norman Parkinson photograph and choreographed by the Australian-born Podesta.

The scenario for the work was created by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham, whose son Matt runs Covent Garden Dance. The photo, on a New York skyscraper roof (with the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in the background) shows three beautiful young women gossiping, watched by another beauty, all wearing hats.

For this exquisite, poignant and witty new ballet, the librettists imagined Maria, a young woman (Galeazzi) in a stunning hat with a single feather, waiting for a blind date. Three other young women (Ksenia Ovsyanick, Silvia Selvini and Jia Zhang), all stylishly dressed with hats, are chattering together.

Maria expresses in dance her hopes that the man is her destiny – but when he fails to appear she walks sadly away, leaving the hat which was the sign by which he would recognise her. When Josef (Gregory Dean) arrives he dances with the three women in succession, as each wears the hat. It is only when Maria returns, unseen, and takes the now abandoned hat, that he gradually sees her, dances with her … and Maria leaves with Josef, while her friends hold the hat.

This was a captivating piece, beautifully danced with elegant 1950s costumes by Amanda Barrow and gorgeous hats by Dorset-based milliner Cosmo Jenks.

These pieces and three other 2016 commissions were all funded by the Dicky Buckle Fund, set up by Matt Brady in memory of the doyen of ballet writers, who lived near Hatch. This year the fund has been launched as a fully functioning charity, for which Ballet Under The Stars shows will be the fund-raiser.

The other new works were The Lightness of Being, choreographed by Ovsyanick, dancing with Zdenek Konvalina; Reminiscence, choreographed by Vitali Safronkine, dancing with Marsha Antoinette Rodriguez and Iker Murillo; and Remembrance, set to Dido’s Lament, choreographed and danced with tragic intensity by Mara Galeazzi.

Other works included Light In The Shadow, Caprise and Dans Le Meme Souffle, all choreographed by Safronkine, Variation from Le Corsaire, danced by Selvini, Coppelia pas de deux, (Ovsyanick and Konvalina), the bedroom pas de deux from Manon (Galeazzi and Dean), and Variation from Grand Pas Classique (Selvini).

This was the seventh year that Covent Garden Dance has staged Ballet Under The Stars at Hatch House and certainly the most exciting in terms of new dance.



Pictured: Mara Galeazzi dancing Giselle with the Royal Ballet

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