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RAYMONDA. Choreography Norman Furber. Production Elizabeth Triegaardt. Allan Stephenson conducts The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Presented by Cape Town City Ballet. At Artscape until September 1. SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews three casts.
FRIDAY evening’s cast featured Laura Bosenberg as Raymonda and Norwegian National Ballet principal Dirk Weyershausen as Jean de Brienne. International freelance artist Trevor Schoonraad was the blackguard Sultan Abderam, while Angela Hansford danced Semiramis – the favourite in Abderam’s harem.
Although Raymonda requires few acting skills, Bosenberg’s interpretation promoted her reputation by her musicality and technical capability. Weyershausen proved a gallant De Brienne, easily dealing with complicated “throw, twist and catch” lifts. However, he required more power behind his grands jetés en avant and pirouettes to bring significance to his third-act solo.
Dominating this performance was Schoonraad and the jealous Hansford. True, their parts are more “hot-blooded”, but both seized the opportunity to make their presence felt, with Schoonraad’s strength and fire making him every inch an autocratic sultan welcoming fawning by his doting harem. To the pas de trois, Celeste George provided the sparkle. Some uncontrolled footwork left Alexander Vivian-Riding and Elizabeth Nienaber looking technically imprecise.
The Saturday matinée saw Kim Vieira as Raymonda, Daniel Szybkowski as De Brienne and Ivan Boonzaaier as Abderam. Lauren Rogers chose interpreting Semiramis as angry rather than jealous at Raymonda usurping her in Abderam’s affections. Although capable dancers, this quartet seemed under-rehearsed.
Most energy came from the corps de ballet dancing Alexander Glazunov’s lively Hungarian waltz harem dances and the Saracen men’s ribbon sequence.
Saturday evening saw Royal Ballet’s first soloists, Hikaru Kobayashi and Valeri Hristov, as Raymonda and De Brienne.
Kobayashi and Hristov are technically splendidly matched. Both make light of preparations into Furber’s complex choreography, performing these complexities with easy grace. Beautiful port de bras, in addition to Kobayashi’s fragile quality, complimented her engaging account.
In Hristov’s final act solo, his ability to grade his leaps from low to gravity-defying levels proved his impressive craftsmanship. Xola Putye’s Abderam showed he can dance really well. Bringing unexpected effervescence into the pas de trois was Jesse Milligan.
Under Stephenson’s baton, some miscommunication occurred, causing uncomfortable tempi and unco-ordinated pas endings. Yet, overall, this performance by Kobayashi and Hristov belongs in memory books.
Charles Petersen’s set meshing, lit by Shamiel Abrahams, created grandiose effects for the first act and a sultry sultan’s harem in the second. Costumes had flair and colour.
Norman Furber’s interesting nuances could have been better served by more attention to detail.
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