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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948

Ballet Rambert Review

Ballet Rambert Review

Once more the cry is—to use. Adrian Stokes catchword—"Tonight the Ballet!" and Wellingtonians are packing out the St. James Theatre (in the upper circle at least) for their all too brief and infrequent glimpses of the Ballet.

The Ballet Rambert is the only first-rate company to visit us since that memorable season of Russian Ballet about nine years ago. It would be unfair to compare the two companies—the latter would win by sheer weight, size, strength, ability and glitter—as there are different traditions behind them. Those who sigh for the large-scale operatic ballet as we have seen it must be reminded that this small company of young dancers give us what was essentially Marie Rambert's creation—the "ballet de chambre." Arnold Haskell tells how, in a small theatre, "on a miniature stage, she evolved an entirely new art form, ballet de chambre, consisting of small, sophisticated and exquisitely finished productions."

The story of English Ballet is the story of Marie Rambert of the Ballet Club and of Ninette de Valois of Sadler Wells, with its full-scale productions. Trained in the Russian tradition under Diaghileff both have built up in England a new and vigorous tradition which is yet firmly grounded in the past.

The Ballet Rambert's inclusion of one of the "classics" in each programme is a good sign, although I feel that, in the two programmes I have seen, the dancers, though excellent, are happier away from the restrictions and conventionalized name of the shortened "Les Sylphides" and "Swan Lake," The latter's story, flimsy enough in the Act 2 version that is now generally per formed, has almost disappeared under the weight of separate solos, duos, etc., and only a few mimed gestures are left to tell us the legendary and rather lovely tale. I must admit that I sighed reminiscently, if a little romantically, for the cardboard swans and the evil, beckoning magician, who make the Swan Queen's and the Prince's gestures a little less "stagey."

Of the ballets—the delightful humour of "Peter and the Wolf" and "Facade." and the gaiety and sparkle in "Simple Symphony" and "Soiree Musicalc" show what the company and the audience preferred. About "The Fugitive" and "Jardin aux Lilacs" I am still a little uncertain. The similarity of theme and treatment puts them in the same class, but I think that the latter showed the better dancing—perhaps because the choreography was more inspired and the story less melodramatic.

The quality of the music see-sawed not a little, with the conductor's gestures rivalling those of this terpsi-chorean colleagues, but the costuming stayed at peak in every ballet. Again "Peter and the Wolf" and "Facade" take a special curtain call for originality.

Though not the artistic equal of a Boyd Neel Orchestra—i.e., magnificent—this company is very good, and brings us many ballets that are old favourites in England but new to us. See every programme if possible, for even if you are no balletomane you will enjoy it. And you may help to convince the British Council that their sponsorship of such tours is a Very Good Thing.