13 February 2017 at 9.32am | 12 Comments
It's the time of year when card shops, chocolatiers and florists go into overdrive. Valentine's Day is here. To celebrate we've picked out our favourite romantic ballets, famed for their passionate pas de deux and amorous adagios:
Romeo and Juliet
Ultimately doomed, yes, but Kenneth MacMillan's stunning adaptation of William Shakespeare's iconic play deserves its place at the top of any Valentine's Day ballet list, such is the allure of (possibly) the greatest love story ever told. A lesser choreographer might struggle to reflect the passion and lyricism of the Bard's writing in movement, but in creating moments like the intensely tender Balcony pas de deux, MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet is as vital and thrilling as the play it was based upon:
The Sleeping Beauty
Marius Petipa's iconic Sleeping Beauty offers up an enchanted world of princesses, fairy godmothers, magic spells and a charming prince, the ballet includes many memorable moments including technically demanding choreography such as the famous - and influential - Rose Adagio. But for heartwarming romanticism, few moments beat the Awakening scene, in which dashing Prince Florimund breaks Aurora's spell-induced slumber:
Packed full of sunny Spanish flair, Don Quixote shifts the focus from bumbling knight Don Quixote - as in Cervantes's 17th-century novel - to the sparky relationship between young lovers Kitri and Basilio. Ludwig Minkus's score incorporates some appropriately Iberian touches, including seguidilla and habanera rhythms, and the clack of castanets, as seen in this pas de deux from Act II:
La Fille mal gardée
Frederick Ashton's pastoral ballet may appear whimsical on first glimpse, but La Fille mal gardée packs a virtuoso punch, featuring some of its creator's most brilliant choreography. Inspired by Ashton's love of the Suffolk countryside, it contains a series of energetic pas de deux for Lise - the wayward daughter of the title - and her farmhand lover Colas. Chief among them is the pas de ruban, a ribbon dance that captures the elan of young love:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The most recently-created inclusion on this by no-means-exhaustive list, Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is largely faithful to the source material of Lewis Carroll's much-loved novel. One addition in the balletic adaptation however, is the inclusion of a love interest for Alice, who is depicted as a teenager instead of the younger girl of Carroll's original text. Jack (otherwise known as the Knave of Hearts) is on the run for stealing the Red Queen's tarts and sweeps Alice off her feet, culminating in a tender, loving pas de deux in the penultimate scene:
Something of a wildcard (to put it mildly) in this list, MacMillan's intense adult drama Mayerling is an exploration of the darker side of love based on the true story of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary, who, following a downward spiral of drug abuse and violence, committed suicide with his mistress Mary Vetsera in 1889. The Prince's emotional decline is charted through a series of shocking, highly-charged pas de deux, which push the limits of classical ballet:
Which are your favourite romantic ballets?
The Sleeping Beauty runs until 14 March 2017. Tickets are sold out but the performance will be broadcast to cinemas on 28 February 2017.
Mayerling runs 28 April–13 May 2017. Tickets are still available.