WA Ballet’s ‘La Bayadère’ is filled with leaps, laughs and lost love

La Bayadère: The Temple Dancer | His Majesty’s Theatre | Until 25th May | ★ ★ ★ ★

Filled with torment, jealousy, lost love, hedonistic drug taking, and seduction, this work delivers a heart pumping performance.

In 1992 Nureyev presented his own full length production of La Bayadère at the Paris Opera Ballet, it would be his final offering to the world, and the premiere was his final public appearance before he passed away from an AIDS related illness just a few months later.

The energetic third act sees Solar return to his regular life, where he’s forced to go through with his arranged marriage, but he still sees his lost love everywhere he looks.

As with most productions the cast rotates throughout the season, but on opening night Matthew Lehmann played Solor opposite the captivating Dayana Hardy Acuña who took on the role of Nikiya. Chihiro Nomura excelled as Edith.

Andries Weidemann joins the company as a seasonal artist to play the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, and it was lovely to see the company’s Ballet Master Craig Lord-Sole performing the part of the Governor General.

Jessy Chraibi stood out in the opium den scenes as the most comical of the den owner’s servants, while Polly Hilton, Ana Gallardo Lobaina and Carina Roberts showcased their skills, balance and poise as the soloist shades.

The show does have something of a pantomime feel, so many fake moustaches on the British soldiers generates an overwhelming association to Gilbert and Sullivan.  Some of the costumes are extravagantly over the top, the final purple number worn by the Maharaja wouldn’t have looked out of place at The Met Ball or a the Museum of Liberace.

La Bayadère undoubtedly has the highest proportion of abdominal muscles on display of any traditional ballet, from start to finish its a showcase of skills, fitness and performance.

The production is longer than most works, clocking in at three hours including two 20 minutes intervals, but it’s fast paced action all the way. 

Book tickets via WA Ballet.

Graeme Watson, images Sergey Pevnev. 

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