There are a number of misconceptions about ballet and La fille mal gardée sets the record straight.
It is by far the best ballet I have seen in years and is the perfect example of how ballet is accessible to all ages.
My favourite moment happened during the first interval, when I queued for the ladies and the elderly woman behind me raved about the first act. I couldn’t agree more, it was absolutely fantastic. She pulled me a little closer and said she had seen a preview and was eagerly awaiting a clog dance, and that I should look out for it. A little girl in front of me did overhear us and started telling us how much she enjoyed the show and suddenly these two strangers with an over 70 year age difference where chatting about their favourite moments so far.
Yes, this ballet builds bridges.
The storyline is simple: Widow Simone (Rory Mackay) lives with her beautiful daughter Lise (Céline Gittens), who is in love with Colas, a young farmer (Tyrone Singleton). But Simone has other plans for her only daughter, and they involve the a properous vineyard owner (Valentin Olovyannikov) and his son Alain (James Barton).
The reason this ballet was so perfect was the mix of accessibility, traditional ballet and pantomime.
Some parts are almost whimsical and the dances by the chickens certainly made everyone chuckle. It is great seeing ballet as something fun rather than serious and dramatic. While there may be no words, the expessions said more than any dialogue could have done and it Lise especially was brilliantly expressive throughout.
Their theatrical skills were as good as their dancing and the choreography was proof of how much dance can convey. The show is ful of wit and seeing Colas get in between every move in a dance with Lise and Alain couldn’t be described better with words.
And finally, my thanks to the choreographer (apologies to the dancers, I can only imagine how hard it must be) for including so much traditional ballet. Call me old-fashioned, but I want to be blown away by the moves, amazed at the womon on pointe and wide-eyed at how high the men can jump. While the more modern options with flat shoes or slippers look beautiful, I loved seeing the pointe shoes and jumps from start to finish and be in awe.
La fille mal gardée runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday July 7 with a matinee and evening performance on the last day.
Tickets are available here.