A Fitting Tribute to Nureyev

English National Ballet’s Tribute to Rudolph Nureyev was a triumphant revival of three diverse and glorious works in which Nureyev once memorably starred.

After an introductory film which provided a context for the chosen programme, Stravinsky’s music brought to life the bustling goose-fair setting of Petrushka. Members of the company, costumed in bright primary colours, energised the stage with their lively national dances and flirtatious encounters. Anton Lukovkin, in the role of Puppet, conveyed pathos and yearning in every little movement. Crystal Costa, debuting in the role of Ballerina, gave us a crisp, assured and flirtatious performance and Yonah Acosta was truly menacing and compelling as the Moor.

The soloists’ depth of technical and artistic talent was brilliantly exhibited in Raymonda Act III. I particularly loved Laurretta Summerscales’ lyrical and poetic performance in Variation Three. Rojo’s Variation Six was a study in control of both her art and her audience; she teased us with balances and slow, controlled movements. Yonah Acosta plunged into leaps and turns with superb athleticism and his vivacious physicality served as a wonderful foil to Rojo’s serenity and poise.

The highlight of the evening was Song of a Wayfarer, originally choreographed by Béjart for Nureyev to music by Gustav Mahler. Danced by Francisco Bosch and Fabian Reimair and sung by Nicholas Lester, it was a stunningly emotional and democratic experience, a spine-tingling evocation of the restless, rootless life of the dancer. Two figures, one dressed in blue-grey, the other in rust, became a gripping metaphor for the artist’s struggle to put down roots while meeting the uncompromising demands of his art. It was a truly riveting performance.

Congratulations and thanks to the English National Ballet for this truly fitting tribute to Rudolph Nureyev.

Nancy Rynne