Christopher Wheeldon triple bill review – all the right moves

Royal Opera House, London
Natalia Osipova is a natural as the scandalous Madame X in Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet Strapless. If only we cared about her…

The Royal Ballet’s current triple bill, showcasing the work of its associate choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, shows the company at its brightest and best. It demonstrates Wheeldon’s extraordinary facility as a dance-maker, and the fluency and charm with which he draws movement from music. But his new story ballet Strapless raises problematic issues.

The ballet, set to a swirling, brassy score by Mark-Anthony Turnage, tells the story of Amélie Gautreau, the subject of John Singer Sargent’s painting Portrait de Mme ***, which was displayed at the 1884 Paris Salon and caused a scandal. Wheeldon has based his ballet on an account of the affair by Deborah Davis. The book explores Amélie’s ascent as a society beauty and her fall from grace, but for all its fine detail, Davis is unable to persuade us of her subject’s appeal. Rather, Amélie is revealed as a shallow socialite with little to offer except her looks.

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the sex is only there to spritz up a directionless plot

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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