Royal Opera House, London
The Royal Ballet’s Ashton double bill finds Cuthbertson and Muntagirov struggling to take off
The Two Pigeons was choreographed by Frederick Ashton and first performed by the Royal Ballet in 1961. Set to a romantic score by Messager, it’s the slightest of tales. In 19th-century Paris, a young painter tires of his fiancee and chases after a Gypsy girl. Rejected by her, he returns home and is forgiven. In a touching coup de theatre, the couple’s parting and reconciliation is represented by a pair of live pigeons who fly their separate ways during the ballet and are reunited in the final moments.
Sentimental the piece may be, but with the right cast it’s a resonant fable about the nature of sexual attraction. Like so much of Ashton’s work, it’s pierced by a subtle melancholy. There are broadly comic birdy references, most obviously a repeated chicken-wing motif, but also delicate allusions to Ivanov’s choreography for Swan Lake – protective female clusters, folded and feathery arms – underlining a deeper theme of innocence lost.
As the Gypsy girl, Laura Morera smoulders away like mad, but Muntagirov is too opaque a presence for her to work against
Source: Guardian Dance News