Royal Ballet: La Fille Mal Gardée review – Hayward and Sambé fall perfectly in love

Royal Opera House, London
Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé dance with unforced beauty, imbuing Ashton’s 1960 romcom with a rare sense of mutual discovery

Ballet is all about illusion and when Peregrine, the cute pony in La Fille Mal Gardée, takes an unscheduled dump in the middle of act one you might expect it to be a disastrous intrusion of reality. But Frederick Ashton’s 1960 romantic comedy is such an idiosyncratic and indestructible mix of genres – English pantomime and pure pastoral classicism – that Peregrine’s accident only adds to the ballet’s charm. It is swiftly and wittily dealt with; and somehow it chimes with the free, fresh and spontaneous chemistry that’s already been created on stage, both by some fine ensemble playing and by the two young principals Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé.

As the illicit lovers Lise and Colas, Hayward and Sambé achieve a perfect balance of 21st-century naturalism and period style. Hayward’s Lise delivers a convincing edge of teenage, eye-rolling belligerence as she reacts against her mother’s strictness. And as she and Colas fall in love they imbue their material with a rare sense of mutual discovery, the pair trying on each new emotion for size as they progress from the sweet, hectic silliness of playacting, to snatched kisses and finally the shock and delight of desire.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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