The Cunning Little Vixen/The Two Pigeons, Royal Opera House | Review


The Cunning Little Vixen/The Two Pigeons
Royal Opera House
Reviewed on Thursday 14th February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

In a charming night of theatre, we see artist-in-residence Liam Scalett's forty minute ballet, The Cunning Little Vixen, for The Royal Ballet School; paired with Frederick Ashton's stylish piece, The Two Pigeons. The two works create a programme that evokes warmth and feels ever so magical.

Scarlett's musicality is evident in The Cunning Little Vixen as he allows Leoš Janáček's score (arranged by Peter Breiner) to guide the piece. Scarlett has also made clever use of projection (designed by Finn Ross and Ash J Woodward) in the form of a children's cartoon which embellishes the story and adds a humourous layer, but doesn't detract from the dancers. Instead it works in conjunction with them. As chickens and feathers fly on screen, they also fly on stage and create a frenetic energy amongst the cast. 

The cast of younger and older dancers join together to give a wonderfully gleeful and heartwarming show. The story is nothing groundbreaking but is a vibrant and a perfect introduction to ballet. 

Madison Bailey as Sharp-Ears The Vixen is delightful and mischievous and alongside Liam Boswell as Goldspur The Fox, the pair create some fabulously playful and enjoyable moments. The entire cast of animals are brought to life not just by their animated and spirited performances but by the bright costumes which bring childhood joy to life on stage as well as providing humour and movement on their own. From bumblebees to ladybirds and a frog, each animal is uniquely and clearly characterised and looks wonderful under Les Bone's lighting. Scarlett really has done a wonderful job on this piece.


In The Two Pigeons, the musicality and purity of Ashton's choreography, leads to the focus being solely on the dance and technique. Whilst Jacques Dupont's fantastic costumes bring life and vibrance to the stage, the core of this production is on the ballet itself. The intensely emotional choreographic style is especially moving in the final moments of the piece and the reunion pas de deux we have all been waiting for, is pulled off with delicacy and sincerity and is certainly worth the wait. 

Yuhui Choe as The Young Girl is pretty much perfect in her debut as she performs with desire and a hint of petulance. Alexander Campbell is suitably 'artistic' in his frustrations between the ballerina and the gypsy. Itziar Mendizabal is seductive and calculating and she fights and flirts in equal measure through her strong and impressive dance. 

Featuring moments which feel almost impressionistic as well as purely classical, The Two Pigeons is an entertaining and heartwarming piece. Act one tells most of the story so act two does drag a little as nothing happens to move the plot along but the energy and height with which the dancers perform, helps to keep the audience invested and enthralled. 

This is a perfect programme for a whimsical but beautifully performed evening out and is a wonderful opportunity for current students to experience the professional world. 

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

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