REVIEW: Royal Ballet performance was ‘simply magnificent’

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Ladies in their best finery and little girls in tutus were among the packed audience at Derry’s ‘Millennium Forum’ on Saturday night to see the Ulster Orchestra and the London Royal Ballet.

The two-hour show, another coup for the City of Culture, was a delight from start to finish. It was also such a treat to see world class talent a mere 20 minutes from home.

The ballet was not the full complement of cast, as highlighted by the City of Culture programme, but this reviewer was not left disappointed. If I wanted the full show I’d go to London to see the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden, and undoubtedly pay considerably more than I could afford.

The four dancers, including Northern Ireland’s Melissa Hamilton were simply mesmerising. They are unbelievably strong, yet so elegant. Their lightness of feet, allowing them to flit across the stage and into the air, and their beauty and ability to tell a story through dance is captivating. Best of all, for me, was how the audience got to see them so closely. Had it been the entire Company we would have missed such exquisite and up close details. The best part of the night for me was at the end when the ‘White Swan’ performed. It was just beautiful, bringing to life the little plastic ballerina I had on my musical box as a child! Playing a massive part in the night was the Ulster Orchestra led by son of Derry, the animated and lively Paul Murphy. The Orchestra was exhilarating and, when playing for the dancers were so good you didn’t even notice them.

While some commentators have criticised the evening, describing the ballet as having ‘fell short’ of expectations, I disagree.

Firstly, I got to see the Ulster Orchestra and the Royal Ballet in my home city of Derry! Secondly, my ticket was less than £30. What concert would you go to nowadays for that unless it was in a parochial hall? Thirdly, I believe Derry’s year as City of Culture in 2013 is to enlighten and educate, and bring us new experiences. I went home with all of that on Saturday. Perhaps the best way to sum up the Orchestra and the Ballet is to borrow the words of one woman I heard chatting when I was leaving the Forum.

Dressed immaculately, with red shoes and a ballet brooch pinned on her coat, she said, smiling: ‘I would’ve loved more ballet, but what there was, was magnificent!’