"Petrushka," "Songs of a Wayfarer," "Raymonda
English National Ballet
25 – 27 July 2013
by Judith Cruickshank
copyright 2013 by Judith Cruickshank
It’s forty two years since Maurice Béjart created a duet for Rudolf Nureyev and Paolo Bortoluzzi to Mahler’s song cycle “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen”; “Songs of a Wayfarer”. The action shows a young man wandering through life, experiencing joy and sorrow, always accompanied by an alter ego who shares his experiences and finally reconciles him to death. Nureyev was to dance it many times with many partners – though none quite as effective as Bortoluzzi – until very late in his career.
The duet was the highlight of the performance given by the Paris Opera Ballet marking the tenth anniversary of Nureyev’s death. Laurent Hilaire and Manuel Legris, dancers formed by Nureyev, gave a performance of such intense emotion that Béjart himself was almost reduced to tears. And it was certainly the highlight of English National Ballet’s Tribute to Nureyev programme, given just five performances at the London Coliseum.