A scoop of new performance offers something to warm the heart and carapace of the cold weather

There has been an early addition to London’s Housing Ballet, with Morris dancing the lead in both Apollo and his own Marius Petipa ballet, Sunset. The work is based on a statement of despair…

A scoop of new performance offers something to warm the heart and carapace of the cold weather

There has been an early addition to London’s Housing Ballet, with Morris dancing the lead in both Apollo and his own Marius Petipa ballet, Sunset. The work is based on a statement of despair by the composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which he made as a witness to Stalin’s funeral. Dances in both versions include dramatic moments in which the performer leaps between bridges over the Thames, as well as moments of tenderness and grace. In both, Apollo’s arms twist, band and lift, while in Sunset’s he jumps between three red beams. Morris explained the idea to Barry Sheerman of the theatre review the Observer: “I realised that a space-based society (Ludwig van Beethoven’s concept of heaven?) where you get a chance to slow down the Earth and every stage is an opportunity to stop and be still.”

Alexandra Mennell in Jupiter by Paul Taylor, at the Royal Ballet. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Paul Taylor’s Jupiter is a love duet that uses only his signature jazz language. The Royal Ballet premiered the work, which is two thirds Taylor’s new version of the classic, with the ballet expertly directed by Sharon Clark. Three huge women fly over a long rooftop set while various minor dancers have their occasional moments of attention and dancing on the footlights. Donald Crowhurst’s repentant thoughts are projected on the glass, and five costume changes are revealed on the side of the set. The interior of the ship is embedded in a maze of rafters, by lighting designer Jules Fisher and wearing only billowing costumes, the five different female dancers show their red veins and flowing manes. In the final dance, for the blind trust in Jupiter, Amber Tamblyn almost knocks Tiler Peck out with her performance of the aerial lift.

Dancers at the Royal Ballet practice behind Swan Lake. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

A frosty atmosphere fell over rehearsals in Downton Abbey’s domain as the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake rehearsed behind the sets. The cast have spent months rehearsing the story and character interactions with the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer and the company is different in the new rehearsal. Daniele Callegari, who plays the pivotal role of Odette, will wear separate versions of a white costume because she was injured during dress rehearsals. This proved too distracting. “I saw certain costumes and was transformed by what I saw,” Callegari said.

New Swan Lake star Daniele Callegari tests her dance. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

• All previews and critics previews for the Royal Ballet’s revival of the Nutcracker have been arranged for 11am on Saturday 25 December. The full ballet performance will then be available for members of the press on Monday 26 December. Tickets on sale for the full run until 14 January

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