The reviews may have been less positive for Ivan Putrov's Men in Motion than past editions — in 2012, Judith Mackrell for The Guardian wrote that the programme was “one of real intelligence and surprising moments of passion” — but the evening got off on the wrong foot. Daniel Proietto's monologue was an introductory piece but, as Luke Jennings pointed out in The Observer,
One can imagine this seeming like a good idea at a planning session, but in the event The Mockracy (as the monologue was titled) fell flat.
Lynette Halewood for Dance Tabs explains:
As the audience enters before the scheduled curtain up, Proietto is already on stage, dressed in a fascist style uniform, chatting to us. He urges us to keep our phones on and take as many pictures as possible. There are long rambles about Trump, Putin and the American prison system. The lights stay up. We check our watches. Ten minutes pass. The realisation sinks in that this is the performance, not an introduction. There will be no dancing to speak of, just one dancer babbling inanely. There are heckles from the audience (real or planted, it was hard to care which). I suspect this is intended as challenging and provocative but it comes across as boring and banal. He supposedly has a change of heart and gives us the big speech about living together from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. Chaplin did it a lot better.
The next evening Putrov, one imagines, had convinced Proietto to cut it short and just the Chaplin speech remained. But as Halewood says,
The goodwill of the audience to any subsequent works was seriously diminished.
A shame, as there were many fine things to witness.
Here is a selection of photos from the dress rehearsal by Dasa Wharton, and of the first night by Angela Kase.
Ivan Putrov and Francesca Hayward (the only woman on stage) partner in Le Spectre de la Rose. Putrov is a frisky Rose in strawberry sherbet tights; Hayward's footwork is dazzling, her figure, neck and bearing lovely. – Evening Standard
True, the dancers are beautiful, perfect body after perfect body, skilled technicians all. True, there are sublime moments when you're transported by the sheer power of dance flawlessly performed. One such is the pas de deux from Proust ou Les Intermittences du Coeur, choreographed by Roland Petit and danced here by Staatsballett Berlin Principal Marian Walter and Alessandro Staiano, a soloist at Teatro San Carlo, Naples. To Gabriel Fauré's wistful score, the two men, clad in flesh coloured body stockings, enact a duet of longing and desire, their supremely elegant lines fusing into an ever closer partnership. – Teresa Guerreiro, Culture Whisper
Alessandro Staino and Marian Walter are like Olympians from a marble frieze brought to life. – Evening Standard
The Royal Ballet's Matthew Ball is mesmerising in Christopher Bruce's Swansong as the political prisoner dreaming of freedom. A lustrous if occasionally lightweight performer, Ball seems liberated by off-classical roles, and in Swansong, and in Ondiviela's System/AI, he displays an authority and a command of stage space that promises great things to come. – The Observer
Matthew Ball was absolutely mesmerising. – The Times
The audience also liked Daniel Proietto in a solo made by Alan Lucien Øeyen for an earlier Men in Motion. In Sinnerman he appears in a bodysuit covered in sequins, which catch the light dramatically. – Dance Tabs
At any age you are good for dance. Dance is inclusive, intimate and open at the same time, unexpected and momentous, magical and hypnotic. Expect all this from Men in Motion. – Ivan Putrov, Sadler's Wells blog
Giovanni Princic (from Dutch National Ballet), a sleek mover with a charm well suited to the comedy and devilish dancing of Eric Gauthier's Ballet 101. – The Times
The young Giovanni Princic dazzled in a witty solo, Ballet 101. – The Sunday Times
Highlights include Mathieu Ganio in Clair De Lune, wearing feathered epaulettes like a wonderful, tragic dying swan, romantic and introspective. A marvellous dancer. – Evening Standard
Anton Lukovkin formerly of English National Ballet, gave us a brief impassioned solo from Fokine's Petrushka, finally flopping as if someone had cut the puppet's strings. The character was strongly felt and communicated, but it was still a frustrating experience to see it so completely out of context. – Dance Tabs
I don't miss dancing, but performing is one of the things that will never disappear out of your blood, out of your body, your mind and feeling. If when I am walking around with a stick someone comes and asks me if we can create something new I probably would say yes. – Irek Mukhamedov in The Times
As a finale, in Jingling from the Zills, by Arthur Pita, the retired star Irek Mukhamedov — in the role of a boozed-up tambourine player — gave a hugely energetic and riotously funny performance, brilliant in wit and timing. I laughed till I cried. – The Sunday Times
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.