The Royal Ballet Dante Project review: Bold, beautiful and bewildering


Through it all, Dante makes ann anguished and emotional journey, dressed (somewhat bizarrely for me) in a succession of shifts with ruffles.  Watson, as always brings every iota of storytelling to every extension of limb and tilt of his neck. He is guided into Inferno by Gary Avis’ Virgil, a welcome opportunity for the character actor to actually fully dance for once. 

A dizzying succession of Royal Ballet soloists and principals whirl past as ferrymen, soothsayers, poets and suicides. Dante dances, literally, with the devil, but I had no inkling Fumi Kaneko was playing Satan until I checked the notes during the interval.

Likewise, Calvin Richardson is mesmerising as Ulysses, his full body riplling and undulating, before it all ends in a thunderously overblown torrent of massed male dancers turning and leaping in a river of dry ice. It is an arresting sight (if a little chaotic for me) but I have no idea why this is supposed to represent the thieves of Purgatory, nor who anyone else was or what they were doing.


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