14 MARCH 1952, Page 17


A Mirror for Witches. (Covent Garden.)

4 Mirror for Witches, Covent Garden's new production, has revealed two facts—one, that Andree Howard is a choreographer of greater power than might have been suspected ; the other, that the Sadler's Wells ballet company badly needs a danseuse for character roles.

Miss Howard has, not surprisingly, chosen a story about witches— based on the novel by Esther Forbes. She has been both brave and wise in her selection, because ballets of such serious import seldom enjoy a popular appeal, and because we are sick to death of those eternal period frolics which challenge neither choreographer, dancer nor spectator. She has also, by judgement and good fortune, hit upon a composer, Denis Aplvor, and a designer, Norman Adams, who have thoroughly understood her intentions, and have executed them most splendidly. Thus her ballet has a quality of primary importance, that of unity.

The prologue might still emphasise with a little more clarity the tragedy which befalls the young Doll upon the burning of her witch- mother ; and the pas-de-deux between Doll and the Stranger in Scene H should be entirely rearranged. As it stands, its uninventive series of lifts are out of character, over-long and generally meaningless. But these are easily rectifiable flaws, and apart from them the ballet develops in intensity and power until it ends with the death of Doll. And that this should be so is all the more praise to Miss Howard, for her heroine, Anne Heaton, is temperamentally unsuited to fill the role, and from beginning to end one is left entirely unmoved by this central figure, whose tortuous fate should be so shattering. Since Celia Franca—who would have been exactly right for the part—left the company, no artist of similar temperament and quality has been