26 FEBRUARY 1954, Page 12

The Sleeping Beauty. (Royal Opera House.) THE consummate artistry of

Margot Fonteyn's dancing remains as clear and certain as when she last appeared in London before the long American tour. In Tuesday night's 'welcome home' performance of The Sleeping Beauty it was she alone who brought new wonder and enhancement to a ballet which has grown tedious through over-familiarity. The subtle tones of her changing moods; the true and perfect control of her lovely body, out of which she seems to step every now and again to peep at herself with a joy and surprise equivalent to our own; and above all, the humble, devoted consecration of the great artist who lives for and in her work—these are the blessings that have been bestowed on Fonteyn. It is because of this that the company is happy to be the setting in which she shall be appropriately displayed; that Michael Somes devotes himself to being her unfailing and courteous partner; and that w4are impelled to accord all her attention, as if she were the central image in a Renais- sance composition. Jackson—making quite a good attempt at the Blue Bird—is developing a nice sense of style. But oh, in comparison with almost any company we have seen during their absence, how weak is the standard of the Sadler's Wells male dancers; in fact, in the Prologue, the Fairies' Cavaliers looked almost puny. Somes is an excellent partner and Grant and Brian Shaw good character dancers, but the latter is not built for the Blue Bird—he is too earthly and his brises give the impression of a wounded bird rather than of one soaring into the air as it takes its flight. Is it that in this country male dancers do not receive the right sort of training or just that Englishmen do not naturally make classical dancers ? I personally think there is not the slightest reason to believe the latter assumption, but something certainly should be done about it.