26 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 23

Poilteyn ectasy kobili young

John Cranko's Poe,me, l'extase is a ballet which cries out for ., applause and the reception it got from audience at the Royal Opera House was nothing short of rapturous. Created for Years Dame Margot Fonteyn in Stuttgart a couple on f ,sirl mataego,c it has been brought to London s Piec i*? epromised but unrealised new tYleca vehicle for Fonteyn it is lavishly really n iIs d in a high romantic vein. But the 'she who carries it, rather than 410147[1er way about. Jtirgen Rose's Proviii°4 Of the style of Gustav Klimt o Scir,I, sets and costumes matching asPir ii ,,, eady, ecstatic music in "Iti's ti is a real Cranko's scenario and '3gaPhY, on the other hand, are disappointingly conventional.

The guests in the scene-setting soirée are largely confined to mannered move ments of their white-gloved hands — an overworked device. Enter the famous diva,' exquisitely poised Fonteyn, and not surprisingly Michael Coleman, as an eager and vulnerable boy in the party, is instantly smitten. She takes to a couch, relapses into reverie (gorgeous silken backdrops fall from the heavens) and summons up the memories of four past lovers — Drew, O'Brien, Kelly and Wall.

Ecstasy is maintained at a high pitch for the remainder of the piece, the Diva dancing with, or adoring, her matinele by turns, and Coleman participating as would-be imitator of rival. The four lovers, however, while physically impressive, remain rather characterliess (Desmond Kelly's role has a bit more dignity and a bit less dash) and do not sufficiently explain the Diva's decision at the end not to add to her collection. The rejected Coleman is naturally disappointed, but as he has danced irrepressibly throughout I cannot help thinking, as he retreats to the wings, that he will soon be trying his luck elsewhere. Fonteyn is left alone, caressing herself (" her life already fulfilled " says the synopsis).

There are several points of similarity to Marguerite and Armand. 1 prefer Poeme as being tuppence coloured in comparison with Ashton's penny plain. There is only one Armand in a black cloak, but here we have four lovers, each clutching what might be a gaudy tablecloth about his shoulders. Fonteyn flourishes in the atmosphere of opulent eroticism, but those not given to transports of romatic joy may find the exultation unbecomingly prolonged.

Cranko is rather given to corny sentimentality but it seems less vulgar — because totally improbable and relieved with humour — in The Lady and the Fool (tramp meets, and gets, society beauty) which the Royal Ballet's tourists have just revived at Sadler's Wells. Fine dancing and characterisations from Paul Clarke, Kerrison Cooke, Nicholas Johnson and, especially, lohaar Mosaval.

More gloomily the Sadler's Wells season also includes two rather bent ballets by Herbert Ross. The Maids flattered if anything by the pallid grey emergency lighting) cannot possibly do dramatic justice to the Genet play from which it derives. Nor does Caprichos measure up to Goya's etchings. The necrophiliac episode (there is also rape and a burning alive) has Marion Tait giving a very deathlike impersonation of a corpse, which excited some wonder among the audience but also quite a few giggles. More pleasant to behold were Merle Park's diamond brilliance in Les Rendezvous and Patricia Ruanne's charming daydreams in Solitaire.

During the London Contemporary Dance Theatre's recent season at The Place I particularly enjoyed Xenia Hribar's witty trifle Some Dream (originally called "I wanted to dance with Robert but ... "), but I thought it something of a mistake for Richard Alston to poke similar fun at Act 2 of Giselle in a ballet he called Cold.