28 JUNE 1963, Page 15




The season by the Royal Ballet's touring company which ends tomorrow has been hotted up by a number of visiting firemen, all anxious to be shown the fire, but notably we have seen Melissa Hayden from New York City Ballet and Flemming Flindt from the Royal Danish Ballet. Both exceptional dancers when whirling in their own orbits, it took them some time to get adjusted to our ways and our ballets, and their own partnership (a marriage of convenience with the needs of the Royal Ballet playing Cupid) also had many early moments of difficulty.

Apart from a home-from-home display of Bournonville from Flindt, the dancers were at their best in their toughest assignments, two Ashton multi-deckers, La Fille Mal Gardee and Sylvia. Hayden, one of Balanchine's senior god- desses, is a strangely dual-purpose dancer, not typical of her parent company but with a widely individual range extending from slap-bang bravura to warm lyricism.

As Lise in La File she was startlingly original, accenting the choreography in a new way, giving the comedy mime a boisterously hoydenish , vigour. As Sylvia, she was even better and perhaps predictably so. This Amazon of Diana, with her fluent ports de bras and uninhibited manner, acted on the jaded ballet like' a pep pill, while much of Ashton's previously wilting choreo- .graphy sprang to attention. Flindt was almost equally successful; a brash yet accurate dancer, he is a roaring boy; eager to please and completely extrovert. And when he jumps he flies.

This section of the Royal Ballet, poorly served as it was by its repertory, made a fine impression. There are tiny stylistic difficulties discernible be- tween the Royal Ballet's two wings, but this smaller troupe is by no means always the loser in the comparison. The two major failings in both companies area general lack of eloquence in ports de bras and an equally general lack of elevation in the male dancing (less noticeable in these tourers than in the Covent Garden resident troupe) and both of these were exemplarily high- lighted by Hayden and Flindt, who were often strong where we were weak, and (to be honest) vice versa.

Thankfully there are signs that our ballet's two Achilles heels are at last starting to mend. Last Saturday when the Royal Ballet School gave its annual Covent Garden performance (usually the happiest event in the ballet calendar), looking at the students 1 was struck not only by the overall standard, but by the way these youngsters were being carefully weaned away from the faults of their elders.

In Miro Zolan's new ballet Motus, a modest yet most promising first attempt to Britten's 'Purcell' Variations, and the best new work created for the Royal Ballet for longer than the Directors should care to remember, those new qualities were quite apparent among the beauti- fully schooled and groomed dancers. Another indigenous British weakness—too little character in character dancing—is also apparently being taken care of, and 140 somewhat mixed students gave a spirited display arranged by Maria Fay of dances from, inter alia, Hungary, Russia and even China. This last was danced chiefly by Japanese students. Who says ballet is not international?