Northern Ballet Theatre - La Traviata

Norwich Theatre Royal

> Norwich Theatre Royal

On the first of their twice-yearly trips to Norwich, the Northern Ballet Theatre present yet another piece with a famous name. They appear to delight in transform-ing well-known operas and books into ballets, and here they have a hard task to pull off.

They keep very much to the original storyline of the pain of love in decadent 19th century Paris – by Alexandre Dumas in the Lady of the Camellias – that was quickly turned into an opera by Verdi.

Indeed, it is this highly popular and vivacious score that dominates the NBT's interpretation, and you often feel that the dancers are working in overdrive to keep up with its relentless pace.


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There's also an awful lot of movement, not always dance, and enough lifts to fill about three ballets as South African choreographer Veronica Paeper gets the dancers working harder than ever.

The majority is in pointes – not something you always associate with the NBT as they used to lean more towards the contemporary than the classical.

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There's also a lot of plot to get through, and you feel the ballet descends into mime from time to time to get the vital messages across.

The ballet, for my money, really belongs to the two principals – Jonathan Olivier as the love-struck aristocrat Armand and Desire Samaai as the courtesan Marguerite.

The pair dance beautifully together. He is all strength and suppressed anguish while she – his wife in real life – is highly expressive, as light as a feather and portrays lost love with passion.

The final duet is as touching as you'll get in any ballet ending, as always, in death but this exploration of family tensions and the agony of a bitter- sweet love affair remains as vital today as it did 150 years ago when Dumas wrote about his own doomed romance. Take a hankie!

t The ballet continues until Saturday, March 19. Call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk for further details.

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