As I’ve said before I love Northern Ballet because they’re such good storytellers, and Casanova was no exception.
Based on Ian Kelly’s biography of Casanova, Kenneth Tindall (an ex-Northern Ballet dancer) created his very first full-length piece that moves from his time in the church, to his many benefactors and lovers, to Casanova as a musician, writer and thinker. I liked that it ended with his whole life and his writing as his legacy, not just his labido, because he did live such a fascinating and varied life.
The choreography was fluid and sensual. Tindall created some really interesting shapes with the corps, and the various sex scenes were just so creative and beautiful and seductive and a real highlight. I always think the mess of sex and violence work really well in an art form as formal and controlled as ballet, and this was probably the best I’ve seen in that respect. I love a pas de deux, and each in this had its own character and feel. I particularly liked the one with Bellino where they gradually learn to trust each other and the way she reveals who she is, and the contrast with Casanova and Henriette which was much more tender and careful.
This is probably the most visually stunning ballet I’ve ever seen. I don’t normally notice lighting, but it really stood out for me in this piece. Designed by Alastair West, it perfectly captured different moods and settings, and was used to great effect to highlight scenes happening at the same time and the violence of Bragadin’s stroke. It also worked so well with the set, especially the tall mirror-pillars in the second half. The set design by Christopher Oram was brilliant, as were his incredible and colourful costumes.
The one thing I think it needed was a little more time with Henriette. Her relationship with Casanova didn’t feel any more significant than Bellino’s or Balletti’s, so Casanova’s response to her leaving didn’t have as much impact as it could have done. But I suspect that’s a result of trying to squeeze a huge amount into two hours.
The run has finished in Leeds, but it’s now on tour for a couple of months – find out where here and definitely catch it while you can. Sensual, stunning, and colourful – you ain’t seen ballet til you’ve seen Venetian orgy ballet. Hot damn.