Impressed by the 22 year old Francesca Hayward‘s impish bird dance at the Royal Ballet’s earlier production of Sleeping Beauty, I was naturally curious to see her perform again but as a lead in a tragic tale. This season of the Royal Ballet introduced the loving and disturbing tale of Manon, a ingénue whose struggle for love and material greed lead to her inevitable demise.
Its music is written by Jules Massenet, which recounts the sensualness and naivety of Manon’s flawed character, which has been produced into various historical operas and plays from the original 1731 novel by Abbé Prévost. Created by Kenneth MacMillan in 1974, the English ballet was a delight to watch in its efforts to portray a never-ending spiral bridging two lovers, Manon and Des Grieux, that are tangled in forces beyond their control; finance, feelings and, life and death situations. Yet I have to admit, that I have seen fancier and riskier ballets that show more flair and technique, than this one. There was unmistakably a lot of talent, much leaping, lifts and beautiful movement that ingratiated the stage, as designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, and without putting down the strength and physical prowess of its dancers, I felt, the ballet’s choreography, as a whole, was a level below from the, more, grander and, more, popular ballets.