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RODERIC DUNNETT writes about 'Arthur Part 1: Arthur Pendragon'
in the light of the recent London première


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Monica Zamora as Guinevere and Andrew Murphy as Lancelot. (c) Bill CooperAnd now, in two parts, to coincide with the millennial seasons l999-2000 and 2000-2001, comes Arthur. Bintley's undoubtedly haunting ballet on the Franco-British legend of the Celtic king who presided over the Round Table and its pages-turned-knights received its world première in Birmingham earlier this year, before touring to the north and south west. And this month it was at last unveiled for the first time at Covent Garden, home to the Royal Ballet in London.

In his handling of the rather disparate selection of vignettes which make up the first part of the story, encompassing Arthur's boyhood, recognition and rise to power, Bintley has certainly produced a feast for the eyes. There are sublime passages of solo work, riveting pas de deux and, not least, some exquisitely choreographed, lightly strutting sections for a beautifully focused, equine ensemble of male dancers, which are simply mesmerising. Of the first cast, Robert Parker's dancing of Arthur is beauty and enchantment itself : shy, delicate, alluring, graceful, with that rare gift not just of executing steps, but of preparing and rounding off moves - the visual equivalent of informed musical line and inspired musical phrasing - that is the hallmark of a truly great dancer. If the solitary extraction of the sword from the stone - scintillatingly silhouetted and spot-lit, and charmingly and memorably executed - seemed just too much of a Disneyesque caricature, every other appearance by Parker amid the ensemble seems to galvanise the performers around him to new heights.

Equally thrilling was Bintley's female lead, the German ballerina Leitizia Müller, whose bewitching, youthful Morgan Le Fay dominates a seduction pas-de-deux with her royal half-brother - virtually a rape (by her) - which graphically demonstrates the lethal powers she will use to wreak her revenge on Arthur near the end, presumably, of Arthur Part II. The scene with the young Sir Kay (Dominic Antonucci), as Arthur's foster-father, Sir Ector, strives to convert his pair of playful stripling boys into men, was a further delight.

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Copyright © 12 June 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


Leticia Müller as Morgan Le Fay and Robert Parker as Arthur

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