5 Jun 2024

From the YouTube page: Agony and Ecstasy - A Year with English National Ballet, Episode 1From the YouTube page: Agony and Ecstasy - A Year with English National Ballet, Episode 1

Next week English National Ballet open at the Royal Albert Hall with their much admired Swan Lake in-the-round by Derek Deane. It runs from 12 to 23 Jun 2024 - More details

Back in 2011, the BBC ran three fly-on-the-wall documentaries under the title Agony & Ecstasy: A Year with English National Ballet, and the first hour-long documentary was about getting this Swan Lake production on stage in May/June 2010.

Agony & Ecstasy was an appropriate badge because it showed what can seem like the good and bad of ballet: the sheer determination to push everybody as far as possible to deliver a fantastic show and… the controlling and harsh nature of how dancers and others are, or were, treated. Seeing their dignity in coping with it all and rising to the occasion is truly uplifting. Time moves on, and one likes to think that if the documentary were filmed now, then more of a duty of care to individuals might be on display.

The dancers at the centre of the documentary are a young Vadim Muntagirov (only 20 at the time), making his debut in the production and the gloriously experienced Daria Klimentova, who becomes his unplanned partner for opening night. If you want to know how it turned out, read this short review of their performance by Luke Jennings in The Observer.

For the long term, here is a link to the documentary, as indexed by the Internet Archive WayBack Machine.

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