It’s hard to resist Fille and its enchanting world. It takes less than a cockrel’s crow for us to break into full smile and feel like spring has just arrived. Sir Frederick Ashton‘s beautiful candy coloured confection has all the correct ingredients: a story about love with captivating characters and delightful choreography.
As Lise Marianela Nuñez is feisty and charming. Her dancing delivers both comedy and lyricism, projecting the fiery spirit of a country girl who always gets her way. With her bendy upper body she is also in full command of Ashton’s style. Carlos Acosta continues to set the bar high for the role of Colas, injecting equal doses of oomph, flair and cheekiness into his characterization, but without ever coming across as too cocky or arrogant. His Colas is popular with the girls and well loved by everyone but widow Simone (though we all know that his charm ends up winning her over as well). He is also still capable of delivering Colas’ trademark flashy series of tour-jetés and grand pirouettes which, despite more understated now than a few years back (Acosta is gearing towards his late thirties), look like a perfect fit for him and his character.
The character roles are also vividly portrayed. Will Tuckett as widow Simone always times the comedy perfectly, never letting laughs hijack Simone’s tender moments with Lise so that the audience believes that underneath all those layers of petticoat there is an affective mother-daughter relationship. So with Jonathan Howells and his Alain, a role that provokes giggles but still has an endearing quality that comes across so effectively in the ballet’s bittersweet last scene.
It is fitting that the “most English of choreographers” should have given his company this wonderful gift of a ballet which so well captures the spirit of the countryside and the gentle English nature. Fifty years on, Fille still sends us home with a warm and fuzzy feeling, as if we have been transplanted into one of John Constable‘s Romantic landscapes. We can almost hear the sound of the water escaping from the mill.