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About the Change

Darcey Bussell and Katherine Jenkins

‘Viva La Diva’

December 2007
London, Hammersmith Apollo

© Jeffery Taylor
Former dancer, Dance Critic and an Arts feature writer for the Sunday Express. Pub 16 12 2007


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Heading unbelievably for Las Vegas, ballet dancer Darcey Bussell and mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins’s Viva La Diva UK tour opened last Monday. We Brits never nailed US vaudeville and Bussell and Jenkins get nowhere near. On a two tier set resembling a crumbling ocean liner, the girls filled us in on what we were about to see, a joint tribute to their inspirational heroes. They both look stunning in gold lame, Jenkins comfortable chatting to vast audiences, yummie mummie Bussell trying like mad to sound of the people but the Fulham Road “awesomes” “fabs” and “oh, wows” are never far away.

For two decades Bussell’s sensational classical technique ensured ballet stardom. In VLD she is simply eye candy. She gets the ballet background over quickly but the Romeo and Juliet excerpt merely exposes the folly of her current wheeze. She appears in an appalling brown nylon bum freezer frock paired with black silk stockings as Juliet, the 14-year-old aristocratic virgin. And it just gets worse. She steps out as Fred Astaire with the boys, pony tail and stick with as much tongue in cheek romance and humour as a long distance lorry driver. When Cyd Charisse is programmed the eternal flame gives a hopeful flicker, forget it. Dressed in a fabulous red sequinned sheath,

Darcey Bussell takes time off from her tour to receive the National Dance Awards Patron's Award from Dame Beryl Grey on 14 December 2007
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© John Ross
gloves and very high heels, Bussell reduces Charisse’s explosive sexuality to a nail varnish ad.

Jenkins is a lovely, homely girl with an OK voice and sensational décolletage, no wonder she’s the face, and body, of the British Forces Foundation. Our boys would adore her as she bounces up and down the stairs singing Bizet’s Carmen in French, cleavage down to her waist and as pink with excitement as a supermarket check out girl at a Christmas party. Her Marilyn Monroe is stomach curdling while the tribute to Maria Callas is simply bizarre. She is motionless in a crinoline the size of a semi-detached house whose builders ran out of money when they reached the top storey. Jenkins’s vibrato is of pneumatic drill proportions and the scraps of material maintaining her modesty juddered slowly south. Just for the record, last Monday the aria finished before they reached the equator, but you never know your luck, boys.

Jenkins is best as the girl next door, chatting down stage to the audience about travelling her trunk of prize possessions. Standing behind her box she does her Judy Garland, actually it is pure Katherine Jenkins and all the better for it. Bussell is best when dancing on pointe with her mouth closed, as in the rehash of The Red Shoes, the film that shot red headed ballerina Moira Shearer to stardom.

In the final line up, trilby, collar and tie do something for Bussell and the programme pictures of Jenkins cheering up British barracks in godforsaken areas of military action actually make up for everything.

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