London Dance

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Vasiliev is Zorro without the mask (especially in his first Act black costume); a moustachioed, hero with dark curls and a grin as broad as his huge thighs. He’sRudolf Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Errol Flynn all in one package, his gelled sex appeal emphasised by strategically torn, tight white tights in the final scene. Vasiliev plays it for laughs, but deep down we feel huge respect for a role that Chabukiani made his own — and especially in the Georgian national dance influences of the first act.

The humour also belies the risks that Vasiliev continues to take with every leap. Two huge tours — early in the ballet — reach an unbelievable elevation, with his lower legs tucked up horizontal to the knee: as he descends it appears as if Vasiliev will surely land shatteringly on his knees but at the very last millisecond his feet extend to take the impact.