A mixed programme of iconic works, demanding choreography and world-class dance. No less than seven ballerinas take solo roles in Frederick Ashton’s A Birthday Offering, a work created in 1956 for the 25th Anniversary of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet. It is a classical pièce d’occasion and a wonderful opening for a programme that brings the excellence and range of the Company – with many debuts – to the fore. Capturing the mood and character of Turgenev’s play, Ashton’s A Month in the Country brings character and drama to the programme as a series of pas de deux portrays the conflicting and tangled emotions aroused by a young tutor’s arrival in a Russian household. The final work of the bill is a classic of The Royal Ballet repertory, Nijinska’s Les Noces to Stravinsky’s great score. This depiction of a bride preparing for her marriage is a masterly weaving together of emotion, Russian tradition and memorable imagery.