James

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  1. The ROH website is now showing that Shklyarov has been cast as Armand opposite Osipova's Marguerite.
  2. I think people are being unduly pessimistic over the new Swan Lake. Doubters might want to have a look at this: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/swan-lake-by-liam-scarlett John Macfarlane's design for Act II visibly shows a lake, which is encouraging - and the credits refer to additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and Frederick Ashton.
  3. The Mariinsky do tend to include Chopiniana/Les Sylphides as a matter of course in their Fokine bills, so I think, Lindsay, this would be one of the ballets you would get. In a sense, it is their ballet because it was created by Michel Fokine for the Mariinksy theatre in 1908. I do not believe that Isabelle Fokine has ever been involved in the Mariinksy’s staging, as theirs is based on the revival by Agrippina Vaganova in 1931 – at any rate, according to my programme, that is the version they danced at the Royal Opera House in 2011. Whatever you choose, I hope you have a great time. I see that they are doing Fountain of Bakhchisarai tonight and tomorrow. Now that is a ballet I’d love them to bring to the UK. Interesting about Petroushka. According to my then “Kirov” programme, their 2000 production was a revival by Sergei Vikharev of a production by Leonid Leontiev for the Mariinsky in 1920. No mention of Ms Fokine. FLOSS mentions two recordings of Firebird. There is also a recording of the Mariinsky’s production of Firebird performed in Paris in 2002 with Diana Vishneva in the title role, on a DVD called “The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky”. The notes credit the reconstruction to Isabelle Fokine and Andris Liepa. The DVD also features Sheherazade, Le Spectre de la rose and a ballet I saw London’s Festival Ballet dance as a boy in the 1960s, The Polovtsian Dances. James
  4. I've watched Beryl Grey and Lucette Aldous (in the 1959 BBC film). Both look consummate. The problems with the variation clearly have nothing to with height, as these two dancers were at opposite ends of the scale. I wonder why the "western" version of the variation differs from the Russian one? Does anyone know if the RB version is derived from the 1921 Diaghilev production? I believe that Bronislava Nijinska danced the Lilac Fairy in that production, so perhaps she changed the choreography for that variation - as well as making the other changes which we know found their way into the RB text. James
  5. Yes, in 2005 it was paired with Les Rendezvous and The Lesson alternately. James
  6. According to the cast list published on the Bolshoi website, Margarita Shrainer was indeed "Twittering Canary" (as they have translated it). Miss Shrainer also danced the Diamond Fairy in the last Act. We were very impressed with Yulia Stepanova as the Lilac Fairy.
  7. This happens, exactly as Markova describes it, in the film of Giselle made in 1951 which ENB have put up on their YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HnNXvF0Kn0 The relevant action begins round about 14.40. I think we tend to forget how suicide was viewed until comparatively recently. It was only decriminalised in England in 1961, and people who had survived suicide attempts were regularly prosecuted. Some were even sent to prison (as recently as the 1950s). Anyone attempting suicide was just as a culpable as someone who succeeded, and I am sure the law followed religious teaching here. Giselle's attempt at stabbing herself with the sword would, in itself, have constituted a mortal sin, and, in the absence of confession and penance, would presumably have condemned her in the eyes of the church. For that reason, there is justification for her not to have been buried in consecrated ground, even if the primary cause of death was her weak heart. James
  8. Thank you, RuthE. Raven Girl is one of the few McGregor's I haven't seen, and I was probably a bit put off by the adverse reviews. I expect I'll give it a go next time around. Incidentally, the black lace costumes for this drew a comment from Anton du Beke, who jested that he might copy them for a duet with Lesley Joseph (his recently allotted partner, for non-aficionados of Strictly Come Dancing).
  9. I was at both performances of this, as a member of the paying audience on Saturday eve, and as a volunteer souvenir programme seller (Sunday mat). Both houses were packed (that's 3000 people over two performances) so I very much hope that Gary will have achieved his aim of raising at least £100,000.00 for the Suffolk Community Foundation and its Arts and Culture Fund. Billed as the largest appearance of the Royal Ballet in the UK (outside London) for over 25 years, it was a tremendous occasion, with standing ovations for both performances, and huge out-poring of affection for Gary Avis and all he has achieved. His example has been an inspiration to a generation of young dancers in his home county (and, no doubt, beyond), and it was fitting that students from the Dance East Centre for Advanced Training, were given the opportunity to perform alongside the professionals. Kevin O'Hare, who had generously given the green light to the project, and the appearance of 14 members of the Royal Ballet, was in the audience on the Saturday. It is a measure of the esteem in which Gary is held that so many leading choreographers readily gave permission for extracts from their works to be performed. I had my favourite pieces, but everyone was magnificent, and every single act won tumultuous applause, cheers and whistles from the audience. I have to say that, the dancers all looked absolutely delighted – not often you get quite that response in the Royal Opera House. Galas can be problematic, especially when you only get bits and pieces of a ballet, but most of the pas de deux stood up well – though by and large, the contemporary pieces, where there was little or no narrative to worry about, fared best. The programme was nicely balanced, too, with each artist appearing in two numbers (apart from Gary who appeared in three) and a good range of styles and periods. Anton du Beke was a genial, amusing compere, and kept things moving along quickly. His duet with Gary (Me and My Shadow), choreographed by Anton as a soft shoe routine brought the house down. The costumes were all as designed for the particular RB productions and lent by the ROH. Most of the music was pre-recorded, but there was some live playing, and that was top notch – Royal Ballet pianist Kate Shipway was magnificent in the Brahms Waltzes and the Avro Part piece to which the After the Rain duet was set. In the latter, she was accompanied by violinist Benjamin Baker, and they were joined by cellist Michael Petrov for the Swan Lake Act II pas de deux (which was played live by just the three musicians – very effectively, too. The full programme was as follows (after a very glitzy projected set of opening credits and a reveal of all the dancers in a tableau):- ACT 1 Swan Lake – Act I pas de trois. Dancers: Helen Crawford, Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Luca Acri (a comfortable bit of pure classicism to get things started). Within the Golden Hour – first pas de deux (Wheeldon) Dancers: Beatrix Stx-Brunell, Alexander Cambell (a contemporary dance with a "feel-good" factor) Nisi Dominus (Tuckett) Dancer: Zenaida Yanowsky (totally mesmerising – what an amazing artist!) Brim (Franceschi) Dancers: Students from the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training Infra – Final duet (McGregor) Yasmine Naghdi, Matthew Ball (Sensational) Swan Lake – Act II White Swan pas de deux Dancers: Mayara Magri, Reece Clarke (such maturity and depth of feeling in ones so young – both definitely going places) A Little Something (Du Beke) A quickstep with A du Beke and Joanne Clifton (very strictly) Onegin – Act III Tatiana and Gremin pas de deux (Cranko) Dancers: Mara Galeazzi, Gary Avis (Mara in fine form, you wouldn't have thought that she officially retired in 2012. This is a beautiful duet – there aren't many for happily married couples, are there?) Asphodel Meadows – 2nd Movement pas de deux (Scarlett) Dancers: Emma Maguire, Ryoichi Hirano (Liam is local boy, and this got a great response) Act 2 Romeo & Juliet – Act I Balcony pas de deux (Macmillan) Dancers: Yasmine Naghdi, Matthew Ball (This duet always makes my wife cry. It was danced sublimely – it hardly needs repeating to Ballet.co readers, but these two are undoubted stars. They seem to have it all. Yasmine has such a beautiful line, and her acting was so affecting and natural. A great frisson in the audience when, at the beginning, Matthew ran the whole length of the auditorium in his billowing cloak) I Know Where I've Been (from Hairspray) Singers: Gallery Players (an Ipswich based community theatre group that Gary Avis performed with in his youth, and with which he is still closely associated) Raven Girl- Final Duet (McGregor) Dancers: Beatrix Stix-Brunell, Ryoichi Hirano. (This performance actually made me want to see the full ballet. Great projections, too) The Nutcracker – Act II Grand pad de deux Dancers: Mayara Magri, Lukas Bjorneboe Braendsrod. (Danced quite regally, which is probably how it should be done. The Sugar Plum solo was very good – with recognisable gargouillades – though the presto ending was cut. Lukas shows a lot of promise, tall and elegant with good elevation. The final leap into the fish dive was nicely timed.) Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan (Ashton) Dancer: Helen Crawford (We had three of the vignettes, and they were very characterfully done. Ipswich born Helen got a a very warm response). A Little Something Else Dancers: Anton du Beke, Gary Avis (see above). Flames of Paris pas de deux (Vainonen) Dancers: Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Luca Acri (Not in the RB rep, of course, but very stylishly done. High leaps from Luca and Meaghan's fouettees were astonishing, with lots of doubles.) After the Rain (Wheeldon) Dancers: Zenaida Yanowsky, Reece Clarke. (I just loved this piece. Incredibly emotionally charged. Yanowsky is consummate, and as for Mr Clarke, I can understand why he is being cast in the princely roles) Voices of Spring (Ashton) Emma Maguire, Alexander Campbell (joyful) The Merry Widow – Act III Final pas de deux (Hynd) Mara Galeazzi, Gary Avis. (A suitably champagne-fuelled duet, with a lovely ending which had Gary spinning Mara around endlessly as the lights faded. Created by Ronald Hynd for the Australian ballet I don't think this ballet has been seen much in this country. Roland Hynd and his wife Annette Page were in the audience on the Saturday evening, and the Swan Lake extract was dedicated to them as they had danced together in Swan Lake on the Ipswich Regent stage in 1962!) Final bows (with bouquets for all), plus the aforementioned standing ovations, ended two wonderful performances. James
  10. I thought I would remind folk that this is on this coming weekend (Saturday 10th at 7.30pm and Sunday 11th at 1.30pm). It has sold very well, but I understand there are still a few seats available. The Regent box office is at: https://apps.ipswich.gov.uk Since the casting was originally announced, a number of the advertised performers have, of course, been promoted, including Alexander Campbell, Ryoichi Hirano, Yasmine Nagdhi and Matthew Ball. I believe Mayara Magri, another recent promotee, is replacing Fumi Kaneko who is injured. Miss Magri was very impressive, I thought, in The Invitation. Judging by the poster, Mara Galeazzi will be dancing the ballroom duet from Act III of Onegin with Gary. I will be there on the Saturday evening and will look out for any Ballet.co badge holders. There are no rail travel disruptions that I am aware of. The performance, I am told, will last approx 2 hours 45 minutes including the interval - but that is only a best estimate at present. James
  11. Janet, I was studying in Liverpool in 1976 and saw LFB in Ronaid Hynd's Nutcracker at the Empire. It was in November and I am pretty certain it was the premiere, so maybe that's the production you were thinking of. James
  12. Thank you, Nick. I wouldn't recommend buying a programme particularly. I wasn't going to, then I changed my mind, and think now I needn't have bothered. The video replaying in my head is the best souvenir. Lovely photo of Smirnova and Chudin on the front cover, though. James
  13. I saw Tuesday's performance of the Bolshoi Swan Lake and thought the dancing was stupendous. Olga Smirnova richly deserves all the superlatives that have been heaped upon her. She clearly has a close rapport with Semyon Chudin - evident from the impromptu embrace they were captured in when the curtain rose on one of the (many) curtain calls – and it showed in their effortless command of the choreography in their duets. For me, the Grigorovich production has a lot going for it – not just the medieval setting and the extra dancing for the Prince and "the Evil Genius" (Mikhail Kryuchkov in cracking form in what I think may have been only his second performance in the role), but in his treatment – with one glaring exception – of the score. The interpolations from various piano works that featured in the 1895 revision, have all been expunged, so, in that sense the score is closer to that of the 1877 original. I particularly like the way Grigorovich has restored parts of the abandoned Act III Pas de six to provide for the arrival of a retinue of black swans with Odile, an exultant solo for the Rothbart character, and a new variation for Odile in the Black Swan pdd. And we got the Russian Dance, danced on Tuesday with a sweet delicacy (but soundless claps) by Yulia Stepanova. Along with everyone else, I can't understand why Grigorovich had to massacre the finale music . Still, I like the concept – Odette destroyed by the Prince's betrayal – in fact, the ending reminded me of Keats' ballad "La belle dame sans merci":- "O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge has withered from the lake, And no birds sing." Incidentally, I went back to my programme for the Royal Ballet Swan Lake and note that the Rothbart character is actually described in the cast list as "An Evil Spirit, later Von Rothbart". James
  14. I remember the Uncle Jim song, although my mother always sang "...diving in the duck pond".
  15. So it's dragonglass, then.