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  1. Thanks bridiem - I find it very interesting the different ways in which people (thinking more about the young man behind you rather than someone like yourself who has clearly seen huge amounts of dance) perceive the importance of narrative in ballet. I can absolutely see how all the fiddling with the piece of paper would be incomprehensible to those who don't know the play and I suppose that could take us back to a topic discussed here before, being whether a ballet should be able to 'stand alone' without recourse to a synopsis/programme notes. However, what I think is more interesting is whether one can still get enjoyment from a ballet even if it is not entirely clear who the characters are, their relationship to each other, or the nature of the events being portrayed? I am often happy just to 'go with it' and follow the moods/expressions indicated to me by the choreography without worrying too much about grasping every piece of the "story" and I tend to be frustrated where a story is spelled out in too literal terms, often meaning that the themes and ideas behind it are never properly explored. So I enjoyed the section where Torvald "forgave" Nora and her reaction to it even though I agree with you that it wasn't clear from the choreography alone why that might be the case. Like you I thought that their marriage in the earlier sections seemed happier than I might have expected, although Torvald did spend a lot of time sitting at his desk ignoring Nora completely and only coming to her as a plaything rather than to share his work or world, so I could accept it on that basis. I absolutely agree that this was by no means a perfect work but I suppose I would rather see more work from a a choreographer who errs on the side of too little 'exposition' rather than one who tends towards too much. I found this a very promising start and hope that Stina Quagebur gets more opportunities in future to develop her thinking.
  2. For me, this is an unmissable programme if only because of Pina Bausch's Rite. Francesca Velicu was the Chosen one last night and was great in the role. James Streeter was also superb but of course, like all Bausch works, it is about the company as a whole. There are a few moments where ENB are slightly more "balletic" than is ideal but they throw in themselves into the music (and the dirt) wholeheartedly and it's an incredibly powerful experience. I was also very impressed with Stina Quagebur's new work, Nora, based on a Doll's House, danced to Philip Glass. I really liked her concept with a very spare set representing the house (almost cage like) and how she kept the characters from the play very simple - just Nora, her husband and the blackmailing banker - and used 5 other dancers to represent Nora's "Voices". Crystal Costa was very clear as Nora and Jeffrey Cirio really outstanding as the husband. But for me, the thing that was most interesting and promising about Stina's work is her choreography for the "Voices" - particularly near the end as Nora decides whether she will stay or go. It feels like the work of someone intelligent who understands how to get to the essence of a piece/story/idea when translating it into dance - a crucial skill which is sadly lacking in the recent work of several more experienced/'prestigious' choreographers.... Broken Wings is a another well conceived piece, a theatrical coup rather than a choreographic masterpiece, but very enjoyable and moving and well danced once again - Katja Khaniukova has a very strong stage presence and it is always great to see Irek Mukhamedov in action. A very impressive triple bill all around - the emphasis being thoroughly on creative thought rather than expensive sets/projections/special effects.
  3. Since Lauren also cancelled her Aurora in St Petersburg I suspect that she is nursing an injury that prevents her from performing long, strenuous ballets like Beauty or Don Q but can withstand the shorter, less technical Marguerite and Armand.
  4. I think Campbell might work with Takada but it did occur to me during his performance with Magri that he was a bit short for her. Whilst they both put in very solid performances I think she might have looked even better with a taller partner. Is Takada a little shorter than Magdi? To be honest I think Campbell really looks best with Hayward but I can see why they are not always cast together - it’s fine in Nutcracker but in the more ‘naturalistic’ Macmillan roles their very different stage presences might be jarring. I think shorter virtuoso male dancers pose a real casting problem for directors and O’Hare has a surplus of them right now with Campbell, Sambe and Hay just to name a few. It appears that he is currently favouring Sambe for some of the available “short ballerina” slots, which is not ideal for Campbell. Much easier to slot in taller partners like Hirano and Ball as “supersubs”
  5. I think that the usual 'repeat' audiences are sitting out Frankenstein in large numbers and that is a huge contributing factor to the drop in sales. I know from friends working at the ROH that the ballet 'faithful' attend far more performances of a production than the opera 'faithful' (understandably since they want to see different casts) so repeat business is currently more important for ballet sales than it is for opera. I'm afraid that I am less generous than Floss and think this Frankenstein is an out and out turkey, which I resented sitting through even once. And I suspect that I am far from alone in that. So, while I might have gone and taken friends to see one or two casts if I had enjoyed the first run (meaning two seats on one or two nights 'unsold' because I'm sitting it out) I'm guessing there are many others who would have gone to most performances and are leaving far more seats unsold that would have been occupied by 'faithful regulars' in the usual course. The marketing does seem extremely disorganised but it wouldn't have made any difference to me or to others I know if they had bombarded us with Frankenstein PR from morning til night - the ballet is just not good enough. 'Nothing' music, derivative choreography and utterly inept storytelling.
  6. I think the difficulty with *some* Ashton works (am a huge fan of Symphonic, Rhapsody, Monotones and Fille before anyone accuses me of being a 'hater') is not that the settings or costumes are dated, it is that they are "period pieces" without sufficient heft or universality (whether through characterisation, narrative or musical choices) to strike a chord of recognition in modern viewers. I went on Tuesday, despite having been bored by Pigeons at the last revival, because I wanted to see the new Scarlett RBS piece. That I found extremely dull and ordinary. I remain completely baffled as to the continual commissioning of Scarlett - once you've seen the running on the spot (caucus race nicked from Wheeldon in Alice, foxes this time), and corps twirling on pointe (lab assistants in Frankenstein, random insects here) and the story told by being L-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y T-e-d-i-o-u-s-l-y acted out scene by scene, you seem to have reached the end of his very limited imagination. After that, it was a relief to get to Pigeons, which at least had a coherent dramatic structure. Of course Ashton's choreography, particularly for the corps in the gypsy scene, stood up very strongly against Scarlett's work but I still found the piece overall far too twee and generally irritating to enjoy. Grown women pecking around like infantile birds are not expressing a universal emotion in the way that Lise is in Fille, or the lead ballerina in Rhapsody. Ashton's great works are in an entirely different class to Scarlett's work so far, but that doesn't mean that his whole output has to be uncritically received.
  7. Which other venues Anna? I have not had my bag checked when entering the Festival Hall, National Theatre, Wigmore, Almeida or Barbican lately. Do you mean West End theatres?
  8. Grand Tier gets Hotel Chocolat from a butler. Balcony get to pass around a box of Quality Street.
  9. Hmm, I would say that those reviews with anything positive to say (notably the Guardian and the Times) are what I would call damning with faint praise. And neither likes the undressed men in the final scene.
  10. Taking a sideways segue back to Infra casting, I was reflecting a bit further on the new cast as against the original and why, despite some really good performances, I left feeling very slightly unsatisfied. And I think I have concluded that it is the absence of Edward Watson. Nothing against Calvin Richardson who I thought was excellent on Tuesday in the role created by Watson, but McGregor's idiom is so closely related to Watson's appearance and style of movement (and much of it, including this role, created with him in mind) that it was strange for me watching the work without Watson opening and closing as the exemplar of the style. I suppose we all simply have to adjust over time but it has left me with some sympathy for those who can't "tolerate" Marguerite & Armand without the original cast or who saw Seymour create Macmillan roles in which no-one else can ever be the same for them.
  11. Thanks Fonty, that is very interesting. And the fact that the reviewer thought McMillan's concept "slightly more facile than it should be" makes me wonder what the hell they would make of The Unknown Soldier !?!?
  12. For me, the commissioning of McGregor is a breath of fresh air and hardly a symptom of insularity, since he is the only 'house' choreographer who was neither at the school or the company, or even a classical dancer. I could live without any more Scarlett ever and recent Wheeldon has been underwhelming - although I absolutely love Polyphonia and wish they would programme that more often. As Monica Mason was heard to exclaim after the premiere of Woolf Works - "thank goodness for Wayne!" and I agree. He is the only regular choreographer who dares to challenge the audience to think and who sparks an audible reaction (as last night) from younger people, who after all the ROH will desperately need as we, their current audience, fade away.
  13. I would have liked Gloria too Vanartus. And yes, Cathy Marston would have been a much better choice. There is a lingering insularity about RB commissioning which can be rather depressing, given the money they have to spend compared to smaller companies who are often commissioning far more interesting work on shoestring budgets.
  14. Me three. And frankly even if bags weren't searched I see no reason why anyone should feel more nervous sitting in the ROH than they would be on a busy train or bus, where they are surrounded by people with luggage that hasn't been checked. But some people just seem to enjoy righteously complaining - if the ROH provided a tray of chocolates served up by a personal butler to their seat some posters would doubtless moan that it was encouraging unhealthy eating or discriminating against the lactose intolerant. ....
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