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About BristolBillyBob

  • Birthday August 8

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  1. In no way am I equating myself with somehow being in the same echelon as, say, a Royal Ballet dancer*, but as someone who occasionally treads the boards in an amateur theatre capacity, I'm never anything but chuffed by people coming up to me in the bar afterwards to tell me they enjoyed my performance. Although sometimes on such occasions I suspect their acting abilities outstrip mine. 😄 * - Now known on these boards as "Cheryl Syndrome"
  2. Incredible news for BRB (for whom I have a definite soft spot). Can't wait to see what he does. With him at the helm of BRB, and Tamara Rojo's already fiercely ambitious ENB shaking things up a bit, we could be entering a very exciting era for ballet in the UK. Bring it on!
  3. Yep, online translation can be fun! Or, as they say in Japan, 私のハムスターは自転車に乗ることができません。足が短すぎてペダルに届かないからです
  4. Chatting to Nancy afterwards, she cited getting opportunities like Rubies as one of the reasons she was so happy with RBF. I get the impression they really look after their dancers there. I remember the ENB exodus a few years ago, and it was really disappointing; so much talent left our shores. I'd also include in your list Jeanette Kakareka, who is now at Bayerisches Staatsballett (where Nancy guested). She was always one of the highlights of any ENB show for me, and in fact she graces my living room wall in a wonderful print from Laurent Liotardo...
  5. D'oh, yes of course! And, then, Nini De Vet not Ana. Good spot. I put this down to three things: 1. Writing that bit of the review nearly a month after the event and trying to decipher the rough notes I made. 2. Getting home at 2am the night before. 3. Well, let's be fair it wouldn't be a BristolBillyBob write up without some kind of error like that, so how about we all agree to pretend I do it deliberately to keep you lot on your toes. 😄
  6. Full disclosure - I wrote most of this shortly after seeing it, but have only just got around to finishing the review, so apologies if it's a bit incomplete. Also apologies for starting a new thread so late! August this year marked my fortieth birthday, and back in the spring when my girlfriend asked what I wanted to do to celebrate, I immediately suggested we could go to Belgium and see Nancy Osbaldeston dance at Royal Ballet Flanders. Those of you who follow my posts will know that she is by far my favourite dancer! So we had a look at RBF's calendar and immediately Amran Khan's Giselle stood out. I've missed it at ENB, but some glittering reviews and recommendations mean it's something I've been excited to see for ages so we booked immediately. A loooong summer of waiting finally ended last week, when we hopped on the Eurostar to Belgium. I'll cut a long story short, this show was possibly the best thing I've seen on a stage. 😃 The word that leapt - or should that be jetéed? - into my mind as I was watching the performance was 'disruptive'. It feels almost like the first of a new generation of works in dance; elements of classical ballet woven seamlessly with contemporary choreography, both married to a taut narrative flow lifted more from the pacing of a film than a languid classical ballet. The doffs of the cap to classical versions of Giselle pleased the ballet geek in me, and the lifting en pointe of Giselle at the start of the second act demonstrated that Khan wasn't about to throw the ballet rulebook out the window, but wanted to push it forward. Whereas Matthew Bourne's contemporary productions can sometimes feel to me a bit like 'musicals with the singing taken out', this comes across like a proper ballet production, albeit one that is resolutely reaching towards the future. The set, the lighting, the use of sound (even from the dancers - gasp!), the willingness by Khan to embrace stillness for long periods all add up to a production that I found utterly mesmerising. Nancy Osbaldeston, for those of you who might not have come across her, stood out to me even in the corps at ENB. She won their Emerging Dancer competition in 2013, and moved from being a First Soloist at ENB to Royal Ballet Flanders in 2014. She was promoted to Soloist in '17 and Principal in '18. Her quick promotion is a testament to just how talented she is. And it's not like she's just a big fish in a small pond; RBF have an exceptional depth and breadth of talent throughout the ranks. Their Onegin eclipsed the Royal Ballet's production for me when I saw both in quick succession a few years ago. They are a fantastic company. Nancy's dancing has a quality that raises her above so many other dancers, but I always find so hard to describe. There's a musicality, a grace of movement that feels effortless, natural; the shapes she creates are like tracing liquid through the air. You know when you gently stir a mug of tea into a mini whirlpool and add the milk slowly, the beautiful patterns it makes? Maybe something like that. 🤔 But married to that, she has a rare gift for communicating so much just through movement. Some technically excellent dancers need to communicate through their eyes or their expressions, but Nancy manages to convey complexity, depth and subtlety of emotion just through the gentle sweep her fingertips, the arc of her toe through the air. Her pas de deux scenes with Albrecht in both acts reminded me of Vera, Stina Quagebeur's superb piece Nancy danced at ENB Choreographics, such was their power. Each movement was packed with meaning, with love, with heartbreak. When Albrecht reaches to Giselle's belly in Act 2, Nancy's dancing infuses that short moment of choreography with utterly desperate sorrow. Daniel Domenech was utterly superb. Danced with attack, power, coupled with sublime technique, his Hilarion was a character instantly recognisable from any city centre pub on a Saturday night. Chest puffed out, self assurance and entitlement sweating from every over-aftershaved pore, small-man-syndrome rage barely suppressed, his Hilarion viewed Giselle as a prize to be won, a commodity to be owned. While Khan's work pre-dates the 'MeToo' movement, Domenech's Hilarion here feels even more fiercely contemporary in the current climate and sublimely easy to despise. Domenech’s Hilarion had an excellent counterpoint in Claudio Canagialosi’s Albrecht, who danced with poise and nobility. Ana Carolina Quaresma utterly inhabited the role of Bathilde. She channeled the perfect blend of otherworldliness, sororal and maternal power, and a purity of rage. As I’m finishing this review nearly an entire month after seeing it - I really should get round to this quicker! - so I’ll round it off there without going into too much more. I urge you to try and catch Nancy Osbaldeston in the future, and I urge you, if you get the chance, to see her with RBF. She’s one of the finest dancers this country has produced in recent years, and RBF are a sensational environment in which to see her. You won't be disappointed, and you never know, it might just end up being the best thing you've ever seen on a stage.
  7. Because the last train back from Paddington deposited me in Bristol at 2am and I’ve had a full day of work since then, I’ll keep my thoughts relatively brief, no doubt to the relief of regular readers of my reviews! The Unknown Soldier started quite promisingly for me, and I initially thought the usage of video and talking heads in a ballet was a fascinating idea. The dancing was lovely throughout, with Anna Rose O’Sullivan something of a revelation to me, and William Bracewell seems to be going from strength to strength at Covent Garden, which is great to see. However, there were a number of stylistic choices in The Unknown Soldier that weren’t to my taste. I found the score a little overwrought. It’s a dramatic subject, but the music reminded me of World At War, and wonder if maybe we haven’t moved on a little from that style. It felt a little old-fashioned, and a touch more restraint on the score might have added to the dramatic tension for me. On a similar note, some of the choreography (or maybe staging?) I found a little literal for my tastes. I was reminded of Stina Quagebeur’s Vera which, and it was a while ago when I saw it, conveyed a similar bandwidth of emotion on a similar subject with a far greater degree of subtlety, and was far more powerful to me as a result. I felt like Vera let the dancing do all the talking. I also found the voiceovers jarring when they suddenly arrived without warning. Bookending the piece would have had impact, but the interview segments further felt to me again like Marriott still wasn’t trusting me to understand what was happening on the stage. I guess what I’m saying is that I wonder if audiences are more sophisticated now, we don’t need to have everything spelled out, and I felt the piece might have had more impact if the audience was trusted a little bit more, and the choreography was allowed to speak more than the staging. This isn’t to say that there was nothing I enjoyed about the piece. The dancing, as I say, was wonderful, especially from the leads. The final act in heaven I found to be quite moving, and while the abstraction was a little jarring after the literal staging to that point, it felt like a welcome relief. Infra was a freshener after the first interval, and I really enjoyed this piece. The quality of dancing throughout was excellent, with all the leads excelling themselves. Akane Takada was absolutely sublime; her performance was a real standout for me for the evening, and deeply affecting. She really seemed to inhabit the piece and was enchanting. I also didn't mind the static noise, but then I was seemingly the one single person on the planet who really liked Fitter, Happier on Radiohead's OK Computer, so that might explain things. Finally, Symphony in C. There was so much to enjoy here and the whole company seemed on joyous form. I wish there was a way to bottle the smile Lauren Cuthbertson gives the auditorium in the short moment between taking her place and the music starting; “Hey guys, I’ve got this. It’s gonna be great.” That moment is an absolute joy, like a welcoming embrace to the audience and it makes me smile whenever I see her dance. Marianela Nunez was terrific too. She has a statesman - stateslady? - type quality to her dancing. I don’t mean she danced like Hillary Clinton. I mean, I don't know, maybe Hillary Clinton dances beautifully, but I don't mean... I guess it could be worse, I guess I could be saying that she dances like Theresa May. I don’t think anyone— *cough* I digress. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that Nunez danced with such gravitas and confidence that it’s hard not to be completely captivated by a ballerina at the top of her game. 🙂 It’s still really strange to see Vadim Muntagirov on the Covent Garden stage, having watched him so much in ENB, but he was the best I’ve seen him. He’s not always my favourite dancer, but tonight he married his super-extended jumps with a sublime lightness. Alexander Campbell is, I think, relatively new to my limited ROH radar, but was also great to watch, dancing with real ebullience and verve. Anyway, I said I’d keep my thoughts relatively brief and have failed dismally, no doubt to the complete lack of surprise to regular readers of my reviews. 🙄
  8. Off-topic, but if I ever start a band I'm totally calling us Jazz Pants Nightmare.
  9. When I write about my feelings about the show later, I'll pick up on some of these points, but for now I just wanted to thank you for making me giggle. 2am bed after the last train back from London is already making my work day a challenge, so a smile with my morning tea was welcome.
  10. Hi all. Just quickly popping my head up to say I'll be at this tonight, and will be flying solo. I'm always up for saying hello to fellow forumites - it was lovely to meet @Blossom yesterday! - so if you're going too and want put a more up-to-date face to my name in the interval, do drop me a line.
  11. If anyone's interested, Northern Ballet's 1984 Blu Ray is £13.30 on Amazon at the moment. Seems like a pretty decent price for the Blu Ray disc, >£20 most of the time. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BF8557Q/?coliid=I2HIUF64OKNJTT&colid=2JWJX25RL6KL2&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it BristolBillyBargainBasementBob
  12. What a lovely post; made me happy to read it. Thanks for taking the time to share.
  13. I always thought, in my case for music albums, that there should be two reviews; One from someone who knows about the genre and already appreciates it, understands its nuances, etc., and one from someone who isn't normally on board with it, but can offer an outsider's perspective. Too often I've read reviews from someone who clearly doesn't enjoy or appreciate that kind of music, makes that fact clear, and I learn nothing about whether the album is any good! I always remember a friend of mine saying "The problem with reviewers is that a lot of the time they're mostly reviewing themselves", by showing off how much they know, how snarky they can be and just how gosh-darn intelligent and insightful they are, and I think that's probably true.
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