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  1. Thanks for the clarification, BBB - it's a lovely gesture. I hadn't realised it comes from audience members which in a way makes it doubly lovely.
  2. Well I have now completed my Swan Lakes (three performances and the cinema Encore, which unfortunately at Westfield Shepherd's Bush was also part of the 'blackout'!). I have surprised myself by enjoying every minute of every performance - surprised because, for me, Swan Lake is, alongside Romeo and Juliet, one of those ballets that I felt I could do with a several year sabbatical from, having seen so many over the years, and I must admit I didn't feel the general excitement in the run-up to the opening. So very pleased to prove myself wrong! Some rather random and incoherent thoughts: Didn't miss at all: the drunken tutor and annoying (sorry, cute!) little girls; the drunken cadets, the faffing about jumping on and off stools in the Waltz, Siegfried's frilly outfit in Act 3; the princesses all wearing the same frock! Did miss: like many, I just missed Act 4 of the old production. While I did enjoy the new one and feel it works generally, I always found the Anthony Dowell was just so beautiful. Even though the black swans in the corps made no dramatic sense, they were very lovely and the battle between Odette, Siegfried and Von Rothbart was terribly dramatic whereas the new one seems to be over in a flash. I also missed seeing the couple in the 'swan boat' right at the end even if it did occasionally judder across the stage! Loved: the new sets which look so much cleaner and uncluttered, particularly in the first and third acts - the ballroom is incredibly glamorous; the costumes, particularly Odile's black tutu, the Spanish dance (in fact all the national dance costumes) andthe uniforms for the men; the dance for the 4 princesses; the black swans pouring on at the end of Act 3 (really, really effective); the Benno / sisters roles - and numerous other touches. Dancing: first of all the 'wobbles', which brought home a) they are noticeable because we are so lucky to have such high quality dancing just about all the time and b) I find them very endearing because they are so human. I was beginning to think that Yasmine and Francesca were superhuman with nerves of steel as they both sailed through all their recent debuts so magnificently. Shame about the missed lift with Vadim / Marienela - but only selfishly because those overhead lifts are some of my all time favourite lifts. Also shame about Osipova's tumble as she ran on for the Black Swan pas de deux as it seemed to leave her a bit uncharacteristically subdued although, as a fouetté non fan, I found her substituted turns dazzling and wonderful. So, Yasmine - what can you say: stunning debut, very special dancer indeed, just a shame that as Siegrfried, Kish on this occasion seemed to totally lack 'oomph' but all credit to his partnering skills. Marienela - for me, is a world class dancer who always delivers world class performances but doesn't suprise me whereas I am a huge fan of Natalia's unpredictability - you're never quite sure what you are going to get. I also find she has an uncanny knack of making me see steps I've seen a thousand times before look different. I was surprised that other posters thought she didn't connect with Matthew - it looked the exact opposite to me, when she leaned back against him in the second act pas de deux she seemed to be gazing at him in total wonder. Takada danced absolutely beautifully although I don't know why but her Swan seemed slightly smaller scale than the others I saw although she was lovely and a fabulous Odile. Vadim - like Yasmine, what can you say, just wonderful and his 'double doubles' simply brilliant. I thought Matthew Ball and William Bracewell were both extremely elegant princes, danced very well indeed and partnered very attentively. I really like watching dancers at this stage of their careers - one minute they are Siegfried, the next they are popping up in other smaller roles. I too was very pleased to have an opportunity to see Bracewell in a major classical role and will look forward to hopefully seeing many more in the future. Other random dance standout for me: Benjamin Ella as Benno, Tierney Heap in the Spanish dance, Mayara Magri as one of the sisters, Kirsten McNally as an autocratic queen and of course the corps. So pleased the tradition of the flower presentation at the end of the run continued and that their very hard work was highlighted in the cinema screening. Finally, the 'thumbs up' photo of Natalia goes into my 'instant cheer me up' collection along with the gap toothed twin carrying Meghan's train at the Royal Wedding and the little girl who interrupted her professor father's BBC interview on Korea!! Finally, finally - huge congratulations to Liam Scarlett and everyone involved with the new Swan Lake. A huge achievement.
  3. (Moderators - think it is ok to comment on this as I booked my ticket via a mailout from a ballet supporters' group but if you feel it is inappropriate, please feel free to delete). Just spent a lovely day at the Royal Academy of Dance watching Alexander Campbell give a series of classes to three different groups of students (classes ranged in numbers from 8 to around 30). Alexander, despite telling us he has done very little teaching, seemed a natural at it - confirmed by a lady I sat next to for a while was was herself a teacher and made quite a few notes! I was very impressed by how generous he was both in the classes themselves and in the Q&As after each one, where he answered every question fully - even if he had already responded to it a couple of times already with previous classes. I was also very impressed by the way he managed to give helpful tips to everyone, not concentrating on either the best or the ones obviously struggling but encouraging them all. He had a lovely manner with them and I'm sure, despite him being an RB principal, they were at ease with him - or at least it looked that way. There was a particularly lovely moment when one of the classes was doing turns diagonally from one side of the studio to the other and despite only five hands going up as left turners, everyone felt inspired and encouraged enough to all have a go. As an aside, as a ballet lover, I'm not bothered with the old stereotypes which are any way fading these days, but I can't help feeling that Alexander's relaxed 'Aussie bloke' style is very helpful in dispelling any lingering myths!
  4. I really enjoyed this performance too, probably more than I did at the Linbury - although being pragmatic this may be because I was standing there as opposed to having a lovely comfy seat with plenty of legroom! didn't think the bigger space was in any way detrimental to the piece, although when it first began I thought the music was going to drown the words which didn't in fact happen at all. I must admit to missing Acosta and his particular brand of charisma for the male dancing roles - I thought he did a slightly better job of differentiating between the characters but the difference wasn't enough to in any way spoil the evening. And I totally agree about Zenaida's acting abilities - it's amazing how she is able to convey so much emotion through such small physical moves or, as mentioned above, through her eyes. Even when she was still, you could really feel her anguish at the betrayal by Essex. I also liked the way she was so reluctant to take a solo curtain call, in the end taking a tentative little half version. Very good audience at the Barbican - looked 85% full (?) - and very enthusiastic applause. So glad I saw this again.
  5. Marguerite's red and black dresses. I love all those lovely wafting dresses worn by the Tsarina and her daughters in the first act of Anastasia. And I seem to recall a thread where Tatiana's brown dress at the end wasn't too popular - but I love it!
  6. BMC

    Audience Behaviour

    I thoroughly enjoyed it - it was my last one of the run and a fitting way to end my Manons! Agree with everyone that Manon is going to be, if not already, one of Francesca's signature roles.
  7. BMC

    Audience Behaviour

    Is there a ballet equivalent to 'mansplaining'? Have just had an experience at today's Manon where an extremely knowledgeable ballet goer proceeded to pronounce on various dancers and ballets - it felt like a coming to life of various threads on this site: audience behaviour, sacred cows and snowflakes! I am (sort of) happy to defer to people with many decades of ballet going (although I have a fair few years myself!) who have seen lots of original casts, but I do bristle a bit at opinions being given to me as facts. We can guess but have no way of knowing what choreographers would think of the dancers interpreting their ballets today and surely should remember that we all have our own opinions and they all equally valid. I think it's a question of tone more than anything - that knowing better than you - which I find difficult to deal with. I think I prefer a conversation to being lectured but perhaps I am just an (increasingly) grumpy middle aged woman!!
  8. I really liked this triple bill. Reading the critics, some seemed to be a bit sniffy about lack of a theme but, for my part, what I look for is three very different ballets (on the basis that I will probably enjoy at least two of them) and seeing lots of dancers from across the company. I thought this was a good balance between the relatively 'heavy', serious Obsidian Tear, the passion and drama of Marguerite and the sheer fun and colour of Elite Syncopations. The dancing was excellent in OT but I feel it's just a few minutes too long - it did cross my mind when I lost concentration a bit that I might skip it tomorrow but strangely find myself quite keen to see it again. Muntagirov is definitely one of my 'sacred cows' but I was a bit disappointed in his Armand. His dancing was beautiful, naturally, but for me it was a bit lacking in passion and I thought the whole thing was a bit careful. Lots of exuberance in Elite - everyone very good but Marcelino Sambe just communicates such joy on stage - great way to end a very enjoyable evening.
  9. BMC

    Audience Behaviour

    I agree with all the irritation expressed above - standing ovations used to be really rare and for incredibly memorable performances whereas now they have become standard, particularly when you get big stars appearing. My most annoying one was seeing Christian Slater in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - granted he was very good in it (but not standing ovation good) but he actively gestured to the audience to stand which I thought was really out of order. So I remained resolutely in my seat but of course couldn't see a thing during the curtain calls. Also (and I may be a minority of one on this) I am not too keen on clapping dancers onto the stage unless it's a retirement performance or some such. Much as I love my favourite dancers I feel they haven't actually done anything when they first appear. But as I say, suspect I'm definitely in the minority on this!!
  10. Alison - I thought Reece missed one of the lifts in the bedroom pas de deux when she runs to him and he lifts her over his head - it was very soon after the misstep so agree that there simply wasn't enough time to get fully back on track. And didn't something go awry in the final pas de deux when Lauren ended up on the floor (unexpectedly). It wasn't a big deal as the story and music just carry you along and any mishaps just look like part of someone dying in a swamp!!
  11. Lady MacMillan said that Kenneth MacMillan was really into ice skating when he was making Manon and wanted to incorporate skating moves into the choreography - you can really see that in some of the turns when De Grieux lifts his arms like a skater and in some of the lifts -particularly the one (oh I wish I had the vocabulary to describe it) by the bed in Act 2 with a waist high lift where he spins round and while holding her lifts his leg off the ground. Sorry if not very clear, Sim - did try!!
  12. Yes, I thought Reece Clarke did very well - minor mishap and a couple of partnering issues notwithstanding. Thought his solos were very well danced, particularly given it was his debut, so a great basis to build on. For some reason Lauren doesn't quite do it for me in the big MacMillan roles (Manon, Mary Vetsera) as the passion just doesn't come across for me - I always think she has a very refined air on stage which makes her such a lovely Hermione (although conversely I think she is a fantastic Juliet)c I happened to be in virtually the same seat as for the Osipova Manon and it was fascinating to watch the difference in the interpretations (albeit from a heck of a long way away so it may just be my imagination!). In the scene in the second act, when GM gives Manon the bracelet, it looked as though he was almost already getting a bit bored of Lauren's Manon while she was drinking to try and forget her sadness about what she had had to do to get where she finds herself (and keep herself there). In Osipova's performance GM seemed to be desperate for her attention while she was just busy playing with her bracelet and banging the table when one of the servants had the temerity not to serve her quickly enough, absolutely lapping up being the Queen Bee. How lucky we are to be able to enjoy all these different and wonderful dancers and their various interpretations. And since the Lady MacMillan interview in the screening I am seeing skating moves everywhere!!
  13. That's very kind, balletfanp, thank you so much.
  14. A slightly frustrating Encore for me - I think we were such a sparse audience that the projectionist forgot about us so we didn't tune in until 2.15, just as the overture was starting - with no sound! A bit annoying as it sounds as though we missed an interview and some rehearsal footage with Muntagirov. Anyway, thoroughly enjoyed it once we got going. I think Manon (along with Marie Larisch) is Sarah Lamb's best role - it was a surprisingly wonderful performance with Rupert Pennefather and an equally (but less surprisingly given his exceptional talent) wonderful one with Vadim. Although not a particular favourite of mine, I am really pleased Sarah got the cinema showing - I sometimes feel that she is sometimes caught between the Osipova / Nunez and Hayward / Nagdhi axes, so good to even out the limelight a bit. As for Vadim, I am afraid he is beginning to unbalance performances for me - his dancing is so, so beautiful I simply can't tear my eyes away from him. I feel if a former Prime Minister were in the audience when he's dancing, he might simply say Muntagirov, Muntagirov, Muntagirov!! I find myself increasingly intrigued by Hirano - he hadn't until recently made much of an impact on me but I thought he was an excellent (and quite nasty) Lescaut - he seems to get better all the time with his excellent Leontes and holding his own (no mean feat presumably!) with Osipova in Sleeping Beauty. The drunk dance with Itziar was very well done. I am really quite excited about his Rudolf debut now. Finally a mention for everyone else - Kevin O'Hare remarked how everyone has a a character on stage and the cinema screenings give a great opportunity to see some of the dancers in smaller roles in close up. It's really impressive how much effort they go to to create such believable characters - I particularly noticed the anguish of the transported women when they got off the boat, but all the acting 'on the side' is very well done and much more natural in my opinion than at the beginning of the run, when there was quite a bit of overdoing it. Now for tomorrow's matinee ...
  15. I'm keeping my fingers very tightly crossed that third time lucky and I will get to see Hallberg. Sounds like a really interesting programme.