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  1. There isn't....just some background shenanigans. The girls all slowly drip back onto the stage, all having had too much to drink. They all realise something is amiss with the card game, and one of the girls sneaks around, sees the card in DG's pocket and whispers to the other girls what's going on. But they are just standing around; there is no dancing. MacMillan was too clever a choreographer to make a distraction during such a pivotal scene. Having said that, in R&J everyone is watching Paris dance with Juliet and most people miss the moment Romeo first lays eyes on her and starts ignoring his friends as he is transfixed. That is a pivotal moment, and it is just swallowed up. That's why I loved it when Johan Kobborg used to walk upstage left, take a few steps forward so that everyone could see what was happening, and then went back downstage just in time to come face to face with Juliet. That way makes so much more dramatic sense.
  2. The genie is already out of the bottle, though. The stable door has been closed after the horse has bolted. It's too late to repair any damage.
  3. Ah thanks Bridie, that worked! Yes, a very non-committal statement (from what I could understand!). I will be interested to see a) whether he turns up this weekend and b) if he does, how he does and how he is received.
  4. Can someone kindly put this up in English please? When I click the link and go to 'original' or 'translation' they are both in German. I clicked elsewhere and it said 'translate' and when I clicked that it took me to a German version of the Raymonda production notes. I must be doing something wrong?!
  5. Thrilled to see four and five star reviews of the production and Alina across the critical board today (see Today's Links for all the reviews published thus far). Whoever is lucky enough to see them on Sunday, you are in for a real treat!
  6. I guess it's just a different way of interpreting: some DGs do the solo as a kind of serious yearning, and some (like Caley) do it as 'look how happy I am to have found you; please reciprocate'! They both work for me, depending on who is dancing. Enjoy Sunday!
  7. Indeed he is....until he meets Manon. First love, probably first sex.....what young man, who most probably knew nothing about either, wouldn't have a big grin on his face having experienced both??!! DG IS very serious and bookish when he first appears, but the whole point is that he is so smitten with Manon that he drops his book, his studiousness and everything else just to be with her. His joy and abandon are in real contrast to his demeanour when he first arrives onstage. For me, the contrast really worked. He made me understand why he would risk everything for this girl. Love does strange things to people....!
  8. Am seeing them Saturday night, Richard, so do let us know what you think.
  9. Not sacrilege at all....there have been quite a few times before this year where I was disappointed with her performances; I think that's why I have been particularly bowled over this year, as she seems to be back to where she was (as much as is possible without Kobborg partnering her; that was once-in-a-generation special). As a matter of fact, if I hadn't happened to see her Sleeping Beauty earlier this year, I might well have skipped her Swan Lake and Manon....and boy am I glad I didn't!
  10. I am one of those people who disagrees with you, Irmgard! I loved both interpretations last night, as well as that of Jeffrey Cirio (Lescaut). As when I watch Onegin, I have to work very hard to banish Cojocaru/Kobborg from my mind when I watch Manon; as far as I'm concerned, there was them, and then everybody else. So watching Alina with different partners these past few years has taken quite an adjustment on my part, but such is the reality of loving ballet: things change, people change. I liked Alina's partnership with Joseph Caley in Sleeping Beauty earlier this year. I loved his partnership with her in Manon last night. I thought he had just the right balance between puppyish young boy and protective lover; he really does make a journey from Act 1 to Act III. His dancing was excellent, as was his partnering. They had a profound chemistry, and he was so convincing as the sensitive young man in love for the first time, and intent on doing everything he could to keep and protect this miracle that has happened to him, totally unexpectedly. I found their final pdd full of emotion, not pedestrian at all. I was very moved at the end of it, although the curtain came down way too quickly. As a matter of act, everything seemed a bit rushed; the tempi of the music was often faster than I am used to (but lushly played as always), the curtain came down way too quickly at the end of each act so that the audience didn't have time to absorb what was happening, and the curtain calls in that theatre are always rushed to the point where it's almost insulting. Anyway, I digress...Alina's portrayal of Manon is multi-layered and finely nuanced; a Manon for the 21st century. For a second, just before her first pdd with Des Grieux, she hesitates, wondering whether or not she should proceed with this. Lescaut has made very clear that this is not the guy for her because he has no money. (Cirio's Lescaut was very clear from the start: we knew exactly who he is and what he is. He too makes a very convincing dramatic journey from start to finish. His dancing was brilliant, his drunk scene very funny (but it was one-sided funny; had he had a Mistress at the same comic level it would have been even better) and his death scene very real). But once she's in, she's in all the way. However, that one shadow that passed over her face gave me a real sense of foreboding. When she goes off with M. GM at the end of Act 1, it is not as a little minx who's out for everything she can get. She isn't happy, but she knows that she doesn't have much choice, being goaded and pushed by her pimp of a brother. In the Act 2 party scene, she is passed, pushed and pulled, pawed and prodded...and she finally has enough. At one point we see her pushing the abusive GM away, glaring at him as if to say "I am what I am, but you don't own me, and you have no right to treat me like this. Lay off." I have never seen that before, and I liked this feisty approach. In the final act, those oh-so-expressive eyes told Manon's final chapter. It was heartbreaking to watch as poor DG was momentarily filled with hope, trying to encourage her to keep going so that they could move on. She tried so hard to do what he wanted her to do, and watching her fade by the minute was incredibly realistic. I found this pdd incredibly moving, and beautifully danced by both. James Streeter and Fabian Reimair (M. GM and the Gaoler) both relished their performances as the nasty, power-hungry, abusive men of the piece. Excellent actors both, they were the perfect reminder that opposite love, there is evil. This made for a very convincing tragic tale. The support from the rest of the cast was excellent; without the sumptuous sets of the RB version of the ballet, they are much more exposed and they made a great job of it. Unencumbered by huge sets and costumes, the company really had to make the choreography speak for itself, and they did....this choreography spoke to me on all kinds of levels. My slight disappointment was Miss Khaniukova as the Mistress; as I mentioned in my post last night, I just didn't get anything from her. Her dancing was ok, but I just didn't feel it. Interesting that Irmgard said she portrayed her as a high-class courtesan; a friend of mine said that she thought she was playing her like a street-walker!! All in all I loved this performance more than I was expecting to, and for me, Miss Cojocaru goes from strength to strength and seems to have found a depth and maturity to her roles that is different from her equally wonderful portrayals when she was younger. Long may it continue; she is a real jewel in our ballet crown. And huge kudos to Joe Caley, who has taken to partnering this wonderful artist on an equal footing in all respects. I hope that this partnership will flourish as it will benefit them both. Most of all, it will benefit us, the audience. Many congratulations to all on a fine start to this short London run.
  11. Interesting....I didn't get anything from her at all. I thought the other three leads were marvellous, and when danced like this, MacMillan's choreography sings and speaks for itself. The lack of a sumptuous set and costumes didn't detract a jot from tonight's performance. It has on previous occasions, but not tonight. More thoughts tomorrow!
  12. He joined way before 2017!! He was made a First Soloist in 2009 and a Principal the year after.
  13. There's a more extensive interview with Carlos in the NY Times (see Today's Links), but here in a nutshell is what he had to say about how he will approach the role: "My ambition is to build on its classical traditions, expand its repertoire, and to reach out to new and more diverse audiences. I want to define what it is being a world-leading classical ballet company in the 21st century."