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On 25/10/2017 at 09:57, Bruce said:

Judas Tree and ENB Song of the Earth

 

Hope I'm in the right place - I think Judas Tree and ENB Song have been discussed on separate threads - but they were both on stage together last night so assume they are discussed here...

 

Just wanted to say how much I admired the Judas Tree revival - it's a hell of a piece that makes you think about the base instincts that hover around us humans but rarely fully surface. MacMillan's movement is chillingly graphic and underpinned at every turn by Brian Elias' score. It still feels fresh - years ahead of its time and for me something of a riposte to those still finding their dramatic feet on the dance stage. I wish somebody else would commission Brian Elias. Not easy watching but it makes you ponder at length. I thought Cuthbertson really rose to the occasion as the woman and Watson is a peerless friend. Soares, I think, can did deeper and be more terrifying. Reece Clark, as the second friend, seemed rather out of it.

 

I love the end of Song of the Earth... but not much else. German singing/Lieder does nothing but depress me. Philistines R Us I know! That said Erina Takahashi looked in command of what she was about.

Thank god - another fan who doesn’t think Song is the most wonderful thing ever written.  A deeply depressing work, made themore so by Germansinging.  For me one to miss.

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Absolutely thrilling performance of Gloria by Northern Ballet this evening. I'd forgotten quite how beautiful this work is, and NB gave it full value. Antoinette Brooks-Daw constantly unfurled like a sad, reflective rose held firm by Javier Torres and Riku Ito as they blazed through the choreography. Such force, clarity, commitment from the whole company; and such profundity from MacMillan in this depiction not just of war but of the human condition. Fear, pain, loss, anger, anguish; and love, trust, grace, faith, beauty. Stunning.

 

Stunning in a different sense was Judas Tree. I still have no understanding of what this work is supposed to be conveying. The characters' motivations and relationships are unclear from the start, so what happens has no power to move.  Who is being betrayed, anyway? Is the woman just collateral damage in the relationship between two of the men? Why does the foreman hang himself? (The apparent Judas/Jesus/Mary parallels really don't work for me since they're very confused and distorted.) If you're going to depict such depravity, you need to show why you're doing so or it simply becomes a gratuitous exercise in violence and darkness. Melissa Hamilton and Bennet Gartside were excellent but I felt sorry for all the dancers.

 

I enjoyed Elite Syncopations last week, but to move from Judas Tree to jolly Joplin in a space of minutes bordered on the bizarre. So for me this was a seriously unbalanced bill.

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We haven't had any reports on Sea of Troubles yet - has anyone seen it?

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Oh yes I agree Elite syncopations after Judas Tree is a bit of a mis match Bridiem. As its a while since seen Judas Tree I cannot help with why the foreman hangs  himself at the mo I'm not seeing this till next week ....but may end up puzzled still will have to see! 

 

The triple bill in March in Leeds I'm going to see isn't this one it's Las Hermanas Concerto and Gloria which I Think is a great triple.

Also next week Judas Tree is combined with Song of the Earth .....so could be a bit of a depressing evening though I think Song is supposed to be "uplifting" at least!

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I must be a bit odd but I was ok with Judas Tree before Elite. We had a half hour interval and time to reflect and discuss. I was much happier going home with Elite in my mind. The man in front of us who was writing during ballet on Tuesday was a critic, probably not appropriate to say his name. He nearly had a punch up with people in front of him over a lady with a cough. That helped transfer from Judas to Elite. 

Gloria was amazing, I don’t recognise dancers from Northern but all were brilliant, especially the two main men and the glorious main girl.stunning music.

Another special evening. Thank you to all. 

PS I agree about the kiss!

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I also have no problem with Judas Tree before Elite.

 

I was very pleased with NB's Gloria.  A couple of little slips notwithstanding (particularly the four demi-soloists in the middle of the Laudamus te), I thought they really captured the spirit of the piece and the essence of the choreography.  Also very pleased that the audience took heed of the "don't applaud until the end) announcement (save for one person in the stalls who must have woken up in a blackout and thought the piece was finished).

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43 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

The foreman hangs himself because of internal feelings of guilt, in the same way that Judas hangs himself after betraying Jesus.

 

Well yes, I can see that's the association; but I couldn't see any indication of his internal development that might have led to regret about what happened. Or indeed about why he acted as he did throughout the piece.

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I coped with Judas Tree far better last night than on Tuesday. I felt that the main cast (Gartside, Hamilton, Ball and Richardson) felt more like real people.They gave off great stage energy, danced amazingly and somehow helped me to understand the story and motivations  better. AND the supporting men (some the same as in the first cast, some different) had certainly 'roughed up' and came across as more believable.

 

I too was moved by Gloria, but then I always am - it's one of my very favourite pieces. The music is out of this world. Northern Ballet(notably Brookes-Daw and Ito) danced it well and, in common with the other visiting companies, demonstrated, I think, the benefit of having done several performances elsewhere before bringing it to the ROH stage.

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2 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

I also have no problem with Judas Tree before Elite.

 

I was very pleased with NB's Gloria.  A couple of little slips notwithstanding (particularly the four demi-soloists in the middle of the Laudamus te), I thought they really captured the spirit of the piece and the essence of the choreography.  Also very pleased that the audience took heed of the "don't applaud until the end) announcement (save for one person in the stalls who must have woken up in a blackout and thought the piece was finished).

Just a quick aside...I’ve always been a strict no-clapper in Gloria...but when I saw it in Bradford there was no note in the program re no-clapping. So people  did clap - and yer know what...it was ok. If anything it released a bit of tension, and the applause was respectful. Funnily enough absolute silence after the pas de trois. Again this was a natural reaction. Too good too sad for applause? Audience too moved to move? Whatever the reason, the audience got the ballet and the applause at the end was truly heartfelt.  

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

I coped with Judas Tree far better last night than on Tuesday. I felt that the main cast (Gartside, Hamilton, Ball and Richardson) felt more like real people.They gave off great stage energy, danced amazingly and somehow helped me to understand the story and motivations  better.

 

I too got on with the ballet better last night than on the first night - although that may have been partly related either to the difference between halfway up the amphitheatre and stalls circle or to the fact that I'd refamiliarised myself with it the first night.  My feeling was that the main cast, as you call them, had constructed a narrative between them to hang (no pun intended, sorry) the steps on so that it made more sense.  Whether it's the narrative that MacMillan had in mind, I don't know, but it certainly felt more cohesive (coherent?).

 

What I was surprised to find on the first night was that the background wasn't visible from mid-amphi.  No sign of Canary Wharf or the moons.  I'm sure that when I first saw the ballet back in 1992 both were visible from up in the amphi, so I guess perhaps with the stage having been enlarged the backdrop has been moved further back.

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Sea of Troubles was another treat last night, although I didn't get many Hamlet references, I really enjoyed the choreography which was more balletic than I had imagined, especially for the 3 girls, it consisted of many short episodes over the 35 minutes, and very intense performance from the 6 dancers, a hit!

 

Gloria has always been a favourite of mine,  good to see it again after what seems a long time, a perfect ballet.

 

I thought Judas Tree got a great performance too and was more impressed with the ballet than I can remember, I haven't seen it many times, only watched it on DVD's, but in the theatre it does have huge impact , from high above the staging and choreography looked splendid actually(although I couldn't see Canary Wharf at all) Bennet Gartside was much nastier than I imagined he would be, and a marvellous performance from Melissa Hamilton, everyone was totally committed. I always thought what an amazing ballet it was for a man in his sixties to create.

 

Think I was getting tired by Elite and the long intervals didn't help, liked the guest performances the most, especially Maureya Lebowitz and Mathias Dingman in The Golden Hours, and Kevin Poeung in Friday Night, good contrast with the other ballets though, the 2 tickets only cost me £22 so a bargain night!

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

Sea of Troubles was another treat last night, although I didn't get many Hamlet references, I really enjoyed the choreography which was more balletic than I had imagined, especially for the 3 girls, it consisted of many short episodes over the 35 minutes, and very intense performance from the 6 dancers, a hit!

 

Absolutely agree Beryl. Everyone who can should see this short but brilliantly intense work. Starts cool but really pays off, emotionally and in every way.

 

The box office is amazingly showing tickets for sale tonight, so if you are going to something else, go first to ROH for Sea of Troubles at 6.30 (it is over by 7.05 so plenty of time before 7.30)

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The box office is showing sold out, but I believe it was doing so yesterday as well and yet there were seats empty, so it might be worth checking anyway.

 

I have trawled all around the YDP website without finding confirmation of casting, but it sounds as though you ought to go!

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Saw the triple bill last night. I hadn't seen Judas Tree on stage before and was surprised to find that I found it an impressive piece of work. Certainly not a comfortable or easy one, but to me it seemed to have grown out of Macmillan's earlier works, and at the end I found myself wondering  where Macmillan would have gone from there. Soares, Watson and Reece Clarke all superb, I think Lauren Cuthbertson, although dancing marvellously, was slightly demure, and I tend to agree with the poster who commented that the men looked just the sort that your mum would like her daughter to bring home!  Greatly enjoyed Naghdi and Hirano in Elite Syncopations and a pretty good performance of Gloria.

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55 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

 I think Lauren Cuthbertson, although dancing marvellously, was slightly demure

I so agree. She seems too 'nice' somehow. I just don't see her as 'sexy'

 

56 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

 I tend to agree with the poster who commented that the men looked just the sort that your mum would like her daughter to bring home!  

In some ways though, that makes what happens all the more shocking. 

Soares  makes a wonderful villain, I don't think my Mum would have liked me taking him home much.......

 

Highlight of the evening for me was Gloria. It is such a moving ballet and I think Northern ballet did it proud.

 

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I was really impressed by the triple bill last night - I hadn't seen any of the pieces before and, having read all of the above comments, was a little apprehensive about certain aspects, but I appreciated all three dances. I felt Lauren Cuthbertson to be dangerous and provocative, having not seen it danced before, perhaps others have emphasised this more, but my novice eyes were certainly shocked. Thought Thiago Soares and Ed Watson both deeply moving. Always love watching Lauren and Ed together, they have such a special dynamic. Reece Clarke is a lovely dancer but I didn't really connect with his role in the way I did the others, although perhaps that is to be expected. I really felt for Paul Kay and Valentino Zuchetti going from Judas Tree to Elite Syncopations in the space of 30 minutes, that can't be easy! I sat in the second row of the stalls and felt that I possibly missed out on Elite Syncopations footwork, but enjoyed it nonetheless, with Laura Morera and Yuhui Choe, Paul Kay and James Hay catching my eye in particular. Agree with a previous poster re Gloria perhaps looking not particularly polished, but what a beautiful pas de deux, and exceptional vocals! 

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

 

But maybe Precious Adams had the slight edge?

Can’t comment. Didn’t see Precious Adams.

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On 28.10.2017 at 10:43, ninamargaret said:

Saw the triple bill last night. I hadn't seen Judas Tree on stage before and was surprised to find that I found it an impressive piece of work. Certainly not a comfortable or easy one, but to me it seemed to have grown out of Macmillan's earlier works, and at the end I found myself wondering  where Macmillan would have gone from there.

That’s exactly what I thought, ninamargaret.

Further belated thoughts:

 

I’ve seen Judas Tree only on DVD, with Acosta and Leanne Benjamin who I think were perfect impersonators (after Mukhamedov and Durante), they were thrilling even on video. Soares was very, very good, too, but I feel this role needs an even stronger physical expressiveness. Cuthbertson is so, so beautiful but almost too elegant, I liked Hamilton, when I saw her in the rehearsal on Ballet Day, I thought she’s just the type. I’m always completely bowled over by Watson, he seems to give everything, in every role. It makes me feel exhausted just to watch how he’s fighting.

 

Gloria, I must say, seems to be one of those ballets I’d have to see more often to form any opinion. I loved the music and many parts of the choreography, and Northern Ballet’s dancers were impressive. The set was truly beautiful and atmospheric but I was distracted by the costumes (sadly, I hate head gear in dance) and this got in my way, too.

 

And Elite – I loved it, also watched it the first time on stage, the musicians were even better than on the DVD and how I’d love to be invited to that party! Although I was sitting in the Amphi, Morera, Naghdi and Hirano radiated so much joy and fun it was dazzling. Everybody had a ball, down there and up here, what a great end to a great celebration!

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22 hours ago, Petunia said:

I’ve seen Judas Tree only on DVD, with Acosta and Leanne Benjamin who I think were perfect impersonators (after Mukhamedov and Durante), they were thrilling even on video.
 

 

Er, isn't it Benjamin on the early video with Mukhamedov, too? :confused:

 

I didn't have a particularly brilliant view of Sea of Troubles, but I would like to say how much I appreciated the chance to see the performers, and Jonathan Goddard in particular, up close in the Clore: it made quite a different impression from when I saw it in the Linbury a decade or more ago.

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2 hours ago, alison said:

 

Er, isn't it Benjamin on the early video with Mukhamedov, too? :confused:

 

 

It is on the one I have (twinned with BRB Nutcracker Sweeties).

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I was at the performance on Friday evening.  (I was very lucky to get there at all given the problems on the West Coast mainline on Friday, but thank goodness I did make it!)

 

I found Sea of Troubles intriguing and any chance to see Jonathan Goddard performing should be snatched with both hands!  I think I must have read about Sea of Troubles at one stage because I certainly hadn't read the blurb before I went in and I realised within minutes that it was based around Hamlet.

 

It was very episodic and I found the choreography powerful.  I thought all the dancers were terrific and they certainly brought out the nuances of the relationships.  I would like to see it again. 

 

I was just thrilled with Northern Ballet's heartfelt performance of Gloria.  I had thought it wonderful in Bradford (despite the awful recorded score) and to see it with the full orchestra and chorus was overwhelming.  I thought NB's dancers coped wonderfully well with the luxury of a stage that must be at least 3 times the size of most of the stages they dance on!  They filled the stage!  I'd not seen Gloria before so had nothing to compare it with but I thought Northern Ballet danced it with sincerity and emotion but without trying to "act" it - they let the choreography speak for itself.

 

I've never seen The Judas Tree before and I hope I don't have to see it again.  I thought Lauren Cuthbertson was terrific at portraying a woman who is flirtatious and enjoying herself till it all goes wrong.  Thiago Soares brooded as the Foreman and Edward Watson was magnificent as one of the Friends.  I'm afraid that I thought the younger dancers looked like young boys (whom I appreciate can behave in the way the action is depicted on stage) and not "rough enough".  I found it quite a nasty ballet.

 

I loved the joint-company Elite Syncopations.  I wasn't sure how it was going to work when I could only see RB dancers on stage at the start but actually it worked very well.  I thought Yasmine Naghdi was sublime and Laura Morera very sassy.  For me, Kevin Poeung stole the show as Friday night!

 

So all was well that ended well and it was lovely to see lots of Forum members however briefly.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

I was at the performance on Friday evening.  (I was very lucky to get there at all given the problems on the West Coast mainline on Friday, but thank goodness I did make it!)

 

Drat, wish I'd known!

 

10 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

I was just thrilled with Northern Ballet's heartfelt performance of Gloria.  I had thought it wonderful in Bradford (despite the awful recorded score) and to see it with the full orchestra and chorus was overwhelming.  I thought NB's dancers coped wonderfully well with the luxury of a stage that must be at least 3 times the size of most of the stages they dance on!  They filled the stage!  I'd not seen Gloria before so had nothing to compare it with but I thought Northern Ballet danced it with sincerity and emotion but without trying to "act" it - they let the choreography speak for itself.

 

I appreciated it a lot more on a second viewing - it came over very powerfully.  Possibly something to do with the change in viewing position/angle - I don't remember ever seeing it from straight on and more or less on the same level before, but was very impressed with how well they'd grown into it.

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Friday night  seemed to one for train related fun ...  I'd  been in that there London for a  (old job related) Regulatory thing   and was staying 'sarf of da river' ...  and missed curtain up on Gloria thanks to  Southern and/or Notwork Fail  adding   about 15 minutes into  my  journey back into London .  Going to try and get to see it again in Leeds in March , hopefully from inside the auditorium this time !  

I think Jan's description of The Judas Tree as Nasty is apt,  the  concept and narrative are dark  , it is a piece designed to shock   and ' it all going  wrong'  is a big part of it ...  It's still a piece that people should see once ( or twice)  to form their own impression of it. 

Elite syncopations  is just such a good fun piece  

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Is it me but I seem to recall that Gloria was better lit in the past.The area at the back of the stage was not bathed in Stygian gloom when it was first danced by the RB nor when it was last revived by the company Unfortunately on the night I saw Northern Ballet in Gloria it looked as if the ROH had forgotten to feed the meter. Is this some improvement which Lady M has imposed on it? Is it another one of those revisions which Lady M tells us, from time to time, that Kevin had always wanted to make but strangely never got round to doing during his lifetime? There again it could be an error or yet another manifestation of the modern taste for atmospheric lighting.

 

The performances in Gloria were good. The dancers, having had the benefit of performing the work on a number of occasions, had clearly got to grips with, and mastered, the difficulties which the ballet presents particularly when it comes to partnering. However for me this ballet and several others to be seen during this MacMillanfest are ones which summon ghosts to the stage, and unfortunately I can't expel memories of past performers and performances at will. At present the dancers in Gloria are a bit too careful as if they are more concerned with not being caught out making a mistake than giving the sort of courageous, dangerous full on performances where the correct reproduction of the choreography is only a starting point and not an end in itself. Perhaps they are still in the process of appropriating the the ballet and making it their own.

 

The most obvious example of this cautious approach to the choreography is towards the end of the ballet when one of the women is thrown across the stage and into the wings.As this was one of the few ballets in which I admired Wendy Ellis' performance this passage is seared into my memory. I have never seen this section performed so carefully and so close to the wings before. It still comes as a surprise to those members of the audience who are unfamiliar with the work but the lack of distance traveled does a great deal to reduces that section's impact.

 

Elite Syncopations came up looking as fresh as paint. This too is a ballet of ghosts. It is a ballet of which I find  that a little goes a long way. I find it a little too ingratiating and the humour a bit too broad and heavy handed and deliberate to want to see it that often.It as if MacMillan had to work really hard to produce an amusing ballet. Perhaps it's the Spurling costumes that put me off as much as anything. Anyway for me a little of this work goes a long way and generally after a couple of performances I have had enough. I enjoyed the performances of the two casts I saw and of the guest dancers. I particularly liked that of Precious Adams in Mason's old role. As for the "home team" I look forward to seeing James Hay dancing Coleman's role in its entirety and seeing a bit more of Elizabeth Harrod in this and other ballets. 

 

As I had not seen the original version of Baiser de la Fee I took the opportunity of talking to people I know who saw the original cast dance it . I asked them about the revival's apparent lack of impact. They seemed to think that the vital element that was missing from Scottish Ballet's account of the work was a lack of real

 individual characterisation and contrast between the two female roles and the way they moved. I was told that none of the original cast played their roles as generic types. MacLeary was not a standard ballet youth and neither the Fairy nor Bride were presented as generic ballet characters by the dancers who created the roles. It was perhaps unfortunate that the two  dancers cast as the Fairy and Bride in the revival looked very similar and moved in a similar way. The most obvious contrast between the women in the original cast was height. But I was told that the essential contrast and the one which MacMillan presumably wanted to see was closely connected to the different quality of movement which the original female cast brought to their characters. The Fairy as danced by Beriosova was all compelling authority, stage presence and pure imperial classicism while the Bride as danced by Seymour was all creamy lyricism, flowing movement and as a great dance actress she invested her character's search for her love with real poignancy.  Perhaps Scottish Ballet will be able to breathe life into the ballet when they find themselves able to establish the contrast between the two female characters as they make the ballet their own. Who ho can say?

 

Having gone to the trouble of restoring Baiser to the stage I should hate to see it abandoned again without another company giving it a shot. It certainly made more of an impact on me than the revised version which MacMillan devised in the 1980's. It obviously has no continuous performance tradition. I wonder what part, if any, the two surviving members of the original cast actually played in restoring the ballet to the stage? Perhaps it is one of those ballets which are incapable of outliving its original cast or its initial run. Every choreographer creates such works. But perhaps looking at the film of the original cast might provide clues as to what is missing. Perhaps the individual dancer's style and manner of moving should be seen as an integral part of MacMillan's creation rather than their personal idiosyncrasies? As I say I should certainly like to see another company have a shot at it. Preferably one like the RB which has a strong tradition of performing as dance actors.

 

As for Judas Tree. I have tried it on a number of occasions and it still seems terribly confused and confusing. It is as if MacMillan could not make up his mind what he wanted this ballet to be. I think that it shows that he was not the consummate story teller his fans claim that he was. It is a great pity that the decision was made to revive it when there are other MacMillan ballets more deserving of being restored to the stage such as Danse Concertantes, The Four Seasons, Symphony and Triad. But of course the problem is that none of these works show MacMillan as a man who pushed at ballet's boundaries rather they show him as a very inventive choreographer and apparently we can't have that.

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