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English National Ballet: La Sylphide, The Song of the Earth / Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, London, January 2018

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I had a perfect day on Saturday at the Coliseum. Thank you to dancers for allowing us to watch company class in the morning. Then the breathtaking Corrales and Zhang in Jeune Homme. Drama, technique and stunning music. The table and chairs seemed like members of the cast. Corrales tortured eyes reached the back of the Stalls, Zhang sneer was chilling.

La Sylphide was a true period piece, full of the charm of Bournonville choreography. Loved Arrieta as James, such elevation and crisp batterie, hands in low bras bas bit wooden but beautiful en l air. I enjoyed the swirl of the kilts and the lovely children. I enjoyed McWhinneys Sylphide but felt the corps of Sylphides were lacking magic, a couple of stilted dancers and bright lighting didn’t help. I am only nitpicking it was a great afternoon. 

Really enjoyed meeting LinMM and Lizbie1. The forum gives me so much. Wonderful to be able to share our feelings even if we don’t always agree. Looking forward to Winters Tale Insight on 30th and Giselle matinee Feb 10.

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Regarding Jeune Homme, I was grateful that Corrales at least deigned to wear a facsimile of the original costume.  I found Ivan Vasiliev's sprayed on jeans both inappropriate and singularly unflattering to his body type.  Cesar Corrales was wonderful in the role, as indeed a few years ago was Yonah Acosta, sometimes company members can impress far more than guests.

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14 hours ago, LinMM said:

Yes Caesars dancing was so fantastic yesterday but it was only on the way home that I started thinking just HOW easy he made leaping on and off and spinning around on that table!!  Completely seemed to take that for granted! Amazing!! Also Jia Zhang is another dancer who really dances so well with her eyes. She stood out for her dancing in the Nutcracker and am looking forward to seeing more of her. 

 

I completely forgot to mention the children from yesterday's performance they were really good and totally captivating....with excellent stage presence ........from the West London Academy I believe? I will find out more about this Academy as it deserves supporting ......don't know how much public money it gets and so on. 

 

 

The children were from Young Dancer's Academy in West London, they don't get any public money but they do a lot of fund raising and I think currently 50% of the students there are on some kind of scholarship/bursary. They have had the most incredible experience touring with ENB in the Autumn and performing at the Coliseum these past two weeks!

 

P.S. It does deserve supporting as they are a fantastic vocational school but don't get any government support. There is a gala dinner with Darcey Bussell on March 8th which is for the specific purpose of raising funds for the scholarship and bursary fund - more details are on the school website https://www.westlondonschoolofdance.co.uk

Edited by amos73
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I was overwhelmed by the performances of Jeune Homme led by Cesar Corrales and Jia Zhang – so much so that I have found it difficult to write about it.

It is hard to believe that this work was made in 1946. It feels so contemporary in both theme and choreography. I think that I have now seen 8 different male dancers in this ballet, each portrayal very individual and very valid (I agree with MAB about Acosta’s  terrific reading in 2011). However, last week, Corrales and Zhang seemed to take things to another level of intensity which enveloped the audience as well.

Corrales showed us clearly how tortured by desire the young man was. His whole body spoke of anticipation, yearning, obsession, smouldering passion, confusion, submission. The power and brilliance of his dancing was also all the more affecting because it became totally the servant of the man’s tragic story.

Zhang was equally sensational: exotically smouldering, controlling, teasing, enticing, manipulating. She, also, used every ounce of her body to be the woman not simply act the woman. And there she was back as a demure Sylph in subsequent performances. What an artist!

And what a way for ENB to bring its Coliseum season to a close.

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Random question about the costumes for La Sylphide - it had me wondering when I went to see it a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to ask at the time.

 

There are three tartans - the red, the yellow, and the dark one.  We know that the dark tartan is James's, and the yellow one is Gurn's, and Effie changes from one to the other when she ends up with Gurn.  So what is the significance of the red one?

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3 minutes ago, RuthE said:

Random question about the costumes for La Sylphide - it had me wondering when I went to see it a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to ask at the time.

 

There are three tartans - the red, the yellow, and the dark one.  We know that the dark tartan is James's, and the yellow one is Gurn's, and Effie changes from one to the other when she ends up with Gurn.  So what is the significance of the red one?

 

I assume its meant to represent Effie's 'clan'. 

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I was at the Saturday matinee and there appeared to be more ballet fans about, good atmosphere and more applause than at some of the other performances I had been to, nice way to end this mini season, I saw 5 La Sylphides in total, the McWhinney/Arrieta cast twice, thought they were slightly better on Saturday. My favourite cast was the Takahashi/Tamayo/Kloborg one, it seemed more in the Danish spirit somehow, probably due to Eva Kloborg, I found the other Madges not quite as dramatic :)

 

Cesar Corrales was as amazing and intense as Ivan Vasiliev in Jeunne Homme, whereas Isaac Hernandez was softer, but just as anguished, not a bad thing, missed seeing Joseph Caley. Although I always sat high up and missed some of the scenery, The Times review confirmed that the flashing Citreon sign was missing, wonder why.

 

Shame there were so many empty seats, out of the 5 performances  I was able to sit in the seat I had booked three times, the other 2 times I was moved to the Upper Circle,  ENB don't seem to have a regular audience for the cheaper seats although the Stalls and Dress Circle always seemed full. 

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The flashing Citroen sign was not actually missing, but as I discovered on one of my trips to the Dress Circle it's probably not visible from the left-hand 35% or so of the auditorium (and the chimney for La Sylphide barely was).

 

I suspect the stalls and dress circle seeming full was probably due to the number of discount offers and people upgrading their normal seats accordingly.  I know I ended up spending more on every performance I attended than I would have done sitting in my usual balcony seats, but decided that given how much of the previous year I'd had to miss and what bargains the seats were I could probably afford it for a change.

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Thanks for that fab piccie Janet it definitely captures something of the performance!! 

And amos73 for the info on the school will read up about it as I originally thought it might give chances to more local children as part of its ethos  (something somebody told me....not on the forum!) but will check this out. 

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8 hours ago, alison said:

The flashing Citroen sign was not actually missing, but as I discovered on one of my trips to the Dress Circle it's probably not visible from the left-hand 35% or so of the auditorium (and the chimney for La Sylphide barely was).

 

I suspect the stalls and dress circle seeming full was probably due to the number of discount offers and people upgrading their normal seats accordingly.  I know I ended up spending more on every performance I attended than I would have done sitting in my usual balcony seats, but decided that given how much of the previous year I'd had to miss and what bargains the seats were I could probably afford it for a change.

 

Yes, I was always slightly on the left and never did see the Sylphide disappear up the chimney or from the chair! I thought of upgrading but decided to stick with my £12 seats, the front row of the Balcony gives an amazing view, compared to the ROH amphi ticket which cost £35 and felt much further away from the stage!

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15 hours ago, fromthebalcony said:

Robison was guesting the week of the ROH performances with Dronina in a Canadian ballet gala.

The ROH performances were in two separate weeks!

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I also saw the matinee on Saturday & can only echo what others have already said. I loved the intensity of Le Jeune Homme & how both Jia Zhang & Cesar Corrales managed to convey the various emotions so clearly (even from my seat in the Balcony). I loved the music as well. I would love to see more of Zhang in the future. 

 

La Sylphide is not something I’ve ever seen before, although before Saturday I did watch the video of Schaufuss/Evdokimova on YouTube (beautiful). I really enjoyed it. I found the ending - when she loses her wings - profoundly moving. Alison McWhinney was a delightfully mischievous Sylph & I also enjoyed Aitor Arrieta. Their smiles were infectious in Act II. Stina Quagebeur is a complete chameleon & always completely inhabits the characters she plays/dances. 

I do agree with others regarding the corps. I felt some of the dancing was a bit stiff. A minor quibble. 

 

Overall, it was a really enjoyable double bill; I only wish I could have attended more performances from this run. I do wonder if the empty seats were indicative of the month (just after Christmas, before payday)? The Balcony was noticeably sparse & I remember Le Corsaire being the same last year around the same time... 

 

 

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1 hour ago, nevsky said:

The ROH performances were in two separate weeks!

Yes, you are correct.  We never know what goes on behind the scenes.  I do know that they performed Grand Pas Classique and Romeo & Juliet in the gala, not an easy feat.  Perhaps with preparation and then the return from Canada, it was impossible to prepare for the ROH performances.

Edited by fromthebalcony

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I was at the final evening performance and it looked packed in the auditorium.

When I asked my dc who was dancing with them how the sylph disappears up the chimney she told me two of the cast haul her up by her arms, so there is padding on the inside of it because she invariably bangs her legs on it!

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Good grief - don't they have a metal pole or something they pull her up on?

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6 hours ago, alison said:

Good grief - don't they have a metal pole or something they pull her up on?

 

No! I thought it was some kind of mechanical lift platform like the one she comes down on when she steps through the window. Couldn't believe it when she told me.

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On 1/21/2018 at 17:04, turtledove said:

No disrespect to Vasiliev, and by all means invite him if it will boost ticket sales which look a bit sticky. But what I don't get about ENB is the frequency with which guests are featured on opening nights or on special occasions such as the performances at the Royal Opera House or the Paris Opera. It makes it seem as if company dancers are not up to the job when that is very much not the case.

Puzzling.............

 

And now we shall have a guest (Cirio again) dancing Hilarion in the cinema version of Khan's Giselle. Although Cirio's interpretation is admirable, I think that this casting is such a pity. I believe that Corrales was injured at the time but another company member (Saruhashi) was dancing in Liverpool (as, actually, was Oscar Chacon who, if I recall correctly, created the role with Akram Khan).

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7 minutes ago, turtledove said:

 

 

but another company member (Saruhashi) was dancing in Liverpool (as, actually, was Oscar Chacon who, if I recall correctly, created the role with Akram Khan).

 

Was Akram Khan's Hilarion not first done for Corrales???  The premiere performance in September 2016 featured the originating cast of Cojocaru, Hernandez and Corrales.  Here is a review from the Manchester Evening News of that International Festival performance that records this fact I believe:  

 

Although it is a fantastic performance from Cesar Corrales, as his shape-shifting, love rival Hilarion, which steals the show.

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I agree. Either Saruhashi should have been filmed or the guest who helped to create the role (Chacon) and was, in my view, absolutely fantastic in it. I went all the way to Liverpool especially to see him again. I wonder whether a DVD is being contemplated and it's thought that having a dancer from ABT would help market it. More prosaically, perhaps it was just decided to film an established cast.

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I’d thought that Chacon created the role but have just realised I saw him in Rojo’s cast at the first preview night in Manchester. Corrales was in Cojocaru’s cast and they did indeed perform on the official first night.

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...I did not have the opportunity to see Chacon in Hilarion - but it seems that when Corrales got injured, Cirio took his casting for those weeks of the national tour and ROH. Wasn't Liverpool after Bristol - or not?  Saruhashi seemed to be replaced in the Bristol casting of the program there - maybe sick or injured so maybe not 100% for Liverpool?  So - if that was the case - neither of the other 2 - Cirio or Chacon are ENB dancers, at that point it's a matter of who has rehearsed with who....

i truly wish I'd seen all casts - 

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On 22/01/2018 at 10:43, MAB said:

Regarding Jeune Homme, I was grateful that Corrales at least deigned to wear a facsimile of the original costume.  I found Ivan Vasiliev's sprayed on jeans both inappropriate and singularly unflattering to his body type. 


If it was unflattering is a matter of taste (I don't agree), but fact is, other dancers, including Nurejev and Barishnikov, didn't wear the original overall, as can be easily seen in YouTube. I saw even professional critics mention the costum "problem", they forgot what they have seen? For surely they saw? It was as if ENB or Ivan Vasiliev were guilty of major heresy, while it was Roland Petit who either approved or decided - there is a video where the choreographer himself is splattering paint on his Ivan Vasiliev's jeans. Small flaws like this, coming from professionals... makes you wonder! 
Bringing guests means all involved can exchange experience and knowledge, the more different their backgrounds, the more interesting and enriching it can be. It's not just a ticket selling strategy, and there is no implicit low evaluation of the house artists - if anything, it's just the opposite: you don't bring an outsider, if you think s/he will put your own group to shame. Today we have a guest in our company, tomorrow our artists guest somewhere else. So let's enjoy excellence in diversity: it's good for the artists, it's good for us. 

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8 hours ago, MaggiM said:


If it was unflattering is a matter of taste (I don't agree), but fact is, other dancers, including Nurejev and Barishnikov, didn't wear the original overall, as can be easily seen in YouTube. I saw even professional critics mention the costum "problem", they forgot what they have seen? For surely they saw? It was as if ENB or Ivan Vasiliev were guilty of major heresy, while it was Roland Petit who either approved or decided - there is a video where the choreographer himself is splattering paint on his Ivan Vasiliev's jeans. Small flaws like this, coming from professionals... makes you wonder! 
Bringing guests means all involved can exchange experience and knowledge, the more different their backgrounds, the more interesting and enriching it can be. It's not just a ticket selling strategy, and there is no implicit low evaluation of the house artists - if anything, it's just the opposite: you don't bring an outsider, if you think s/he will put your own group to shame. Today we have a guest in our company, tomorrow our artists guest somewhere else. So let's enjoy excellence in diversity: it's good for the artists, it's good for us. 

 

Le Jeune Homme has a somewhat patchy performance history, but there are enough images of the original performance to give a clear indication of the designers intentions.  Rudolf Nureyev was notorious for refusing to wear certain costumes, even those specifically designed for him.  No doubt you recall the incident with Cecil Beaton.  However, the jeans Nureyev wore were of the conventional variety, the elasticated version Ivan Vasiliev wore hadn't been invented back then, Ivan Vasiliev has unusually short legs and they were unflattering to his physique.

 

I don't know how you deduce from what I wrote that I am hostile to guests per se, especially as I wrote very enthusiastically about Ciro Tamayo, another guest artist, on this thread. 

 

I'm very interested as to what my group is btw, 'the balletic head bangers' perhaps?

 

 

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Dance Europe has a raft of reviews about these programmes. The last one is about the unforgettable performance of Jeune Homme by Cesar Corrales and Jia Zhang. Just a few phrases to give the flavour:

 

".....the emotional tension he brings is palpable......"

". ....he is a dancer very much in his own elevated league...."

"......his every move and expression appears to explode and evolve from within...."

"......she, too, could not be better cast......"

"......her physical beauty and allure dangerously bewitching....."

".....a savage yet riveting account of the tragedy...."

 

Deborah Weiss concludes by saying that her companion (a regular ballet goer) remarked that it was the best thing  she had ever seen.

 

It was a Thursday matinee and the house was by no means full.

 

 

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