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Very much enjoyed most of last night's triple bill, part of the pleasure was seeing Alina Cojocaru dancing again, also Junor Souza who I haven't seen for a long time, Approximate Sonata was easily the best ballet for me and the one I wish I could see again, all 4 couples were marvellous and the music was mesmeric.  Fantastic Beings had some great moments too but suffered from being too dark, both lighting and costumes, Isaac Hernandez was superb and I could certainly pick him out by his dancing!  I have always wanted to see The Cage and was looking forward to it, but strangely I found it dated and lacking in drama, I thought The Queen would be the main role but it was Jurgita Dronina as The Novice who made the biggest impression, didn't find the music very powerful either, and it was rather short, so a disappointment all round, but the evening ended with Playlist which was joyous, especially the second half. Nice not to have the evening dragged out by long intervals for a change, much appreciated!

 

 

 

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My main reason for attending a third performance of this programme was to see Jia Zhang as the Queen in "The Cage" on Thursday evening.  As expected, she delivered a searing performance, her body language and amazing, ultra-long legs seeming to say "mess with me at your peril" from the outset as she ruthlessly stalked the stage.  It was also another chance to watch the extraordinary transformation of Jurgita Dronina from her exquisitely beautiful swan-like dancing in "Approximate Sonata" to gauche and ultimately remorseless killer insect.  I marvelled again at the marriage of the choreography with the music, which surely could not have been bettered had Robbins commissioned a score directly from Stravinsky, and it was a pleasure to hear it played so stylishly by the ENB Philharmonic string section under the baton of Maestro Gavin Sutherland.  Apart from Dronina, I also enjoyed the vivacious interpretation of the 4th Sonata by Precious Adams and Aaron Robison in “Approximate Sonata”.  I was tempted to give “Fantastic Beings” a miss but sat through it for a third time, mainly to see the wondrous partnership of Junor Souza and Begona Cao, even more ravishing in their pas de deux on second viewing, and the effervescent dancing of Ken Saruhashi and Crystal Costa (unaccountably not given a place in the front line for the bows).  I felt the ‘role’ given to Erina Takahashi was a waste of her formidable talent.  I did appreciate the phenomenon of Alison McWhinney slowly rising en pointe into what I can only describe as the vertical splits with only the tips of her fingers for support but, apart from these small moments, I have to agree with others that I did not really see the point of reviving this work. If the company wanted to do a work by an American choreographer that was energetic and used a lot of dancers, my choice would have been Glen Tetley’s “Voluntaries” which also has the advantage of being set to great music by Poulenc.  Or, perhaps, it would have been good to see a more intimate piece of his, “Sphinx”, (again to great music by Martinu) which was in LFB’s repertoire in the 1980s and would have been a fitting tribute to the late, lamented Elisabetta Terabust, a stalwart of the company for so many years.  Both works are notated but, alas, it seems Tetley is all but forgotten these days. 

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Went with my 13 y old dd to the closing night. She absolutely loved Fantastic Beings, she felt it had  humour and narrative (according to her they were some form of alien/insect type beings living below ventilation grates from the outer world). We both thought Crystal Costa shone in this dance, and she loved the transformative nature of the shaggy hair costumes once the dancers started turning and leaping in them. 

Approximate Sonata was stunning, hypnotising music, (dd loved the neon costumes also), all of the couples were wonderful but for us Precious Adams stood out. Would love to see her get some recognition in the ‘Emerging Dancer of the Year’ award.

I felt there was a bit of an energy dip after the second interval (perhaps to be expected with a bill of four different pieces) and so maybe for that reason The Cage was the one I connected with least. Despite this Jurgita was incredible as The Novice.

And then Playlist 1 and 2, what a joyful and surprisingly beautiful piece. Who’d have thought classical ballet to 4 to the floor house music would work?? 

Sadlers Wells rocked, and the encore where the entire company came on stage and had an impromptu rave was brilliant. We loved it!

 

 

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On 4/13/2018 at 22:55, bridiem said:

I'm afraid that I didn't enjoy this bill much. I thought that Fantastic Beings was much better than 2 years ago - still too long, but visually striking and beautifully danced, so by far the most enjoyable work from my point of view. I found Approximate Sonata very tedious and unilluminating - lots of extensions and stretches from the couples, but conveying (to me) nothing, either through the choreography or the music. And I thought that the black backdrop going up and down periodically and revealing the word 'YES' was so dated and pretentious. However the work did introduce me to Sarah Kundi in the 4th Sonata - I haven't (knowingly) seen her dance before and she was terrific, infusing the steps with her own style and wit.

 

I was pleased to finally see The Cage - I found it very powerful and original and I loved the music, but it was also (inevitably) very unpleasant. I also couldn't help thinking that (even though they're supposed to be insects) if the genders of the participants were reversed, there would - rightly or wrongly - currently be vocal protests about the theme. Katja Khaniukova and Fabian Reimair were tremendous as the Novice and the Man. Playlist (Track 1, 2) just washed over me - it seemed to be nothing more than a few standard elements of ballet vocabulary performed extremely well, often in unison or small groups, by a technically talented group of men to reasonably engaging music. But at least it was an upbeat ending to the afternoon.

 

ENB do look to be in great form - everything was danced with such skill and commitment. But I wouldn't choose to see any of the works again.

Bridiem. I haven't posted my thoughts on this programme. I don't need to as you have put it all here for me (although I saw a different cast). I will just say that I could appreciate the amazing skill of the dancers, but that gets tiring after a while. Like you, the only piece I could engage with was The Cage. Dispiriting night at the ballet.

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The Voices of America run at Sadlers Wells ended with a 5 minute 'dance-off' encore from the men. A fun way to finish things off - hopefully not literally.

 

In the afternoon, Connie Vowles (ex RBS) made her debut as The Novice in The Cage alongside Jia Zhang's powerful Queen. Along with Alice Bellini, who debuted on Thursday afternoon, she is relatively new to the Company (her second year; Alice's first) and it is really 'quite something' that they were cast, if only for one performance each. I actually preferred them and Katja Kaniukova in the role to Jurgita Dronina, partly because their own youth made their emergence from the chrysalis and some of their exploratory moves feel very real.

 

Fantastic Beings was danced with enormous energy and commitment but, after 4 showings, I was still asking, "What's the point?" 

 

I warmed to Approximate Sonata but wish that it has been danced to music rather than sounds. Unfortunately, audiences didn't seem to 'get' the fact that the forgetfulness in the fifth pas de deux was scripted. Rather, the Cojocaru/Caley and Kanehara/Menezes pairings stood accused by many of losing their way. Rina Kanehara, Precious Adams, and Aaron Robison were the stand outs for me in this piece - although, of course, it was great to see Alina Cojocaru back on stage.

 

As for Playlist (Part 1,2) - ENB men: you were amazing!

 

The reviews for this programme have been very positive in the main but it has been frustrating that so many have concentrated on telling us about the works and, if they have mentioned the dancers at all, they have done so in the form of a list. Those types of critique could be written without seeing the show  and, for me, this quad bill was all about seeing the dancers dance.

 

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Playlist 1,2 would sit very happily in one of Sadler's annual Sampled programmes, where they serve up a mix of excerpts from different companies and genres. The stalls seats are taken out and standing down there is cheap. I can imagine it going down very well with that usually very lively audience. 

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4 hours ago, Lynette H said:

Playlist 1,2 would sit very happily in one of Sadler's annual Sampled programmes, where they serve up a mix of excerpts from different companies and genres. The stalls seats are taken out and standing down there is cheap. I can imagine it going down very well with that usually very lively audience. 

What a fantastic idea! Hope someone takes note!

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