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5 hours ago, bridiem said:

Seen on Twitter: Cast change: due to injury Aaron Robison will be replaced by Isaac Hernandez in the role of Prince Desire on Friday 15 June.

 

That's a relief.  Sitting here watching BRB, I was wondering if Joseph Caley was going to have to abandon his scheduled partnering of his wife in her last performances here.

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Thoughts on three performances. 

 

Gorgeous production: scenery made wonderfully atmospheric by fabulous lighting and terrific costumes. 

 

The women in the corps impressed me enormously; they were stylistically harmonious and generally exceptionally well co-ordinated making for a very pleasing vision scene and Act 3. Whoever was coaching them gets a huge thumbs up from me. 

 

I saw Takahashi/Arrieta twice and Alexandrova/Caley. The ladies could hardly be more different in look and style but I enjoyed both enormously. For sure Alexandrova doesn’t look like an Aurora but her dancing simply sparkled and her attention to her suitors, parents and Prince was all entirely appropriate, no grand standing Bolshoi showmanship here. I was even more impressed how she and Caley made the most of a less than ideal cast change. Caley looks like a schoolboy anyway and pitted against Alexandrova’s womanliness only exaggerated the contrast. He was also unfortunately at least 1/2 a head too short for her. But professionals that they were it didn’t phase them in the least and there was great warmth between them. The partnering was generally smooth including the fish dives, although they wisely omitted the high lift at the very end. It was my first time seeing Caley and he’s a neat if small scale dancer.  By contrast Arrieta is tall with long limbs and a lovely line with good elevation. He danced all his solos neatly, and partnered Takahashi attentively, definitely one to watch, I hope he’s cast as Des Grieux next year. 

Takahashi may be coming to the end of her career but she can still pass for a 16 year old Aurora. She was enchanting and I only have one gripe - I just wish she wouldn’t overextend her Rose Adagio balances :(

 

As far as Lilac fairies and variations were concerned it was sadly much the same story as the RB last time they danced it. I liked Alison McWhiney’s manner and warmth but unfortunately neither she nor Begonna Cao could conquer the variation - the Italian fouettés defeated them both. 

 

Among the soloists I saw it was a mixed bag, my standouts were Katja Kaniukova, Francesca Velicu and Ken Saruhashi who nearly nailed an excellent Bluebird. 

 

The orchestra were fabulous, and thanks to the Coli discounts I was able to enjoy the sound from great seats in the Dress Circle. 

 

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No time - and besides I've already written - but just wanted to say that Cojocaru and Caley provided a gold standard SB this afternoon.  Truly.  They were beyond winning; they were, in fact, entirely victorious.  It was a privilege to simply share the same air.  One just prays that there might - just might - be yet another occasion to savour such glory .... or would that edge on being entirely too selfish?   

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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So pleased to hear that, Bruce, and so pleased I got to see them on opening night.  

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A L I N A   C O J O C A R U  this afternoon,  in a half full Coliseum, was simply out of this world. I agree with Bruce Wall: it was a privilege to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

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Agreed. Simply outstanding. Probably my last ballet of the season and very pleased to finish on such a high. 

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Alina Cojocaru was absolutely stunning this afternoon, and her partnership with Joseph Caley was gorgeous. They lit up the stage and lifted my heart. What a joy and privilege to have been able to be there.

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I can only echo Capybara and Bruce - this afternoon Alina gave us the Sleeping Beauty of our dreams, utterly exquisite and such a joy to behold.  It is astonishing Alina still brings such freshness and vitality to her performances and is so compelling as a 16 year old Aurora.  Alina was my wife's favourite ballerina, with Francesca and Yasmine (alphabetical order) fast approaching, and this afternoon's matinee brought back so many memories of Alina's performances from years back.

 

I'm so pleased to have heeded Sim's and Alison's advice and made the trip.  I'd made late arrangements for a day trip and then back tomorrow for double Swan Lake.  Fortunately I beat Storm Hector with an early train this morning but no trains home so an unscheduled extra night in London.  Swan Lake tickets at home but the Box Office are very understanding.

 

It's disappointing there were so many empty seats - it had been 1,000+ a day or so ago.  But despite being able to buy best seats on the day for £20.00 for concessions there must have been hundreds of spare tickets.  A great shame as so many will have missed out on experiencing what for me was much more than a glimpse of perfection.

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I’m very late in writing about Saturday’s matinee, but better late than never, I hope. I thought it was glorious.

 

i had never seen Jurgita Dronina dance before - I was very much looking forward to doing so, and she certainly did not disappoint- I thought she was exquisite. She was lovely in Act 1, full of joy and ebullience, and her Rose Adage was very strong. I very much liked Isaac Hernandez too - in Act 2 there was a lovely stillness to his presence. I completely believed in the relationship between Aurora and Desire and the chemistry between them was clear to me in both the Vision pdd and the radiant wedding pdd.

 

Other highlights for me - Sarah Kundi as Carabosse combined fury and spite with some wickedly humorous touches: I loved the contemptuous pulling off and tossing aside of Catalabutte’s hat and wig. I also enjoyed Rina Kanehara as the fairy of the woodland glade; I always think she has beautiful presence. 

 

There was so much to enjoy and admire - a wonderful afternoon.

 

 

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

I'm so pleased to have heeded Sim's and Alison's advice and made the trip.  

 

I'm so glad you did too, John!  Had I known you were there, I'd have come and said hello.

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

 A great shame as so many will have missed out on experiencing what for me was much more than a glimpse of perfection.

 

I have just been saying the same thing. What some of us were lucky enough to see this afternoon was a sublime performance by one  of the greatest Auroras ever, one of the greatest ballerinas ever, and one of the very greatest ballerinas in the world right now.

 

So why, when it became apparent that there would be a thousand empty seats, did not someone do something about inviting full-time ballet school students, adult ballet class students, performing arts students etc to come to the Coli free of charge. This could have been a wonderful opportunity for people to see ballet at its exquisute best as well as to attract new audiences to ENB.

 

 

Edited by capybara
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41 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

I have just been saying the same thing. What some of us were lucky enough to see this afternoon was a sublime performance by one  of the greatest Auroras ever, one of the greatest ballerinas ever, and one of the very greatest ballerinas in the world right now.

 

So why, when it became apparent that there would be a thousand empty seats, did not someone do something about inviting full-time ballet school students, adult ballet class students, performing arts students etc to come to the Coli free of charge. This could have been a wonderful opportunity for people to see ballet at its exquisute best as well as to attract new audiences to ENB.

 

 

 

I completely agree on this one. There are also plenty of ‘bums on seats’ ticket groups around - tickets available at a few hours notice, in Manchester my parents get deals based on the fact that they live and work in Manchester. This has essentially brought him - a completely new audience - to the ballet and this is where I think the tickets could have most value, offering to people who work in London as seat fillers at short notice. Or great for students at London universities, not just performing arts students, or possibly as an extension of ‘Chance to Dance’ type programmes. 

 

On a completely separate note, Francesca Vellicu was a wonderful in the Bluebird pdd tonight - she really shone and I could see why she was shortlisted for Emerging Dancer. Definitely one to watch!

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John I am so pleased that you were able to see Alina dance again, and so beautifully!  

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On ‎08‎/‎06‎/‎2018 at 16:01, Sim said:

Not sure why the wicked fairy is made to look like Elizabeth I on a bad-hair-and-powder day, but hey, I just went with it. 

 

I guess I'm probably the only person who thought that in Act I, when hidden under her cloak, she looks rather like a disguised Vorlon in an encounter suit.  No? :) 

 

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Whilst comments about yesterday's matinee have focused quite rightly on the peerless Alina Cojocaru, I must say how impressed I was with the whole cast and production.  Joseph Caley was a great Desire, strong and wonderfully attentive.  I very much enjoyed Shiori Kase's Lilac Fairy, commanding at the end of Act 2.  James Streeter's Carabosse was also a highlight.  But how good to see such consistency and high standards throughout the company.  I think there could be a bit more flair/exuberance from some of the solos but this performance has very much restored my admiration for the English National Ballet and I rather think an earlier matinee I saw was a bit of an aberration.  [Being more on the sides I also found the other exits - last time being more central I and I guess a lot of the audience found ourselves being rather funnelled down the main exit.]

 

With Storm Hector causing such problems for getting home and recognising I'd probably have to have an unscheduled stay in London, it would no doubt have been easy to get a little distracted - Swan Lake tickets and background insulin to the fore.  But this fabulous Sleeping Beauty was so captivating and I could only luxuriate in the immediacy of performance.  Indeed 'nothing matters very much and not a lot matters much at all' when transported by Alina and her ENB colleagues.

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Talking of which, I seem to have mislaid my cast sheet.  Is there anyone who was there who has a scanner and could do me a copy, please?  Given what a great afternoon it was, I'd be sorry not to have any record of it.

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I have just returned home to the north west from London where I saw Thursday's ENB Sleeping Beauty performances lead by Cojocaru and Dronina in the matinee and evening. Thanks to those who have already made comments about Cojocaru's final performance in this run saying how special  it was.

 

I have not much more to say than has already been said, in fact Capybara took the words right out of my mouth in describing it as  'out of this world'. I felt the power of it most strongly in the vision scene, where lime-lit and alone on the stage, her tiny presence seemed to encompass the entire space of the Coliseum. She just seemed to be so freely and unconsciously dancing the steps as if they had just occured to her. Since 'out of this world' has been used, I'll use 'incandescent' ! Splendid regal technique blended with authentic characterisation and the added magical element - just what we always hope for when we go to the ballet.

 

Sim made a point which chimed with me, that Cojocaru's most recent Giselle with ENB (2017) was not quite what some of us expected (I also saw this at the Colsieum, and a couple of other people on this forum raised minor questions about the quality of the performance, versus our impossibly high expectations), which lead us to worry/speculate. How glad I am to have my doubts dispelled so completely.

 

Dronina I have long admired only through videos on YouTube, where some of her spectacular Aurora with Dutch National Ballet can be viewed. I had to pinch myself when reminding myself that I was seeing both her and Cojocaru in one day. I am delighted to have seen her seen her as Aurora live, to add to my memories. Once again (and perhaps it helped by the staging in this MacMillan production) in the vision scene her presence radiated powerfully.  

 

I should spend more time praising the rest of the dancers I saw,  and the orchestra, and this production which I have not seen before (I have seen 3 Sir Peter Wright Sleeping Beauty performances with BRB this year), but I'll be here all day. I admired the taste of the design with it's relatively subtle (and sometimes luxuriously dark) backgrounds and costumes. Janet McNulty described the Wright design as 'autumnal' and I think the word is appropriate here too. Other performances which stood out - Alison McWhinney as Diamond, and I agree with Blossom about Francesca Velicu as Princess Florine. Very good fairies in both performances I saw, particularly Katja Khaniukova's Enchanted Garden Fairy. 

 

P.S. Alison I have a cast sheet for Thurs 14th June Matinee, let me know if you still require a scan - tried to send you a message but can't work out how to add attachments.

Edited by northstar
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Back from what felt to me like a very strange performance of Sleeping Beauty. It's a very handsome production, with terrific costumes; but Aurora (Alexandrova) seemed to me to be on a completely different scale from anyone else on stage. Some of her dancing was lovely, but she was entirely unlike anyone else - bigger, grander, and really as if she had landed from somewhere else altogether (further afield even than Russia). She was so far removed from a young princess, and she and Hernandez were so ill-matched, that I couldn't really take it seriously as a telling of the story. And although he danced beautifully, his acting was I thought completely perfunctory. The lifts and fish dives were OK, but seemed to be a bit of a struggle. And I found the rest of the performances patchy - Stina Quagebeur was a brilliant Carabosse, full of real malevolence, but although Tiffany Hedman had a lovely gracious quality as the Lilac Fairy the solo didn't go well. Daniel McCormick and Rina Kanehara were excellent as Bluebird/Florine, but some of the other solos were less impressive (including most of the fairies - and most of their dances seemed to be taken incredibly slowly for some reason).

 

So - great production, but for me, not a great performance.

 

P.S. It did feel a bit disorientating, suddenly seeing a Beauty having been so immersed in Swan Lake for the last month! My main reaction was: Tchaikovsky, what a genius.

 

Edited by bridiem
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8 hours ago, northstar said:

P.S. Alison I have a cast sheet for Thurs 14th June Matinee, let me know if you still require a scan - tried to send you a message but can't work out how to add attachments.

 

Thanks, northstar.  I'd really appreciate it if you would.  I thought I might have emptied my bag out in the office afterwards, but it doesn't look like it.  I've tried adding attachments before, without much success, I seem to remember.

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After seeing the perfect Cojocaru/Caley first night I was prepared to be less enthralled yesterday although I cheered up after reading Isaac Hernandez would be dancing, in the event I agree with bridiem that it was strange, although I thought Maria Alexandrova was just as I remembered her, warm and gracious in both her dancing and acting (although like most Russian ballerina's she doesn't let go of the Princes' hands to balance, just quickly shifts to the next hand), but she suffered from the completely wrong partner again. Isaac Hernandez only really looked happy dancing the Act 3 solo, nothing went wrong but it just looked uncomfortable at times like the fish dives, it was still a huge pleasure to see her again and they both did well in the circumstances.  I was lucky to see Rina Kanehara and Daniel McCormick dance the Bluebirds again, and Junor Souza looked so happy dancing in the Rose Adagio with Maria, hint ?

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I really hope Maria comes back to dance in Giselle. Unfortunately, I miss Alina’s performances, but Tuesday and Friday were special. Maria was excellent and so was the company. ENB don’t get enough credit. 

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Living in France, I was in the Coliseum last week at the opening night. 

 

Alina Cojocaru is really a wonderful ballerina who knows to always try new things with a wonderful musicality.

 

Joseph Caley was a wonderful prince with beautiful legs and feet. Strong partnership.

 

But I was disappointed by the company in this kind of production.  Fairies variations were uneven, very nice Rina Kanehara but quite weak Begona Cao.

 

Sad to say that Shiori Kase does not do it for me, feet seems to be a major problem with her. 

 

I wanted to go back the next day as there were many empty seats but was so bored at the end of the evening (despite wonderful Cojocaru and Caley) that I sadly changed my plans.

 

To me the Royal Ballet production and dancers in Sleeping Beauty are the best !

Edited by MAX
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This afternoon (16th June) was Shiori Kase's debut as Aurora and Ken Saruhashi's debut as Prince Desiree. Both acted their roles really well and  their dancing was lovely.

 

Shiori showed us both the young girl and the more confident 'bride'' her interpretation blossomed and her dancing flowed as she immersed herself in the story. Ken was very princely in his manner (I thought more so than ENB's other leads) and gave us believable characterisation throughout. His soliloquy was heartfelt and his Act 3 variation was exhuberant.

 

Shevelle Dynot was a very effective Carabosse, although Stina Quagebeur's beautiful but evil persona the previous evening edged it for me (in fact, I can't remember a better Carabosse - anywhere). And I liked Sarah Kundi as The Queen very much indeed. She didn't have a great deal to do but she shared her thoughts with her eyes. Other stand outs were Francesc Velicu as a Bluebird and Katja Kaniukova as Diamond. Francesca in particular has had a phenominally busy couple of weeks, in at least seven different roles, I think, plus her Emerging Dancer pieces, but she has shone brightly at all times. Along with Rina Kanehara, both Katja and Francesca are surely Auroras in waiting.

 

I've seen five shows altogether and there were more people standing up to cheer today than at other times. It's so nice when fine performances are matched with real appreciation.

 

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I was wondering if Michael Coleman was Cattalabutte at every performance. Did anyone else do it ? Considering he is in his late 70s he seemed remarkably spritely. 

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Nor did I.  I think there was a reference in one of the reviews to him being scheduled to do all performances, but I could be imagining it.

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