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Royal Ballet 2018/2019 Winter Season Casting

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6 hours ago, Xandra Newman said:

Seven Kitri's and two debuts if I am correct (?): Yasmine Naghdi and Mayara Magri. Has Cuthbertson danced Kitri previously? 

As far as I can recall, this is debut for Lauren. 

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31 minutes ago, nycitybird said:

It seems impossible to choose one Two Pigeons cast. A good problem to have I suppose.

I am finding that problem with most RB productions at the moment! Until I took up a renewed interest in ballet last year, I would never have imagined going to more than one performance in a run of any stage production - now (like other Forum members) I am not only going to see different casts in the same run, but sometimes choosing to see the same cast more than once. Expensive, but so enjoyable.....

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Very disappointing to see so little of Hayward, especially after she missed out in la Bayadere and Swan Lake. I could see her in Don Q more than some of the others cast. Looking forward to seeing her in 2 Pigeons but it seems a poor reward for all she has contributed over the past year. We'll just have to hope for Romeo and Juliet or possibly Frankenstein. However some other great casting; looking forward to Osipova/Corrales in Don Q, also Mcrae /Takada in the cinema and Naghdi in anything! Also good to see some up and coming dancers in 2 Pigeons and also Laura Morera whom I haven't seen in this yet.

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I write in some trepidation, having had some very aggressive responses to previous postings, but, nevertheless; wish to put forward a personal view.

Citing no value / op[positional judgements, Yasmine Naghdi and Akane Takada have benefitted well from their promotion to principal status, with important debuts and / or conolsidation of roles in which they were already cast. Ryoichi Hirano, a dancer whose work I don’t know well, seems also to have benefitted with major debuts in Swan Lake and The Winte’s Tale and, up coming in La Bayadere and Mayerling.

 

Francesca Hayward (despite initial positivity) and Alexander Campbell seem to have befitted less obviously. Both are amongst my absolute favourite dancers with prodigious gifts of musicality and technique and yet firstly he and now she seem to be lagging behind in casting opportunity. How ironic that his replacement Albtrecht and, in particular, Des Grieux were greeted so warmly. After Tarantella, there can be no doubt as her to technical virtuosity. I can appreciate that Kitri is an ideal first three act ballet for Mayara Magri but, surely, it would also have suited Hayward and whilst I don’t think that casting has to go by status surely it confers some advantages. This is not to decry Magri, who I think i s terrific.. I also hope that Heap, who I really like very much indeed, may get her chance with Sylvia and Swan Lake, 

 

I do hope that somebody like Floss whose experience and eloquence always give pleasure might be willing to put their own take on this, but, to put it bluntly, for all their dance eloquence, is a lack of inches hindering the consolidation of Hayward’s and Campbell’s progress, despite the examples of Collier and, more recently, McRae?

 

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Perhaps we have to wait till next year for Hayward to have another big moment. If Cinderella does make an appearance next year (19/20), surely that will be her role, and Sleeping Beauty should be up again as well. In the meantime we have seen her - I sadly just through pics and reviews - in Manon and Giselle in this current year. Personally I feel she should have got Mary Vetsera this time round in 18/19. For me that was the biggest disappointment in the upcoming season. 

Edited by Vanartus
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1 hour ago, Jamesrhblack said:

I write in some trepidation, having had some very aggressive responses to previous postings, but, nevertheless; wish to put forward a personal view.

Citing no value / op[positional judgements, Yasmine Naghdi and Akane Takada have benefitted well from their promotion to principal status, with important debuts and / or conolsidation of roles in which they were already cast. Ryoichi Hirano, a dancer whose work I don’t know well, seems also to have benefitted with major debuts in Swan Lake and The Winte’s Tale and, up coming in La Bayadere and Mayerling.

 

Francesca Hayward (despite initial positivity) and Alexander Campbell seem to have befitted less obviously. Both are amongst my absolute favourite dancers with prodigious gifts of musicality and technique and yet firstly he and now she seem to be lagging behind in casting opportunity. How ironic that his replacement Albtrecht and, in particular, Des Grieux were greeted so warmly. After Tarantella, there can be no doubt as her to technical virtuosity. I can appreciate that Kitri is an ideal first three act ballet for Mayara Magri but, surely, it would also have suited Hayward and whilst I don’t think that casting has to go by status surely it confers some advantages. This is not to decry Magri, who I think i s terrific.. I also hope that Heap, who I really like very much indeed, may get her chance with Sylvia and Swan Lake, 

 

I do hope that somebody like Floss whose experience and eloquence always give pleasure might be willing to put their own take on this, but, to put it bluntly, for all their dance eloquence, is a lack of inches hindering the consolidation of Hayward’s and Campbell’s progress, despite the examples of Collier and, more recently, McRae?

 

 

I look at it in different way. Francesca Hayward was fast tracked as soon as she joined the Company and she was given prominent roles when still in the Corps de ballet, dancing Clara, Vera, Princess Stephanie,.... Barely a soloist, she danced the lead principal role in Rhapsody (2014), rapidly followed six months later by dancing Manon (as a Soloist, and again this season as a Principal), followed by Alice, Titania,... After just one year as a Soloist she was promoted to First Soloist and danced Juliet; barely a year later - promoted to Principal - she got to dance Lise, her first full length classical ballet Sleeping Beauty, as well as dancing her debut as Sugar Plum. Hayward got big roles very early on in her career perhaps because the repertoire at that time suited her style of dancing and the type of dancer she is.

For Takada and Naghdi the top roles only came gradually, once they achieved the higher rank of First Soloist and Principal (Naghdi was given her first break through as a First Artist dancing Olga in Onegin, Juliet as a Soloist). The recent Swan Lake casting as well as next Season's casting indicates that Naghdi and Takada seem to be ready to tackle all the demanding full-length classical roles besides dancing Macmillan title roles. 

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Well perhaps Hayward will do the a firebird and Juliet. I would would dearly enjoy Campbell as her Romeo. If she doesn't though, she doesn't. Her career is really her own concern, if she is unhappy with the amount of work I would encourage her, or anyone, to look at other company's to guest or whatever.  Campbell does seem to sometimes get overlooked though. They play safe with him, but again it's his own career and concern and he has certainly voiced wanting to do other things and doesn't seem dedicated to the RB. They both seem pretty savy as concerns future opportunities. Something tells me these two will be fine. Iron rod of a survivor in both. 

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Another rather delicious thought re Hayward as guest artist...Stuttgart are doing Mayerling this coming season in 2019....I wonder....if...just if....😌

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8 hours ago, Shya100 said:

Well perhaps Hayward will do the a firebird and Juliet. I would would dearly enjoy Campbell as her Romeo. 

 

I can confirm, having seen him perform the role with BRB, that Mr Campbell is the most wonderful of Romeos.

 

I believe he danced the role fairly recently with Yasmine Naghdi somewhere in the UAE?

 

I think he's only away for the Nutcracker period.

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Cuthbertson and Ball I think are an odd choice for Don Q- Cuthbertson doesn’t strike me as a natural Kitri and I somehow can’t picture Ball as Basilio. With this being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what they make of it and how they tackle humour in ballet. Cuthbertson is a natural comedienne so it will be interesting to see whether Ball can match her in that area. Interesting to see that Ball isn’t reprising the Young Man in Two Pigeons though and that Stix-Brunell will dance this instead with Reece Clarke – is that because Ball will be doing Bourne’s Swan Lake during that time? I can’t wait to see Cuthbertson do this again with Muntagirov, I thought they were wonderful. Dare I say it, I’m a bit disappointed to see that Nunez will dance with Muntagirov in Don Q – I would have really liked to have seen them both dance this with someone else.

 

I am so happy that Mayara will be making her debut as Kitri – I think that out of all the classical roles, Kitri is probably the one she was born to dance. I can’t wait for Fumi either who I am loving the more and more I see of her. I am also interested to see how she will dance with Corrales and I think, dare I say it, his partnership with Fumi excites me a bit more than it does with Osipova in Don Q. I hope everyone remembers to bring their sunglasses as I’m sure that will be an explosive show of fireworks and tricks, however, I’m more interested to see how Corrales does interacting and blending with the rest of the company and how he partners Fumi. I think it’s a shame not to see Morera dance Kitri, similarly to Mayara, I think it’s a role that would suit her so well and I would love to see her do it. Bonelli as her Basilio would really be a dream but there we go, will have to make do with seeing them together again in Mayerling!

 

It’s interesting that apart from Nunez/Muntagirov, O’Hare is still showing no signs of developing a partnership over the next season. I wonder whether he’s mixing it up until he finds the golden mean or whether he just likes to see different dancers partnered for different ballets. Either way, I like how it gives us an opportunity to see something different and to see dancers given wonderful opportunities.

 

I completely agree with Xandra Newman about Hayward. I don’t feel like she has missed opportunities. I actually feel like I’ve seen a lot of Hayward making debuts in prominent and leading roles. Not every dancer is suited to every ballet and I would argue that the sign of a great Artistic Director is one who understands this and respects it. For me, Hayward is an exquisite Ashton dancer and has shown her strength dancing MacMillan (agreed it’s a shame she wasn’t given Mary Vetsera). Her Manon I think will be the portrayal of her generation – I’m not sure I’ve seen it done better for years and her Lise and Titania (my and that Rhapsody performance) were dynamite. Is Hayward a natural Odette? A natural Kitri? I’m not so sure, but that’s not to say she isn’t going to have a wonderful career. What I like so much about the Royal at the moment is that different dancers have such different strengths and no performance is the same. We should celebrate this. I’m glad we are able to see such an array of talent across a spectrum of ballets – if all we saw were the same dancers cast in everything then I think the ROH stage would become a dull place indeed!

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9 hours ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

I look at it in different way. Francesca Hayward was fast tracked as soon as she joined the Company and she was given prominent roles when still in the Corps de ballet, dancing Clara, Vera, Princess Stephanie,.... Barely a soloist, she danced the lead principal role in Rhapsody (2014), rapidly followed six months later by dancing Manon (as a Soloist, and again this season as a Principal), followed by Alice, Titania,... After just one year as a Soloist she was promoted to First Soloist and danced Juliet; barely a year later - promoted to Principal - she got to dance Lise, her first full length classical ballet Sleeping Beauty, as well as dancing her debut as Sugar Plum. Hayward got big roles very early on in her career perhaps because the repertoire at that time suited her style of dancing and the type of dancer she is.

For Takada and Naghdi the top roles only came gradually, once they achieved the higher rank of First Soloist and Principal (Naghdi was given her first break through as a First Artist dancing Olga in Onegin, Juliet as a Soloist). The recent Swan Lake casting as well as next Season's casting indicates that Naghdi and Takada seem to be ready to tackle all the demanding full-length classical roles besides dancing Macmillan title roles. 

 

Here's my way of looking at it, which is similar to to Xandra's but comes from a slightly different angle.

 

Hayward has a number of strings to her bow: choreographers evidently like using her for new work; she's highly thought of in the MacMillan rep; she has scored notable successes as an Ashtonian (I'm thinking of Lise and Rhapsody, neither of which is a walk in the park technically); and has also been very well received in the more lyrical classical rep. That, IMO, is by no means a minor career at her age.

 

We happen to be going through a period of programming where the flashier Petipa roles are the classical focus, and it's been decided (either by KO'H or jointly) that she should concentrate elsewhere, at least for now. You can't do everything at once!

 

I do however agree that it's a mistake not to cast her as Mary Vetsera, and that Campbell is in danger of being underused.

 

 

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I think that, now O'Hare has 3 amazing young female Principals, he is doing well to both develop them all and balance the opportunities he gives them - while, at the same time, not neglecting the older ballerinas. Hayward has had great prominence, especially in the 2015 - 2017 period, and that space now needs to be shared with two equally outstanding young artists.

 

As regards the Mayerling casting, I sense that Hayward is not the only dancer who, it is felt,  have time to wait for the key roles. Others have been 'neglected' for Mayerling too and just think how the casting will look when it returns 4/5 years hence - wow!

 

I would also have liked to have seen both Nunez and Muntagirov dance Don Q with someone else. Naghdi/Muntagirov?  Nunez/Corrales? But, then, one looks at the pairings and sees exactly why O'Hare has made the picks he has.

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14 minutes ago, ToThePointe said:

 

– if all we saw were the same dancers cast in everything then I think the ROH stage would become a dull place indeed!

 

...and the AD also has a responsibility to develop all of his most talented dancers, not just one or few. Talking about the three recently promoted Principals I think Hayward has had plenty of opportunities to shine and dance a variety of roles which perfectly suited her technic and artistry well; the focus now seems to shift onto developing the other two young Principals into superb classical ballerinas (because that's where their particular strength lays, as well as being great MacMillan dancers). Hayward is a lovely Ashtonian dancer, also suited to dance various MacMillan roles, McGregor loves to use her and so does Wheeldon, not much to complain about. 

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45 minutes ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

...and the AD also has a responsibility to develop all of his most talented dancers, not just one or few. Talking about the three recently promoted Principals I think Hayward has had plenty of opportunities to shine and dance a variety of roles which perfectly suited her technic and artistry well; the focus now seems to shift onto developing the other two young Principals into superb classical ballerinas (because that's where their particular strength lays, as well as being great MacMillan dancers). Hayward is a lovely Ashtonian dancer, also suited to dance various MacMillan roles, McGregor loves to use her and so does Wheeldon, not much to complain about. 

 

Yes, and it's a feature of these forums that no-one ever seems to say, "How come Principal X hardly ever gets roles created on her?" or "I see that Principal Y is being passed over for Ashton/MacMillan, I wonder whether that means that KO'H has doubts about their technical/dramatic ability."

 

I think sometimes we here are guilty of tunnel vision when it comes to the big Petipa ballets. I know they're a Big Deal (though IMHO Bayadere and Don Q are not "core" RB repertoire), but there's a lot more to a dancer's career.

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Yes - and I don't recall there being questions about why, say, Mara Galeazzi wasn't being given key classical roles  In the case of Edward Watson, we all seem to accept that his forte lies in other genres and admire him for the great artist he has become that way.

 

I meant to mention in my earlier post the casting of Sae Maeda in a named role in Asphodel Meadows in her first year in the company proper. Not at all surprising!

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12 hours ago, Shya100 said:

Well perhaps Hayward will do the a firebird and Juliet. I would would dearly enjoy Campbell as her Romeo. If she doesn't though, she doesn't. Her career is really her own concern, if she is unhappy with the amount of work I would encourage her, or anyone, to look at other company's to guest or whatever.  Campbell does seem to sometimes get overlooked though. They play safe with him, but again it's his own career and concern and he has certainly voiced wanting to do other things and doesn't seem dedicated to the RB. They both seem pretty savy as concerns future opportunities. Something tells me these two will be fine. Iron rod of a survivor in both. 

 

One overseas event where Hayward  will guest very shortly (after Lagrasse) is the Vail Dance Festival, Colorado, along with Sambe.  I see that they also  did this last year, dancing the balcony PDD from Romeo and Juliet, so I guess it will be that again. It looks a lovely venue, (Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater). Anyone likely  to be out that way ?!

https://vaildance.org/event/international-evenings-of-dance-ii-2018/

Edited by Richard LH

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22 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

 

One overseas event where Hayward  will guest very shortly (after Lagrasse) is the Vail Dance Festival, Colorado, along with Sambe.  I see that they also  did this last year, dancing the balcony PDD from Romeo and Juliet, so I guess it will be that again. It looks a lovely venue, (Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater). Anyone likely  to be out that way ?!

https://vaildance.org/event/international-evenings-of-dance-ii-2018/

 

Vail is beautiful and the festival is great fun. However, it's at an altitude of 8000 feet. I found myself short of breath just going up a shallow incline (and I'm pretty fit). They have to have oxygen in the wings for the dancers, and I hope Hayward and Sambe take full advantage of it. The year I was there, Sara Mearns from NYCB had to be airlifted to San Diego (sea level) because of quite severe altitude sickness.

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I think that we have to remember that Kevin has said on a number of occasions that  he wants to give his dancers a wide  range of roles and opportunities to develop their careers even if he can't give everyone promotion. As the company collects more and more talented dancers the question of "Who does what?" will become more of an issue if Kevin sticks to that policy with the repertory which the company currently dances. The problem is that while the company's  nineteenth century repertory and much of the Ashton repertory offer opportunities for a wide range of dancers to show what they can do and give the corps real choreography to dance the big MacMillan narrative works which are big earners for the company and popular with both audiences and dancers only offer juicy roles for a handful of dancers leaving significant numbers of the company underemployed as moving scenery each with an individual back story which is not quite enough. Tripping around the stage as a townsperson in Romeo and Juliet or playing a whore in Manon and Mayerling  is not beneficial to the artistic or technical development of dancers. The paucity of developmental opportunities which these ballets offer was not an issue when performances of them were interspersed with plenty of other repertory but when they occupy week after week allocated to ballet performances  as every Principal dancer gives us his Romeo and her Juliet sometimes three times over and a couple of junior dancers are given their first crack at the roles it does not leave a great deal of room for others to develop as dancers or as artists. Lengthy unbroken runs were introduced under Dowell's directorship presumably because they make day to day planning easier and they offer opportunities to senior dancers to go and guest elsewhere without disrupting things. They have become so much a part of how the company operates that it would be extremely difficult to change the system even if management saw advantages in doing so and wanted to make the necessary changes.

 

The current state of the company will at the very least mean that in the future very few company members are going to dance every role in the company's vast repertory. Whatever Kevin says and does for the development of his dancers as individuals his overriding duty is to the company as a corporate entity. This is likely to mean that roles originally created for Principal dancers which became the sole province of  junior dancers are likely, for the foreseeable future,  to be performed by dancers at levels of seniority ranging from soloist to Principal dancer without the casting giving any indication  of who is up and who is down in the estimation of the management. If you look at Hayward and her career so far she seems to be an extremely lucky dancer being in the right place at the right time joining the company when the age profile at its most senior levels  made it clear that there would be opportunities for promotion in the immediate future which might not come again for some years. It is a sad truth but however well managed a company is and however devoted to giving every dancer a good career it is impossible for every talented dancer to get the breaks or the roles when they need them. The" right time and place" will for some dancers  mean having the right potential and aptitude when no one more senior seems to have them in other cases it means the ability to learn quickly and deliver a performance it always involves the capacity to work extremely hard and having an AD who is prepared to take a calculated risk.

 

Now it is quite true that Hayward was given a range of roles virtually from day one and her performances  have clearly pleased the AD sufficiently for him to promote her to Principal dancer. During 2016-17 season , her first as a principal, saw Hayward  make her debut in four core RB repertory roles, as Lise, Titania. SPF and Aurora and also in Vertiginous Thrill and Tarantella.  I tend to assume that Kevin is fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the members of his company and if he is going to be as even handed as he says he intends to be he is not going to build his repertory for each season around a mere handful of his most senior dancers; those whom he considers most talented , his most promising or his most recently promoted principal dancers. If he sticks to the regular churn of the MacMillan and Petipa repertory then there are going to be more opportunities for some dancers in one season than in another. If he were to add some of the longer Ashton works to those which get a regular airing that would almost certainly  create opportunities for a greater range dancers than the regular diet of MacMillan big three does.

 

I am not convinced that Kevin has any reason to be disappointed with any of the dancers he cast in major roles last season. As far as I recall Hayward appeared in major roles in four ballets in which she had previously made her debut that is as  Alice,  Perdita , Manon and SPF and added the role of Giselle to her repertoire in another successful debut. She also appeared in Pita's The Wind and, If her debut in that work was less than outstanding, this I think,  had more to do with the work itself than any failure on her part or of anyone else involved in performing what proved to be  an overly literal staging of Griffiths' film as a ballet.

 

As far as Swan Lake is concerned perhaps Kevin thought that at this stage, Naghdi,  his newest principal was more in need of a new role to add to her repertory than Hayward who already has an impressive haul of significant roles. I have no doubt that the ballet will be back in the repertory pretty soon so it does not necessarily mean that Hayward will never dance Odette/Odile. Hayward looks as if she is set to be a significant Ashton dancer, if not the significant Ashton dancer, of her generation. She has several major Ashton roles created for dancers famous for their technical prowess in her repertoire and is now set to acquire a role created for an Ashton dancer famous for her expressiveness. I suppose that there are some here who would decide that she had been slighted in some way or had fallen from favour if she were to be cast in the romantic pas de deux in Les Patineurs rather than as one of the girls in blue  but then perhaps we no longer think that casting the right dancers in the right roles is of importance when it comes to casting Ashton's ballets.Naghdi' s significant debuts last season were as Giselle. Odette/Odile and Mistress in Manon which was created as a principal role. She  is now getting a series of debuts in what might be described as the technical exhibitionist end of the company's repertory. Perhaps we should be more  worried about that and fear that she might be in danger of being type cast and confined to the flashier types of role than worrying about what Hayward has been given to dance? As far as the danger of Campbell being overlooked is concerned he is guesting in Australia which will mean that he is not  only unavailable for performances scheduled during his absence but unable to prepare some of the ballets which are due to be performed on his return.

 

I should have thought that there are enough opportunities for Hayward, Naghdi, Ball and many other promising dancers in the company in the repertory announced for this coming season. There are plenty of unannounced roles in Don Q;  Les Patineurs ; The Concert  and the rest of the ballets to be danced to enable anyone and everyone who likes to speculate about what casting decisions really mean, other than being decisions about who will dance specified roles, and likes to interpret them as having far more significance than they have in reality, to have a field day.

Edited by FLOSS
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1 hour ago, toursenlair said:

 

Vail is beautiful and the festival is great fun. However, it's at an altitude of 8000 feet. I found myself short of breath just going up a shallow incline (and I'm pretty fit). They have to have oxygen in the wings for the dancers, and I hope Hayward and Sambe take full advantage of it. The year I was there, Sara Mearns from NYCB had to be airlifted to San Diego (sea level) because of quite severe altitude sickness.

 

Crikey, sounds like a bit of a design flaw!

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2 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

One overseas event where Hayward  will guest very shortly (after Lagrasse) is the Vail Dance Festival, Colorado, along with Sambe.  I see that they also  did this last year, dancing the balcony PDD from Romeo and Juliet, so I guess it will be that again. It looks a lovely venue, (Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater). Anyone likely  to be out that way ?!

https://vaildance.org/event/international-evenings-of-dance-ii-2018/

 I suspect (and very much hope!) that she will also dance in New York at the City Center Balanchine celebration this fall (at the same time as the RB's Bayadere run):  she's done Tarantella (beautifully), and I'd love to see her in Tchai pas.

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Floss, another very interesting post! -- I entirely agree with the latter part about the casting of the specific principals you mention. 

 

But regarding your first section, I wonder if there is really so much MacMillan, and so little Petipa and Ashton, that those in the RB below soloist level  can't sufficiently develop their  artistry  or technique?  I would have thought the mix with classical, narrative, and more modern exploratory dance was pretty well balanced at the RB. Not everyone  will  prefer the sort of classic production whose main aim appears to be  to show off technical skills, with numerous variations for somewhat random incidental characters, at the expense of narrative and dramatic flow.  As well as technique, learning and performing narrative and acting skills, as exemplified in the likes of MacMillan, even in "back story" roles, must surely be an important part of a successful dancing career, and this  seems to be something  the RB is generally  praised for.  Newer works allow development of different ideas to compliment or develop the more established forms - of course they are not always seen to be successful, at least to begin with, but then the same can be said for some of the classics.  

Edited by Richard LH

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16 hours ago, Vanartus said:

...and I would have liked to see Campbell as Rudolf alongside her!

Not sure if it would have worked, but I would happily have paid good money to see ir! 

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8 hours ago, ToThePointe said:

Cuthbertson and Ball I think are an odd choice for Don Q- Cuthbertson doesn’t strike me as a natural Kitri and I somehow can’t picture Ball as Basilio. With this being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what they make of it and how they tackle humour in ballet. Cuthbertson is a natural comedienne so it will be interesting to see whether Ball can match her in that area. 

 

Not sure about suitability for Don Q but I noticed Ball's comedic ability when he danced Lysander in the Dream, especially when he and Hermia were going to sleep for the night and he tried to kiss her but she turned and gave him her check. He reacted with abject horror and I was really amused 😂

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IIRC, the time I saw him I thought he overdid it and was less amusing for it.  Seeing him do Basilio's "death" scene might be fun, though - along with Cuthbertson, who I definitely can see in that bit.  I'm a bit picky about my death scenes: they rarely come out quite as funny as I would hope.

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I am concerned that Campbell isn’t getting the big roles because I am worried he might go elsewhere! I was genuinely quite shocked that he wasn’t initially cast as the principal lead in Giselle, Manon or Swan Lake, and I’m disappointed he hasn’t been given the opportunity to dance Rudolf.

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