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1 hour ago, Bruce Wall said:

I very much enjoyed seeing Least We Forget again this evening - but realised just how squished some elements of these fine works were at Sadler's Wells when compared with the larger Barbican stage they premiered on.  That largess will be restored should they wish to do this programme in Paris as part of their rep.  I hope they do.  It is - in SO many ways - stunning and certainly shows off the 'Company that Tamara Built' very well indeed.  James Streeter in Dust was mesmeric and Cojocaru glistened in both of the first two ballets.   Looking forward to seeing it again.  

 

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I really enjoyed seeing this programme again last night.  I had seen it several times in 2014/15, and watched it on TV when they performed Dust in Glastonbury.  

 

The dancers all looked great throughout.  Alina Cojocaru continues her wonderful form after Sleeping Beauty and moved me in both of the pieces she was in, largely due to the beautiful pdd that she danced in each.  

 

When I first saw Liam Scarlett's No Man's Land, back in 2014, it reduced me to tears.  This time, although I really enjoyed it, it didn't really affect me emotionally, which surprised me.  Scarlett said that he had 'tweaked' it for this revival.  I always say it.....if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  I think it's the ending that he has messed around with the most.  Previously, each returning soldier led his girl off the stage one couple at a time, making the main girl's pain and despair much more obvious as she is gradually left alone on the stage.  Now, they all walk off at once, so there is no build-up to the searingly beautiful final pdd.  When her young man finally returns, she is alone with his ghost.  In the previous version, I am sure that he got much more time to walk slowly towards the light, confirming that his was a spirit having to disappear back into the ether, and emphasising the lead girl's loss and loneliness.  Now, as soon as he turns to start walking up the stairs, the curtain drops so the audience doesn't have the time to absorb the incredibly sad situation unfolding on the stage.

 

Everyone seems to like the Russell Maliphant piece, Second Breath, more than I do.  I don't know why I don't much like it....I think I just find it boring compared to the other two pieces on the bill.  It is  beautifully danced but darkly lit.  There are some clever and very affecting movements, but I found myself having a couple of shopping list moments.  My daughter really enjoyed it, especially the end sequence.  

 

I got choked with Dust again last night.  I find it so incredibly moving, so original, and so exciting, even after seeing it quite a few times.  This three-year break meant that I was seeing it as if for the first time, and gosh did it affect me.   The whole company was on fine fettle here, interpreting Khan's difficult choreography to perfection.  There is much of his Giselle taking root in this piece, with the skill and emotional verve (from choreographer and dancers) required to pull it off already clearly in evidence here.  In the original version of Dust, Khan danced the lead role....all of it.  My daughter noticed that the first part was danced by one dancer (Fabian Reimair), and the second part with the long pdd by another (James Streeter).  I wonder why this changed....unless we are remembering incorrectly?  James Streeter and Tamara Rojo danced the pdd to such a degree of emotion that it was almost painful to watch.  The abject misery of loss, the anger at wasted young life, the sadness of a lost generation....all of this is reflected in Khan's astonishing choreography, and in Streeter and Rojo's equally astonishing interpretation thereof.  

 

The music, sensitively interlaced with the spoken and sung word, was as always played beautifully by the ENB Philharmonic, under the ever-glorious baton of Gavin Sutherland.  Lovely solo piano work from Julia Richter in No Man's Land, playing Liszt.  

 

We are now commemorating the 100th anniversary of the final 100 days of The Great War.  I sincerely hope that this wonderful triple bill won't be put to bed after November 2018, as each piece can (and does, in its own unique way) talk to the generations about the tragedy and futility of this war and most others.  Long may it do so.

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8 minutes ago, Sim said:

 My daughter noticed that the first part was danced by one dancer (Fabian Reimair), and the second part with the long pdd by another (James Streeter).  I wonder why this changed....

 

they did that at the first revival in 2015 too (when done without Akram Khan himself)

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5 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

 

they did that at the first revival in 2015 too (when done without Akram Khan himself)

Ah, thanks Dave.  I had forgotten that.  

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2 hours ago, Sim said:

Ah, thanks Dave.  I had forgotten that.  

 

though I don't know the reason they split the role - suitability to each section maybe?

There again, I think I've seen James Streeter do the wriggly bit in the first section as well, so ... who knows!

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Must be brief - as I'm speaking at a dinner - but played hooky today and caught the LWF matinee.  As ever this programme is as inspired as it is inspiring! .... A word for the incandescent Francesca Velicu and virile Fernando Carratala Coloma who partnered her brilliantly in the first PDD suite in No Man's Land .... and Begona Cao - whose limbs as much as her colossal eyes are rich pitchers of yearning - and Junor Souza - who throughout flashed stage pictures in my memory of Olivier's vainglorious monster with a soul in Othello.  Both - as the NML primary couple - were - in a word - magnificent.  Streeter switched assignments in Dust and was - as he was last night in t'other - no less mesmeric.  This performance was - IMHO - worth stealing time for.  The ENB Phil - under their mastermind of a conductor, Gavin Sutherland - again played masterfully throughout - most especially in the two original - and inspirited - scores.  Bravi.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Saw the performance this evening. What a magnificent bill this is. A perfect trinity, each work a beautiful facet of the same sad, reflective truth. Love, and loss, and the waste of life; but above all, love - enduring, unbreakable even when shattered, and rising above the dust in clear, determined arcs of grace and tenderness. Superb dancing from everyone - complete conviction and absorption. Brilliant.

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On 21/09/2018 at 17:36, zxDaveM said:

 

though I don't know the reason they split the role - suitability to each section maybe?

There again, I think I've seen James Streeter do the wriggly bit in the first section as well, so ... who knows!

 

The wriggly bit is my favourite part Dave.  I have no idea what is means or signifies but I find it mesmerising.

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I assumed it was a representation of the PTSD he was struggling with.

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Back home up north from this afternoon's matinee.  The programme was as good as I remembered it from four years ago, but a special mention needs to be made of Stina Quagebeur's Vera which is being danced at a couple of performances including this one.  It was short, but so affecting, telling in its brief span the story of Vera Brittain, danced beautifully by Crystal Costa and the men that the war took away from her, embodied heartbreakingly by Giorgio Garrett.  What a masterstroke also to set it to the music of Ivor Gurney, who himself was damaged beyond repair by his experiences in the trenches.  His song Sleep never fails to bring tears to my eyes, and hearing its opening ostinato, albeit in Gavin Sutherland's piano-only arrangement (I wish they could have had a singer there), had me in bits again.

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Went to see the matinee today. I never managed to see this bill in the past so was pleased to have the opportunity to finally see it.  I was also particularly happy to to see Alina Cojocaru live...I've only seen her on dvd/youtube before so I was pretty excited 😃

 

I thought No Man's Land was great.  To be honest, I am not a big Scartlett fan and so I didn't have huge expectations but I really found it very moving, the whole thing.  I thought it was very well done, the music was perfect and I thought the pianist played wonderfully.  Alina was partnered by Issac Hernandez and their final PDD nearly broke my heart, I didn't want it to end.  Very passionate and emotive.  The other 2 main couples were also brilliant.

 

Second Breath I am not really sure about at all.  I thought the choreography was quite clever and well done and the company were all on fine form as ever but I didn't really get anything from it....it didn't move me in any way.

 

I thought the company were just fantastic in Dust.  They had such a great energy and moved so well together.  We had Tamara and James Streeter as the main couple giving it everything they had.  They were brilliant.  I loved the choreography, so unusual and very powerful, especially in the group numbers.  I haven't seen Akram Khan's Giselle but after seeing this I really will have to try and catch it next time it tours.  

 

 

 

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I totally agree, Serenade. No Man's Land reduced me to tears (again) but although the husband loves the Maliphant piece, I just don't get it. Dust was as fabulous as ever. It was wonderful to be able to take our eldest son to a matinee that featured the divine Alina, Isaac Hernandez and Tamara. James Streeter and the rest of the company were all marvellous too!

 

If you want to catch the screening of Giselle, I've come across the following link on the ENB website: https://www.ballet.org.uk/onscreen/akram-khan-giselle/

Excited to see a screening near Bristol and have booked our tickets for November. It hasn't been well advertised so I think a lot of people may have missed it, but there are several theatres showing Giselle between now and next February. 

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I know that it's a bit of a cop out to say this but lack of time means that all I can say is that I loved this triple bill.

 

I thought No Man's Land was especially affecting and that the appearances in it of Alina Cojocaru, Begona Cao, Jurgita Dronina, Katja Kaniukova, Francesca Velicu and Junor Souza were totally amazing.

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I attended the matinee on 25 September and the performance the following evening.  As in 2014 and 2015, “No Man’s Land” remains my favourite piece and I was pleased to see that a small adjustment had been made to the second scene where the girls are making the bombshells. In previous years, the girls looked bored and were rather sloppy in their work which I felt did not ring true.  Now, there is a mechanical precision to their actions and their faces show a grim determination which, to me, was far more moving.  At the matinee, the first pas de deux was danced rather tentatively by Francesca Velicu and Fernando Carratala Coloma but, in the second pas de deux, Angela Wood brought out all the youthful innocence and tender yearning, as well as her exquisite technique, that I remember from her performance in 2015 when she was partnered to perfection by Fabian Reimair.  Skylar Martin was her partner on this occasion and, while he is not yet in Reimair’s league in portraying emotion through his dancing, his partnering was very sensitive.  Someone who never fails to deliver both emotionally and technically is Junor Souza, who partnered Begona Cao in the final, haunting pas de deux.  The two of them were totally in tune with each other in this heartbreaking duet, perfectly matching Julia Richter’s eloquent playing of the beautiful Liszt solo which accompanies it.  For me, the most spectacular dance moment of the entire programme came earlier in the piece, when Souza turns Cao in a spiralling, off-balance arabesque that was breathtaking in its beauty and its execution.  The four supporting couples were excellent, especially the lyrical dancing of the luminous Jia Zhang.  On Wednesday evening, the first pas de deux took on a whole new dynamic with a thrilling performance by Katja Khaniukova and new recruit Francesco Gabriele Frola.  His secure partnering and the intensity of both of them made this a searing portrait of the anger and pain of separation.  The second pas de deux was danced by Alison McWhinney and James Streeter with great tenderness and bodes well for McWhinney’s forthcoming debut as Manon.  Jurgita Dronina and Joseph Caley danced the final pas de deux and, as always, I was struck by Dronina’s exceptional musicality and her ability, like Cao, to imbue even the most subtle movement with emotion.  As Caley walked away from her at the end, her body was that of a woman broken by shock and grief.  I did not find Caley as expressive and, indeed, he seemed more suited to the more abstract “Second Breath”.  As always, Gavin Sutherland, who conducted all performances of this run, drew sumptuous playing of Liszt’s music from the orchestra.

 

The overwhelming feeling for me of this programme was the sense of grief and shattered lives of the wives and sweethearts left behind and nowhere was this more powerfully portrayed than in Stina Quagebeur’s “Vera” which the Monday evening  and Tuesday and Thursday matinee audiences had the privilege of seeing.  Created for the company’s choreographic workshop in 2014, I was very sad to have missed it then and it was my main reason for attending the Tuesday matinee.  Inspired by Vera Brittain’s writings, this beautifully-crafted miniature, lasting only a few minutes, was a haunting elegy to lost love and a lost generation.  It was movingly danced by Crystal Costa, another dancer whose exquisite technique is always melded to deeply felt emotion, and Giorgio Garrett, whose youthful presence reminded us of the tender age of this lost generation.  Quagebeur thoughtfully chose music by the composer and poet, Ivor Gurney, himself a victim of shellshock, which added to the poignancy of this gem.

 

“Second Breath” grows on me each time I see it, for its mesmeric opening sequences performed almost in slow motion and for its final pas de deux which, like Scarlett’s first pas de deux, seems to express anger and despair in equal measures.  At the Tuesday matinee, this was an outstanding performance of both fluidity and elegance from Anjuli Hudson and Joshua McSherry-Gray.  Likewise, on Wednesday evening, Begona Cao and Joseph Caley gave a stunning, almost dare-devil account of the choreography.

 

And so to “Dust”, in which the final pas de deux was danced at both performances by Erina Takahashi and Jeffrey Cirio.  I was surprised that I was not more moved by it at the matinee and it was only during the evening performance that I realised that Cirio was dancing it with a beautiful lyricism (which bodes well for his Des Grieux) but none of the jerkiness that James Streeter brought to it in 2014 and 2015 when, for me, it was a harrowing portrayal of a lost soul unable to communicate with his lover, either shrinking from her touch or reacting violently to her.  It was therefore left to Takahashi to bring out the emotion of the piece and the haunted look on her face was unforgettable.  I have never really understood the purpose of the middle section when the girls imitate Taiko drummers, apart from it being a filler between the first and second sections, but it is always danced with great commitment and style.  On Wednesday evening, the opening minutes of the piece were performed by Fabian Reimair and I can only repeat what I wrote in 2015, that his is a truly shocking portrayal of the effect of shellshock on the body, reminiscent of a handful of wartime film clips documenting this condition.  As he manipulated the arms of the dancers on either side of him, there was such perfect coordination that their arms appeared to become his wings with which he tried to take flight.  This was a truly remarkable performance and I cannot understand why he and James Streeter, who also performs this section, did not get to take a separate bow with the pas de deux couple.

 

This short season at Sadler’s Wells marked the final performances of much loved company member Jennie Harrington, who has graced the corps de ballet for fifteen years with her sunny presence and who has worked extensively with Dance for Parkinson’s.  Happily, she will be remaining with the company, assisting the artistic staff and it is to be hoped she will continue to appear in various character roles.

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Irmgard - I was lucky enough to be in London for some of these performances this time around, and you summed up many of my thoughts on each dancer.  Several differences of opinion:  I did not enjoy "Vera" as much as everyone else has mentioned.  I thought the choreography was a bit juvenile, but it was danced lovingly by Costa and Garrett.  "Second Breath" never grew on me.  I think the concept was amazing, but it grew tiresome in many of the sections.  Certainly, Liam Scarlett has a real talent for pas de deux choreography.  The final pas of "No Man's Land" was stunning.  I love Joseph Caley.  He has understated elegance in all he does.  For me the piece of the performance was Khan's "Dust."  While Streeter and Rojo seemed more outwardly emotional, Cirio and Takahashi danced it with such internal pain and struggle, I was reduced to tears.  I must remark that Reimair was a striking portrayal of the "first man."  

 

For this regular U.S. ballet attendee, it was really a treat to see such a wide range of ballets in one performance, albeit all on the same topic.  I hope to get to the Coliseum in January, but I am certainly heading to Chicago for Khan's "Giselle."  How I wish we could see more of his work here.  

 

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8 hours ago, Mummykool said:

If you want to catch the screening of Giselle, I've come across the following link on the ENB website: https://www.ballet.org.uk/onscreen/akram-khan-giselle/

Excited to see a screening near Bristol and have booked our tickets for November. It hasn't been well advertised so I think a lot of people may have missed it, but there are several theatres showing Giselle between now and next February. 

 

Thanks!  I'll have to take a look ☺️

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I agree with all the things to love for No Man's Land - and can I add to the list Scarlett's evident love of epaulement, and the ENO dancers' response to that love?

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5 hours ago, Irmgard said:

This was a truly remarkable performance and I cannot understand why he and James Streeter, who also performs this section, did not get to take a separate bow with the pas de deux couple.

 

Nor can I, nor can I.  From the curtain calls, some less-alert members of the audience might have thought that the "second" man performed both parts.  Totally unfair on the other dancer.  I caught the "first" cast twice, so have only seen Reimair in the role, but thought he was exceptional.  I'd totally forgotten that Khan had performed both parts originally. 

 

Talking about unfairness, I'd have liked to have seen all the dancers credited for No Man's Land.  There were only 14 of them, and with the dinginess of the lighting I struggled to work out who the unnamed ones were.

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8 hours ago, alison said:

Talking about unfairness, I'd have liked to have seen all the dancers credited for No Man's Land.  There were only 14 of them, and with the dinginess of the lighting I struggled to work out who the unnamed ones were.

 

Agreed.

And, on Saturday afternoon, the man in the third couple wasn't Coloma (as named) but Frola (who had danced with Kanuikova at other performances).

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Thank you, capybara.  No wonder I was so confused!  I was sure the hair wasn't right, from the one previous time I'd identifiably seen Coloma :) 

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That was Jennie Harrington who is retiring from dancing but will be continuing to work for ENB, assisting the Artistic Team.

 

Jennie has been with the company for 15 years and was the first recipient of the Corps de Ballet Award in 2016.

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This thread is understandably quiet now, but with Mayerling over, and thinking back to the earlier run of Lest We Forget as well as the historical links between the two, I wanted to put a few thoughts down.
 
While waiting in the foyer for one performance I overheard a woman talking to a friend about the special performance laid on for the British Legion. Afterwards, she recounted, one of the senior members of ENB (I think a performer) had said it was the most moving performance s/he had been involved in in their 20-plus year career. I think that sums up the emotional impact this trilogy of reflections on senseless loss, separation and trauma has on audiences and performers alike.

 

No Man's Land has grown on me over the performances I have seen, perhaps because it has the most involved 'story line' which took (for me at least) a bit of deciphering. Given the intervening run of Mayerling (and its role in the events leading to WWI) as well as the upcoming Bayadere, there were a couple of things that caught my attention. 
The entry of the line of soldiers from behind the elevated, brightly lit, shattered wall of the factory, one after the other, trudging down the ramps to stage level looked like some nightmarish version of the start of Act 3 in Bayadere. And the netherworld of the 'kingdom of the shades' is apt inasmuch as the life these men lived in the trenches was no life at all, and so many of them would end up lifeless.
The use of Liszt's Heroide Funebre in both No Man's Land and Mayerling might be a deliberate linking of the two historical events (or merely represent Scarlett's and Rojo's particular liking for it).

 

Second Breath seems the piece that produced the most varied reactions. Yes, it's probably the weakest of the three, but given the calibre of the others I still thought it incredibly effective and thought-provoking. I don't usually sit in the stalls (I prefer the view 'from above' so I can see the larger patterns of movement) but I found myself in the stalls for one of the performances this year. I hadn't realised how the lighting was so starkly layered; from the stage to about eight feet up there was little of no lighting; for the next several feet up the air was illuminated by horizontal lighting from the wings. This meant that when the soldiers were raised up, their heads/torsos were lit before they fell back down. It suddenly struck me that this was a literal representation of the trenches; the dark trenches offered some protection, but raising one's body above the trench invited sniper fire.
I was also incredibly impressed by the music/soundscape that accompanied the dancing. The spoken roll-call of casualties - starting off with individuals, then working up to losses at battles and across countries, in a variety of languages - brought home the sheer scale of the carnage of this global catastrophe. The spoken recollections, particularly the repetition of 'bombardment', was also effective; and the deep, insistent, percussive beat of the music reinforced this. Other sounds (perhaps a reversed snaredrum?) resembled bullets of shells whizzing overhead. The use of the crackly, distorted reading of Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle... was inspired; I imagine this is what speaking over an early field telephone sounded like. I had assumed that the recording (deliberately distorted) was that of Dylan Thomas himself, but on listening to it on YouTube I thought his reading a bit 'soft' for what I heard. There is also a recording by Richard Burton, and I think that was the one used (his emphasis of the last syllable of 'night' and 'light' is how I remember it in the performance).

 

Dust is an incredibly moving and innovative piece of dance theatre, and I'm sure the 'wiggly bit' that's been referred to will become as iconic to this era as, say, the Rose Adage is to its. In terms of its 'meaning', several things struck me when watching it; yes, there is the idea of support being given by others to aid this traumatised victim of war; but later it appears as if he is also driving their movements - as if his suffering is, in turn, producing ripples that affect the community; finally, when the dancers in the 'arms' join both arms and start to twist, I'm reminded of the structure of DNA and the idea that how much of our aggressive, war-like tendencies undoubtedly have a genetic basis.

 

I'm left wondering if I will ever see these three ballets performed together again; there will certainly never again be the additional emotional context of coinciding with the centenary of WWI - and by the 125th anniversary I might not be here.

 

In the meantime, at least we have the recording of Dust at Glastonbury (which is still on YouTube), though the daytime/open air atmosphere is understandably not the same, and there were also adjustments made for the staging; I also remember seeing Second Breath performed on TV, I think it was performed live on some sort of current affairs/magazine programme, but that has not appeared on YouTube, unfortunately.

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On 01/11/2018 at 13:23, Nogoat said:

The entry of the line of soldiers from behind the elevated, brightly lit, shattered wall of the factory, one after the other, trudging down the ramps to stage level looked like some nightmarish version of the start of Act 3 in Bayadere.

 

*cough* *cough*

While watching it last night, it suddenly struck me I meant Act 2 of La Bayadere. I could blame it on the keyboard, but I guess 26-year olds can also have senior moments as well as fat fingers... :unsure:

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Well, it does depend on whose version of Bayadère it is ...

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