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JohnS

Royal Ballet Insight and In Rehearsal discussion

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Good to see via YouTube and am struck yet again by the sheer hard work that has to go in to creating such roles and ballets.  Not sure how Ryoichi Hirano managed to talk at the end.  Good also to see Melissa Hamilton.  I didn't think this was the best Insight but it's certainly whetted my appetite for performances next month.  But from the relay there seemed to be a number of empty seats and why has the Royal Opera House been so limp in publicising the event and relay?  Perhaps Open Up has required all available resources but the Insight Programme and website changes seem rather neglected.  I do hope the website will put a link to the YouTube film as soon as possible.

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I can't go to Hirano's debut because my niece has rather inconsiderately decided to get married on that day... But I'm going to his second performance and this Insight has made me even more excited about it!

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These insights are a real treat. I share the surprise about the number of vacant seats. (Am I alone in thinking I spotted Kevin O’Hare in the audience?)Must note the wonderful  piano playing by Paul Stobart. I was totally absorbed by both Melissa Hamilton and Ryoichi Hirano, particularly in their second pas de deux, so have high hopes for their performances together.  Who was the presenter because I thought she did a very efficient job and can’ t recall seeing her before. 

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1 minute ago, Odyssey said:

Who was the presenter

 

Chloe Miller Smith, Project Manager in the Royal Opera House’s Learning and Participation department.

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Thanks John. Much as I love to see the dancers do the presenting of the insights, I think it is a good idea to use someone from this vital area of the ROH.

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46 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

(Am I alone in thinking I spotted Kevin O’Hare in the audience?)

 

No :) 

 

I too was disappointed to see a large number of seats unoccupied.  I'm surprised they didn't ask people to move forward, to make a better impression.

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3 hours ago, John Mallinson said:

 

It has!

 

I'm very pleased the Insight is available on YouTube but if I go to the Royal Opera House website, I don't see any link in 'News' or 'Mayerling' to the Insight event - sorry if I'm being dim.

 

And yes Odyssey I too thought Kevin O'Hare was shown sitting in the audience.

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Were there really that many empty seats? On You Tube  the camera kept returning to the same view which happened to include about a group of perhaps a dozen empty ones. It was certainly fully booked, whenever I checked, so maybe a particular group didn't turn up for whatever reason. But anyone who attended would be able to confirm how full it was...

 

The microphones picked up a lot of puffing from Hirano - he seemed absolutely knackered  by the end, not surprisingly after all those lifts. In contrast  I was amazed at how un-puffed and cool Melissa Hamilton was after all that !  She must be so fit.

 

Alexander Agadzahanov  was difficult to understand and did not seem to connect with the audience much, to help explain things. He also seemed unable or unwilling to give much praise or encouragement to the dancers. At the end he seemed to be unsure, or forgetful, about what further improvements  he should suggest to the  dancers. Everything seemed rather flat and depressing under his direction. By comparison I think of the lovely way Acosta connected with Muntagirov and Takada, and the audience, in his Don Quixote Insight (granted, the subject matter was much more joyful)! 

 

Not the best Insight overall ... it only lasted just  over an hour, when  it was supposed to be 90 minutes. They should  have rehearsed another part of the ballet, with different dancers, or more interviews or other background features. I would have been disappointed if I had made the trip to see this. What with the poor advance publicity about the live streaming, I got the impression that this event was all rather cobbled together at the last minute.

Hoping for better, attending  tomorrow  for The  Unknown Soldier!

 

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5 hours ago, JohnS said:

 

I'm very pleased the Insight is available on YouTube but if I go to the Royal Opera House website, I don't see any link in 'News' or 'Mayerling' to the Insight event - sorry if I'm being dim.

 

If you click on John Mallinson's link in the post above yours, it will take you there, JohnS. 

 

I think, however, that you are absolutely right.  I just had a look at the ROH website and the only route to information about the streaming was from the new 'front page' and, even then, you had to know to click on the Twitter or Facebook icon to find it.  In the past they used to advertise streamed events on the main news page of the website.  They need to get their act together!

 

Edited (in response to other posts above) to add that there were many empty seats in the Clore last night. Virtually the whole of one of the rows in the central block of seats  was empty (I'm not sure if it was row B or C) as well as a number of other empty seats dotted around the Studio..

Edited by Bluebird
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Thanks Bluebird - I never thought of using the Twitter or Facebook links and I guess I'm not alone in not using these to find out what's news.  I've always looked to the 'News' website for such information and found the news content excellent, with opportunity for people to comment.

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I thought it was very interesting to see Agadzahanov and the dancers work in what was looking much more like a “real” rehearsal than a presentation, he was concentrating on what he wanted to see and how he could communicate it to the dancers.

I found it particularly enlightening in relation to Hirano’s debut as Rudolf. If he hadn’t been as knackered as he was and if somebody’d have given the man a towel, I’d have loved to hear a little more about how he’s tackling this heavyweight of a role. Besides also rehearsing Bayadere!

 

Great to hear Paul Stobart talk and play! He’s working with this particular score for how long now? And he has to warm-up every morning from seven o’clock to be ready for the rehearsals – what a dedication to his and the dancer’s art. That was lovely.

 

I thought a little more information about the ballet would be presented, but perhaps the London audience doesn’t need it anymore. For viewers not so familiar with it, it surely would have been important to communicate a little more about the background and how the ballet was conceived, who was involved etc.

 

The whole thing looked a little hastily cobbled together, but to see the promising partnership of Hamilton/Hirano (and Paul Kay!!) it was very much worth watching. I’d love to see how far Hirano will be able to develop his nasty and desperate side…!

 

Such a shame I can’t come over to see it.

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52 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

it only lasted just  over an hour, when  it was supposed to be 90 minutes.

 

 

It lasted 90 minutes in the studio.  The live-stream of these events is always shorter than the actual event.

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1 minute ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

It lasted 90 minutes in the studio.  The live-stream of these events is always shorter than the actual event.

 

What?! So, did I miss a lot?

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I was also surprised and disappointed by the empty seats.  I couldn't get a return for love nor money (I had checked three or four times a day for months!) and only got a ticket in the end because a member of this forum had a spare.  So if the block of (better) seats that remained empty were indeed "house" seats that had not been released for general sale when it became clear that they were not required, it's a pretty poor show.

 

I found Alexander Agadzhanov rather frustrating to watch, as a coach.  I'm sure he's good at his job, but for the purposes of Insights (which, after all, are NOT his real job) I have preferred watching rehearsals coached by Christopher Carr or Christopher Saunders who have a much more natural way of communicating with the studio audience as well as with the dancers.

 

Petunia - the studio discussion always ends with an audience Q&A with the performers which is not shown on the live stream (which is what makes the event longer than shown).  Lady Macmillan was present in the audience too and was able to contribute some information at this point.

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Last night's event was not really an Insight but a rehearsal and, judging by the comments afterwards, it needed to be an Insight.

 

As someone has already said, it had the air of something cobbled together too hastily for comfort. Even the pianist couldn't find the right place in the score. The presenter was pleasant but she wasn't sufficiently au fait with the ballet to draw some key pieces of information out of the participants. For example, the reason that the pianist has a named role in Mayerling  is that he accompanies the Emperor's Mistress on stage when she sings in Act 2. Not mentioned. And people watching the relay would not have heard Hirano refer to Rudolf dancing 9 pas de deux in all with 6 different female characters, (plus 3 solos). There was much more to be said about this.

 

I rather liked the fact that Agadzhanov 'played it' for real as all that gurning to the audience on the part of some other coaches (sometimes in a way which patronises the dancers) is not to my taste. I thought we saw Hirano in particular take on some of the advice dramatically to impressive effect. [Hamilton was not given as many 'corrections' as she had danced the role before and was very good indeed.] I'm glad that I've booked to see them.

 

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1 hour ago, RuthE said:

Petunia - the studio discussion always ends with an audience Q&A with the performers which is not shown on the live stream (which is what makes the event longer than shown).  Lady Macmillan was present in the audience too and was able to contribute some information at this point.

 

By the way, at the last few I've been to, all the questions asked by audience members have been pretty intelligent.  There is usually a tendency for there to be three or four intelligent questions and one stupid one (for example, somebody asking something that nobody on the panel could be reasonably expected to answer).

 

The line that stuck in my mind from yesterday's was when somebody asked a question about heavy period costumes and the effect of dancing in them, and Melissa Hamilton said "Well, to be fair I spend most of the ballet in my nightie..." :D

 

1 minute ago, capybara said:

Last night's event was not really an Insight but a rehearsal and, judging by the comments afterwards, it needed to be an Insight.

 

I agree - it came across as a Royal Ballet In Rehearsal insight, which I would also have attended and enjoyed, rather than a Mayerling insight, which is what I was hoping for.

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3 minutes ago, capybara said:

And people watching the relay would not have heard Hirano refer to Rudolf dancing 9 pas de deux in all with 6 different female characters, (plus 3 solos).

 

Thanks Capybara - the relay did include a very exhausted Hirano saying a little about this (although not sure about the numbers of partners).

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3 minutes ago, JohnS said:

 

Thanks Capybara - the relay did include a very exhausted Hirano saying a little about this (although not sure about the numbers of partners).

 

Five partners and six were variously mentioned, if memory serves.  I assume the sixth, whose casting isn't normally announced in advance, is Princess Louise, after the "principal" roles of Mary Vetsera, Larisch, the Empress, Princess Stephanie and Mitzi Caspar.

Edited by RuthE
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3 minutes ago, RuthE said:

somebody asked a question about heavy period costumes 

 

Seems a fair question to me - if I recall last time one Princess Louise got very caught in her costume.

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Just now, JohnS said:

 

Seems a fair question to me - if I recall last time one Princess Louise got very caught in her costume.

 

Indeed - it was much discussed on here at the time.

 

Just to clarify, I meant that there were no stupid questions asked last night.

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John, even a dozen empty seats must correspond to something like 10% of capacity - I don't know exactly how many seats the newly revamped Clore has.  And think of all those people watching online and thinking "Grrr, there are spare seats available".  (Not to mention that it may represent a couple of hundred pounds of lost income for the ROH).  I too was disappointed - not for the first time - at the lack of ... insightfulness, so to speak ... in a ballet which really does need some explanation, not just rehearsal.  I think the ROH really need to think who they are targeting with these events - and if they are going to livestream them, then that does include the online audience, who are exactly the sort of people who may need more background to really bring them into it, rather than just "wow, that was a really passionate pas de deux".  It was very hit-and-miss what we found out about the ballet, because it depended on the dancers' off-the-cuff contributions.  I'd hoped for a proper speaker as well.  And why on earth make so little use of Gary Avis?  I'd originally assumed it was going to be him doing the coaching, or something. 

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4 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

It lasted 90 minutes in the studio.  The live-stream of these events is always shorter than the actual event.

Noted, thanks. However the best Insights I have seen have at least 1 hr 20 mins of live streaming. This had  only 1 hr 10 mins. 

 

4 hours ago, Petunia said:

I thought it was very interesting to see Agadzahanov and the dancers work in what was looking much more like a “real” rehearsal than a presentation

3 hours ago, capybara said:

I rather liked the fact that Agadzhanov 'played it' for real as all that gurning to the audience on the part of some other coaches (sometimes in a way which patronises the dancers) is not to my taste.

 

But, there being a live paying audience, as well as a wider viewing audience, I think  there has to be more than what looked more like a one-way window into a (particularly  hard) routine  rehearsal.  The best Insights seem to engage with the audience and have an uplifting and informative quality in so doing. I haven't noticed any particular gurning or patronising involved in any of  the ones I have seen. 

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11 hours ago, alison said:

And think of all those people watching online and thinking "Grrr, there are spare seats available".  

 

I was one of those people!!!

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Really enjoyed watching the Mayerling insight video, I usually find there is too much talking (which I suppose there should be) but agree this was like a full length rehearsal, I am getting into the Mayerling mood now and hope to see this cast.

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That was more like it! What an interesting Unknown Soldier Insight - a much better balance between rehearsal coaching and discussion of the piece. I appreciate an event with the choreographer creating the ballet right in front of you is always going to come from a different angle than an education event on an existing repertoire piece by a dead choreographer, but thought they got that one much more “right” than the Mayerling insight.

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This was certainly more of an Insight and yet I think on balance I preferred the Mayerling session because there was more opportunity to see the dancers working and of coursethe wonderful piano playing .That  said, it is a joy to watch Matthew Ball. He has certainly grown as an artist and richly deserves his new promotion.

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I look forward very much to seeing The Unknown Soldier in the theatre and it was very good to see Matthew Ball's solos.  Being greedy I'd have loved to see Francesca Hayward as well, particularly as the point was made on a number of occasions that it's Florence Billington's story.  I'm afraid I did find some of the discussion a little self indulgent, including during the rehearsal sections.  So on balance I too preferred Mayerling, I think because it illustrated so clearly the work and effort that goes in to creating roles such as Rudolph and the rewards as characterisation and confidence develop.

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I preferred last night's Insight as there was good  interaction between the professionals and audience, and it was very interesting to see how a new work evolves. Mind you, actually being present no doubt helped!  And yes it would have been much better if they could have included a PDD or solo with Francesca. Alastair Marriott himself points out, in his introduction, that we tend to focus on the men, but that the piece is about victims of war whether at home or away, and that this story is really about  Florence Billington.

A lot of love in the room for Matthew Ball, who was equally engaging  in his dancing  and  in his interview. 

Very much a tantalising taster, to kick off  the ballet season -  now I can't wait  for the full production, along with Symphony in C and Infra, and everything else coming our way.

Edited by Richard LH
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11 hours ago, Odyssey said:

This was certainly more of an Insight and yet I think on balance I preferred the Mayerling session because there was more opportunity to see the dancers working and of coursethe wonderful piano playing .

 

I have no objection to Insights that are heavily focused on watching dancers rehearse, but I would expect them to be advertised as Royal Ballet In Rehearsal events (of which I've been to many). When an Insight is advertised as the name of a piece, I book for it because it's the piece I want to learn more about, and I would expect to see contributions from people from several different disciplines (designers, prop makers, fight directors, historical specialists who can add political and social context, etc) as well as a certain amount of actual dance (or singing if it's an opera insight).

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There were feedback sheets at last night's Insight and I filled mine in. I trust that others on here did too?

I did enjoy it as both Alastair Marriott and Jonathan Howells are very open about their creative process. However, I made two comments in response to how the event might have been improved: 1) As it was an Insight, maybe the designer and/or the composer should also have made an input and 2) Given that one of the pdd was shown at the Spring ROH Gala in May, it would have been good to have seen a pas de deux being coached instead of two solos (however engaging Matthew Ball might be).

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