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I really loved "Unknown Soldier" and I watched it without a critical attitude. It was moving and made me think of all those lost young men and the loved ones they left behind. It made me think of our society nowadays....we have so much yet we moan, complain, constantly criticise and seem to barely be able to enjoy anything without complaining... I appreciated all those amazing artists involved in creating "Unknown Soldier". Those WWI young men and woman had nothing and lost their young life along the way. I loved the film projections too and the dresses were so beautiful. I enjoyed it as a Remembrance piece in honour of all those fallen young men. Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball were gorgeous, her acting abilities are superb, she made me feel her joy when falling in love, loving her soldier. Her pain was deeply felt when she received the sad news of his killing (the expression of her pain reminded me somehow of her portrayal as The Girl in "The Invitation"). Beautifully danced and wonderful acting. Matthew Ball is rapidly become a fine young Principal and together they just look so right.

 

I loved "Infra" at its first outing and it was terrific to see it danced again by this generation of young stars. 

 

"Symphony in C": what a joy and lovely to end the evening with such an upbeat ballet (I left the ROH on a high). Just mind blowing how versatile some dancers are. Of the four female principals (Cuthbertson, Nunez, Takada, Naghdi) dancing Balanchine two had danced in preceding pieces: Naghdi danced "Unknown Soldier", followed by dancing in McGregor's "Infra" (the Finale Pd2) and ending the performance dancing "Symphony in C" (4th Movement), Takada danced "Infra" followed by dancing the 3rd Movement in "Symphony in C" .Two amazing Principals to say the least! (some soloists also danced in Infra).

Marianna Nunez (partnered by Hirano) was stunning in the 2nd Movement, a seasoned ballerina who has danced it many times before. She was beautiful! Takada and Naghdi were sublime each in their own Movement. The glorious Vadim Muntagirov partnered Cuthbertson (but how I would love to see him partner Naghdi). 

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30 minutes ago, capybara said:

I agree with Shya and Richard LH: for me, the night belonged to Yasmine Naghdi (in all three pieces - is three debuts and  premiere in one evening a first for a Principal? - and wonderful throughout) and Akane Takada (also showing us her artistry in both contemporary and classical works - wonderful too). Is there anything these two amazing young ballerinas can't do? 

 

 

Yasmine Naghdi danced the "Infra"  Finale P2d years ago so this was not her debut, and she danced the 4th Movement "Symphony in  C" at the ROH Gala in May. It may be a first that a Principal danced the World Premiere of a ballet and also continued dancing in the next two works :)  Of the four Principals dancing "Symphony in C", Cuthertson and Nunez only appeared in this ballet, not in the previous two ballets.

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Thank you already for your lovely reviews! So interesting to hear about the Unknown soldier, can´t wait to see it myself. From a friend I heard just now a mixed review about it, he absolutely loved Naghdi/Ball but didn´t find the "corps" scenes moving or impressive, something I haven´t read here. I am really curious now!

 

Will see the triple bill earlier than I thought, because I got a surprise ticket for Friday, hopefully I will arrive on time...I am afraid it will be the first Infra cast for three times now (on Friday it is again the opening cast in all three pieces right?) but from your reviews it doesn´t seem to be the worst thing to watch this Infra Cast more than once🙂.

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1 hour ago, BeauxArts said:

That should be Akane (or Takada) (of course!)

 

Don't worry - I've been known to refer to her as Takane before now! :) 

 

1 hour ago, capybara said:

(in all three pieces - is three debuts and  premiere in one evening a first for a Principal?)

 

I'd guess it might well be: I remember Ed Watson doing the first night of Chroma, DGV and Four Temperaments, but am not sure of the year, and think he may still have been a First Soloist at that time?  Also, I think he might well have done 4Ts before.

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2 hours ago, capybara said:

 the night belonged to Yasmine Naghdi (in all three pieces - is three debuts and  premiere in one evening a first for a Principal? - and wonderful throughout) and Akane Takada (also showing us her artistry in both contemporary and classical works - wonderful too). Is there anything these two amazing young ballerinas can't do? 

 

 

 

Yasmine Naghdi has danced Infra in a previous run, so not a debut (though I can't recall off the top of my head if it was the same role in Infra, so may be a 'debut' if it is a different part, if that makes sense). Whole heartedly agree about both her and Akane Takada - last night both were a mesmerising joy to watch. Will look forward to more of the same through the run - and future productions featuring them 🙂

 

* just to add - think it was the same role

 

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On the ROH website/What'sOn: there is a photo of Naghdi with Johannes Stepanek (2012) and I am pretty sure she also danced the Finale Pd2.

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Thank you everyone for putting me right on Yasmine Naghdi's credentials.

But dancing 3 leading roles in one night is pretty special all the same.

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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the photocall for The Unknown Soldier, Infra, Symphony in C...

 


32101177248_bc2aa2d8e1_c.jpg
Yasmine Naghdi in The Unknown Soldier
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


 

32101176998_e2db655309_c.jpg
Marcelino Sambé and Mayara Magri in Infra
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


 

32101176888_4b61c52ed3_z.jpg
Marianela Nuñez in Symphony in C
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


 

See more...
Foteini Christofilopoulou: Royal Ballet in The Unknown Soldier, Infra, Symphony in C
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

Edited by Bruce
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5 hours ago, capybara said:

The RB 'got away with it' through the joy of dance (and Muntagirov's smile among smiles) but I think it will get better over the run.

 

 

I agree about the pure joyfulness of this ballet, which seems to have captured the exhuberance of the youthful Bizet who wrote the symphony when only 17.

"Got away with it " sounds a little disparaging capybara ! I would be delighted to be proved wrong, but as far as I could see (admittedly very favourably placed in the centre of the OS) this was an absolutely fantastic performance and I am not sure how it could get any better !

I realise that "being there" adds so much more, but as my first live experience of SIC this was even better, for me, than the NYCB's own 2016 recorded performance in Paris.

Everyone around me was in raptures at the end (and I think we were all prepared to applaud much longer than the curtain operators allowed) after what seemed almost like the whole company absolutely dazzling us in an explosion of sparkling, white, brilliant movement. 

In particular I hope always to recall Cuthbertson, Nunez, Takada, and Naghdi as they danced together in the  4th movement  last night, perfectly synchronised  and completely displaying  the joy of dance, as you say, but also effectively showing in their line of four across the stage,  how this wonderful art form is being faithfully passed on from one ballet "generation" to the next; ably supported of course by  the boys  such as Muntagirov, Campbell, Richardson, Edmonds and Bracewell (amongst others). 

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6 hours ago, BeauxArts said:

Last and very much least, for me, was the US: I think that this is a facile work, far too derivative, and not helped by the music  (composed by numbers?) or designs (ill-conceived). It is a sign that something is awry , surely, when the spoken extracts are more effective than the dance content.. I think that it was a wasted opportunity, and reflects serious errors of judgment by a number of people involved (not on the stage).  I absolve the dancers because they danced with full commitment but I don't think that anyone could salvage this vapid piece.  

 

I completely agree with your view, and I also agree with the critic (Independent?) who called the final scene 'accidentally homoerotic'. I would have shaken my head during most of it had I not been at the front of the orchestra stalls. 


The evening did get a lot better though, and I too (for the first time) was struck by the phenomenal Akane Takada in Infra. Her performance was deeply moving and made me forget the otherwise distracting screen. Clearly I prefer her as a contemporary dancer though her classical technique is excellent.

Symphony in C was exhilarating, with Nunez as its highlight.

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6 hours ago, BeauxArts said:

Last night: I thought the dancing in S in C was effervescent - it was a really enjoyable performance. Infra made for fascinating viewing (for me, at least) but I found the young cast did not pack  the emotional punch that I had experienced when I last saw it danced by  the Mariinsky.  Also, I was not sure that the all dancers had really mastered the particular choreographic idiom, although I  agree that Akada was completely compelling. Last and very much least, for me, was the US: I think that this is a facile work, far too derivative, and not helped by the music  (composed by numbers?) or designs (ill-conceived). It is a sign that something is awry , surely, when the spoken extracts are more effective than the dance content.. I think that it was a wasted opportunity, and reflects serious errors of judgment by a number of people involved (not on the stage).  I absolve the dancers because they danced with full commitment but I don't think that anyone could salvage this vapid piece.  

I also agree with you, Beaux Arts.  It was a work that promised much and, for me, didn't even deliver on a superficial level.  Having read the excellent programme notes, I was expecting a tremendous depth of feeling but it didn't happen.  I am not talking about the commitment of the dancers; they were pretty much faultless.  This should have been a very special work viewed with enormous goodwill and with everybody in the audience willing it to move them.  I don't think it did.  There was a lot of shuffling and coughing and people shifting in their seats waiting for...

 

I don't know why it didn't work although as I said in an earlier post, the music was ill-conceived and did not complement the dancing or reflect the subject matter.  V. disappointed.

 

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A bit late to the party, but I really enjoyed last night, with a couple of caveats.  

 

Unknown Soldier.  Hmmm, I want to see this again before making a call.  I actually enjoyed it.  I guess the problem with doing anything about the First World War, in no matter what art form, is that it has all been said and done before.  We have had 100 years to capture its tragedy, and capture it we have, in film, music, opera, ballet, literature, painting....there is nothing more to be said about it.  The problem, therefore, is finding a way to be original with source material that isn't original.  Akram Khan achieved this beautifully in Dust.  I can 't say I found this piece particularly original, but it was very effective as a commentary on the human cost of war;  the loss, the pain, the waste.  Yes, we have had it all before, but as far as I am concerned you can't remind people too often of how awful this war in particular was.  The pdd between Naghdi and Ball was beautiful (largely because it was derivative of MacMillan's R&J) and I really engaged with them;  a young couple in love, but you just know it's doomed.  Both leads were utterly convincing and I am thrilled at this unexpected chance to see this wonderful partnership again without having to wait until spring 2019.   There was a lovely vignette from Leo Dixon as the Telegraph Boy.   I really liked the production, but once again can I please remind choreographers and producers that not everyone sits in the posh seats.  In row D of the amphi, my view was blocked at times by the screens and I never got the whole perspective.  I really do wonder whether they ever consider anyone higher up than the balcony?  We pays our money, we wants to see.  

 

Infra.  This is one of the McGregor works that I love.  There aren't many, but this is one of them.  Having been there when it was new piece, and even on its opening night, I felt very moved watching the next generation dancing this.  I loved the original cast, who were all brilliant, but I did my utmost not to make comparisons.  I thought the young dancers all did a great job last night.  I loved Anna-Rose O'Sullivan with William Bracewell and with Marcellino Sambe (they seem to be forging quite the partnership).  I was also very impressed with Akane Takada;  such an innate classical dancer, she adapted to McGregor's contortions so well, and emotionally she really got to me.  I am not sure whether she had quite the drama that Lauren Cuthbertson had in the original cast (and there's me, trying not to compare), but she came pretty darn close.  

 

Symphony in C.  I think any company would have to try very hard in order for me to feel disappointed by this piece.  It is just glorious, exuberant, and the perfect way to end a mixed bill.  All four lead couples were wonderful, but the excitement of seeing the baton being passed to the younger generation really made me sit up and take notice of everyone on the stage, not just the Principals.  Akane Takada and Yasmine Naghdi are both exemplary and consummate artists, and the future of the RB is very promising in their (and the rest of the company's) hands.  There is just so much young talent there at the moment, and it was wonderful for so much of it to be displayed on the stage last night.  I was very pleased to be sitting on high for Symphony;  as with other ballets with corps-filled white acts, it holds the best vantage point.  To be looking down on such beauty was a privilege indeed.  The cherry on the cake of the performance was to see the amazing Patricia Neary onstage at the end, taking a well-deserved curtsey.

 

As others have said, for me the highlight of the evening was the incredible artistry of Yasmine Naghdi.  She excelled in all three pieces, each very different from the other.  She didn't look the slightest bit tired or out of place in any of them.  She is a rare artist, and we are so lucky to have her here in London.  I knew from her earliest days in the company that she was going to go far and do well, but I certainly didn't expect her to be quite as special as she is, in that she seems to be able to do anything very well.  Kudos too for Akane Takada, who I am liking more and more with each passing month.  She seems to have found a depth to her characterisations that somehow seemed to be missing before, and coupled with her beautiful technique, she is always a joy to watch.  

 

Very well done to the whole company, and to the orchestra, who also had to dig deep with three completely different scores and played them all very well.  

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47 minutes ago, Tebasile said:

 

I completely agree with your view, and I also agree with the critic (Independent?) who called the final scene 'accidentally homoerotic'.

 

I think this would only be the case if near-naked male bodies are deemed to be automatically homo-erotic. What I saw - and what was clearly intended - was a beautiful and moving depiction of life after death. Not everything is about sex.

 

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51 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I think this would only be the case if near-naked male bodies are deemed to be automatically homo-erotic. What I saw - and what was clearly intended - was a beautiful and moving depiction of life after death. Not everything is about sex.

 

Well said Bridie.  Homoeroticism didn’t even occur to me.  I thought they were supposed to be the pure spirits of lost young men, with the stains of violent death washed away forever.  I think it says more about the writer than the choreographer.  

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I think you must all be particularly pure of heart and mind then because to my mind putting muscled young men in tiny gold speedos and having them writhe around in slow motion under golden lighting is fairly unarguably homoerotic.  There are clubs in Soho where you could see very similar things any night of the week, except that the choreography there tends to be more interesting.  In this context it was incredibly crass and I'm surprised (or would have been surprised by any institution that has shown more imagination,   artistic sense and common sense with its new commissions than the RB in recent years) that the piece was allowed to reach the stage in this form.   

 

Quite besides all the cliched sentimentality, I don't know how anyone can have heard the "idea" for this ballet and concluded that the literal "acting out" of yet another narrative was the right way to go, after the critical mauling that Frankenstein received.   Thanks goodness for McGregor and Balanchine - they both said so much more without having to resort to spoken words.

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7 minutes ago, Lindsay said:

I think you must all be particularly pure of heart and mind then because to my mind putting muscled young men in tiny gold speedos and having them writhe around in slow motion under golden lighting is fairly unarguably homoerotic.  There are clubs in Soho where you could see very similar things any night of the week, except that the choreography there tends to be more interesting.

 

Well I don't frequent such clubs so I wouldn't know. I'm not sure  if that makes me pure of heart and mind, but maybe it helps.

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Well I was right at the top of the house last night and I have to say I rather enjoyed the view from on high. The shapes took on a different, and interesting, dimension and I found that I enjoyed Infra far more than I had previously. Whether this was, in part, because the moving projections were less distracting I can't say. Perhaps it's just that McGregor now sits more happily on the RB dancers than it used to.

 

The Unknown Soldier was beautifully danced and I did feel moved by the piece but I always feel slightly uncomfortable with sentimentality and there was, for me, that feeling that there was a vaguely tricksy, almost exploitative element in the use of voice-overs. And the dreaded running around in circles at one point ...

 

I loved Symphony in C from start to finish. The company looked wonderful, the soloists could hardly be bettered, it was an object lesson in how to show emotion - different types of emotion - through pure dance and without a trace of sentimentality. I left on an absolute high!

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Well, since she seems a bit under-mentioned in this thread, I'd like to say how much I appreciated Lauren Cuthbertson's musicality in the first movement of Symphony in C.  And Muntagirov, of course - but perhaps that goes without saying?

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34 minutes ago, Lindsay said:

I think you must all be particularly pure of heart and mind then because to my mind putting muscled young men in tiny gold speedos and having them writhe around in slow motion under golden lighting is fairly unarguably homoerotic.  There are clubs in Soho where you could see very similar things any night of the week, except that the choreography there tends to be more interesting.  In this context it was incredibly crass and I'm surprised (or would have been surprised by any institution that has shown more imagination,   artistic sense and common sense with its new commissions than the RB in recent years) that the piece was allowed to reach the stage in this form.   

 

Quite besides all the cliched sentimentality, I don't know how anyone can have heard the "idea" for this ballet and concluded that the literal "acting out" of yet another narrative was the right way to go, after the critical mauling that Frankenstein received.   Thanks goodness for McGregor and Balanchine - they both said so much more without having to resort to spoken words.

I am far from pure of mind, but I would hope that any decent choreographer or person wouldn’t use a work about the tragedy of the First World War as a vehicle for  homo-eroticism.  But then it can be argued that McGregor did that already in Woolf Works.  I look forward to the complaints about that.  

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I would have hoped the same Sim and yet there it was.  And I don't know what you think was homo-erotic about references to WW1 in Woolf Works? As far as I recall no soldiers took their clothes off and writhed around in speedos and there was a complexity to the choreography that mirrored well the sensitive and layered treatment of the subject in Mrs Dalloway   

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You don’t have to be naked and writhing around for something to be erotic!  

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I know that.  But it's a long way from that statement to finding McGregor's choreographic portrayal of Septimus Smith's shell shock to be home-erotic.  Which was what you appeared to be suggesting in your previous post.

Edited by Lindsay
typo

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7 minutes ago, Sim said:

I am far from pure of mind, but I would hope that any decent choreographer or person wouldn’t use a work about the tragedy of the First World War as a vehicle for  homo-eroticism.  But then it can be argued that McGregor did that already in Woolf Works.  I look forward to the complaints about that.  

To return to the original quote I used, 'accidentally homoerotic' implies that this was not intended by the choreographer but nonetheless gave this impression to many in the audience (I won't speak for others, but I don't consider myself particularly sex-obsessed). It was therefore arguably ill-judged and naive, apart from being kitsch and choreographically bland, as Lindsay has pointed out.

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I only saw the rehearsal so far and I found The Unknown Soldier so dire it put me off going last night. Over the years Marriott has been given many opportunities to produce work for the main stage yet I cannot think of a single truly memorable piece. Time and time again the end result is at best mediocre choreography and a budget for sets, lighting, video effects and music that could surely be better spent. It baffles me that he continues to receive commissions. Leaving aside the masterpiece that is Gloria, IMO all three recent ballets in the ENB Triple Lest We Forget were way superior to The Unknown Soldier.  

Edited by annamk
typos typos
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Eroticism can also be to do with love, whether it be between a man and a woman, two men or two women, or anyone else.  Of course I am not equating “writhing around in Speedos” to what is as you point out a sensitive portrayal of shell shock.  What I am saying is that the choreography clearly portrays the love between the two men and this is much more of a turn on to me than a bunch of boys in Speedos, no matter how hunky they might be.  But then I guess I am not the target audience, so what would I know.  

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I think we are talking at cross-purposes them.  What I was criticising in Unknown Soldier was the gratuitous, exploitative showing off of men's bodies in a way which appeared to have no clear artistic purpose beyond looking "beautiful".  Exploring potentially erotic relationships between male characters is an entirely different thing and can be artistically interesting, as indeed we both clearly found it to be in Woolf Works.  

 

Even before we get to what was on the stage last night, choosing to illustrate an interview about a first world war ballet with naked pictures of the dancers seems to me emblematic of very poor decision-making all round:

http://www.anothermanmag.com/life-culture/10606/boys-of-the-royal-ballet-unknown-soldier-cast-alastair-marriott-jonathan-howells

 

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Yes I agree Lindsay.  But it looks like this magazine is for gay men which is why they have chosen photos of gorgeous men.  It’s nothing to do with the content of the article or the ballet...it’s simply a reason to show half-naked bodies!  And yes, it does diminish the seriousness of the theme being discussed.  I have never heard of this magazine so I don’t know how seriously it’s taken.  

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