Jump to content
Sim

The Royal Ballet: Les Patineurs, Winter Dreams, The Concert, December 2018

Recommended Posts

But that would be odd in itself, because Patineurs and The Concert are so clearly appealing.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I heard tales of families (and perhaps folk in general) leaving at the second interval, as Winter Dreams was too much for children to 'endure'. No amount of persuasion was making them stay for The Concert, which was a shame as I'm sure they'd have loved it

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t think the ROH marketed the Triple Bill as a family show at all.  The description seems absolutely spot on to me:

 

“Joyous then intense, serious then comically absurd - this is a programme with variety and seasonal celebration very much in mind. Les Patineurs is Ashton's witty and imaginative re-creation of ice skaters enjoying themselves - spinning impressively or falling over. A different wintery landscape takes over in MacMillan's character study drawn from Chekhov's Three Sisters - technically impressive and emotionally absorbing. But the mood for the finale turns to outright comedy in the funniest of all ballets, Robbins's The Concert, which pokes hilarious fun at the very idea of performance itself.”

 

I thought it a fabulous evening and very much enjoyed the contrasts.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it was a good bill for adults. But with a different middle ballet it could have been a good bill for families/children too. I suppose it just depends what the RB/ROH decided they wanted to offer at Christmas. Not everything has to be suitable for children; but it's a bit surprising that they didn't want to target that market too (as an alternative to Nutcracker).

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally think this was a bit of genius programming by the RB.  

 

I took a group of eight (three adult women, three adult men and two girls 12 and 14) to watch it before Christmas, none of whom, apart from me, were ballet goers. It was a pre-Christmas treat and something different for them to go and see. I was a little apprehensive because I was concerned they might find Winter Dreams boring, but at the end of the night all but one declared it to be their favourite work of the evening, including the girls. I know they’re not exactly tiny tots, but still... After the farewell pas de deux, I heard one of the girls whisper to the other ‘That was SO beautiful’. 

 

I think the programme was an eye opener for the group – the change in mood between each piece showed them how versatile, emotional, engrossing, entertaining and hilarious ballet can be and they just soaked it up. Any preconceived ideas they had were blown away. They all say they’d definitely go back to see more ballet just because of seeing this programme and they’re still talking about it now, even after all the excitement of Christmas and New Year. 

  • Like 17

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Winter Dreams last Friday was a bit boring for the seven year old (and for me, I’m afraid: nice dancing, but I didn’t care very much about the story or the characters (except for the chair)) but he endured and the loud bit at the end perked him up.

 

Though I suppose I’d warned him that it might be a bit much and that The Concert, which he giggled his way through, would be funny. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, zxDaveM said:

I heard tales of families (and perhaps folk in general) leaving at the second interval, as Winter Dreams was too much for children to 'endure'. No amount of persuasion was making them stay for The Concert, which was a shame as I'm sure they'd have loved it

 

I also saw parents taking their children home after Winter Dreams and felt at the time what a shame it was.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that it’s a bit of a weird mix - Winter Dreams in between two light-hearted ballets - maybe it was chosen just because of the word ‘Winter’ in its title during the Winter ballet season???😂 (I do wonder if this is the case sometimes!) Doesn’t seem to of been much thought regarding the suitability for the younger members of the audience - hence the early exodus of younger audience goers which is a real shame.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, saki said:

About Bracewell's Baron Tusenbach - until I saw him in Winter Dreams on the 18th, I'd only seen him in the cinema relay of Corybantic Games and Les Patineurs in the same triple bill that evening. He was inevitably eclipsed by Matthew Ball in the former and in the latter, disadvantaged by the fact that I'd always found the couple in white the least engaging part of the ballet. So I didn't have a clear impression of him either way. Then I had a curious experience with his Tusenbach – there was something about him that persistently suggested he was more than his mousiness. When I saw the DVD later I realized that Tusenbach's characterization there (physically unattractive and nerdy) was supposed to imply that by accepting him (and not the more sexually confident and attractive suitor, for one), Irina is choosing a marriage of convenience, not love. But watching Bracewell and Naghdi, I’d taken Irina's acceptance of Tusenbach to show, not that she was overlooking his personal qualities for his title, but that she could see the value beneath his appearance. In other words, Bracewell had come across to me as a frog who would turn into a prince. I'm not sure that degree of depth is called for in this role, but it's certainly made Bracewell a rather intriguing dancer for me.

 

I find this very interesting. I too did not read it that Irina picked Tusenbach for a marriage of convenience. I interpreted it as she hadn't at first decided between her two suitor but then found Solyony was being too overbearing & taking too much for granted (when she slapped him) and so she chose to accept Tusenbach because he was a nicer person. I myself would have made the same choice, as I found Tusenbach a more appealing character than Solyony - and this was without knowing which was which as I hadn't seen either Bracewell or Edmonds previously so it wasn't until Naghdi slapped the latter & got engaged to the former that I actually knew which dancer was which! It was my first time seeing the piece & I've not seen Three Sisters as a play either. It's interesting to find that I appear to have completely misinterpreted the situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, RuthE said:

 

And as much as I like the RB's seemingly random mixed bills for the purposes of my own edification/entertainment, what point is there in putting on a show like this at a time of year which is particularly appealing to families with children looking for something light-hearted and entertaining?  It's like inviting your friends round with their families, serving up a delicious starter and jelly and ice-cream for dessert, but giving them a main course of something heavy and indigestible made with ingredients that are an "acquired taste".

Precisely why I didn't take my little one to it. I think she would have loved Les Patineurs and The Concert, but Winter Dreams is simply too long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you’re not serving your kids a big dollop of Russian melancholy on a regular basis are you really preparing them properly for the modern world?

 

To be fair, our seven year old and ten year old boys made it through quite happily having got up at 4am and had maybe an hours nap before, but they’re both pretty ballet literate and used to the idea that some of them are a bit more grown up and boring than others. Maybe it would have been different if it was a first exposure. 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

 It's interesting to find that I appear to have completely misinterpreted the situation.

 

I did too! I think that William Bracewell's winning stage persona got us all confused.

But why, then, is Irina sad and seemingly being comforted after Tusenbach loses the shoot out?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Checking out the website for Sarasota Ballet I see they have a triple bill entitled Victorian Winters which contains Les Patineurs, Enigma Variations and Balanchine's Diamonds. Leaving aside Diamonds dubious Victorian credentials (I suppose Tchaikovsky is 'Victorian') is Enigma Variations especially wintry? (I can't remember) and would it be a more suitable pre-Christmas offering than Winter Dreams?

 

I was very impressed with their programmes in general (especially the 2 recreated Ashton ballets) and have emailed the Artistic Director to ask if there is any chance of  a UK visit, citing Forum correspondence so he knows there is interest. I'm not holding my breath but I'll pass on his reply and you never know, it might just plant a seed of thought for the future.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Colman said:

If you’re not serving your kids a big dollop of Russian melancholy on a regular basis are you really preparing them properly for the modern world?

 

To be fair, our seven year old and ten year old boys made it through quite happily having got up at 4am and had maybe an hours nap before, but they’re both pretty ballet literate and used to the idea that some of them are a bit more grown up and boring than others. Maybe it would have been different if it was a first exposure. 

It would have been first exposure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, capybara said:

I did too! I think that William Bracewell's winning stage persona got us all confused.

But why, then, is Irina sad and seemingly being comforted after Tusenbach loses the shoot out?

 

At the time I thought she was, unsurprisingly, devastated at her fiance's death. However if it's supposed to only be a marriage of convenience then maybe she's just hacked off that she's not going to be a Baroness!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

9 hours ago, Dawnstar said:
12 hours ago, capybara said:

I did too! I think that William Bracewell's winning stage persona got us all confused.

But why, then, is Irina sad and seemingly being comforted after Tusenbach loses the shoot out?

 

At the time I thought she was, unsurprisingly, devastated at her fiance's death. However if it's supposed to only be a marriage of convenience then maybe she's just hacked off that she's not going to be a Baroness!

 

In the introduction in the DVD,  Irina is described as about to escape "though a marriage of convenience", and the characterizations in the DVD seem to support that, but I don't think it was as clear in the performances in this run - there was Bracewell's appeal and I remember in the other cast Takada's Irina seemed to genuinely like Tusenbach - after accepting his proposal and as they're leaving the stage arm in arm, she rests her head on his shoulder briefly in a very affectionate, intimate way, which I don't remember Naghdi doing. So in Takada's reading, it would be genuine grief for Tusenbach's death at the end, not just despair that she's lost her chance to leave the provincial town. I haven't read the play either and would be interested to see how it compares with the ballet.
Speaking of Irina's grief, while Takada covered her face with both hands, I was quite struck by the fact that Naghdi covered her face with one hand and continued to cling to her sister with the other. Very expressive of the sisters' bond and the subject of the ballet, I thought.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the risk of being shot down in flames by parents with younger children, I would applaud this triple bill. Just because it is in rep during the Christmas period doesn’t mean that it has to be appealing for children. The Nutcracker does this in spades. As someone earlier pointed out, this wasn’t marketed as such, but rather as a programme which conjours up the magical atmosphere of winter. Just because it wasn’t targeted at families, shouldn’t be seen as a negative. I thought it was a lovely mix and provided opportunities to see dancers in solo roles at all levels as well as an enjoyable contrast of styles. 

  • Like 14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, capybara said:

 

I did too! I think that William Bracewell's winning stage persona got us all confused.

But why, then, is Irina sad and seemingly being comforted after Tusenbach loses the shoot out?

 

In the play, the sisters speak often of their desire to return to Moscow, where they grew up.  Irina dreams that she will meet the love of her life there.  When it becomes clear they're not going back to Moscow, Olga urges Irina to marry Tuzenbach.  Irina decides to do so because she respects him, she believes he is a good man, she knows he loves her and will treat her well, they share a similar goal (they both want to work and see value in it), and she doesn't see another way out.

 

Solyony, in the play, is never really a serious option for Irina - he is awkward, rude, and off-putting (doing things like imitating a chicken).  He acts this way to hide the fact that he's painfully shy.  No one really likes him apart from Tuzenbach.

 

I think Irina is sad when Tuzenbach is killed because, although she confesses before the duel that she doesn't love him, she still cares about him, and it derails her plans of leaving and finding work with a husband she can trust.  Ultimately she still does decide to leave, but I think her plans are a little less stable and more difficult without the baron there.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

While watching Winter Dreams over several performances this time - [and I agree with many hereabouts that the cast headed by Lamb/Muntagirov offered the best overall realisation] - there were many touches that could have been added to MacMillian's piece to add character colour - and to certainly help in clarification for the audience. 

 

Two examples: 

 

(i) At the point of the first blackout - where Natasha faces the sisters and the nurse - e.g., the establishment vs the new - You could have had Natasha - in silence - parade/flounce forward in her garish colours - peruse them - and then pass, only stopping only at the end to turn to the audience and shrug her shoulders like the Green Girl in her second sequence in Dances at a Gathering before exiting.  This would have illustrated something of the crucial divide.  Any laughter would be entirely legitimate.  Chekhov after all saw his play as a comedy.  Natasha (and in tow Andrey - with whom it would have been wonderful to have - if only momentarily - a note his affection for his sisters) are the survivors of the piece much as I assume MacMillan means to mark when the lights are briefly brought up late in the piece on the two them at the table in lit silhouette.   

 

(ii) It would have been easy to show Olga's dedication to her career as a teacher - an escape perhaps from the isolation of her own persona - by having her marking papers while dancing - or certainly reading much as Des Grieux is first seen doing in Manon.  She is - after all - marking papers when the curtain goes up in the original.  I, myself, began to think it would have been potent if the start of the schoolhouse blaze (which ultimately destroys much of Olga's ideals) could have begun at the commencement of the farewell PDD between Natasha and Vershinin through background scenic depiction/lighting only to catch full light at its conclusion - with Natasha on the ground embracing his coat ... and to finally go out when Tuzenbach is shot.  Then Olga could enter distraught and covered in soot - making her own shake of the head to Irina doubly powerful - and the final isolation of all the three sisters more clear to many of the audience members who - at least around me - obviously had little idea of what exactly was happening and certainly why.  It seemed to me that this was a core contributor as to why some found it - as I overheard - 'boring'.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

 

14 minutes ago, Bruce Wall said:

(i) At the point of the first blackout - where Natasha faces the sisters and the nurse - e.g., the establishment vs the new - You could have had Natasha - in silence - parade/flounce forward in her garish colours - peruse them - and then pass, only stopping only at the end to turn to the audience and shrug her shoulders like the Green Girl in her second sequence in Dances at a Gathering before exiting.  This would have illustrated something of the crucial divide.  Any laughter would be entirely legitimate.  Chekhov after all saw his play as a comedy.  Natasha (and in tow Andrey - with whom it would have been wonderful to have - if only momentarily - a note his affection for his sisters) are the survivors of the piece much as I assume MacMillan means to mark when the lights are briefly brought up late in the piece on the two them at the table in lit silhouette.  

 

As it is, I found this moment very weak, given that I have always found Natasha's bullying of Anfisa (and Olga's defence) one of the play's most memorable and powerful moments.

Edited by RuthE
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a few  belated comments from the matinee on the 20th December.  

 

First of all, wonderful to see so many children in the audience.  And sad that there were so many empty seats after the second interval.  There were 4 children in the row behind me, none of them tiny tots.  I would have said the youngest was about 9.  After Winter Dreams, I heard the mother say they had to leave because they had to catch a train.  I did wonder where on earth they were going.  John O' Groats? This was a matinee performance, and I doubt they had to be up for school the next day, so what was the rush?  A family commitment?  Poor planning if so, to miss such a fun ballet at the end.  

 

Who cannot smile with pleasure when the curtain rises on Les Patineurs?  It is such a cheery, wintry scene, and so appropriate for the time of year.  Having said that, although I enjoyed it very much, I thought the dancing was good, but not great.   David Yudes was excellent as the Blue Boy, but as far as many of the others were concerned, I never really got the impression they were skating.  The White Couple of Lara Turk and Lukas Bjorneboe Braendsrod smiled prettily and danced nicely, but that was about it.  As this was originally performed by Fonteyn, I felt there should have been a bit more to it than that. And by the way, sorry if this has been mentioned earlier in the thread, but when did they stop listing the cast according to their costumes i.e. Blue Boy, White Couple etc?  And why? Listing them as Variation, Pas de Deux etc may not mean too much to people who don't attend very often.  I had trouble remembering afterwards who had danced what.  

 

However, I am sounding a bit too negative here.  I left for the first interval with a happy smile on my face.   To come back to Winter Dreams.  Oh dear.  Never seen it before, and on the basis of this performance, never want to see it again.  I think it should be renamed Winter Gloom.  I thought it was too long, and rather boring. I adore Morera, and thought both she and Takada danced wonderfully.  However, as far as I could see, it was the same pdd over and over, with different individuals dancing it. to the same repetitive music.  I obviously wasn't alone in being less than enthusiastic.  The chap next to me started snoring loudly.  

 

However, things perked up with The Concert, thank goodness.  I've seen it many times before, it is a great crowd pleaser, and had the audience laughing out loud.  I did enjoy it, but having had my memory refreshed with all the jokes, I am not sure I would want to see it again for another 5 years. 

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Fonty said:

 After Winter Dreams, I heard the mother say they had to leave because they had to catch a train.  I did wonder where on earth they were going.  John O' Groats? This was a matinee performance, and I doubt they had to be up for school the next day, so what was the rush?  A family commitment?  Poor planning if so, to miss such a fun ballet at the end.  

 

Perhaps like me they had underestimated the length of the performance and were booked on a specific train home.  I had planned to have a quick meal after the performance so had booked what I thought was an adequately timed train.  I had no time to eat although managed to get straight on to a bus back to Euston so had time to buy a sandwich in Marks.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to say my 2nd viewing of the triple bill on Friday was far superior to the matinee I saw in December.  I really enjoyed The Concert a lot more.  Sarah Lamb was just great in The Concert and I enjoyed her  performance as Masha in Winter Dreams.  Marcelino Sambe was a smashing Blue Boy in Les Pats and I was thrilled to see Yuhui Choe again as I have not seen her recently.  A few pics from Friday's final show:-

DwaQIHRW0AAdsPh.jpg

DwaQgYsWwAAMDL9.jpg

DwaRZqwXQAEsmHc.jpg

 

DwaTsRyX0AAzxiy.jpg

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great pics, Don Q Fan! Thanks for posting and I'm glad you enjoyed the performance so much.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×