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johnross

ENB Choreographics, London, June 2015

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The annual showcase for members of the English National Ballet to try their hands at choreography was held at the Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre - this year two visiting choreographers Renato Paroni de Castro and Morgann Runacre-Temple were asked to contribute as well. Here are a few pictures from the rehearsal.

 

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Juan Rodriguez and Adela Ramirez in James Streeter's A Touch of Eternity

 

 

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Daniele Silingardi and Katja Khaniukova in Max Westwell's Fractured Memory

 

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Tiffany Hedman and Daniel Kraus in Morgann Runacre-Temple's - Give My Love to The Sunrise

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

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...and a few more examples from me.
 
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A Touch For Eternity (James Streeter) - Adela Ramirez
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Memory of What Could Have Been (Renato Paroni de Castro) - Guilherme Menezes, Sarah Kundi
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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A Room in New York (Stina Quagebeur) - Crystal Costa, James Forbat
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...
Set from DanceTabs: ENB - Choreographics, 2015
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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ENB's life enriching CHOREOGRAPHICS incentive has become a 'must do' calendar event for me; something along the lines of Christmas. As previously this year's celebration provided a proverbial stocking that brimmed with potential.  Aptly (not to say amply) it hung on that fireplace of hope that is the Lillian Baylis Studio's stage.  The great lady herself would have heartily approved methinks.  Indeed I thought I spied that crooked smile happily crease as I passed her portrait on the way out.  But, no, I was more like just lost in happy thought.      

 

As ever the programme was beautifully facilitated by the insightful steer of the young and very gifted George Williamson (who, himself, produced one of the most gracefully sincere introductory remarks it has ever been my privilege to hear).  Thereafter as per now honoured tradition - each piece was introduced by one of Laurnet Liotardo's dynamic film 'featurettes'.  The CHOREOGRAPHICS model has now become one for other such programmes to aspire to.

 

By the end there was no doubt in my mind that it was definitely the ENB home team that rose victorious on this particular occasion.  I say that acknowledging the fact that the Choreographics' bill - loosely hung in and around a theme of post-war America - for the first time this year brought dance makers from without the ENB family fold.  (That said - although Renato Paroni de Castro's triangular MEMORY OF WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN which pitched two naval twins (the ever winning Menezes brothers) against one woman (a stirring Sarah Kundi) did not strike a particular cord for me - there were telling elements of Morgann Runacre-Temple's GIVE MY LOVE TO THE SUNRISE - a three pronged decoration to the theme of The Lady for Shanghai - that fascinated.  Indeed never more so than when specifically focused in the face of Tiffany Hedman's capricious femme fatale a la Rita Hayworth and laddered within the walk of David Richardson's impactful use of structural lighting.  Both hauntingly illuminated Laura Stevens' motley score, the only original collaboration between choreographer and composer in this particular bill.    

 

For me it was the ENB family members that did themselves and us MOST proud on this occasion.  The evening commenced with a zealous choreographic compendium, BABEL, by the winner of this year's ENBS Choreographic Competition, the obviously evergreen Joshua Legge.  Paying homage to the youthful works of one William Forsythe (always a winning place to begin) Legge's conversation for a male quartet (gifted ENBS students all) to Venetian Snares' 'Integration' sought to accordion alone together.  It well won the challenge.  BABEL's ending - 'and then there was one' - not only stung but suitably prepared us for James Streeter's lovingly corrosive take on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's final meeting - 62 days to this very performance - in A TOUCH FOR ETERNITY.  David Richardson's illumination and Louie Whitemore's costume design both majestically set an appropriate tone - no less so than Max Richter's rightly nagging 'November' - as Adela Ramirez and Juan Rodriguez vividly replicated both the impassioned fingers and blood such as was cut through and dripped over the metallic mesh of an American high security prison's visitor room's regime during those few final fatal minutes whence they could - but once more - be together alone. Streeter's very concept bit.

 

I was captivated too by Fabian Reimair's 'traumA' (German for 'Dream') wherein angelic Anjuli Hudson's young wife was left in a state of perpetual nightmare by the loss of her husband (a sorrowfully trapped Ken Saruhasi), himself lost as but a number amongst the corporate many.  That latter were wittily represented by both Barry Drummond and Shevelle Dynott.  Reimair's was a piece beautifully framed and heart warming to witness the enhanced focus in this fine dancer's choreographic progress from last year's effort.    

 

Max Westwall was ENB's new boy on the choreographic block and his FRACTURED MEMORY was not only the evening's most academically classical piece of ballet but one that allowed its core characters in that final adagio (vivaciously inhabited by both Lauretta Summerscales and Junor Sousa) to not only wear the memory of their joy in their smiles but to twist it into the sleeve our hearts.  Mr. Westwall more than walked on the Choreographics' grass, he ran all over it.  He offered diverse opportunities for the largest ensemble of the evening as further enriched by Madison Keesler, Katja Khaniukova, Jinhao Zhang and Daniele Silingardi.  The fractured memory of the prefect I once was could do nowt but stand in spirit and applaud.  Collectively the audience's appreciative zeal all but demanded:  'Please sir:  we want more'.  .  

 

Still all was to be but prelude to Stina Quagebeur's A ROOM IN NEW YORK.   This was a complete four act drama in but ten minutes.  A complex treatise celebrating the souls of two people - visonaries both - Edward Hopper and his other half Josephine Nivison. Hopper once wrote: 'Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.'   Because Quagebeur has had the courage to invade her own soul, she has yet again enhanced our own universe.  As far as I'm concerned this is a incisive chapter on that defining artist's work.  This too should be preserved in the Library of Congress.  As the light finally fades on that iconic pose now owned by time we can see a slice of life beyond such as could only ever have been foreign before.  That's is what ballet and Quagebeur can do.  Crystal Costa's amorously tenacious Jo prods James Forbat's profound Edward as much as he does her.  They deserve not only each other but to help define Quagebeur's stunningly majestic whole.  

 

How I wish the mantle that is here now so oft embossed upon LIam Scarlett shoulders might be equally enshrined upon Stina Quagebeur.  I say this wanting in no way to take anything away from the core gift that is Scarlett's but fervently coveting an opportunity to see this extraordinary woman - no WRITER - Stina Quagebeur honoured as I feel by rights she should.  Please forgive me.  I felt this way after thrilling to last year's searing VERA.  Now I'm more than convinced.  My admiration can but stand humble in the face of such extraordinary artistry.  Hopper related:  'No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.'  Quagebeur stunningly has both.  'She said'  We listen and learn.  I, for one, give great thanks.

 

What can I say:  The evening was a gift.  

Edited by Bruce Wall

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Sorry - got ahead of myself there - as I hadn't meant to write a review.  (I really should be working .... but that's a familiar story).  I was in the process of correcting my fourth paragraph when the BcoF clock struck.  Here is Cinderella's slipper such as it might - in this regard at least - have been left on the stair:

 

For me it was the ENB family members that did themselves and us MOST proud on this occasion.  The evening commenced with a zealous choreographic compendium, BABEL, by the winner of this year's ENBS Choreographic Competition, the obviously evergreen Joshua Legge.  Paying homage to the youthful works of one William Forsythe (always a winning place to begin) Legge's conversation for a male quartet (gifted ENBS students all) to Venetian Snares' 'Integration' sought to accordion alone together.  It well won the Legge's challenge.  BABEL's ending - 'and then there was one' - not only stung but suitably prepared us for James Streeter's lovingly corrosive take on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's final meeting - 62 years in date to this very performance.  David Richardson's illumination and Louie Whitemore's costume design both majestically set an appropriate tone for A TOUCH FOR ETERNITY.- no less than Max Richter's rightly nagging 'November'.  Adela Ramirez and Juan Rodriguez vividly replicated the impassioned fingers and blood of those historic entities such as was cut through and dripped over the metallic mesh of an American high security prison's visitor room's regime during their final few minutes together alone. Streeter's very concept bit.

 

 and the penultimate paragraph might best fall:

 

 How I wish the mantle that is here now so oft embossed upon LIam Scarlett's shoulders might be equally enshrined upon Stina Quagebeur.  I say this wanting in no way to take anything away from the core gift that is Scarlett's but fervently coveting an opportunity to see this extraordinary woman - no WRITER - Stina Quagebeur honoured as I feel by rights she should.  Please forgive me.  I felt this way after thrilling to last year's searing VERA.  Now even more I'm convinced.  My admiration stands humbled in the face of such extraordinary artistry.  Hopper related:  'No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.'  Quagebeur stunningly has both in spades.  'She said' in deed  We can but listen and learn.  I, for one, give great thanks for the opportunity.

Edited by Bruce Wall

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I also saw this programme last night but, as it is going to be streamed live this afternoon, I won't say too much about it. With the greatest respect to Paroni de Castro and Runacre Temple, I feel that it's a shame that there were not more pieces by the ENB dancers (Runacre Temple is already an established choreographer with a position with Ballet Ireland); I suspect that the long tour which ended quite recently may have been a factor. A couple of the pieces (Paroni de Castro and Reimar) were rather similar in theme. I thought that Westwell's first attempt at choreography was very promising, particularly as he was working with a group of 6 (I thought that Khaniukova was gorgeous in this). I would like to see Quagebeur create a longer piece with a larger cast.

Edited by aileen
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This programme is being live streamed today (Saturday) at 2.15 on ArtStreamingTV

Based on seeing the show last night I'd say it's well worth watching. Sadly you can't see it live because it's all sold out!

 

Putting aside the rights and wrongs of who should be involved in Choreographics I have to say I thought the ladies took it on the night - first Morgann Runachre-Temple (supported by the brilliant custom score of Laura Stevens) and Stina Quagebeur's Hopper piece to Scriabin. Both inspired above and beyond.

 

I gather George Williamson is leaving ENB so Choreographics might well change again. But every year something has changed anyway.

Edited by Bruce

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Yes, one shouldn't overlook the fact that Runacre Temple's piece has an original score.

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repeating a post I put in Tickets - I have a student-discount ticket for tonight's live performance that anyone is welcome to for nothing, I'd rather see it put to use.

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I *really* enjoyed this programme this afternoon. The dancers all seemed more comfortable in their roles plus I was sitting more centrally. I tend to enjoy works (new to me) more the second time I see them as I have an idea of what to expect.

 

In particular, I appreciated Streeter's piece (which I'd been a little disappointed with yesterday) much more; the partnering was smoother and all the elements came together really well. I hope that it can be performed again in the future; I don't know whether there is any scope for it to be expanded into a longer piece with a longer narrative and larger cast.

 

I also appreciated Paroni de Castro's piece more. There was a good contrast in mood between the rumba inflected dances for the sailor brothers and the later dances for the bereaved sweetheart and the ghost of her dead lover. Most newly choreographed pieces tend to be rather angst-ridden or sombre in mood and theme.

 

As Charlotte Kasner said in her review on the Critical Dance forum, the noire theme/mood in Runacre Temple's piece is perhaps worth exploring in a longer ballet. Hedman and Kraus really looked right as the femme fatale and the chancer with a shady past respectively.

 

The pdd for Hudson and Sarahusi brought a tear to my eye this afternoon and, happily, the shirt discarded by Hudson did not present a health and safety hazard today.

 

These choreographic workshops provide an opportunity for dancers who rarely dance featured roles to take centre stage, and it's very exciting to be so close to the dancers performing. Even in the front row of the stalls in most theatres you are still some distance away from the stage because of the orchestra pit. The Lilian Baylis has quite a steep rake and is, IMO, far preferable to the aptly named The Pit at the Barbican which was rather gloomy and stuffy last year.

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Oops, I posted this in the wrong place yesterday morning!  This is about Friday night's opening performance:

 

This was a wonderful evening and I am very impressed by the standard of dancing and of choreography.  I can't really add much to what Bruce has said above, but I do agree with others that I would prefer only dancers from the company and school to be given the chance to choreograph as there is so little opportunity otherwise.  Not to take away from the two pieces by the 'pros', but I was under the impression that this event was for ENB dancers and students to show their choreographic talents.

 

All the dancers were, as always, on fine fettle, standouts for me being Crystal Costa, Madison Keesler (whom I would have liked to see as the femme fatale in Give My Love to the Sunrise)  and Katja Khaniukova.

 

 

 

 

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Was lucky enough to see the Max Westwall piece in rehearsal at a recent ENB Friends event with Lauretta Summerscales and Junor Sousa......so very close to the dancers ....and even in that studio space with very few left watching the dancing was fantastic .....Lauretta particularly moving. I loved the pas de deux and the music just unfortunate I couldn't actually get to the performance.

 

I don't know if this is Max Westwall''s first piece for the Company but I hope he does more for them.

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Yes LinMM, it's his first piece ever! Very good it was, too.

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I attended yesterday’s matinee performance of ENB’s Choreographics. Reading the synopses, this could have been a depressing afternoon given that most of the choreographers chose dark episodes to represent the programme’s theme of post-war America. Instead, it was an afternoon that was inspired with artistry, and the debut of yet another choreographic talent from within the company.

 

The programme opened with the winning entry in English National Ballet School’s choreographic competition, “Babel” by Joshua Legge.  This was an athletic and rhythmical piece which showed off the considerable skills of four male dancers from the school although I found the soundtrack rather too loud for the very confined space of the Lilian Baylis Studio.

 

James Streeter’s “A Touch of Eternity” depicted in movement the love letters between Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as they awaited execution for espionage, a love which intensified as their last moments approached.  It was danced by Adela Ramirez and Juan Rodriguez, a couple whose innate charm usually sees them cast in the sunniest of roles, but here they were allowed to give full rein to their considerable dramatic talents and superb technique in challenging choreography enhanced by the atmospheric lighting.

 

Guest choreographer Renato Paroni de Castro chose a story of a girl who must choose between two brothers before they are sent to war but it is not the one she marries who returns.  “Memory of What Could Have Been” started off in Gene Kelly territory with the quicksilver brilliance of the Menezes twins in a lively dance-off.  The delightful Sarah Kundi was the girl who must choose between them and then dances with the ghost of her dead husband as she thinks of what could have been.  The dancers served the choreography extremely well but I felt the story was too involved to be completely successful in such a short piece and the ending was rather abrupt.

 

By far the most ambitious and longest piece was by the second guest choreographer, Morgann Runacre-Temple, who tried to recreate moments from the classic film noir “The Lady from Shanghai”.  The piece was too long as it ran out of choreographic steam halfway through but it was danced with great charisma by Daniel Kraus, looking like a 1940s matinee idol (much better looking that Orson Welles could have hoped for!).  The Lady was danced by Tiffany Hedman replacing an injured Ksenia Ovsyancik and it was tempting to wonder what the piece would have looked like with Ovsyanick bringing her natural combination of sultriness and vulnerability (not to mention the star quality of Rita Hayworth) to the role.

 

The second half of the afternoon began with Fabian Reimair’s “traumA”, a play on the German word (traum) for dream and our understanding of trauma.  Reimair chose Anjuli Hudson, as his leading lady – another dancer mostly associated with sunny variations.  She took full advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate considerable dramatic depths as she mourned her dead husband (danced by the always sympathetic Ken Saruhashi) and there was a very moving and lovely central pas de deux as she finally lets go of him.  A special mention too for Barry Drummond and Shevelle Dynott kneeling at the back of the stage who, with Saruhashi, went through a series of mesmerising movements, almost all from the waist upwards, at the beginning of the piece, rather like a moment from Kabuki theatre.

 

Max Westwell made his very welcome debut as the choreographer of “Fractured Memory”, using three couples to illustrate various stages in a relationship, starting off with the very elegant pairing of Katja Khaniukova and Daniele Silingardi in a gentle, tender pas de deux (the highlight of the piece for me), followed by Madison Keesler and Jinhao Zhang as they argue and finally Laurretta Summerscales and Junor Souza in a reflection of a deeper, more mature love.

 

The afternoon finished with “A Room in New York” by the now highly accomplished Stina Quagebeur who has mastered the art of choreographing pas de deux that are both complex and stirring.  She chose to represent the volatile relationship between the artist Edward Hopper and his wife, set to a voluptuous score by Scriabin.  It was performed by Crystal Costa and James Forbat who, in any other company would surely have been promoted to Principals by now, so polished and assured is their dancing. They were breathtaking in their total involvement and commitment to this very moving piece. With a talent such as Quagebeur’s in English National Ballet, it is surprising that she has not yet been asked to provide a piece for the forthcoming programme by female choreographers, “She Said”.

 

Praise to all involved in this programme for using their spare time on tour and during rehearsal periods to create these pieces and I was delighted that each one managed to surprise me with at least one innovative phrase of movement, showing that the pas de deux has limitless possibilities. And the ticket price of £15 for such a polished programme was an absolute bargain!

 

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Am I right in thinking that there isn't going to be a Choreographics next year? I can't see a reference to it in next season's brochure. Perhaps it just can't be fitted in around Swan Lake at the RAH and the two international tours. A shame.

 

Btw, there is supposed to be a catch-up of this year's live-stream at some point.

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A recording is availble on YouTube though it says only for 30 days:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9fAhZ4-XvA

 

I'm sure they will do Choreographics, or soemthing similar, in 2016. Perhaps not announced because they need soembody new in the organisation to run with it and make it happen.

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Thanks, Bruce. I just noticed this on ENB's twitter feed. Yes, let's hope that there is something next year, even if it is scaled down although I personally like the 'complete performance' format.

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