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li tai po

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  1. Two Pigeons, I could not agree more about Lynn Seymour - an amazingly versatile artist, romantic, lyrical, dramatic, passionate and uproariously funny when she wanted to be. She was a muse both for Ashton (The Two Pigeons, A Month in the Country, Five Brahms Waltzes in the manner of Isadora Duncan) and for MacMillan (Juliet, Anastasia, Mary Vetsera). I particularly remember MacMillan's pas de deux, Side Show, which she danced with Rudolf - they both loved the humour of it.
  2. Marianela and Vadim were heart-rending last night in Winter Dreams - she was numb with grief and he was increasingly distraught. A very powerful performance from both of them, awaking echoes of Darcey and Irek. You could see what MacMillan was trying to express and how he exploited the technique and ability of Irek.
  3. Laura Morera danced the Apricot girl in the 2008 and 2009 performances.
  4. Dear Maddie Rose I enjoyed reading your comments and thought I would reply to one or two points you have made. I too enjoyed Fumi Kaneko's performance in both ballets; she is a perceptive actress. Her Polyhymnia was vivacious and full of fun, ending in that moment of horror as she realises she has accidentally spoken. As the green girl she brought an elegance and sophistication in the first solo - I loved her flirtatious backward glance at the audience. She was knocked back by the three boys, but in the end she shrugged her shoulders and exited cheerfully. I too am now a Kaneko fan. You found the ending of Apollo on the stairs (the climb to the summit of Mount Parnassus) sublime. Sadly the Royal Ballet is one of the few companies still performing the original version of the ballet with this ending. Balanchine revised the ballet towards the end of his life to make it more abstract ("neo-classical") and less of a story. He ends the ballet in this version with the so-called "sunburst" pose of Apollo with the splayed arabesques of the three muses - but this eliminates the sublime ending in silhouette on the mountain, which echoes the processional music with its sense of mission. New York City Ballet and the Mariinsky (to name but two) use this dumbed-down ending. You hope that Dances at a Gathering remains in the active repertoire. So do I - it is a ballet I love. It entered the repertoire of the Royal Ballet in 1970 and was performed very frequently until 1976. It was then dropped from the repertoire and I thought I would never see it again - particularly as in those years there was no commercial video of the ballet. I waited 32 years for it to return to the repertoire in 2008 - and since then we have seen it in 2009, 2020 (after another 11 years) and 2021. I certainly hope we will not have another long wait. People ask what Robbins meant, when the brown boy touches the floor in the final movement. Robbins made the ballet in New York, but Rudolf Nureyev was the first cast in London and danced many performances here in the early 1970s. For us, that moment in the ballet was a symbolic reference by Rudolf to the sacred soil of Russia from which he was exiled in those Brezhnev years. It always brings a tear to the eye.
  5. Th audience exploded tonight at Marianela and Vadim - with several bursts of applause. At last, it felt like old times. Fumi Kaneko had an exceptional night, full of irrepressible fun both as Polyhymnia and as the Girl in Green - a worthy successor to Lynn Seymour and Laura Morera.
  6. I saw Bruce Sansom's only Lescaut. It was at the end of the season, when the graduating RBS students start to "walk on" in roles with the main company. Early on in Act One, Bruce slung his jacket at a passing footman, who was making his debut on the ROH stage with the main company. It was Ernst Meisner.
  7. I went to the first night of La clemenza di Tito this evening. It was a rather muted affair. Amphitheatre patrons are segregated from the front of house patrons and the Floral Hall is reserved all evening for pre-booked diners only. You are required to have your ticket scanned at the foot of the side stairs. The rear entrance beside the bookshop is closed, so you need to approach from the tube station via Floral Street. Programmes and cast sheets will not be available until next season. Cast lists are not displayed in the audience areas. You are required to download the cast list on your smartphone.
  8. This is deeply distressing news. Liam was never afraid to use masterworks of the concert hall for his ballets - in that respect, he resembled Kenneth MacMillan. I remember with particular pleasure his early ballet Of Mozart, set to one of the most popular Mozart piano concertos, where he was clearly inspired by working with Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera - and then his "late" work, the glorious Symphonic Dances, whose music has ironic premonitions of the end in the final movement and which was such a wonderful vehicle for Zenaida Yanowsky, as she neared the end of her career. He was only 35. What a loss!
  9. I wholeheartedly welcome the comments of Floss above, but I would like to add another neglected name to the list of heritage choreographers - Leonide Massine. Dame Ninette did much to embed his work in the repertoire of the Royal Ballet. He came in person to mount his Diaghilev successes of La Boutique Fantasque and The Three-Cornered Hat in 1947 and danced the miller himself with great success, partnering Margot Fonteyn. He also danced the can-can in La Boutique Fantasque with Moira Sheaer and later with Alexandra Danilova. These were the only Diaghilev ballets to be premiered in London, rather than Paris or Monte Carlo, but their centenaries in 2019 went unnoticed, notwithstanding a plaque on the wall outside Masala Zone in Floral Street, recording that Picasso painted the scenery for The Three-Cornered Hat in that building. Massine came back at the end of 1947 to revive his later ballet, Mam'zelle Angot with Fonteyn and Alexander Grant. Madam invited Massine back again in 1962 to revive another of his Diaghilev ballets, The Good-Humoured Ladies, with Diaghilev ballerina, Lydia Sokolova, returning to make guest appearances as the elderly Silvestra and with Anya Linden leading the cast as Costanza. The last Massine seen at the Royal Ballet was Costanza's solo at the reopening gala in 1999, presumably coached by Anya Linden. These ballets often featured in the programmes of the touring company and more recently BRB performed The Three-Cornered Hat. The ballets were immensely popular with audiences, but Massine sadly seems to be so far from the taste of current ballet managements that his ballets are all but forgotten.
  10. Here are two streams on you tube, free of charge. Dancers stay in the Dutch National Ballet Junior Company for only two years, before moving on either into the main company or elsewhere - so coronavirus has been severely restricting their opportunities to gain experience of performing on stage. They are streaming a rare revival of Hans Van Manen's 1983 ballet, In and Out, which is set to music by Laurie Anderson and Nina Hagen. It seems remarkably modern for its time and is a riot of movement and colour. Hans Van Manen is still going strong and is rapidly approaching his 89th birthday. You can also watch an abbreviated class, in which Ernst Meisner guides these young dancers in his usual friendly style.
  11. There is a beautiful performance of Scenes de Ballet from 2004 with Miyako Yoshida and Ivan Putrov (with Martin Harvey, Yohei Sasaki, Joshua Tuifua and Edward Watson, no less). I find this version stylish, witty and full of edge - it has been issued commercially. What is wrong with this performance, Stucha?
  12. The great Kirov/Mariinsky ballerina, Altynai Asylmuratova, is 60 today. She is originally from Kazakhstan. After retiring from performing, she became the director of the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg. She is now director of the Astana Opera Ballet and of the Kazakh National Academy of Choreography (KNAC). The students of KNAC have filmed a birthday tribute to her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhWTB4NFXs&feature=youtu.be
  13. My understanding is that the dancers will continue attending the Royal Opera House during the lockdown period and will be able to perform both programmes in an empty house. The intention is to record both programmes for subsequent streaming.
  14. Well I thoroughly enjoyed watching a live show from Astana, for once - and some of the dancers have become quite familiar. The dancing was a bit tentative, but the dancers were clearly enjoying being back on stage after six months' gap. Aigerim Beketaeva and Bakhtyar Adamzhan were fully committed in Notre Dame de Paris, and there was plenty of attack from Anel Rustemova and Daler Zaparov in the Corsair pas de deux. Tomorrow (Saturday) they are streaming a live performance of Scheherazade with Anastasia Zaklinskaya and Bakhtyar Adamzhan - it transmits at 1 pm UK time. The same link https://tengrinews.kz/tv/
  15. The Astana Opera Ballet is presenting its opening ballet gala tomorrow (Friday) at 7 pm Kazakh time (2 pm UK time). The live audience is restricted to 50 persons, but it is being shown on Kazakh TV. The programme includes Petipa's Harlequinade Pas de Deux, Messerer's Spring Waters, a pas de deux from Petit's Notre Dame de Paris, Scheherazade pas de deux, extracts from two Kazakh ballets and an extended extract from Le Corsaire. All the principal dancers are performing. Here is the link https://tengrinews.kz/tv/
  16. I understand that the Astana Opera House in Kazakhstan will present its opening Ballet Gala tomorrow (Friday), following the Opera Gala last Friday. The live audience is restricted to 50 persons, but the performances are being streamed live on Kazakh TV. Tomorrow's gala is being show at 7pm in Astana (2 pm in the UK). This is the link https://tengrinews.kz/tv/
  17. There is a fascinating essay by Henry Danton, no less, as the Talking Point column in the new October edition of The Dancing Times. Henry Danton draws on his experience working under Nicolai Sergeyev in the 1940s in the Sadler's Wells Ballet, Mona Inglesby's International Ballet and the Australian Ballet. He has been having an extended and friendly disagreement with Alexei Ratmansky over the authenticity of current versions of Ivanov and Petipa's choreography. Ratmansky has of course tried hard to reconstruct the original ballets from documentary sources. Henry Danton's memories of Nicolai Sergeyev were trumped, when Ratmansky produced drawings of the The Sleeping Beauty Act III pas de deux, made by Pavel Gerdt at the time of the premiere, which he had found in a Moscow Museum. The whole article about memory and document is absolutely compelling.
  18. Sad to see so many of the experienced dancers leaving. Their performances have given us a lot of pleasure over the years. The dancers coming up through the company will be challenged to fill their shoes. It is invidious to pick out individuals, but nevertheless I would like to mention Barry Drummond, who is clearly only half way through his career. I first noticed him as Caroline's lover in the Royal Ballet School matinee of Lilac Garden, where he was romantic and ardent - taking on a role which requires a demanding interpretation from a young dancer. Throughout his time at ENB his stage presentation has been stylish and committed. He also has personality, which draws the eye, even when he is in a crowd. I hope to see him back on stage very soon.
  19. Dutch National Ballet are presenting seven performances in September of Dancing Apart Together, a programme of new choreography. They are performing in their Opera House with a socially distanced audience - and no interval. According to their website, all performances are sold out. They have posted one of their excellent videos as a trailer, showing all 8 choreographers presenting their works - with fascinating explanations by Hans Van Manen, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Ernst Meisner, Juanjo Arquez and of course Ted Brandsen himself. The programme appears mouth watering - and it is heart-warming to see everyone from Ted Brandsen down, so clearly enjoying themselves back in the studio. Sadly they have no plans to stream this programme, but I thoroughly recommend the 10-minute trailer video - First ballet after Covid19 lock
  20. Thank you very much, Sebastian, for this clip. The costume makes the point that Princess Florine is a princess and not a bluebird. Sadly neither Vikharev's reconstruction for the Mariinsky, nor Ratmansky's more recent reconstruction appear to have been filmed for public consumption.
  21. I was fascinated by this discussion. Petipa choreographed the Bluebirds as a fairy tale with a story, as much as Puss-in-Boots, Little Red Riding Hood (and Cinderella). The Vaganova Academy teaches the choreography carefully in terms of the story and its interpretation - and the Mariinsky perform it in the same context. Some European companies treat the pas de deux as a bravura exercise with scant regard to the story - which has led to some interesting differences of opinion backstage.
  22. The Mariinsky has reopened with performances of a Petit double bill - Carmen Suite and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort - which does not require many dancers. They are about to embark on a series of Giselle performances. I understand that about 20 dancers have tested positive for coronavirus and some are quite ill. The performances appear to be going ahead, but from Saturday (8 August) all classes and rehearsals, even one to one rehearsals, have been cancelled. Artists who are not involved in performances are asked not to come to the theatre. The Bolshoi has not yet reopened, but full-scale classes and rehearsals are under way. Apparently one artist fell ill with coronavirus and now 59 artists and pianists have been quarantined on the orders of the authorities. Meanwhile I understand that the Dutch National Ballet are back in the studio today. The latest regulations allow them to touch each other and congregate on the premises, but not beyond the stage door.
  23. I understand that they are now performing in Mariinsky 2 - the recent spacious opera house with wide circulation areas. They have not yet reopened the historic opera house, Mariinsky 1, where the front of house (and back stage) facilities are much more cramped. The audience are in alternate seats, but family groups up to 4 persons may sit together.
  24. Counterculture - Do the Woke/Left-Leaning Arts deserve a £1.5 billion bailout? Who gets it? This fascinating discussion (34 minutes) by four right-wing commentators has just appeared on you tube. They address the question of how the £1.5 billion bailout fund should be distributed. The conversation is not directed specifically at ballet, but is a wide-ranging discussion about the museums and the performing arts. The Government is not being altruistic, but is merely supporting a major part of the UK economy to recover and continue contributing to the future wealth of the nation. The Government is not very interested in how the funds are distributed. The funds are distributed by the Arts Council, who no longer refer to "the arts", but to "creative people and places". Should the funds be targeted at the freelance workers in the arts, who have derived little support over the last six months, in order to sustain the fabric of the arts industry, rather than being targeted exclusively at institutions? In the current world of equality and diversity, should funds be targeted at the high arts, or at encouraging and rewarding community participation in the creative world? Should the arts reflect the current movements in society, or should they lead the way with social engineering? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nef88x0gUzs
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