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  1. Just checked my cast sheets from 2018 and Peter Farmer is credited with the design.
  2. Anthony Russell-Roberts, who owns the rights to Ashton's Act IV, lists it as in ENB's repertoire but that is not to say it has not been modified from the version the Royal Ballet used to dance.
  3. I have to confess I was disappointed in this documentary and could only think of what might have been. Going on its description in Radio Times that it would reveal “the athleticism as well as lyricism it takes to be a male ballet dancer today”, it certainly did not succeed, spending too much time on talking and not enough in demonstrating this. It seems to me that the film-maker was more interested in eavesdropping on dressing room chit-chat and break-time banter instead of showing the extremely hard work that goes into making ballet look effortless in performance. Why not show the weight-training, the mechanics of pas de deux work and the physical stamina required to make even the shortest variation look effortless (perhaps showing something like the bluebird solo in slow motion and in close-up) to explain why we have a “golden generation” of male dancers at the Royal Ballet (not forgetting English National Ballet where both Muntagirov and Corrales started their professional ballet careers). They deserved better than this “Hello” magazine approach.
  4. In Dronina's other performances, her 32 fouettes were immaculate and included doubles and triples so it was just bad luck that the only performance of the run where she finished early was the one which was filmed! (You can see her happily spinning away in fouette sequences in other "Swan Lakes" and in other ballets on YouTube.) She has not been performing since January 2019 due to a calf problem which required surgery and extensive rehabilitation so this may explain her absence from the Washington casting for Aurora. Her comeback was meant to be Juliet with National Ballet of Canada but lockdown started in Toronto the day before her performance!
  5. With its Ashton/Petipa Acts I and III, Ivanov’s exquisite Act II and Ashton’s sublime Act IV, (plus Nureyev’s fiendishly difficult solo in Act I!), it is always a pleasure to watch Derek Deane’s production of “Swan Lake” for ENB (so much more satisfying for me than the Royal Ballet’s current or previous production) and, with the Royal Albert Hall performances cancelled, it was very good of Deane to allow ENB to stream this performance which is available until 7pm this evening. I believe this performance was the opening night of the 2018 revival and features exquisite performances from ENB’s corps de ballet of swan-maidens, plus spirited dances in Acts I and III. I was not at this performance by Isaac Hernandez and Jurgita Dronina but saw their second (Bristol) and fourth (London Coliseum) performances of the run. Certainly, by their fourth performance, Hernandez had adopted a more princely demeanour than he has in this recording, but he still did not look entirely comfortable, particularly in Nureyev’s solo or in the mime, being much happier showing off his bravura technique in Act III. Nevertheless, as this recording shows, he is a very supportive and considerate partner for Dronina. I feel Hernandez does not always project emotions beyond the footlights (the exception for me being his Des Grieux in the London performances of “Manon”), so it was good to have close-up shots in the pas de deux to see him responding emotionally to Dronina, even if this was probably too intimate to be noticeable to audiences in the theatre. As to Dronina, she is an exceptionally beautiful dancer of great lyricism and musicality, with every fibre of her being, and her wonderfully expressive eyes, responding to Tchaikovsky’s sublime score, whether as Odette or Odile. Dronina is one of the dancers, including several others from ENB, giving online classes on Instagram and Zoom during lockdown (and I marvel at the enterprise and resilience within the arts world during this very challenging time). She is in her eleventh week of doing this and gives a minimum of four live classes per week (and I consider it a huge privilege to be able to take class every day, whether live or recorded, with such an outstanding artist and teacher). She also does question and answer sessions on repertoire (as her basement does not offer the space or height to give actual repertoire classes) and in one of these I asked her to talk about the two weeks of private coaching she had with Natalia Makarova prior to her debut in the dual role a number of years ago. Her response was both enlightening and entertaining, and it was therefore wonderful to have this chance to watch her performance and notice the gems she had learned from Makarova, not only in the haunting vulnerability of her Odette but also in her elegant, subtly seductive Odile. I shall very much enjoy revisiting her performance again today. If anyone is interested in watching this remarkable artist at work (or joining in!) she usually publishes her weekly schedule on Instagram and Facebook on a Sunday evening. These archive recordings were originally filmed for study purposes only so not much attention was given to sound quality but it is wonderful to hear the passionate reading of the score drawn from the ENB Philharmonic by Maestro Gavin Sutherland.
  6. Estonian National Ballet will be streaming a performance of Ronald Hynd's production of "Rosalinda" on their Facebook page (Rahvusooper Estonia) on Saturday 23 May 2020 at 5pm UK time. This is based on the Strauss Operetta, "Die Fledermaus" and was in the repertoire of English National Ballet for many years.
  7. In answer to the question about a recording of Mary Skeaping’s “Giselle”, as the representative of her Estate, I have been in discussion with ENB about this. The only complete recording which is of a high enough resolution for streaming is a rehearsal, and unfortunately it is very much a rehearsal with stopping and starting, and the principal dancers marking their roles at various times. Given the high standard of the performances ENB is streaming, this suffers in comparison and therefore will not be streamed. However, the Estonian National Ballet also has the Skeaping production in their repertoire, with the beautiful David Walker designs, and they may be able to stream one of their recordings, as the opera house in Tallinn is streaming a production each Saturday (5pm UK time). If they schedule it, I will post details on here. I was very pleased to see the recording of “Romeo and Juliet”, although I have to confess I have seen more visceral and heartbreaking performances (and overcoming the awkward choreography) in the title roles (I have been watching this production since 1978!). It is still my favourite production for its gorgeous, evocative sets and for the town square scenes, especially the fights, and this performance did not disappoint! I also particularly love the scene with the Nurse, Benvolio and Mercutio, and this was a wonderful record of Tamarin Stott, James Forbat and Cesar Corrales teasing every ounce of comedy out of it. Corrales was even more fabulous than I remember, and it is extraordinary to realise that he was just nineteen at the time! I therefore watched it several times to marvel at him! I agree with the comment that the music sounded odd at times and I believe this was due to the positioning of the microphones which did not evenly balance the sound. I know I have been blown away many times in the theatre by the stunning rendition of Prokofiev’s score by the ENB Philharmonic but, as this was only ever meant as an archive recording, it seems the engineers were more focussed on what was happening onstage rather than in the ‘pit’ (such as it is in the Bristol Hippodrome!).
  8. Estonian National Ballet will be streaming a performance of Ronald Hynd's production of "Coppelia" on their Facebook page (Rahvusooper Estonia) on Saturday 16 May 2020 at 5pm UK. Principal dancers Luana Georg and Sergei Upkin dance the leading roles.
  9. Apologies - I missed the fact that the front row is even more expensive! You would have a very good view of their feet for £250!! If you mean what is near the Albert Hall to visit, you are spoiled for choice with museums (Natural History as well as Victoria & Albert), plus there is the beautiful Kensington Palace which has a selection of rooms open to the public. Kensington Gardens are also worth spending time in and you can walk all the way through them to Hyde Park where you will be at the back of Buckingham Palace. The Palace itself will not be open in April but the Queen's Gallery will be, and usually has excellent exhibitions from the Queen's art collection.
  10. If you want to see the seating plan and prices today, click on the box which asks to add Friend's membership to your basket. This will bring up the seating plan and the prices and, of course, you do not have to go through with buying the Friend's membership!
  11. The British Ballet Organisation has just released the following: "We are sad to announce the passing of former CEO, John Travis, after a long illness. John was the CEO of bbodance for over 20 years. He was extremely passionate about dance and our organisation, at one stage running it virtually single-handedly. His commitment touched the lives of a great many people. We are only too well aware how upset many of you will be and the sense of loss you will feel."Shortly before his death I spoke to John and was able to express how much the membership and staff appreciated him and the work he undertook on behalf of the organisation. I could tell he was extremely appreciative of the sentiment, it was a truly poignant moment. I am grateful that I had this opportunity to speak to him on behalf of us all," stated bbodance CEO, Robin Bloor.We are in touch with John's close family, who will keep us advised about arrangements and opportunities to pay your respects.On behalf of all of us at bbodance, John will be greatly missed." I remember John very well as the first archivist of English National Ballet, or London Festival Ballet as it then was, and as leader of the company's groundbreaking Education Unit. A great raconteur and a fount of knowledge, he was always the best of company and will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
  12. I have just checked the RAH seating plan for this and it is not in the round but will be performed on the stage with seating in the arena. The ticket prices range from £33.75 for the back row of the Rausing Circle (top tier of the hall) to £92.88 for the first row. The top price is £184.25 for the front of the arena. Seats at the side of the stage and behind it are not being sold.
  13. ENB has just announced the finalists for this. As I have mentioned almost all these dancers in my posts over the last year, I am really looking forward to seeing their talents highlighted! "Announcement 🎉 Meet our Emerging Dancer 2020 finalists: Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prigent, Emily Suzuki and William Yamada! Their colleagues voted for them to perform at the #ENBEmerging final on 29 May in London. Congratulations from everyone at English National Ballet!They will perform a classical pas de deux and a contemporary solo in front of a panel of judges (and an audience – book your tickets! 😉), before one of them receives the Emerging Dancer 2020 Award.Tickets: https://www.ballet.org.uk/production/emerging-dancer-2020/"
  14. Having now watched the complete production, thanks to today’s live-streaming, my conclusion is that it is a mix and match production. The mime scenes in Act I follow the word descriptions in Henri Justamant’s script for his staging of “Giselle” circa 1864 rather than those passed down by Marius Petipa who arrived in St. Peterburg in 1848 as assistant to Jules Perrot to work on the production St. Petersburg had had since 1842. The beginning of Act II is a mixture of Justamant’s script and a snippet which is in Mary Skeaping’s production (Hilarion says “she was beautiful and I killed her”) taught to her by Tamara Karsavina from Petipa’s productions. Interestingly, Ratmansky’s production and his explanations during the live-stream offered nothing that Mary Skeaping had not already come across in her research in the 1950s, incorporating her discoveries into her productions for the Royal Swedish Ballet and Ballet Alicia Alonso, retaining them in her definitive production for London Festival Ballet in 1971 which can be seen in performance by the Estonian National Ballet next month. I have been passing on these ‘discoveries’ in rehearsals, programme notes and occasional lectures since 1984. Certainly, in 1953, Mary had already turned to Gautier’s original conception of the character of Bathilde, seen as gracious, benevolent and forgiving. I was surprised to hear Ratmansky say that the fugue in Act II had been dropped after the death of Petipa. It had certainly been dropped in Paris by the time Justamant made his notes and was dropped at some point by Petipa himself as it was reinstated by Diaghilev, with choreography by Fokine, for his production first seen in Paris in 1910. When Mary wanted to include it in her 1950s productions (it was not in any of the Sergeyev stagings from 1924 onwards), Karsavina could not remember any of the steps and so Mary created her own, a number of which Ratmansky appears to use although he said the choreography for the fugue “follows my fantasy”. It is a shame that Ratmansky did not follow Mary’s example and obtain Adam’s original orchestration from the Paris Opéra archives, as the orchestration used does not do Adam’s music justice in a number of places, including the fugue and the very end of the ballet (allegro). I felt that the orchestration used was given a very workmanlike performance by the orchestra under the baton of Pavel Klinichev, diluting both the drama and the supernatural quality inherent in Adam’s orchestration. Ratmansky has also retained most of the cuts from most twentieth century productions, including the Wilis’ round-up of peasants (gamekeepers in Mary’s production) which comes after Giselle’s initiation by the Wilis and before Albrecht’s entrance. There are also the usual drastic cuts in Myrtha’s entrance (and with all the trapdoors in the Bolshoi stage, it would have been nice to see her gradually rise up from amongst the reeds by the lake, as in the original scenario). Ratmansky does not include the complete Pas des Vendanges, which gave Giselle and Albrecht an extended pas de deux, with solos for each, after she is crowned queen of the vintage (quite separate from Giselle’s now-famous solo interpolated by Petipa in the 1880s), the music for which is the epitome of Romanticism. My biggest disappointment was that Ratmansky did not imbue the ballet with any Romantic style, gearing it much more towards twentieth century classicism, so that I found the whole thing rather cool and lacking the dramatic intensity I was expecting. Irmgard Berry Adviser to the Mary Skeaping Estate
  15. Sadly the variations were never meant to be included, they only named them because they were the two girls Franz was mucking around with who later appear in Act III in these roles. It was a real shame, especially as Adela Ramirez, who is a First Soloist, and has been with the company for twenty-two years, was not featured in anything else, apart from being one of the rock-solid pirouette girls in "Etudes"!
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