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  1. The Lilac Fairy variation used in most productions these days is not by Petipa (the original Lilac Fairy, performed by his daughter Marie, was largely a mime role) but based on the one choreographed by Fyodor Lopukhov. And yes, it is exceedingly difficult, especially what are referred to as the Italian fouettés (not fouetté turns but half-turns into attitude derrière). Interestingly, in Diaghilev's 1921 production, this variation was used for a seventh fairy. Diaghilev interpolated the Sugar Plum variation into the production for his Lilac Fairy - Lydia Lopokova.
  2. UK readers may be interested to know that the film "Nijinsky" is being screened on Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81) on Friday 26 February at 9pm. I am not sure if this 1980 film has ever been shown on 'free' channels previously, as I don't think I have seen it since its cinema release. It stars ABT principal George de la Pena as Nijinsky, with Leslie Browne as Romola, Alan Bates as a very credible Diaghilev, Carla Fracci as Karsavina and Anton Dolin as Enrico Cecchetti. London Festival Ballet dancers play other Ballet Russes dancers, and future principal dancers can be spotted amongst the
  3. ENB’s “Nutcracker Delights” is just that – a sheer delight from start to finish. Coming, as it did, on Christmas Eve afternoon when I should have been watching it live in the beautiful Coliseum, it provided welcome compensation for not being there in person. ENB had divided into two groups to comply with Covid rules, with two casts in each group. London moved into Tier 3 just before the production was due to open but each group got two run-throughs in costume on the Coliseum stage in the hope that theatres might be allowed to open after 26 December. The first night cast was then filmed ove
  4. I found the film of Russell Maliphant’s “Echoes” to be hypnotically beautiful. If “Shadowplay” had not already been used as the title for a ballet, I would have suggested it for this piece, showcasing as it does the beautifully choreographed lighting effects on the dancers’ bodies. As Fernanda Oliveira says in the excellent accompanying mini-documentary, the continuously flowing movement reminds one of the ocean and, for me, it was like watching the reflections of moonbeams dappling the water in which, certainly in the opening section, the dancers appear to be floating. The sublime partners
  5. “Laid in Earth” is another extraordinary film by the very talented Thomas James with some spectacular special effects, not least by the make-up team led by Natasha Lawes. Unfortunately, I found the choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui much less interesting, being quite limited in its vocabulary. A glistening Precious Adams is best served by it, with her sinuous, seamless movement. It certainly does not exploit or challenge the formidable talents of Lead Principals Erina Takahashi and Jeffrey Cirio. Takahashi’s husband, James Streeter, completes the quartet so that it is possible to include
  6. English National Ballet’s second digital release, “Senseless Kindness” by Yuri Possokhov is very different from Stina Quagebeur’s “Take Five Blues”. Whereas Quagebeur’s piece was an explosion of pure joy from start to finish, Possokov’s is an expression of melancholy and yearning. What connects both pieces is their celebration of the sheer beauty and versatility of classical ballet technique and, of course, the uniformly high calibre of the dancing. Watching “Senseless Kindness” for the first time, I was struck by what a beautiful film Thomas James has created, even if the choreography some
  7. I thought it was like the other 'on demand' ballets ('Corsaire' etc.) they are currently offering, that you can renew the licence every three days. As these have been specifically made for hire, there doesn't seem to be a cut-off date listed, unlike the archive films shown earlier in the year which copyright holders agreed could be shown for free for a very limited time period. I hope I am correct about this.
  8. What an exhilarating celebration of dance to witness on a grey Monday (and Tuesday!) morning! Most of the dancers have not set foot on a stage since mid-January and their joy at finally performing again, albeit in a studio and with no audience, was almost palpable and certainly infectious. I was very pleased that ENB decided to launch its digital season of new dance works with a piece by their associate choreographer and winner of the NDA emerging talent award this year, Stina Quagebeur. I started following her choreographic career about eleven years ago and the vitality of this new work rem
  9. As she has now publicly announced it on her Instagram page, I can confirm that Jurgita Dronina is seven months' pregnant, so she would not have been able to participate in this season until the spring,. However, I know she is hoping to return as a guest artist at the first opportunity.
  10. Just to inform people that Estonian National Ballet will be showing a rehearsal on their Facebook page tomorrow at 8.30am our time. This is a rehearsal of Act I of Mary Skeaping's "Giselle" which was recorded last week as the company has placing calls onstage tomorrow so cannot participate 'live' in World Ballet Day. Their Facebook page is Rahvusooper Estonia.
  11. I have to say that I booked on the afternoon of 3 September and had no problems whatsoever getting my ticket for the Saturday morning or making a donation - and I am neither a Friend nor a Patron so perhaps I was just extremely lucky! At half an hour, it is rather a short event but worth it just to be inside a theatre again!
  12. With regard to Sergeyev staging the classics for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, I had a delightful conversation with Julia Farron a few years ago. She was in the company at the time and she remembered these rehearsals. She said that Sergeyev was rather unmusical when it came to teaching variations etc. so, unbeknownst to Sergeyev, when he had left the rehearsal room for the day, De Valois would keep the dancers back and ‘clean them up’ musically.
  13. I am rather surprised that the press release only mentions the years given to the company by Maria José Sales and Fernando Bufalá since their return to ENB round about 2014. Both dancers took a break from ENB for around five years but, previous to that, they both gave many years of wonderful service to the company, with Bufalá dancing a number of principal roles. Sales was definitely in the company in 1998 so has clocked up at least sixteen years with the company! Having worked on Mary Skeaping’s “Giselle” with all those who have left, including Joshua McSherry-Gray and the lovely Crystal
  14. These performances so far are only advertised on the DistDancing Instagram page and can happen on Saturdays or Sundays. The organisers hope to keep them going until October. On the information page, attendees are asked to socially distance, wear masks and not to block the pathway for passers-by but obviously there is no-one to police this so one hopes that all will behave responsibly. The Instagram page also contains films of some of the performances and it is interesting to see that, as well as Japanese television, shared by Naomi above, Brazilian and Italian television have also reported
  15. The film was based on Maurice Maeterlinck's play, "The Blue Bird of Happiness" (1908). I remember seeing this film on its release, mainly because it featured Nadezhda Pavlova (then tipped for great stardom) and other members of the Kirov Ballet (as it was then called). It had an all-star cast, including Elizabeth Taylor as the mother and, in one of her first screen appearances, a very young Patsy Kensit as Myltyl. I do remember Cicely Tyson being a deliciously wicked cat! There was an earlier version, made in 1940, which was on television a few years ago. It starred Shirley Temple as Mylt
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