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FLOSS

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  1. What are the chances that the new Wayne McGregor piece is the other half of the Dante project which was due to be premiered at the end of the season for which the casting was to be announced , or at least something closely connected with it ? I think it is difficult to judge how much interest a new work by McGregor would generate whoever is dancing. Whatever the powers that be may believe McGregor is not universally admired. It will be interesting to see what sort of audience the new work generates. Perhaps the ballet management is banking on the idea that the ballet audience is feeling so deprived of seeing dance performances by the company that they will be prepared to pay to watch a new McGregor work. I hope that they have planned something more popular for their second show particularly if it turns out that the anticipated audience aren't that keen on the initial offering. I wonder how far the rehearsals for the heritage mixed bill got ? At the very least they should be able to give us "Satan's solo " from Job. The problem as far as the programme being suggested by others is concerned is that it is far from clear how popular an evening of odds and ends would be. Perhaps we are so dance deprived we would lap it up. However it seems to me that without some real imagination such a programme could so easily descend into an evening of standard gala fodder. Assuming that management will want to be a bit more adventurous than that Ashton gala pieces spring to mind. They include works as varied as "Raymonda pas de deux"; Thais and " The Walk to the Paradise Garden" perhaps the third character death will have to be eliminated from the latter for the time being, but that may not be necessary as he wears a mask anyway. I would suggest "Voices of Spring" but it is so overdone and all the while it is danced simply as a serious gala showpiece rather than a tongue in cheek rendering of a soviet style technical display it rather misses the point. Other Ashton choreography which could easily be pressed into service includes the ballroom pas de deux from Cinderella; the "Pas de l'Ombre" from Ondine if Hayward dances it; the final pas de deux from Daphnis and Chloe which makes a surprisingly good stand alone piece and the final pas de deux from Sylvia is another possibility. I seem to recall that when it was danced by Collier and Jefferies as a stand alone piece at the Ashton eightieth birthday gala held in 1984 it was performed in a slightly revised version which involved cutting the music for the corps thus eliminating the gap in stage action which is inevitable without the cut. A piece they might ask Muntagirov to perform is another of his gala pieces the solo created for Dolin as the Beau Gosse in Nijinska's Le Train Bleu. It has to be said that his performance of that solo suggests that the ballet was a whole lot better and far more entertaining than was suggested by the POB recording of it. Finally what about Balanchine's Tarantella the company has at least six dancers who could do that piece justice and only New York audiences have seen O'Sullivan in the McBride role. Now if they announced Anna Rose was dancing it with any of the men who currently have it in their repertory I would subscribe like a shot.
  2. The companies performed at different venues across London during the closure which meant that they retained the audience's interest and support and had a stream of income which covered part of their costs but that is only part of the story. The real difference was that both companies were far less dependent on private money than they are now as their subsidy covered a greater proportion of their costs which made them far less vulnerable than now. In addition the opera company was far more conservative when it came to productions. There were no opera production involving radical revisions of texts or where the action was set ; no creating the operas the directors thought the composer and librettist should have written rather than the one they did with the result that the company had a back catalogue of classic or at least serviceable productions which singers wanted to appear in and audiences wanted to see revived over several seasons. This meant that a large number of the opera productions went into profit and helped pay for productions of operas like Henze's Boulevard Solitude which the management thought London audience needed to see but were unlikely to be popular successes or finally cover their costs.Such minor details make a great difference to an opera company's bottom line. Finally I seem to recall that the Arts Council stumped up additional money for the redevelopment when it was needed although they did so with bad grace.
  3. I don't think that anyone is in a position to say when the theatres and other places of public entertainment will be able to reopen. We are still in lock down in the UK and although the Prime Minister seems to be contemplating some sort of easing of restrictions which will be announced on Sunday I don't think that it will be anything major and that everything will be taken very gradually to prevent a flare up.The number of people dying in hospital seems to be going down but there are still major problems as far as care homes are concerned. I can't see anyone except a complete idiot ignoring the fact that they are corona virus hot spots or the possibility that they could end up being a source of further infection within the wider community. I would not put my money on autumn performances. I saw a headline which said that Cameron Mackintosh did not expect theatres to reopen until the New Year and that seems quite likely to me as most theatres of any significance draw their audiences from across a wide area and because of their design and function provide the very best conditions for a virus to spread. The experts still don't know what proportion of the population has been exposed to the virus, how much immunity anyone who has had it actually has or how long immunity might last. As no one will want their theatre identified as an infection hot spot I think that everyone will err on the side of caution even after they are told that places of entertainment may re-open.
  4. I have just visited the ROH website and it is clear that all remaining opera and ballet performances due between now and the end of the season have been cancelled. The one exception seems to be the RBS main stage performance and that may simply be an oversight on someone's part. I don't expect any early information about next season's opera or ballet programmes. At this point the ballet company is at a considerable advantage as the management knows who will be in the company next season and their versatility, the availability of those who also perform abroad and how much flexibility in programming it will therefore have.The opera company on the other hand will have to work around the singers it already has signed up for the operas it had intended to stage next season and their " fach" or precise vocal type. It seems to me that we shall have an opera season made up of those works which are in virtually every singers' repertory.I expect that both companies will settle for crowd pleasers which sell themselves rather than challenging or obscure ones which need to be plugged or require ticket discounts or the house to be papered.
  5. I think that anyone anticipating that the season will resume any time soon is being wildly optimistic. In fact I think it quite likely that we shall be told in the not too distant future that the season is being abandoned. The shut down started last week and we shall not begin to see its beneficial effects for at least three or four weeks because of the time lag between controlling the sort of social interaction which makes high infection rates possible and reducing them by the closure of places of public entertainment and placing other restrictions on our behaviour . We also need to bear in mind that the rate of infection and the incidence of new cases of corona virus is only going fall if everyone, whatever their age, understands that we are all vulnerable to corona virus and complies with social distancing and limits the amount of interaction they have with others. However concerned politicians and others may be about the economic impact that the shut down is having on the economy as a whole and on individual businesses no one is going to authorise the reopening of theatres and other places of entertainment and social interaction until it is deemed safe to do so. I think that the Government will exercise considerable caution in authorising places of public entertainment to reopen because of the public health implications of doing so prematurely. The Government is likely to be very sensitive to how effectively it is perceived to have handled the easing of restrictions if only because it is vulnerable to the accusation that it failed to use the month or more it had between the Chinese announcement of the presence of a new virus in Wuhan and the first cases identified in this country. Time , it might profitably have used to buy essential equipment and plan its response to the arrival of the virus. As far as the ROH is concerned while it may be concerned about the age profile of its audience and anxious to find a new one I doubt that it is that keen on being identified as a hot spot of viral infection. Somehow I think that the powers that be at the ROH will be anxious to avoid the accusation that in their anxiety to recoup their losses they have exposed the more vulnerable members of their audience to the unnecessary risk of infection and managed to kill off a goodly proportion of them. Yesterday the Deputy Chief Medical Officer made it clear that the restrictions currently in place were unlikely to be lifted for at least thirteen weeks and that it might be necessary to keep them in place far longer. By my calculation the initial thirteen weeks takes us to early June and given the fact that dancers and orchestral musicians are unlikely to be able to able to resume their collective activities until non essential workers are able to return to work I don't see how the season can resume. I understand that Glyndebourne has abandoned the first part of its season and anticipates at best only being able to perform one or two of the operas which were scheduled towards the end of its 2020 season. Now if I am right about how the Royal Ballet's season is likely to end that means that Kevin is going to need to think very hard about the 2020- 2021 season not simply because of the loss of revenue which cancelling the rest of the 2019-20 season will entail but the number of dancers who had anticipated making their debut in a leading role in Swan Lake who will end the season without having achieved that significant milestone in their careers. I suspect that whatever he intended to stage next season Kevin will be "advised" that in order to plug the hole in the company's finances caused by the disruption of the current season he should stage works which are guaranteed to attract an audience rather than works which require cheap tickets to get an audience into the theatre. I shall be really surprised if we get much of the retrospective season celebrating the company's new found creativity that was on the cards for the 2020-2021 season at one time. The loss of revenue caused by this season's closure will be one factor influencing any revisions that are made but the decision to sever ties with Scarlett will be another. Alice and The Winter's Tale may well have been planned for the forthcoming season and no doubt they will retain their place on the season's bill of fare but I can't see much else created since 2012 being programmed. I think that the need to rewrite next year's schedule may well be one of the reasons for the terse statement about cutting ties with Scarlett. I think it more than likely that Kevin will programme a rather more popular season for 2020-2021 than he originally intended and that it will probably include a production of Swan Lake which will enable all those dancers who were due to make their debuts this season to do so without undue delay. Given the cost involved in staging a new production it will almost certainly use Macfarlane's designs and a far more authentic text than we have seen this season. I for one will not mourn the loss of Scarlett's ill-conceived version of the ballet with a dumb show which reduces the impact of Odettes first entrance and renders her mime sequence redundant ; contains MacMillan style filler choreography; superfluous princesses providing a floor show in acts 1 and 3; a Spanish dance that would not be out of place in a third rate night club on the Costa del Sol and a dire fourth act which sees only Odette die. I think that the ballet season when announced will prove to be far more "popular" than originally intended. However that does not mean that it can't be artistically satisfying. Perhaps Kevin will come to see that if he is to restore the hole in the company's finances then he needs to programme works which people will be prepared to pay to see rather than works which require reduced prices or the occasional papered house to get anywhere near securing a decent average attendance, Perhaps a retrospective of the company's twentieth century classics rather than works created since 2012 is what is really required ? It is unlikely to be controversial given the number of major works in the company's back catalogue which have not been seen in years.
  6. Why not take the opportunity to look further afield and explore some of the offerings on Vimeo ? Here are a few suggestions 1) Frederick Ashton A familiar name however the range of his works which we are permitted to see is somewhat limited. Here is an opportunity to watch "Frederick Ashton performed by the Satasota Ballet" which runs for about an hour and includes excerpts from the works in Sarasota Ballet's repertory some of which we may only know by name rather than being works with which we are all familiar. It includes excerpts from Apparitions the work which established Fonteyn's artistic potential and her working relationship with Ashton; Illuminations a work Ashton created for NYCB and Sinfionetta. 2) Antony Tudor A major twentieth century choreographer whose work is sadly and inexplicably neglected. New York Theater Ballet provide the opportunity to watch two of his greatest works Jardin aux Lilas/ Lilac Garden and Dark Elegies, the charming Soiree Musicale and a fine account of The Judgment of Paris. All four of which were made for Rambert's company and an excerpt from Tudor's almost mythical Romeo and Juliet which has not been seen in years because ABT's artistic director says it would cost too much to revive. It is not set to the all too familiar Prokofiev score but to music by Delius. You might also like to look at Inaki Urlezaga's official website where you will find excerpts from Romeo and Juliet which he danced with Cuthbertson and a full account of Birthday Offering. You need to know that the lead ballerina does not dance the Fonteyn solo but while. it is not a completely idiomatic account of the choreography it is a whole lot better than the Royal Ballet manged last tine they danced it. The site also includes far less familiar works which you may find worth watching.
  7. It seems pretty clear to me that when Hayward was talking about the "classics" she was talking about the five nineteenth century ballets which de Valois acquired for her young company in the 1930's and chose to describe as "The Classics". I have no idea whether or not Hayward wants to dance lead roles in Don Q or Bayadere only time will tell.whether she wants to dance them. In fact if she chooses not to dance them I would be tempted to ascribe her failure to sound artistic taste. I think that we have to accept the sad fact that not all nineteenth century ballets are of equal quality musically or choreographically and some of them even if they have the Petipa label attached to them are more twentieth century constructs than nineteenth century ones as far as their choreographic texts are concerned. The obvious point of distinction between Don Q, La Bayadere and de Valois "classics" begins with the quality of the music to which they are set. The five works which de Valois selected have major scores and were acquired from an impeccable source as they were first staged for the company by the man who had been responsible for staging them at the Mariinsky in the years before the Revolution. The scores for all five of them are of importance in the development of ballet music and all of them contain substantial passages of late nineteenth century choreography which embody the changes in technique which had taken place in Italy since the 1850's. They are works for which Petipa either created the choreography or are the work of other choreographers working in the same Franco-Italian style over which as the Ballet Master of the theatre. he had the final say as he had to approve them before they could be placed before the public. Don Q and the full La Bayadere were first danced by the company during Dowell's directorship and both present problems beginning with the music to which they are set . Their scores are the sort of workaday ballet scores which ballet composers churned out throughout the nineteenth century with little regard to the place in which the action of the ballet for which they were composed was set. La Bayadere 's score does not really get any further east than the Hungarian plains. As far as the choreographic texts of those works is concerned it is difficult to know what if any part of Don Q can now safely be attributed to Petipa as it was given a major overhaul by Gorsky during Petipa's life time and people have been tinkering with its text ever since. Acosta, is merely the latest, would be, choreographer to do so. The version of La Bayadere which the company currently performs is a mangled salvage account of the original with some Soviet style pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure. I should not be at all sorry if the company were to quietly drop them and then spent more time on keeping its Ashton and Nijinska repertory in good condition . I am still not convinced that Don Q with its in your face bravura technique really suits the company or its artistic traditions that well. It is going to be interesting, to say the least, to see how BRB''s dancers cope with Acota's Don Q. As far as La Bayadere is concerned I could happily live with Nureyev's staging of the Kingdom of the Shades on its own. If the company has to have a full length version of the La Bayadere then it should try to get Ratmansky to stage a reconstruction.for it. His reconstruction for Berlin is far more interesting and sophisticated choreographically than Markarova's production which is largely based on the Soviet text which she danced when she was at the Kirov.
  8. I think that from what I have read elsewhere the point being made here is that the change at the top in a ballet company based in Germany has the potential to be far more disruptive than it is elsewhere in the world as the new director is free to replace every dancer in the company should he or she wish to do so. Of course something like Ratmansky's reconstruction may be years in the planning and may not always disappear overnight with a change of director, in the absence of repertory to replace it, but the fact remains that the artistic direction which a German company takes can, and often does, alter almost overnight with a change of artistic director. If my understanding is correct and a change of artistic director often means not only a change of repertory and the type of dance works being performed but a complete change in dance personnel then a change of director can be very rapid and disruptive indeed. I should be happy to be proved wrong but I don't think that the Paquita reconstruction staged for Munich a couple of years ago survived the change of director.
  9. As there are two more performances at which Osipova is to dance Tatiana I thought it might be interesting to visit a couple of these resale sites to see whether there were any tickets being offered and what sort of prices the sellers were asking for them. Not surprisingly I found tickets for sale for both performances at highly inflated prices including some for seats in the Upper Slips from which there is virtually no view of the stage. As it is so easy to find tickets being offered for any number of performances at the Royal Opera House on these sites I can't help wondering why it takes no action against the vendors by cancelling the tickets and then taking action against the original purchaser by cancelling any Friends Membership they may have and banning them from buying tickets in the future? Its conditions of sale state very clearly that it reserves the right to cancel tickets which are offered for resale. Does anyone else find its apparent indifference to such activities more than a little odd as it can be argued that by allowing this activity to continue unchecked it suffers a certain amount of damage to its corporate reputation ?
  10. I trust that this does not offend anyone but Marguerite Porter's Lilac Fairy is not an ideal exemplar with which to compare later exponents of the role save where tempo is concerned. Where the 1978 recording of the ballet really scores is in the dancer's relationship with the music. Apart from the Crystal Fountain variation which is slower all the other dancers in that recording are within seconds of the tempi set by Previn in his LSO studio recording of the score and Collier is a second or two faster as the Fairy of the Songbirds.From my recollection this degree of acute musicality is true of the entire recorded performance which is worth watching to understand what the ballet should look like in performance even if not all the cast is ideal when compared with the company ten years earlier. To return to Porter's Lilac Fairy her account of the role was not that highly regarded at the time. It was generally thought that compared with the likes of Bergsma who had been the great Lilac Fairy of the 1960's and Beryl Grey who had been the great exponent of the role from 1946 until she left the company and went freelance Porter lacked the authority which comes with a powerful technique and obvious mastery of the choreography. I think that Arlene Croce said as much when she wrote about the company's New York performances in the late seventies commenting on Porter's approach to the role by saying that she was beneficent rather than authoritative, dominating and powerful. The truth is that since 1978 Sleeping Beauty has fallen victim to the great Petipa go slow caused among other things by the idea that legs should go much higher and the mistaken belief that the audience wants to see static poses rather than transitions. This has happened because no one wanted to set the company's performance style in aspic and the alteration was incremental.rather than an overnight change. Another factor to add to the mix is that hardly anyone on stage today has had any real involvement with Cecchetti training whereas in the 1970's everyone who had come into the company via the school, and the bulk of the company did just that, had some experience of Cecchetti training. Perhaps I am wrong about this but I sometimes think that the Royal Ballet occasionally suffers from its self imposed self-sufficiency when it comes to coaching roles like the Lilac Fairy and the Fairy Variations. I recognise that when so many casts have to be prepared to dance the leading roles in this ballet preparing dancers to perform the Fairy Variations may have come to be seen more as a matter of logistics than of artistic exposition but I am not convinced that the company has got its coaching priorities right when it comes to these roles. It is almost as if the company has persuaded itself that the dancers appearing in them require less artistic polish and nuanced plastique than those dancing Aurora need. Fortunately the days when the casting of the Variations seemed to be undertaken by drawing names from a hat at random are over but we are rarely presented with a full line up of dancers who are equally accomplished in their roles and manage to persuade the audience that they are all there as of right. It is as if the company has forgotten that the Variations were originally devised to showcase Petipa's own leading dancers which suggests to me that they should not look as if they have been mass produced with little concern as to how their performance will read in the theatre, only that there should be enough of them. Each of these variations requires sufficient technique to reproduce the choreography after which it is largely a question of understanding and nuanced presentation. What I fail to understand is why, when Bergsma was invited to help with the revival of Enigma Variations, she was not asked to coach this season's Lilac Fairies as well or why Thoroughgood was not invited to polish the other fairies as she must have danced everyone of them at some time in her career after being coached by de Valois and Ashton. I may be being unfair but it really should not be a matter of luck as to how much impact each individual dancer makes in the Fairy Variations. If the Insight Evenings are anything to go by then it would seem that these roles are prepared for the stage by ballet mistresses few of whom have been great exponents of any of these roles themselves. Perhaps it is no wonder that they look somewhat mass produced rather than individually crafted. Is it somehow a matter of personal pride that those who could deal with technical issues and the artistic aspects of these roles play no part in reviving this or other ballets? The company has fine coaches and excellent ballet masters and ballet mistresses but they are not infallible. Beryl Grey is still alive and I imagine that she could still contribute a great deal to giving the Lilac Fairy's gestures meaning and getting the speed and the focus of the variation right. I can't help thinking that the insights and expectations of the likes of de Valois and Ashton and the way they polished these roles is all that is now missing. Sleeping Beauty is a nineteenth century ballet perhaps the company should make the brave decision to dance it in a Cecchetti inspired style rather than a style heavily influenced by Guillem. Only a thought. Perhaps I should point out that in the Dark Ages the Royal Ballet never tried to field more than a couple of Lilac Fairies at any one time with the result that they got the coaching the role requires and the opportunity to dance the solo at the right speed enough times to achieve true mastery of the role and its nuances rather than merely paying it a flying visit every two or three years,as happens now. In addition dancing any of these variations entirely flat on and completely vertical removes any opportunity for nuance and is incredibly boring.
  11. I may wish to add to it after I have been to the gala but at present my list is as follows:- Lander's Etudes, which was once the company's calling card. Ashton's Romeo and Juliet. Balanchine's Night Shadow. Balanchine's Apollo. Markova's staging of Les Sylphides. Skeaping's Giselle which should be timetabled for regular revival. Lifar's Suite en Blanc. Massine's Parade for its Picasso designs and its sheer oddity. Bejart's Song of a Wayfarer. All of which I think bear repeated viewing. Could you please move this to the reviving ENB repertoire thread ?
  12. Following on from the comments about the audience being fully engaged with the action of the ballet last night and in particular the reaction to the fate of the knitting women.The knitting women are sentenced to hang not to be beheaded. The halter is depicted in the mime.Beheading although capable of being botched was I believe regarded as a merciful death when compared to the agony of being slowly throttled on the end of a rope. Beheading was therefore reserved for the nobility and those to whom a monarch might wish to extend a modicum of mercy. I suspect that the gasps from the audience were prompted by the idea that such a severe punishment might be imposed for the mere act of knitting rather than the form the punishment would take. The punishment seems excessive today but at one time at the end of the Prologue instead of the corps de ballet lining up in a diagonal facing Aurora's cradle gesticulating in a beneficent manner towards her the final tableau was of the corps grouped around the King as he forbade the use of spindles, and by implication other sharp handicraft implements, in his kingdom. Ratmansky's reconstruction has this as the Prologue's final tableau which makes the King's actions at the beginning of the first act seem a little less arbitrary than the current Royal Ballet text does. Like Leslie Edwards before him Montes' Catalabutte collects the knitting and holds it so that all the points of the needles are facing upwards. He then tests the needles to see if they fall within the letter of the law concerning prohibited sharp implements. He discovers to his horror that they are sharp and begins to look sad. But is he sad for them in the knowledge of the punishment that awaits them for breaking the law or is he sad on his own account because of the effort he has put into preparing for the great day which now looks as it it will be wasted? The Queen's notices that Catalabutte is sad. She asks the reason.The King is told that the knitting ladies have broken the law and he condemns them because by their actions they have endangered the life of the heir to the throne. As members of a class clearly far removed from the nobility the women would have suffered the ignominy of hanging had it not been for the Queen's intervention. Her actions enable the audience to see the benefits of living in an autocracy as they watch the KIng exercising his prerogative of mercy . I imagine that this bit of flattery went down exceptionally well with the Tsar and his family. But what prompts the Queen's intervention? Does she intervene simply because she is kind and considerate or is it that she sees that the King has acted in an arbitrary manner ? Is she concerned that the executions would dampen the celebration of Aurora's birthday making things a trifle awkward with the visiting Princes? The reason for Catalabutte's concerns almost certainly encompass those of the Queen with the addition of the planning and preparation he put into the event which seems likely to be wasted.
  13. I think that we need to remember that in Russia the old rules of emploi are still pretty rigorously applied in the world of ballet. This means that from the day a dancer enters a company their career trajectory is pretty much laid out as far as the sort of repertory and roles available to them is concerned. The rules of emploi are based on the idea that a dancer's physique and their looks determine the sort of role to which they are suited. The tall dancer is seen as elegant and stately dancing with elegant effortless ease which makes them suited for princely roles; the shorter more compact dancer is suited for less elevated roles, dances with far greater overt vigour than the danseur noble and plays less socially elevated characters and so on down the ranks of dancer types each of which has their specialist allotted roles and repertory. I understood that Osipova came to London because she wanted to escape being typecast as a demi -character dancer and only ever being permitted to perform roles deemed suitable for dancers of that emploi. As Swanilda is a prime example of the sort of role available to a demi-character dancers in Russia it is quite possible that she just did nor want to dance the role again. I don't think that we need to know why she has not appeared in this revival of Coppelia but I think it highly unlikely that she would have been denied the opportunity of appearing in it had she wished to do so. In the circumstances it seems a pointless exercise to try to work out whether she was gainfully employed, pursuing one of her private projects, at the time this revival was being prepared and rehearsed and so unavailable or whether there was some other reason for her not being given the role. The simple fact is that she did not appear as Swanilda at this revival. I suspect that if given the choice between preparing the role of Tatiana in Onegin or Swanilda in Coppelia, Osipova would choose Tatiana every time as it is the sort of role that probably would not have been available to her at the Bolshoi as a demi-character dancer. I am not at all put out by the revised casting. Casting according to type has its advantages and its disadvantages as does casting against type which does not always pay of.Much as I admire Muntagirov as a dancer the announcement that he was to appear as Onegin intrigued me but also left me feeling that with his boyish charm it was unlikely to prove to be an inspired decision to cast against type which might give new insights into Onegin's character and was much more likely to turn out to be a serious miscalculation which would not work in performance. As far as Clarke's suitability for the role is concerned he has the undoubted advantage of looking the part before he dances a step and of having , as yet, no established stage persona from which he has to extricate himself in order to convince the audience that he is Onegin. A sort of postscript. One or two posts have touched on the topic of dancers working elsewhere when we might have expected to see them performing in London.giving the impression that they rather disapprove of the practice. While it can be disappointing not to see dancers whom you admire on a more regular basis I suspect that agreed absences work to the company's and the audience's advantage by enabling the company to recruit and then retain outstanding dancers within its ranks. The range of repertory may be what makes dancers want to join the company but it is the promise of roles and development opportunities which keeps them there. It seems to me that Kevin has got the balance between meeting the needs and expectations of his senior dancers and those of the younger ones about right. The truly talented get opportunities in a way that would not be possible if all the senior dancers were appearing at Covent Garden during the entire ballet season. In the dim and distant past dancers would join the company brimming with potential and enthusiasm but by the time they got their chance to show what they could do in a do or die debut the potential had more often than not been smothered by years of waiting. It was not pleasant to see then and it would be unlikely to happen today as today's dancers would almost certainly vote with their feet.
  14. I was blissfully unaware of this campaign until I came across this discussion. I can't help thinking that arts organisations have got better things to do than ally themselves to campaigns which add nothing to their status or artistic stature and which in the current populist patriotic climate could easily be misinterpreted by disgruntled employees as sanctioning giving British born dancers and passport holders preferential treatment when it comes to such matters as casting and promotion. I should have thought that it was something that the ROH would have been best advised to avoid at all costs. It seems pretty pathetic to me. The next thing you know the Union flag will be on prominent display outside the building; we will have the National Anthem at the end of each performance and will be expected to sing the words of more than one verse. Unfortunately it strikes me as just the sort of initiative that would appeal to the the great and the good who are on the ROH Board who might well think that it would bolster its national standing at little or no cost to it as an effective arts organisation. The problem with such campaigns is that however innocuous they may seem to those who sign up to them they often prove to have significant unintended consequences.The RB seems from the outside to be a remarkably cohesive company given the number of people in its ranks who have competing artistic ambitions not all of which can be satisfied.But if you were an ambitious young dancer who was not a British passport holder and were passed over on a number of occasions for a promotion which you thought you had more than earned mightn't you begin to think that favouritism based on nationality was at play especially if colleagues who were British by birth or choice were promoted instead of you? It would not be the first time that the Board and or the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House have put their foot in it.
  15. Much as I admire Cuthbertson as a performer I have to confess that I am more than a little relieved that she has not appeared as Swanilda in this revival of Coppelia. I suspect that the reason for her absence has more to do with her workload which at present includes preparation for her streamed Sleeping Beauty, the premiere of The Cello and her appearance as Aurora in St Petersburg during the next couple of months than management's views of her suitability for the role. While she was fine as Alice, a role created on her, I thought that she was miscast as the Young Girl in Two Pigeons and only ever gave a superficial account of the role. Although she reproduced the choreography accurately enough so much of what she was doing on stage seemed like stage business which had nothing to do with the character she was supposed to be portraying. The classic example of this lack of integration of choreography and character was the point at which the Young Girl pulls the chair away from the Young Man as he is about to sit down. If it is done fully in character it encapsulates what is wrong with the couple's relationship. If it is not done in this way it looks as if Ashton was so desperate at that point in the ballet that he resorted to a slapstick pratt fall to get a cheap laugh and that is how at least one critic interpreted it. The result as far as I was concerned was that rather than breathing life into the intensely self centered, immature, irritating character Ashton had created as Stix-Brunell did with Ball and Clarke in successive seasons Cuthbertson only managed to play her as a cute two dimensional soubrette. So while I have enjoyed every cast I have seen in this revival I do not regret Cuthbertson's absence but I do that of Stix-Brunell who I think would have been ideal in the role of Swanilda. I do not intend to say who I liked best or least in the leading roles as I thought everyone brought something worth seeing to the roles they were playing. I will simply say that I hope that Kevin has programmed Fille for the second half of next season when I believe we are to be permitted to see some of the company's "heritage" repertory as on current showing there are a significant number of talented young dancers who really should be given the opportunity to dance Lise in the not too distant future. I welcome Bracewell's return to the stage after a long absence and look forward to seeing more of his Franz as his first act was particularly amusing. I regret that Coppelia has been absent from the company's active repertory for the last thirteen years as its absence has deprived us of seeing much more of Morera's beautifully judged account of Swanilda than now seems likely. to be likely or possible. I look forward to Coppelia , and one or two other suitable ballets such as Cinderella, Fille and a mixed bill of Les Patineurs and Two Pigeons being programmed at Christmas in future seasons instead of Nutcracker. That ballet only came to dominate Christmas at Covent Garden and become "traditional" during Dowell's directorship. Before that LFB/ENB had a virtual monopoly in London on Nutcracker at Christmas. This had real benefits as it not only ensured that LFB/ENB was able to cover its operating costs by making up for the losses it sustains on tour but it enabled the Royal Ballet to introduce family audiences to a far wider range of its repertory than would have been possible if it had to perform Nutcracker every year. I look forward to the Opera Hose becoming, if not a completely Nutcracker free zone, at least one in which we see it far less frequently than has been the case of late.
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