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Douglas Allen

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  • Gender
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  • Location:
    Sunderland UK
  • Interests
    Classical, Neo-classical and the Romantic Ballet; Ashton and Balanchine.

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  1. That the Royal Ballet, ENB, New York City Ballet and the Paris Opera (where the ballet was first performed) all spell the character without the "h", suggests a strong bias in that direction.
  2. It's always been Swanilda (no h) for me. I checked a couple of books and Chujoy's Dance Encyclopedia (1949) not only gives the name as Swanilda but gives the cast of the original production which refers to Swanilda also.
  3. Curses, Jane S!!! You have now condemned me to spending the next 24 hours in going through all these pages and lots! Seriously, it's a very interesting collection and it has been reasonably catalogued and collated. The photography is sufficiently high quality that you can see most of the individual titles and work out many of the editions. The suggested starting bids are all low and I suspect there won't be many bargains unless the auction isn't well publicised. Oh, I'm so tempted... but I keep thinking of the carriage charges...
  4. Yes, it's David Wall. It is an excerpt from the film of Act 1 of Beauty Keith Money filmed with the Touring Company in the early sixties. It was filmed at a theatre on the South Coast somewhere (? Bournemouth). Money had hoped to film the complete ballet with Fonteyn but couldn't raise the finance and only Act 1 was actually filmed.
  5. Both born in 1992 I've noticed that as dancers become "more mature" their dates of birth tend to disappear from biography entries in programmes and dictionaries.
  6. Absolutely and totally agree!! I don't know if it is in the text supplied by Sergeyev or created by Ashton for Fonteyn and I don't really mind either way as it is so magnificent. When it isn't performed or emphasised (as it isn't always by some other companies) I always feel a sense of loss. It seems to me to be the moment when the dancer transcends the narrative and speaks directly to the audience to say "I am the ballerina, this is the Royal Ballet - behold greatness and rejoice!". Sadly, it doesn't always work out like that, though.
  7. This just goes to show how people react differently when faced with the same picture. I've always felt the Messel designs are overpraised. I'm not saying that you are wrong and I am right, just two people having different preferences. I take the view that the Messel designs, both for sets (but particularly) costumes are too garish and the costumes are too fussily delineated. Part of the reason for the praise lavished on the Messel designs was relief after the relative drabness of the war years when material was rationed and so much seemed to be swathed in grey. The primary colours lavished on the production must have seemed a blessed relief to audiences. The de Nobili costumes for the 1968 production still seem to me to be unsurpassed. The tutus in particular looked ravishing and harked back to the style of the early productions in St. Petersburg. I know that some of the dancers felt unhappy with the length of the tutus (Sibley, I know, didn't like their length and felt they tended to obscure the line of the upper leg) but from the viewpoint of the audience they looked majestic. They were shaped, wide and not too detailed in their trimming. Away from the design element, even if there isn't a new production in the offing, I hope the company takes a long hard look at some of the technical details of what is presented. Too much of the present stylistic approach is simply presenting and perpetuating the accretions of past productions without any clear insight as to what should be the choreographic text, let alone thinking how the text should be performed - to take just one example the lack of the use of epaulement in any of the Prologue fairy variations as well as the slowing of the tempi virtually randomly throughout performances. The Royal has currently an outstanding set of dancers both male and female and I have concerns that what they are being asked/encouraged to do is unworthy of their abilities.
  8. Indeed. The Guardian and The Observer (not that there is any difference on the website) don't explain the reason for removing comments, nor do they contact the individual who made the comment. We are all just left to wonder. It seems to be up to the individual moderator to judge whether not to remove a comment and the newspapers do not enter into any correspondence about the matter - so it's not possible either to appeal or to enter a discussion about the matter. The only recourse, if people are concerned would be to question the application of the policy (i.e. to consider whether simple criticism of the critic's writing is ipso facto abusive) in an email to the Reader's Editor. Incidentally, there were ten comments made about the article, all of them critical, but none of them contained any term I would consider abusive - the strongest term I can remember was "tosh" - eight were removed and two allowed to remain.
  9. I see that the absurd article/review in The Observer. has attracted further critical comments, which in turn have been moderated (removed). The review on the website has now been closed for further comments. Only the two mildest critical comments have been left available to see. The other ten comments have disappeared. Criticism of their writers, it appears, is not welcome at The Observer/Guardian. Sad, really. None of the comments used extreme language - they were simply expressions of disagreement coupled with a suggestion that Bidisha didn't really know much about ballet. I seem to recall, though I can't find it now on the website, about a week or two ago that Bidisha was to be the new Dance critic of The Observer (it was at the same time that Arifa Akbar. was announced as the new Theatre critic of The Guardian. If my memory is correct, this is a worrying sign for writing on dance in British newspapers that someone apparently without any knowledge of or experience in ballet should be appointed as a ballet critic. I know such appointments have happened in the past, but such appointments have not usually turned out well....
  10. Capybara I'm really pleased to hear this from you, both because it is a difficult role to judge how to play, but also because I hope it marks the end to the ridiculous booing of a performance because the character is judged to be morally deficient! I don't know how or where it started, but it really has no place in any serious opera house or theatre. If pantomime antics like this persist, why not boo poor, absurd Catalbutte, whose gross negligence in drawing up the invitation list led to all the trouble in the first place?
  11. FLOSS well said. I think that the full story about Stretton's appointment is still some way away from appearing - as you suggest, more time needs to elapse before the roles of Isaacs, Kaiser and the ROH Board (rather than the role of the Royal Ballet Governors) in the affair become clearer. Your earlier comments about the strategy de Valois had for the company suggest a clearer pathway than actually existed - there were some missteps on the way; her attitude to Baronova, Volkova and Karsavina in the 40s and 50s suggest some insecurities - but in general I agree with you that there was a clear strategy usually carried out decisively and the company prospered. My understanding of the replacement of the touring company with the "New Group" in 1970 was that it was a decision taken by Webster and the Board for financial reasons (at the same time as Ashton was "resigned") and that Macmillan was offered the directorship on condition that the plan was implemented. Earlier in the thread I made a brief contribution and was then asked to list some of the dancers whose careers had been adversely affected. I didn't reply as to do so would allow people to infer that dancers not adversely affected might be thought to be complicit with the Stretton "arrangements" which would be both unfair and inaccurate in most cases. I hope that if anyone does make comments here that names don't get thrown about.
  12. I totally agree, Dawnstar. The current policy is absurd. Dancers benefit from and give better interpretations when they have several performances in a relatively short period of time. They, and we, would benefit from a change in line with your suggestion. Obviously, some dancers would then miss out on the chance of performing a particular role, but the converse would be that not everyone would try to dance everything. So, for example, Dancer A might not perform Odette/Odile in a season but would have significantly more performances, say, of Aurora. We need to move away from the idea that once a dancer hits a certain level, say principal, that any dancer should be able to (and have the expectation to) dance everything. JNC No, not at all. Why do you say that? All the evidence from the past suggests otherwise and all the dancers I know would reject your assertion. No-one is suggesting that they dance three shows a day. That is one of the tasks Directors are paid to do.
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