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  1. Wonderful night tonight at the Grand Theatre, Leeds with Northern Ballet's 50th Anniversary Gala. Not a single tutu in sight and just for once at a gala a Petipa, Ashton, Macmillan and Balanchine-free zone, and none the worse for that! The dancers were a mixture of current and former Northern Ballet dancers and some well chosen guests from ENB, RB, BRB, SB, Phoenix Dance and Joffrey Ballet.I'll let those more familiar with NB's history comment on how well they covered the breadth of their work, but I particularly liked the excerpts from 1984 (with Laura Morera replacing the originally advertised Lauren Cuthbertson), Jane Eyre, The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas and Casanova, and the two outside excerpts, Darrell's Ruckert Songs from Scottish Ballet and Windrush from Phoenix Dance Company. For those interested here's the complete list of what was done and who by. WORK SECTION CHOREOGRAPHER DANCER ROLE COMPANY The Great Gatsby Charleston David Nixon Artists of the Northern Ballet Northern Ballet Five Rückert Songs Solo Peter Darrell Marge Hendricks Scottish Ballet Cinderella Fireside Duet Christopher Gable Ellise de Andrade Cinderella Central School of Ballet Matteo Zecca Prince Central School of Ballet A Simple Man The Golden Room Gillian Lynne Tamara Rojo Mrs Lowry English National Ballet Jeremy Kerridge Lowry Northern Ballet A Christmas Carol Belle & Young Scrooge Duet Massimo Moricone Antoinette Brooks-Daw Belle Northern Ballet Jonathan Hanks Young Scrooge Northern Ballet Romeo and Juliet Balcony Duet Massimo Moricone Federico Bonelli Romeo Royal Ballet Abigail Prudames Juliet Northern Ballet Dracula Dracula & Harker Duet Michael Pink / Christopher Gable Sean Bates Harker Northern Ballet Mlindi Kulashe Dracula Northern Ballet Carmen Bedroom Duet Didy Veldman Minju Kang Carmen Northern Ballet Lorenzo Trossello José Northern Ballet Madame Butterfly Wedding Night Duet David Nixon Momoko Hirata Butterfly Birmingham Royal Ballet César Morales Pinkerton Birmingham Royal Ballet Casanova Masquerade Kenneth Tindall Steven Wheeler Casanova Northern Ballet Artists of the Northern Ballet Northern Ballet Windrush: Movement of the People Duet Sharon Watson Aaron Chaplin Phoenix Dance Theatre Vanessa Vince-Pang Phoenix Dance Theatre 1984 Countryside Duet Jonathan Watkins Laura Morera Julia Royal Ballet Ryoichi Hirano Winston Royal Ballet Jane Eyre Proposal Duet Cathy Marston Amanda Assucena Jane Eyre Joffrey Ballet Greig Matthews Mr Rochester Joffrey Ballet The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Twin Souls Duet Daniel de Andrade Filippo Di Vilio Shmuel Northern Ballet Matthew Koon Bruno Northern Ballet Casanova Casanova & Bellino Duet Kenneth Tindall Dreda Blow Bellino Northern Ballet Giuliano Contadini Casanova Northern Ballet Wuthering Heights On the Moors David Nixon Tobias Batley Heathcliff Northern Ballet Harris Beattie Young Heathcliff Northern Ballet Martha Leebolt Cathy Northern Ballet Rachael Gillespie Young Cathy Northern Ballet Cleopatra Cup Duet David Nixon Abigail Prudames Cleopatra Northern Ballet Joseph Taylor Mark Anthony Northern Ballet A Midsummer Night's Dream Jive David Nixon Artists of the Northern Ballet Northern Ballet
  2. And if I recall correctly doing the central pas de deux from 1984 at tomorrow’s Northern Ballet 50th anniversary gala.
  3. Yes I spotted that too! Can I just say how much I enjoyed Tom’s conducting yesterday - the ROH band aren’t always the world’s most together orchestra but he managed to produce a passionate, committed performance of Delibes’ glorious music. Ten years ago when I joined the Hallé Choir he prepared us for an award winning performance of Elgar’s Kingdom. At that time his career could easily have gone in a choral direction, but although he’s taken us for the odd rehearsal since, choral singing’s loss appears to have been ballet conducting’s gain. Jonathan Lo appears to be following a similar trajectory following his recent appointment at Northern Ballet and his relinquishment of Manchester Chamber Choir.
  4. Dodgy indeed - I guess this is a small sample of what's in store for us post-Brexit
  5. Hayward and Campbell in Manon x 2 (I saw the Friends' Rehearsal and a regular run performance - both were outstanding!)
  6. Well, the reviews are now in for Cats. I won't repeat any of them because they're almost universally pretty brutal, suffice to say the Telegraph thought it so bad they gave it no stars. The only exception appears to be the Daily Mail but that doesn't surprise because it's always struck me that the target audience for any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is a Daily Mail reader. Part of me feels pretty smug as I loathe his musicals with a passion, but at the same time I feel really sad for Francesca who I wanted the world to love as much as we do, though she does get a few honourable mentions in otherwise scathing reviews.
  7. Christopher Hampson is obviously on a roll. Barnaby Rook-Bishop was just promoted to principal on stage at the end of tonight's performance of The Snow Queen. On the basis of tonight's performance, it's well deserved, and what's more he got to dance with three strong female leads. I'm surprised no-one's written up anything about this new Scottish Ballet production. Apart from a slightly underwhelming denouement (which is however followed by a touching final pas de deux), it's a wonderful festive offering, full of beautiful dancing, powerful set pieces which include a couple of nods to Fokine (Petrushka) and Ashton (Two Pigeons), a glorious stitched together Rimsky Korsakov score (including a virtuosic on-stage fiddler), and stunning designs courtesy of Lez Brotherston. Well worth escaping England for on election night!
  8. There's a feature on Francesca Hayward (described as Meghan Markle's favourite ballerina), promoting the new Romeo and Juliet film, in the new Christmas edition of Radio Times. It's accompanied by a lovely photo of her on the Millennium Bridge and one of her aged 10!
  9. Yes! They probably understood that once the orchestra starts playing the performance has begun, unlike most of the adults near me in the Stalls Circle who seemed quite happy to continue their conversations until dancers actually started dancing.
  10. In total agreement about this afternoon - Anna Rose was magnificent. She couldn’t have wished for a better stand-in but it must still have taken nerves of steel!
  11. I'd agree that given the reduced resources Scottish Ballet have that this is probably how it will work. I think it's probably relevant that they're not calling it 'Mayerling' but 'The Scandal at Mayerling' and are talking about it as a 'world premiere'.
  12. Scottish Ballet has just announced its full programme for 2020. Alongside revivals of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, by far the most intriguing prospect is what is described as a 'reimagined and redesigned' version of Kenneth McMillan's Mayerling. The full season details can be found here, but I've done a copy and paste below of the blurb about Mayerling. The year is 1889 and, in the woods outside Vienna, the Empire must hide a terrible secret. At the royal Mayerling hunting lodge, Crown Prince Rudolf is found shot dead alongside his teenage mistress. We rewind the clock to watch this desperate young man, the heir to the throne, plunge into his own paranoia. Trapped by the stifling opulence of the Habsburg court, Rudolf’s mental turmoil envelops all those around him. In a series of increasingly intense duets with his mother, his wife, and his mistress, Rudolf descends deeper into his obsession with death, and hurtles towards tragedy. Rudolf’s morbid fascination, sexual appetite and ultimate violence make this real-life anti-hero as compelling as Hamlet, while Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s breathtaking choreography takes us on a physical and emotional rollercoaster. The sweeping intensity of the ballet is matched by the sumptuous music of Franz Liszt, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. Reimagined and redesigned by Scottish Ballet, this dramatic world premiere will be the first time MacMillan’s iconic ballet is produced in the UK outside of London. Recommended for audiences 12+ Content warning: please be advised that this production includes themes of mental illness, sexual violence, addiction and suicide. For more information, please contact us. #SBMayerling
  13. I was on row C of the Stalls directly behind the conductor and can confirm that yes, that was exactly what he seemed to be doing! He certainly had his eyes on her the whole time.
  14. I too was surprised that the significance of the telegram wasn't explained, either in the sketches of the variations given in the cast sheet or in the programme, especially when the basics of the plot of Raymonda were given, even though they have no bearing on what happens in the third act. I've just had a look at the programme from the last time BRB did it and there it was made very clear what was going on. I quote: 'The fictional arrival of the telegram announcing Hans Richter's agreement to conduct the score brings a happy ending to the work with friends gathered around the composer for a group photograph, except for the 'absent' Mary Lygon who flits away just before it is taken.' As an Elgar devotee who has sung his choral works many times over I absolutely loved Enigma Variations last night. I have nothing to add to comments about the individual performances, other than that Francesca Hayward was, as usual, magnificent, but what struck me most is how Ashton grasped the essential character of both Elgar and the work in the way he set the variations. To use modern parlance Enigma Variations was Elgar's 'breakthrough' work, the one that finally confirmed him as a composer of substance. To me it is the perfect amalgam of the playful late-Victorian salon pieces of his early career, like Salut d'Amour, and the much deeper sense of melancholy that imbued his more substantial later works, the oratorios, the symphonies, and the almost unbearably sad Cello Concerto. This reflected Elgar's own character, which saw a surface confidence undermined by a degree of insecurity engendered partly no doubt by his position as a self-taught provincial trying to infiltrate the metropolitan musical elite. Ashton captures this two-sidedness perfectly, balancing the moments of joyful abandon, like Dora Penny's solo, with moments of almost heartbreaking tenderness, like the central Nimrod variation, where nothing really happens and yet everything happens. Most of all, and particularly in Nimrod, he saw the importance of Alice Elgar in Elgar's life in providing the rock on which he could anchor his career. It's significant that Elgar wrote little of note after she died in 1920, and seeing their relationship through the lens of Ashton's choreography, you can understand why.
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