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  1. I do indeed. Where I live is an easy drive or train ride from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield, so I get a healthy dose of BRB, ENB and NB. Also close to home I have Theatr Clwyd in Mold, which has lots of good contemporary dance, Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and on my doorstep Storyhouse in Chester. My London trips are governed by a mixture of cost and artistic decisions. If I can get a matinee with a cast I want to see then Bob is my uncle! If not, or if there are no matinees (which sometime happens) I scan the Premier Inn Hubs for the cheapest night and that often makes the cast decision for me! I realise now I should have added Hobson's Choice to my list of highlights. Just got back from a matinee at Sadler's Wells (cheaper than the matinees in Birmingham!). Never seen it before except for the clog dance and Lily of Laguna pas de deux but loved every minute of it. Beatrice Parma was a pocket dynamo as Maggie and Max Maslen as Will exuded Northern-ness! I wish I could have stayed for the evening show - I didn't realise when I booked that that would be David Bintley's last show, but I'm sure he was given a wonderful send off with this wonderful ballet.
  2. How interesting. I was up and down about it too. I have to say, however, that with Muntagirov I felt it was a different show entirely. He brought a Russian soul to the proceedings that seemed somehow to magically weave flesh unto all other characterisations. He was a noble yet tellingly vulnerable heart. He and Sarah Lamb siphoned ours. It was utterly magical. Well, that's how I read it. I probably need to see it again (one of the drawbacks of living up north is that I can only afford to see one performance of each production), but my main feeling was that it was two-dimensional, both in terms of the set and the way the story was presented. If felt like a set of attractive and occasionally comical scenes, rather than something more coherent, though maybe that's the point. Also context is everything, and placing it alongside Les Patineurs and The Concert probably didn't show it off to its best advantage to a first-time viewer.
  3. Highlights (in date order): Natalia Osipova/Jason Kittelberger - Six Years Later - part of Pure Dance at Sadler's Wells English National Ballet - No Man's Land/Vera/Second Breath/Dust - Sadler's Wells Michael Clark Company - to a simple rock 'n' roll... song - Storyhouse, Chester English National Ballet - Manon (McWhinney/Frola) - Manchester Opera House. Royal Ballet - La Bayadere (Nunez/Osipova/Muntagirov) - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - Les Patineurs/The Concert - Royal Opera House Alessandra Ferri/Herman Cornejo - TRIO Concert/Dance - Linbury Theatre Hammond School - And So We Take Flight/La Folia - Storyhouse, Chester (two delightful little pieces danced to Mozart and Vivaldi as part of a Chester schools' gala) Royal Ballet - Don Quixote (Osipova/Muntagirov) - Royal Opera House English National Ballet - Broken Wings/Nora/Rite of Spring - Sadler's Wells Dutch National Ballet - Sand & Royal Ballet - Canto de Ossanha - part of International Draft Works at Linbury Theatre Scottish Ballet - Dextera/Elite Syncopations - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Royal Ballet - Romeo and Juliet (Hayward/Corrales) - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - Within the Golden Hour/Flight Pattern - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - The Firebird (Mendizabal/Kish)/A Month in the Country (Cuthbertson/Muntagirov/O'Sullivan)/Symphony in C - Royal Opera House Birmingham Royal Ballet - Lyric Pieces/Sense of Time/Peter and the Wolf - Birmingham Hippodrome plus any time Isabella Gasparini was on stage - that smile! Lowlights: Royal Ballet - Medusa - Royal Opera House (the music and the dance appeared to belong to two different works) New Adventures - Romeo+Juliet - Lowry, Salford (to me it was completely uninspired) Moscow City Ballet - Nutcracker/Sleeping Beauty - Storyhouse, Chester (why do regional theatres book these knock-off Russian companies? I guess it's just a case of bums on seats) Disappointments: Royal Ballet - The Unknown Soldier - Royal Opera House (great premise, disappointing treatment) Birmingham Royal Ballet - Ignite - Birmingham Hippodrome (ditto) Northern Ballet - Victoria - Grand Theatre, Leeds (not bad, and it had some great moments. Just not a satisfying overall whole) San Francisco Ballet - Shostakovich Trilogy - Sadler's Wells (I should have liked it and on another day I probably would have liked it, but left feeling slightly underwhelmed) Royal Ballet - Winter Dreams - Royal Opera House (was looking forward to this but again left somewhat underwhelmed. Maybe it was in the wrong programme)
  4. I think I know what you mean, but I have to say I do like an element of compare and contrast in mixed bills, seeing how the dancers tackle different sets of problems within the same performance. Having said that, although I loved each of the three pieces, Peter and the Wolf did feel as though it didn't quite belong, much as I felt that it was utterly charming. The ostensible reason given for the programme was of course that all the works were by female choreographers, which shouldn't need to be a reason for grouping works together, but sadly has to be, as with the recent ENB She Persisted, a similar mish-mash of choreographic styles that nonetheless to me proved a satisfying whole. The real problem for me was the pitifully poor attendance for a Saturday matinee, with the stalls only about a third full (if that). This is the third mixed bill in a row that I've been too at the Hippodrome that's been afflicted in this way, and one can only conclude that outside of London mixed bills simply don't sell. Last night I was at a packed Covent Garden for the stupendous RB Firebird mixed bill, and I couldn't help wishing the wonderful BRB dancers had similar audience pulling powers when they do repertoire out of the norm. That was the day after I'd been to the Lowry for the Matthew Bourne Romeo and Juliet (it's been a busy week with the cinema R&J relay on Tuesday as well!). That had no trouble getting an audience for a matinee and yet I felt it had a fraction of the choreographic inspiration that I saw in the two mixed bills - a huge disappointment in my humble opinion but a reminder that name recognition is what really sells seats.
  5. Prior to the ENB Triple Bill at Sadler's Wells yesterday, Tamara Rojo paid a very touching tribute to Kevin Richmond, and made particular mention of their appearance together in these roles.
  6. Agreed! I get the feeling I've just seen one of the great performances.
  7. Count me as a fan too - she so obviously enjoys every second of what she does and those fouettés were stunning! Almost worth the day trip to London on its own. I'm coming down again after Christmas for the matinee on the 28th simply because I saw she was dancing Clara.
  8. Yes, they did, but it was expertly retrieved! A (very) small blemish on a memorable evening. There can’t have been many better casts, and corps, in the previous 130 performances of this production.
  9. Amen to that! Not my favourite Macmillan ballet, mainly because I find the Liszt overblown, but that performance won me over. Can’t wait to follow it with Manon in Manchester on Thursday 😊
  10. Back home up north from this afternoon's matinee. The programme was as good as I remembered it from four years ago, but a special mention needs to be made of Stina Quagebeur's Vera which is being danced at a couple of performances including this one. It was short, but so affecting, telling in its brief span the story of Vera Brittain, danced beautifully by Crystal Costa and the men that the war took away from her, embodied heartbreakingly by Giorgio Garrett. What a masterstroke also to set it to the music of Ivor Gurney, who himself was damaged beyond repair by his experiences in the trenches. His song Sleep never fails to bring tears to my eyes, and hearing its opening ostinato, albeit in Gavin Sutherland's piano-only arrangement (I wish they could have had a singer there), had me in bits again.
  11. Season 2017/18 Top Twelve (in no particular order) English National Ballet: Song of the Earth / La Sylphide (Palace Theatre, Manchester) Scottish Ballet: The Fairy's Kiss / Rite of Spring (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh) Royal Ballet: Giselle (Hayward / Campbell) (Royal Opera House, London) Northern Ballet: Las Hermanas / Concerto / Gloria (Alhambra Theatre, Bradford and Grand Theatre, Leeds) National Dance Company Wales: Folk / Atalaÿ / Tundra (Theatr Clywd, Mold) English National Ballet: Fantastic Beings / Approximate Sonata 2016 / The Cage / Playlist (Sadler's Wells, London) Royal Ballet: Manon (Hamilton / Kish) (Royal Opera House, London) Rambert: The days run away like wild horses / Symbiosis / A Linha Curva (Theatre Clywd, Mold) Viviana Durante Company: House of Birds / Danses Concertantes / Laiderette (Barbican Pit, London) Royal Ballet: Elizabeth (Barbican Theatre, London) Semperoper Ballet; In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated / Neue Suite / Enemy in the Fugue (Sadler's Wells, London) Birmingham Royal Ballet: Kin / Embrace / In The Upper Room (Lowry, Salford)
  12. With such illustrious parents, I guess there was always the chance she'd be something special. I remember sitting in the choir seats at Bridgewater Hall a few years back and watching her Mum play Shostakovich No. 1 - I've rarely seen anybody inhabit the music quite as much as she did that night. Let's hope the daughter reaches the same heights.
  13. I came down to see the opening performance yesterday, attracted by the fact that it was an all Forsythe programme (and the low ticket prices!). I don't have the technical words to go into huge amounts of detail about it, suffice to say I loved it! I'd seen 'In the Middle..." a couple of times danced by ENB. It didn't quite hit me in the same way as their performances did - there wasn't quite the same drive that I remembered, though that may be partly because I was up in the circle and partly because the music maybe wasn't turned up loud enough (I remember it being on the cusp of ear splitting!). The second work is 'Neue Suite', a series of eight short pas de deux taken from various previous works by Forsythe that had been reworked for this company. Set to the music of Handel, Bach and Berio, I found them beautiful, not least because, as the programme notes testified, the man and the woman were equal partners in each of the duets. The final work, 'Enemy of the Figure', was just a total hoot from start to finish. It was the sort of work that makes you smile because of the ingenuity of the conception (particularly the use of the props - a curved wall snaking diagonally across the stage, a spotlight that the dancers moved round the stage, and... a rope!), because of the quality of the movement, and because at times it was just laugh out loud funny, such as the time you are suddenly aware that there are a group of dancers in a dimly lit corner of the stage dancing a hornpipe! So yes, well worth going, especially if the audience reaction yesterday is anything to go by.
  14. So not all that common these days then - I thought it was a lovely idea, not least because it made clear to the audience the importance of the event. I was at Joseph Caley's last performance with BRB last season, but only realised it after the event, having wondered why he got extra special applause from his fellow dancers - it would have been nice for there to have been some sort of public announcement. On a related Northern Ballet topic, can I just give a shameless plug? The Northern Ballet season has now ended, but the Northern Ballet Sinfonia are doing a couple of concerts on 25th and 27th June at the Storyhouse community arts complex I volunteer at in Chester (yes, the place that the Queen and the Duchess of Sussex are visiting on Thursday!). Over the course of the two concerts you'll hear, amongst other stuff, Vaughan Williams (Serenade to Music/Lark Ascending), Gershwin (Porgy & Bess) and Fauré (excerpts from Pelleas et Melisande, as featured in Balanchine's Emeralds). Regular conductor Daniel Parkinson will be sharing conducting duties with students on the RNCM postgraduate conducting course.
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