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About FrankH

  • Birthday 29/10/1945

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  1. Thank you Sim for your kind words, and thanks to Mary for her supportive comments. It is always nice to find that someone else has a similar reaction about a particular performance, as I am certainly not experienced enough in my knowledge and appreciation of ballet, to distinguish between the truly great and the merely good. However I wasn't being as humble in my review as might have appeared. Each person will have a slightly different aesthetic sensibility, and may thus be "blind" to what others find beautiful. An instance which occurs to me is the fact that Tchaikovsky intensely disliked Brahms' music, and was very rude about it, calling Brahms "talentless". As I greatly love the music of both composers, I find this very hard to understand, and can only assume that Tchaikovsky had a blind (or, rather, deaf) spot as far as Brahms was concerned. Thinking back to my reactions to the RB triple bill, I realise I didn't experience it in the best of circumstances. I had had a rather tiring afternoon at the university where I am a part-time lecturer, listening to students giving presentations, and assessing them. So perhaps my momentary lapse into sleep during Flight Pattern wouldn't have happened otherwise. The very subdued lighting of the piece certainly didn't help. As for Medusa, from the posts of others I learn that this may be regarded as a work still in the process of development, and that Cherkaoui's ballets evolve and develop considerably. My disappointment with these two works is also partly bound up with the fact that they deal with very important themes - masculine ill-treatment of women, and the plight of refugees and the dispossessed. If artists in any medium tackle these sorts of themes, they had better make a very good job of it. Otherwise these days it would only be too easy to dismiss their efforts as merely "politically correct". I am glad to read that many of you were very moved by Flight Pattern, even if I couldn't appreciate it on the night.
  2. The local Curzon was only half-full for the live filming of this. How different from when one of the Classics is performed! I am a rather naïve and unsophisticated lover of ballet. As such, I myself am most fond of the Classics, and haven’t generally found “abstract” i.e. non-narrative ballet that interesting. So, looking at the descriptions of the three ballets being performed, I thought I would probably appreciate Medusa and Flight Pattern, but find Within The Golden Hour something of a challenge. I couldn’t have been more wrong in my prediction! I was bowled over by Within the Golden Hour. I marvelled at the amazing “logic” (I can’t think of a better word to describe my impression) of the choreography. Every movement of the bodies, arms, and legs, seemed to be part of a perfect moving pattern. Nothing out of place, nothing unnecessary, like a composition of Mozart as described by Salieri (in the film Amadeus). And all fitting in so well with the very beautiful musical score. I must admit I had never heard of Ezio Bosso before, but I will be looking out for anything by him from now on. I had of course heard of Christopher Wheeldon. I have seen Alice also through live transmission, which I enjoyed, but to nowhere the same extent that I appreciated WtGH. I will bow to the superior taste of the more knowledgeable people on this forum if I am wrong, but it seems to me that WtGH is a minor masterpiece, perhaps even a major one. It was of course, to my undiscerning eyes, danced impeccably. What an unexpected joy to see Francesca Hayward as one of the unlisted changes! She is one I find difficult to take my eyes away from when she is on stage. But I also found Beatriz Stix-Brunell compelling. Actually the whole ensemble, both the central six, and the back-up eight, were entrancing. It is actually rather unfair to single anyone out, but those two did especially catch my eye. I have not seen a ballet which better demonstrated to me the possibilities in abstract non-narrative dance. I know that there is supposed to be a story in the differing relationships of the three central couples, but I must admit that I didn’t get that aspect of it. It didn’t matter. I was just content to take in 35 minutes of brilliant “eye candy”. After this wonderful opening, I am afraid I found Medusa and Flight Pattern rather disappointing. Hearing and reading about the choreographers, and their motivations for these ballets, I wanted very much to like them. But I found both, in different ways, rather tedious. A lot of movement in Medusa, but unlike that in WtGH it seemed to me rather unstructured. A lot of arm waving to little purpose. Flight Pattern I just found grey and depressing. I must confess I actually fell asleep briefly during it. However, it was as usual good to see the marvellous Osipova, although even she couldn’t redeem Medusa for me. And it was nice to see Kristen McNally getting a prominent role in Flight Pattern. I haven’t yet had time to read many of the reviews in this forum, but I note that some whose views on ballet I greatly respect, liked Medusa and/or Flight Pattern. And of course both these works and their choreographers have been much praised. I am glad of that, as I applaud what they are aiming for in these works. I therefore attribute my lack of appreciation of these works to a lack of aesthetic sensibility on my part. The fact that they both earned rapturous prolonged applause from the ROH audience would confirm this. One problem, for me, was the order of the works. After the overwhelming impression of Within the Golden Hour, perhaps most ballets would have seemed a little stale to me in comparison.
  3. This has just appeared on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSGLGnHJDSQ "Artists of The Royal Ballet in Liam Scarlett's production of Swan Lake, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day 2018 on BBC Four. Find out more at http://www.roh.org.uk" Apologies if this is a duplication.
  4. The live transmission is over, but still can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj2I7TrWWNo
  5. Most of you probably know this already, but the Northern Ballet class is live on Youtube at present. Forgive me if this has been noted elsewhere. Moderators please cancel this post if that's the case.
  6. Which shows just how much in the appreciation of the arts depends on the subjective impressions of the viewer/listener. There was a discussion about "charisma" on another thread, in which this was brought up. One poster wrote to the effect that if someone didn't see such a quality in a performer who obviously had it, it reflected (by implication badly) on the viewer (I may be unfairly presenting the viewpoint, but that's what it read like to me). I differ, in that I believe it reflects both on the artist and the viewer/listener. There is certainly an objective dimension to charisma or any other quality in the arts. Otherwise, how could anyone state with certainty that Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky etc. were among the greatest composers? And yet there are those who dislike the music of one or more of these masters. For that matter, Tchaikovsky apparently thought Brahms was talentless. As I love the music of both, I find this incomprehensible. So there is an inescapable subjectivity too.
  7. I think this points up the difference between a seasoned, knowledgeable ballet lover (you), and a novice (me). Although I don't know whether I will ever be able to advance to the stage of pure appreciation of dance technique, as that would probably require more intimate knowledge of dance than I could acquire.
  8. Let me make it quite clear that I meant absolutely no slight to Miss Naghdi in my comments! All I was doing was stating that in Miss Hayward's absence, other dancers will have more opportunities, including Miss Naghdi and Miss O'Sullivan (not in any way putting the latter at the same level as the former). I certainly did not mean to imply that Yasmine needs Francesca's absence to shine!!! That would clearly be nonsense. It's obvious from the tremendous appreciation that Yasmine's dancing receives from so many on this forum, and from many others, such as reviewers, that she is a dancer of quite exceptional quality. I am looking forward very much to the live transmission of the RB Romeo and Juliet next June, which will be the first time I will have the opportunity to see her in a really major role, alongside the much praised Matthew Ball.
  9. That's an approach which certainly makes the Sugar Plum Fairy/Prince prominence more understandable. Next time I watch this ballet, I'll try to see it with your interpretation in mind. Whatever the case, I agree that the Grand Pas de Deux is breathtaking, and that all the qualities you mention are expressed in it. Sir Peter Wright certainly tidied up the original ballet. However I still think The Nutcracker is basically a bit of a "mess" in a dramatic sense. One of the touring "Russian" companies, the "Moscow City Ballet", has a version of The Nutcracker, which does away with the SPF, in effect combining the role with that of Clara. I thought it was, dramatically speaking, an improvement. However it's probably far too radical a change to be generally accepted - and the SPF is far too beloved and iconic a character to be so dismissed.
  10. Unlike with La Bayadère, my local Curzon, while quite full, wasn’t sold out. However the ROH live performances are also available at a larger cinema less than 100 yds away, so perhaps that’s where most of the viewers went. There weren’t many children in the Curzon audience, which suggests that my surmise might be correct.Thanks are due to Richard LH, who provided the link in his OP to the full cast list. As usual, the programme we got was very skimpy – only 5 cast members given. I’m at last beginning to be able to recognise some of the “lesser” names of the RB by sight, but a proper cast list is still very much appreciated, as most are still not known to me. Random comments: It was seeing Francesca Hayward in the role of Clara (again in a live transmitted cinema viewing) which convinced me that all the rave reviews about her at the RB were totally justified. As Anna Rose O’Sullivan has been receiving similarly enthusiastic comments in this forum, I wondered if I would have a similar experience.The answer is, quite frankly, no. As a ballet ignoramus, I can only claim to be able to (I hope) tell the difference between bad dancing and good dancing. At the top end, as represented by the elite dancers of the leading ballet companies, I cannot claim to be able to tell the difference between the exceptional and the merely excellent. Thus I am not able to judge, who of Francesca Hayward, Yasmine Naghdi, Anna Rose O’Sullivan etc.etc., is the best dancer. All I can do is to record my personal emotional reaction to a performance. In the case of Francesca as Clara, she lit up the stage whenever Clara was the centre of the action, and often even when she was just a bystander. This was not the case with Anna Rose, excellent dancer as she clearly is. To me at least, she doesn’t as yet have that indefinable extra something, as the captivating Francesca certainly has. “Charisma” (or – ugh! – the “X factor”) is a debatable concept, and much depends on personal response. But if it means anything objective, then Francesca Hayward has it in buckets, while Anna Rose, as yet, only has it in teacups. I’m not sure it’s something which can be learnt. Charisma may not always be an advantage. It may lead to the person being diverted away from the artistic environment to which they are best suited, into the more "popular" and superficial (“Cats”?). I very much hope this will not happen with Miss Hayward. In the meantime Misses Naghdi, O’Sullivan, etc. will have more opportunities to shine. As for Marianela Núñez and Vadim Muntagirov, of course they were excellent. And yet, I didn’t find their performances as compelling as previous performances in other ballets. I realise that this is because of the rather unsatisfactory nature of The Nutcracker as an example of “narrative ballet”, in that the two leading parts in terms of the choreography, are given to characters who are peripheral to any dramatic thrust the “story” might have. When I have seen Núñez and Muntagirov previously (Manon, Two Pigeons, La Bayadère etc.) it has generally been in ballets where they have to dance and act out situations of great emotional depth, which of course they do wonderfully. Here in The Nutcracker, they were required merely (!) to dance excellently, while their facial expressions were frozen into rather vapid grins (please forgive me for these heretical thoughts). Melissa Hamilton (Arabian Dance). Vanartus wrote “Just a quick addition - loved Melissa Hamilton at her silky slinky best!”. Springbourne3 wrote “I think Hamilton dances this role the best out of all the other Arabian dancers I’ve seen - the role is so suited to her physical qualities.” Absolutely! It has been mentioned a number of times in this forum that Miss Hamilton is not suited to more strictly “classical” roles. But in this particular sort of role she is superb. Dare I write that she has the “sex appeal” necessary to carry this sort of thing off? The Corps were as usual almost flawless – not a weak link among them. They are all such good actors as well as dancers. And that goes too for the delightful youngsters from the Royal Ballet School. You obviously need to be a good actor as well as a brilliant dancer to get there. Let's hope we see some of them progress to the RB. And I could go on and on and on, about the glorious music, so well played by the ROH orchestra. It includes what is to me one of the high points of late 19th century Romantic music – the andante maestoso from the Grand Pas-de-Deux, heavenly in its perfection. Tchaikovsky one of the greatest composers in being able to write music which directly affects the heart strings, and the tear ducts. On my way home after a great evening, I passed the other cinema as people were still coming out. Among them two teenage girls, singing the theme of the "Waltz of The Flowers".
  11. Oh dear, at first sight, it seems to be a rather "PC"ified version. Still, the Shades look reasonable. And it's no more "adapted" than the AB's rather peculiar Swan Lake.
  12. There are a few more clips of QB's LB here: https://www.queenslandballet.com.au/backstage
  13. Can't claim too much credit. QB is one of the (far too?) many channels I subscribe to on Youtube!
  14. This has only just appeared on youtube. Maybe the Queensland Ballet website will be more informative.
  15. Well I, for one, haven't dismissed these responses as ipso facto defensive or insulting. I can quite understand if a favourite work of art is attacked on what seems to many (in this case including myself) as specious and invalid reasons. But equally any posts opposing those views should not be dismissed as examples of "The PC Brigade". I was hoping there would be an end to all this nonsense - on both sides, and we could get back to discussing ballet. I wasn't optimistic - and I was right not to be.
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