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northstar

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  1. Indeed I am jealous Janet about missing Celine's debut. I would have loved to have seen that but what with life getting in the way of ballet it was a rush last minute job even arranging to see the Friday Eve show. It's so interesting seeing the 'changing of the guard' in the BRB top dancers especially the female one with the recent departure of Elisha Willis Jenna Roberts and Nao Sakuma, and seeing their photos in this role in the programme and website a tinge of regret that I didn't see them dance Giselle, especially Willis who I saw dance everything else.
  2. Thanks to all for the posts on the start of BRB's run of performances of their Giselle. I also saw Delia Mathews/Tyrone Singleton on Friday eve. I thought the leads and the whole cast was absolutely splendid, a completely convincing masterpiece of the Ballet repertoire. More than any individual performance I was simply enchanted by this strange, powerful supernatural fantasy. As Samara Downs said in the pre-performance talk - 'It's full on!'. It certainly was. I've seen Giselle live only a couple of times, which is probably a advantage in some ways (I've seen the ENB Skeaping version with Alina Cojocaru leading, and the RB live cinema relay with Nunez and Muntagirov last year I think). The production and staging of this BRB production is fabulous in my opinion. The village in Act I is feels quite intimate and natural (only minor flaw - I wasn't sure about the waterfall), while the gothic ruins and moonlight of Act II I just loved. Above all I remember the moments of high drama and intense mood to which all of the company contributed so wonderfully. And the dramatic 'space' in the story, the moments of stillness, shock, or those passages that built tension and mystery. The mad scene with Mathews at the centre really did feel like a horrific (and heartbreaking) turn of events, with the villagers joining the audience in one large circle of aghast onlookers around her. Then from the warm colourful countryside, the contrast to the dark cold opening of Act I with Alys Shee spinning a supernatural mood in her extended solo, utterly transporting and chilling. In the moments of stillness in these scenes I felt the whole theatre was spellbound. Mathews has beyond doubt all the qualities one could wish for in a principal dancer and it is a delight to follow her as she progresses in her career (I saw her Aurora debut last year). She has all the technique and the tricks no question. But her characterisation I found also moving and convincing, particularly the growth in confidence she portrayed through her steps as she danced with Albrecht, and in her unravelling was nearly as tear-jerking as the most moving performance I saw (Nunez and Muntagirov). Then in Act II the sadness and sense of separation was even finer I would say, with her opening solo particularly impressive. I find it harder to say much of Singleton besides repeating what Trog said about his undoubted abilities, but the connection he and Mathews created was very fine. And his series of silent entrechats, with the the Willis boureeing behind him were marvellous. But more than the individual qualities of Mathews or Singleton or any other dancer, the sense of such a uniformly high quality through the whole company was so impressive and lead to that continuing theatrical spell working it's magic throughout the entire evening. Many stood to applaud at the curtain calls. Such a shame that this production is not including Salford (or any other location in the north) in its tour this year, as I would surely go and see at least one more performance if it were. I doubt I am able to travel to see any of the remaining performances, but I'd highly recommend anyone else to see this exquisite BRB Giselle.
  3. I went to the Sat matinee Hobson's Choice in Birmingham with Samara Downs as Maggie and Lachlan Monaghan as Will. It was my first Hobson's Choice, and I could not fail to admire the quality and substance of this ballet and how it was delivered by the company. I have not followed Bintley's works until recent years where I have started to rack up visits to his ballets; Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, King Dances. The classical style, the balance of narrative elements, the distinctiveness of characterisation, the wonderful sets and costumes, the splendid score, all made for a ballet that i would think should satisfy the most critical of audiences. In particular I have grown to especially admire Bintley's ensembles and his pas de deux as works of a real master and Hobson's choice again confirmed this to me. While it is not a ballet that one would expect to find much grand spectacle, I must mention the Salvation Army pas d'action was a spectacular creation and was probably my highlight of the ballet - Momoko Hirata's wonderful turning skills, with the billowing tails of her uniform a clear image still in my mind. I have taken time and persistance to appreciate narrative neo-classical ballet, which I suppose I would categorise Hobson's Choice as. And I must admit that my emotions and sensations were not as highly engaged as they have been in other ballets. But objectively I can see it contains the ingredients of a ballet I could love, given the opportunity to see it again which I hope is the case. Not so long ago, I thought I could never take to any ballet outside the supernatural fantasies of the Petipa canon, but Manon, Fille, Taming of the Shrew have proved me wrong and on those grounds I'd see Hobson again (can't do London next week unfortunately). Really nice to bump into Janet and George C in Birmingham, hope you enjoyed the final performance Sat evening - by the wonder of the internet I've already seen a clip of Sir Peter Wright appearing on stage for Bintley's final curtain in Birmingham, do let us know the details. And would love to hear more reviews on the forum by anyone else who has been to this ballet.
  4. Thanks for starting this thread Janet. I'm going to see the Sat matinee, I think the cast leads are the same as the opening night. If anyone else who is attending wishes to say hello at an interval send me a message.
  5. Cheers Janet, I didn't do much wandering around on Thu as I was feeling a bit under the weather, and on Sat I was with friends and a small child that kept me occupied! Will no doubt bump into you again shortly. Alas, not at the BRB Lowry Autumn visit... Sob ... Maybe the next time will be Birmingham, I'm looking at the calendar now...
  6. Thank you all for your thoughts on BRB's Beauty and the Beast so far on this tour. I also saw a couple of performances at the Lowry, Salford; Thurs eve with Karla Doorbar and Mathias Dingman leading, and Sat Matinee with Maureya Lebowitz and Yasuo Atsuji leading. As Janet has mentioned this production sold very well, in fact it feels to me it's probably the largest audiences I've ever seen for BRB at the Lowry. Normally I am used to having quite a large choice of seats even when booking a week or days in advance. This time, only rear upper circle was available. But I'm not complaining, it's fantastic to see it so well attended. So much to admire in this ballet, and two performances not enough to appreciate all the wonderful scenes. It captured the dark gothic charm of an age-old children's tale, with a wonderful sense of the grotesque in the humourous scenes. I felt there were strong echoes of the styling and mood of Bintley's Cinderella. I had worried about the inescapable 'Disney' association - but, as the clips and promotion material indicate, it couldn't be further away in tone. The parts which stand out to me most are the enchanting castle scenes, the crow flight (to a Philip Glass-esuqe theme), the pure classical lines of Belle , the golden sunlit final pas de deux. I suppose I'd call it firmly 'neo-classical' , with narrative and lyricism at the forefront, rather than virtuosic technical showpieces, although the Beast and the Raven do demonstrate some spectacular dancing within ensemble or partnering scenes (some incredible fast sequences of turns and leaps as I remember). Thus, I feel it's true to say it's not a ballet that 'brings the house down', and on both of the performances I saw, a feature was the absence of the usual rounds of applause that I would expect after the big 'numbers' of a classical ballet, or even neoclassical ballets like Romeo and Juliet. And the hypnotic score, while lending much to the dreamlike, mystical atmosphere, I felt created to a rather muted, quiet atmosphere in the theatre, rather than electricity. I feel my seat up at the top of the theatre was slightly disadvantageous for the sometimes dark lighting and dark costumes of the Beast, and the crows, and made it difficult to fully appreciate some of the ensemble pieces. On the other hand, this created a wonderfully effective contrast with the shining white presence of Belle. While I'd recommend this ballet to anyone, I'd probably not travel to see it again but if it toured again near my home I would certainly go again, and book well in advance for a seat nearer the stage. Finally just mention another highlight was seeing Karla Doorbar in a lead role and admiring her poise and technique which make eager to see more of her, she looks to me to have all the elements of a top rank dancer - very convincing. And so glad for another opportunity to see the luminous Lebowitz who I've admired for many years, it's been a privilege to watch this stunning dancer in a variety of roles. I see the poster was up in the Lowry for BRB Swan Lake in March 2020, confirming that there will be no Autumn visit. This is awfully disappointing to me, I've attended Autumn and Spring for several years now. Fortunately Birmingham is close enough that I can potentially travel there too as a substitute.
  7. Thank you Odyssey for your lovely and thorough review of this evening, Bintley's final event of this kind. I was also there and really enjoyed it. Odyssey's review is so good there is little to add to it. I found it very interesting to hear Bintley's thoughts on the years gone by and the different productions he was involved in. How he didn't initially want to do Cinderella and found BBC filming of it added extra stress, and that it nearly fell through financially but for a legacy which rescued it. That he refused Sir Peter Wright's request that he produce a new Coppelia, in favour of Sylvia. How he met his dancer wife in a rehearsal room while listening to the music of Carmina Burana. I agree about the special set of highlights in the second half. Apart from the stunning showstopper of the Sylvia pdd, I really loved the Tsfasmania premiere, it was so sharp and lively and exquisite. Take Five was a bit of a revelation to me, I found it completely convincing. Being rather curmudgeonly - I am not sure of the staging in this event with the small stage space for dancing, I think it does cramp the dancers' style a bit. And generally I am not a great fan of ballet 'galas'. But as an overview of Bintley's work, and a farewell to him. the evening was such a unique opportunity that I admit these quibbles are probably churlish. Despite the rather unusual staging for ballet, the discoveries and moments in the evening are so high quality and revelatory that it's a really great event to attend. I thought this last year too (the only other time I've been), and if there were future events like this I would probably attend again. Really nice to meet you George C at the interval and hear your thoughts about the future of the company. Like many others here on the forum, we value BRB so much that it's hard not to be worried about future changes in direction. And inevitably very sad about saying goodbye to Bintley. But we must wait and see. Edited to mention that I've just found out the final ovation and Marion Tait's tribute was recorded and can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/317672039
  8. Went to this event last year and thought it was superb. Just booked my ticket and will be heading to Birmingham tomorrow afternoon. I have messaged those who've posted above, on the chance that anyone would like to say hello, and the same goes for anyone else reading who will be there. Should be a great evening.
  9. I wish I was attending Sabine0308. My first taste of Staatsballet, in December, where we missed each other, was so impressive I would love to see more of their performances. Unfortunately I am only a infrequent visitor to Berlin. There may very well be other ballet forum members attending though.
  10. Thanks JohnS yes of course - I just didn't mention it because I was taking for granted everyone on the forum knew about it. I keep meaning to re-watch it before it vanishes from iPlayer. I wonder when the last time a full length Swan Lake (not Bourne!) was broadcast on BBC?
  11. The acid humour on this thread is like a guilty pleasure! Sorry to be dull but to balance the argument - when the male ballet dancer didn't 'get through' all the judges including Cheryl expressed their strong disagreement with the audience. However, I do agree there was something quite cheap/superficial/crass about the programme (worse than other recent TV talent shows) Also when reading this thread I'll have to be dull again and argue the other side that, like JohnS says above, there are good programmes being made. I thought Tamara Rojo docs (Good Swan, Bad Swan and Giselle: Belle of the Ballet) weren't bad, and Darcey Bussell 'Ballet Heroes' was OK too (gave at least a bit of insight into the Bournonville style for example). There was a doc on Sir Peter Wright at 90 in 2016. Wasn't too keen on the Francesca Hayward's Sugar Plum Fairy documentary (Dancing the Nutcracker). I do admit the documentaries can be a bit 'formulaic' and dumbed-down - with the wearingly modern dull BBC production values applied - superficial visuals, sensationalist or sentimental tone, and 'travelogue' style (I thought Rojo and Bussell and Hayward did rise a bit above that though.) Naively I still thought there was a full length ballet on BBC every xmas but after digging around perhaps I am wrong, could only find BRB cinderella 2010 and RB Winter's Tale 2014. Apart from that, it is either Matthew Bourne or a ballet documentary. (But there was Scottish Ballet's Fairy's Kiss on BBC Arts - maybe it wasn't broadcast, internet only?) And that does lead to the other point, the inevitable effect of the internet. YouTube (and other) channels now provide much access to absolutely wonderful ballet video footage and documentaries, including the Royal Ballet's own channel - than the BBC probably ever did in it's entire history - correct me if I'm wrong! I would agree that the BBC should not simply then 'give up' on it's duty, but let's not give up hope just yet, there's still some good ballet programmes to be found on the BBC (I liked the Dancing to Happiness programme too).
  12. Just further to my post on the RSBS Swan Lake, (and while I remember) the main divertissement I'd not seen before (or seen so long ago I've forgotten I saw it) was the Russian Bride solo in the 'black act'. The last ~ 10 years Swan Lakes I have seen have been English National Ballets or Birmingham Royal Ballet and don't have this divertissement . Also while I remember must praise the RSB Orchestra, in the small Buxton Opera House you could hear the individual string and woodwind solos accompanying the dancers really clearly and beautifully.
  13. Thanks Jane S and those above on this discussion of Fille music! The relation between the Fille music from Herold, Hertel and Lanchberry can all be found on google, youtube, wikipedia, but much more fun to discuss it, and be educated, here on this forum!
  14. I also attended the Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia performance of Swan Lake at Buxton Opera House on today (Sat) matinee. Anna Fedosova was Odile/Odette and Daniil Kostylev was Siegfried. I really enjoyed it. Not much time to add much detail but it was a punchy, entertaining, well-danced Swan Lake with some beautiful moments. I have just seen the exquisite English National Ballet version and it must be said that when placed next to that, this production/performance seemed - to but it bluntly - unsubtle, gauche, melodramatic. But I love a bit of melodrama! And the sense of a company really 'delivering' a show without too much artistic angst. Sorry I realise that sounds like damning with faint praise, or make it sound like I'm describing a panto, but I had a great time at this Swan Lake and left Buxton smiling. To add more detail: some great dancing and new variations/divertissments/music I'd never seen/heard before. LOVED the Spanish dance with the continual exaggerated backbends. A stunning set of black swans in the final act. All the swans including Odette doing the entrechats at the climax of Act II. Fedosova's fantastic fast fouettes (all 32 if you're interested, I don't count but she finished when the music finished). Loads of treats, I'll maybe post more of what I remember and look forward to hearing what other people think of it.
  15. Thank you toursenlair and jmhopton for the info. Apologies I was posting rather lazily 'on the go' without adding too much detail The programme I bought does indeed indicate that Lanchbery, (conductor of the Royal Opera House) was commissioned by Ashton to supply music for his version of Fille. For this verision of Fille by Russian State Ballet of Siberia, the programme contains a whole page on Hertel, and says that he was colleague of Paul Taglioni who created a new version of Fille in 1864 in Berlin. And says 'Hertel must be credited with composing the only truly orignal score [for Fille]'. And the cast sheet says 'Music by Peter Ludwig Hertel'. Apologies for those of you who already know this by heart. Nonetheless, I am sure I heard on a couple of occasions, snippets of the undeveloped famous clog dance theme in this Hertel version I saw on Friday - maybe I was imagining things! If anyone else goes to see it (Rob S in Swindon?) let me know if I am! Although the music to me seeemed similar in mood (joyous, sunny, dance-y) to the Ashton/Herold/Lanchberry score I heard a couple of months ago, I found it still markedly different in many other ways.
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