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northstar

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  1. I also saw the POB on the website (https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/magazine/swan-lake-replay only available for rest of today I think!) with Léonore Baulac, Germain Louvet leading. Great to see some reactions/opinions to this. Of course it's absolutely exquisite, and the dancers are simply out of this world. I've recently seen Birmingham Royal Ballet's version live last month, and previous to that a punchy 'cheap and cheerful' Russian touring company in Jan (Russian State Ballet of Siberia). The POB version was the most conceptual and subtle of all of these I'd say. And actually my first reaction was that it was TOO conceptual and subtle. It might just have been my mood, but I was wanting a really dramatic stirring experience, instead of this languidly exquisite and elegant dreamy idea of Swan Lake. It was funny to read in the thread of someone's view of the costumes as 'drab'. I must admit the pastel lilac, blue, magenta I found such a contrast to the resplendent and strikingly difference costumes of BRB version for the national dances. However fine the design and tailoring of the POB production, it dampened the dramatic effect of those national dances. I must admit I fell asleep (!) and missed the final act (and haven't watched it yet) which I hear from a few sources is the best one. Perhaps, for me, this is a Swan Lake for another mood or time, to properly appreciate it's qualities.
  2. Thanks to Bruce for posting this,. I watched POB's Swan Lake yesterday, I was thinking of sharing some thoughts on it on the forum, but wasn't sure where to put them. I see there are some old threads from 2016 on POB Swan Lake, but I think the web replay is from 18/19 season. Or maybe starting a new thread, or looking for another appropriate existing thread, any thoughts from anyone, moderators especially, on this?. Thanks for all who are posting on the forum, and keeping discussion of life's important stuff - ballet! - at this time.
  3. Hope it's OK to post on this ~18th month-old thread because I've just seen the recording of this 2018 RB Mayerling on BBC iplayer with Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb leading, broadcast on BBC4 last week (March 2020). Just wanted to comment on how impressed I was by this beautiful, dark, troubling work of art and can't get it out of my head. I've never seen Mayerling before and am fairly new to MacMillian ballets, thanks mainly to English National Ballet's touring productions of Manon and Song of the Earth in the last ~4 years. The atmosphere and human intensity is extremely powerful. I had already appreciated this quality in the ENB live MacMillan performances I saw, but the level in this recorded Mayerling just seemed so much more intense and in some ways more disturbing than what I'd seen before. The creative genius in this ballet was quite evident. The capturing of the Belle Epoque in the designs and costumes, the morbid sense of corruption, constraint, desperation really strongly brought out in the choreography, music and the brilliant delivery and acting of the dancers. After my recent ballet-going to classics Giselle and Swan Lake, I particularly appreciated the marvel and power of the male dancing. Just a quick mention that I watched (thanks to balletforum which mentioned it) the 1970s South Bank Show on Mayerling on YouTube, which was just superb in explaining the detailed set of characters (particularly the females) and their importance, and also expressing the mood and genius of the ballet. Thanks balletforum!
  4. This is really great comment to read! I've never seen RB live, just cinema relays and YouTube/BBC TV recordings, but I've often felt when seeing BRB live (many many times) that it would be difficult to top them for quality.
  5. I was at Salford Quays on Saturday to see both matinee (Samara Downs and Yasuo Atsuji) and evening (Yijing Zhang and Brand and Brandon Lawrence). First thing to say the costumes and set design of this production are just amazing, and they get more impressive the more times I see it. The sheer splendour you can just gape at, never mind the dancing. It's more than just over-the-top opulence though, the design also has a darkness to it that gives a brooding tragic atmosphere and is a really perfect setting for the story. I had not seen either leads in these roles before. And not having seen Downs dance much before I wondered how she would deliver but I must say she was absolutely superb, she had the 'principal presence', and to my mind made a convincing individual interpretation. There was a sharpness to her wing beats in Act II which emphasised the wild, nervous nature of the swan. Both black and white pdd were sensational. In Act III she delivered a cracking solo and really went for it in the fouettes, and almost came a cropper but I loved her throwing caution to the wind, it made the atmosphere very exciting. I must admit I was dreadfully disappointed when I heard Delia Mathews would not be dancing Sat eve, it came as a shock to me. I was checking the BRB twitter because I knew she had recently been injured but I only found out about her replacement when I picked up a cast sheet in the evening. (Unless I am mistaken English National Ballet usually announce cast changes on their twitter, so naively I expected BRB to do the same). However, when I found out it was a debut by Zhang my disappointment was replaced by intrigue. And again, I was impressed by her stage presence, which was there immediately when she appeared, and the pdd (black and white) were really top quality. For the solo work I felt there was an element of playing it safe (perhaps understandable), but I must say her fouettes had a beautiful style to them. I am usually guilty of neglecting to pay attention to the male leads in Swan Lake. Both Atsuji and Lawrence are stunning dancers, Atsuji particularly aristocratic in bearing while Lawrence has such powerful presence, even when standing still! My favourite part from the Prince's dancing is the melancholy Act I solo and both dancers gave beautiful interpretations of it. I found myself quite emotional at the point of high drama particularly in Downs/Atsuji performance; this doesn't always happen to me, so something special was going on I'd say. These performances of Swan Lake gave all I could ask for, and yet again I find myself grateful to be able to see such high quality work from a touring company. I'll keep going to see them in Salford, Birmingham, Sunderland, Bristol whenever I get the chance and can fit it around my day job. I'll even go to Plymouth! I kind of wish I'd gone to see Celine Gittens/Tyrone Singleton on Friday eve too. Lovely to see you again Janet and hope you got back home OK after the usual night motorway closures.
  6. I'm afraid I'm one of those ! Over 4 hours of tiring, unpleasant driving conditions, and I must admit I was disappointed in the cancelled segments. And although it wasn't announced, the Far from the Madding Crowd sword pas de deux, which was in the published programme, also didn't happen. No Delia ! - sob. However,reflecting overall, there were several reasons I don't regret making the trip. Seeing Samara Downs for the first time (first for me anyway) in a major PDD of the canon was extremely interesting. I got to see the fabulous Maureya Lebowitz, one of my personal favourites, in a piece I'd not seen before - the Two Pigeons PDD, and I really appreciated the theatrical magic and power of this piece. Finally I enjoyed and was impressed by the CInderella PDD (Odyssey, wasn't it Miki Mizutani as Cinderella, not Momoko HIrata? I remember the compere saying she'd stepped in as a late replacement) and I have to say it was Mitzutani who impressed me most with her dancing this evening, and the midnight waltz played by the Sinfonia my favourite music of the evening. It was a real shame that the grand finale of the Don Q PDD didn't happen, but luckily I saw that danced at the equivalent evening in 2018. The Butterworth Theatre at Warwick Uni seemed a strange choice of venue for the 'repeat' of this event (although one could say Birmingham Symphony Hall has similar issues with staging the dancing parts of the evening), and I wonder if anyone on the forum knows why it was chosen? The free parking was a pro, but I was in a seat 'side on' to the dancing 'area' which while very close perhaps wasn't the best to appreciate the dancing. The close proximity was so unforgiving, you could see every little wobble or misalignment, and the same time as not being best placed to see the most beautiful effect of the lines/shapes of the choreography. I'm afraid I found the Gershwin, Rogers and Hammerstein and Merry Widow rather too 'easy listening' for my tastes. I tried to love the Kit Holder piece but ended up only admiring it. I do rather agree with Odyssey's comments about the compere and would love Acosta to have said a few words but I remember Bintley saying how nervous he was when hosting these evenings. Maybe Jonathan Payn might have been a choice ? - he's been great at the pre-performance talks I've been to. Despite the issues with this event today, I can never regret an evening watching and listening to the BRB dancers and sinfonia - I love them.
  7. I agree with Janet, I've had some great memories of ENB @ Liverpool and very disappointing they're not coming at all in the 20/21 season. Yes they're coming to Manchester but in the last few years they have visited BOTH Liverpool and Manchester in the same season (and further in the past there were multiple visits to both cities per year, I think). I would have attended their Nutcracker at Liverpool last November but left it late and there were very few tickets left, so that makes me even more surprised they're not returning. A complete Raymonda directed by Rojo sounds so intriguing and exciting and the fact it is premiered in Manchester is a slight consolation. But with Birmingham Royal Ballet also seeming to cut back it's visits to Manchester, it's a bit of a worrying time for me and other NW ballet fans.
  8. Haven't found this posted elsewhere on the forum, so thought I would post it. An interview with Alina Cojocaru by Savannah Saunders for thewonderfulworldofdance.com https://www.thewonderfulworldofdance.com/alina-cojocaru-principal-ballerina-creating-new-show-love-dance-unexpected-words-wisdom talking about her forthcoming Sadler's Wells show, and much more besides. It's great stuff, I can't remember ever seeing/hearing such a long interview with AC before. Her thoughts on personal development I found particularly striking and powerful - she could become a motivational speaker if she wanted! I found it from AC's own twitter feed.
  9. Risking going off-topic .... here's a performance example of the Odile variation accompanied by oboe and harp (Russian, of course). I love it, it's menacing and punchy, more in tune with my idea of the Black Swan character.
  10. Thanks so much for the photos @Don Q Fan and the write up. I was there too! I completely forgot to message the forum to see if anyone else was attending, which I normally do. I've seen the company perform this ballet once before, in Buxton last year. I think your review is spot on (the artificially shrunk stage, Belonogova nailing the fouettes, the ridiculous cartoon swans on the CGI backdrop) . And your photos are fabulous! It was a treat to see an 'alternative' Black Swan solo (oboe and harp), which I see mainly in Russian ballet YouTube videos. I infinitely prefer it to the Drigo-Tchaikovsky variation which British companies perform. It was also great to see the Russian Princess variation in the 'black' act - I'd never seen it before I saw this company's Swan Lake. In honesty, compared to British companies, the production can seem a bit garish, patchy in dancing quality, a bit thin in the orchestra, and as subtle as a sledgehammer dramatically. But you look at their schedule of performances and blimey it looks tough, so they do well to deliver their work to this standard. They deserve much praise, not my churlish comparisons.
  11. Thanks all for the info and insight into the Macfarlane's design/colour choices. My own programmes from the 2014 and 2017 contain similar quotes about the general concepts behind the choice of colours 'Black white and red, wonderful hot red rooms'. I very much trust Janet's info that the black splotches were always there (Actually when I check my 2014 programme there is a photo of Yijing Zhang as Mrs Stahlbaum in her red dress, where the black splotches aren't very clear, but a much clearer version of that photo exists on the BRB website where the black splotches are unmistakable). As to symbolism - perhaps the black is actually representing scorching - the heat of those 'hot red rooms'.
  12. Thanks all for contributions and thoughts on this year's BRB Nutcracker. The production is very close to my heart, although I will not see it this year. I am particularly grateful for Dawnstar's thoughts, very interesting to hear the perspective from someone who has not seen the production for many years. I was also particularly struck by the comment about the black splotches on the red elements of the set and the costumes. I saw the BRB Nutcracker in 2014 and again in 2017 and in the latter I also noticed these black splotches and I thought - were they always there ? I've looked through phothographs in my programmes and the images are too dark and shadowy to be really conclusive. If anyone knows more details about this I'd be very interested to hear about it, as well as any other thoughts an impressions on this year's run of performances.
  13. I went to see a couple more performances in Plymouth after seeing one performance in Birmingham, which was just not enough ! I must admit I was tantalised by the descriptions of GIttens/Lawrence Birmingham performances. Thank you again those who contribute to this forum. So I saw Gittens and Lawrence on the Thursday Matinee, and also Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman in Thursday evening. Once more, I was enraptured by the power of this ballet and the power of the production, the individual performances, the fabulous score, and the quality of the whole company. I am extremely intrigued by Gittens as I see more and more of her performances, since seeing her first years ago as the Rose Fairy in Nutcracker and thinking who is that amazing dancer?. I have tended to think of her as supremely classical and elegant, and it was therefore a marvel how well she was suited to the romantic role of Giselle. Both her and Lawrence fully inhabited the roles and I found the climactic disaster of the Act I finale more powerful than any of the performances I saw. How complementary was the pair of Mizutani and DIngman was in the evening, and how tiny little difference in their expressions, and in their steps and attitudes made it a new and fresh experience. More than anything I just marvelled at this masterpiece of ballet, and what fine production it is. I'm getting more anorak-y about ballet the more I see and I really appreciated the short 'flute' solo that Giselle performs in her first meeting with Albrecht, (just after the 'basket' dance) it seemed that is not in the present Royal Ballet version, of most of the YouTube performance that are available. With seeing more and more ballets it is little differences like this that become more meaningful and one treasures more and more. Nice to see Janet and Sharon at the intervals also making the Giselle odyssey down to Plymouth from up here in the NW. It was well worth it, especially since it may be years since BRB do Giselle again (last time was 2013 the programme says). and my first trip to Plymouth (in fact probably the furthest south in UK I've ever been). Hope you got back OK - my trains were fine, except the cattle crush transport of the Virgin Trains final leg - but that's a subject for the room 101 thread!
  14. I went to ENB performing Chrisopher Wheeldon's Cinderella in Manchester today (Saturday Matinee). Erina Takahashi and Joseph Caley were the leads. I have never been to a Wheeldon ballet before, and not watched the Royal Ballet televised productions of recent years. I must admit to a certain about of ignorant snobbery and prejudice towards this choreographer. Being a lover of the great classical ballet canon, I had a bias that it might be, (especially judging from the Cinderella promotional images) rather too 'Matthew Bourne-ish' (again, I admit to being quite ignorant of Bourne too). The excellent reviews on this forum of this Cinderella (in the round, in the Albert Hall) encouraged me that it was worthwhile to go and see. Thank you Ballet Forum! I found it was a splendid cinematic dance theatre with more than enough of the classical style to satisfy me. For sheer visual effect, it is impressive and sophisticated. The colours of the staging and costume are extremely rich and splendid, lustrous. I did wonder in some scenes if they crossed the line into garishness but they just stayed on the right side, I think. The varied effects are very striking, wonderful (I particularly liked the row of chairs levitating in Act III). The choreography I found very interesting and often extremely pleasing. I loved the use of the male quartet of 'Fates' throughout. As with the other Cinderella I've seen (BRB Bintley) the Seasons dances are a highlight, and Precious Adam's leading Winter was probably my favourite. Perhaps some of the step sequences were a little 'busy', particularly in the (infrequent) solos, and I must admit I didn't find the grand pdd's conveyed the overwhelming emotion I thought they should have. The national dance section was again a little busy but I love this music and regret that it doesn't feature in the BRB version. But overall the dance was continually creative, impressive, surprising and consistently high standard. And I will admit that at the climax of Act II ballroom scene had me won over - the way the corps formations drew the scene onto it's finale, and portrayed the ticking clock with their arms - I thought this was fabulous. The leads Takahashi and Caley were of course excellent and flawless, but I'm not sure their individual (or pdd) choreography was a sufficient vehicle for either of them to really enrapture or astound the audience. It looks like this production has sold extremely well, far better than ballet usually does in Manchester.
  15. 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.
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