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northstar

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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'.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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...
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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