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    Stuttgart/ Germany
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    MacMillan, Scarlett, Cranko, Bejart, Goecke, Scholz, McGregor, Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Bejart Ballet, Ballet Nice Mediterranee, Gauthier Dance, Paris Opera Ballet

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  1. I was there last Saturday, too. I’d then been hoping against hope that there’d be a suitable return ticket for tonight and so been holding off my thoughts on last Saturday ... no such luck though ... Those highly complex and challenging PDD for Rudolph and his various partners looked unbelievably fluid. I found Elisa Badenes in the role of Mary Vetsera incredibly convincing in her falling for Rudolph, being eager and ready to go with him all the way, and I was very impressed with Diana Ionescu in the role of Princess Stephanie, both assured and fearless in her dancing in the PDD at the end of Act 1 and equipped with great acting skills. I’d been watching the DVD with the Watson/ Galeazzi cast a couple of times in recent weeks to get back into the story, and so I noticed the odd minor difference in staging and/ or interpretation. E.g., on the DVD, the curtain comes down at the end of Act 1 just after Rudolph rips his shirt open and gets onto the bed – last Saturday saw events on the bed going on for a bit longer before curtain down. When Rudolph accidentally shoots someone during the hunt in Act 3, Watson’s Rudolph takes his hat off and stares into the void before he leaves the stage whereas Vogel’s Rudolph takes his hat off, briefly looks at the deceased person and just walks off. Equally, when Rudolph and Mary head behind the screen, Edward Watson and Mara Galeazzi walk there together whereas Vogel’s Rudolph leads Mary, holding her hand, she following him. Finally, Mary on the DVD lies neatly on the bed, her arms holding flowers. Mary last Saturday was spread out as if this was the position in which she'd been shot. These subtle differences in combination with what I’ve taken as emotional distance of Vogel’s Rudolph at the start of Act 1 depict a different Rudolph compared to Edward Watson’s interpretation in my view – being in less emotional turmoil at the start, instead more aloof, cold, controlled elegance (I need to admit that, while I saw the Watson/ Galeazzi cast a total of four times in 2009 & 2013, I didn't attend any performances of the other casts back then so there may well have been similar minor differences). I found the difference in interpretation very interesting and hope I’ll be able to see the other two casts as to how they portray Rudolph. Thunderous applause for Friedemann Vogel, I missed the standing ovation from where I was sitting in the balcony as I was so much focussed on those on stage, admiring the costumes at the curtain calls. A fabulous performance at any time of the season but even more so as the company had only just been back from their summer break for two and a half weeks. It took me a while to cool down emotionally after the performance, and I spent a good part of last Sunday thinking about what I’d seen the night before. I won’t be around for the upcoming performances of cast 2 and 3, and I am hoping I’ll be lucky to get tickets for further performances in spring next year. The programme booklet lists Edward Watson as coach and Karl Burnett and Grant Coyle as choreologists. I’d drawn a family/ friends tree of those in the ballet as preparation for last Saturday and thus found a section with biographies of the key personalities in Mayerling very useful. The booklet also includes an article about Rudolph’s political beliefs which I found instrumental in understanding events involving the Hungarian officers and Prime Minister Taaffe better than previously. There are also a number of historic pictures of those involved plus lots of stage pictures and costume drawings. There is a trailer now on the production site, in addition to the various rehearsal and stage pictures https://www.stuttgart-ballet.de/schedule/calendar/mayerling/1043/ And yes, I am also hoping for a DVD of this production.
  2. Duck

    Vale Mum

    Incredibly sorry to hear the news. Sincere condolences. Thinking of you in these difficult times.
  3. As someone who also writes about performances outside the UK, I can only echo this view. While discussions about these performances tend to be limited as - in all likelihood - not that many other forum members will have seen the same performance or run, I definitely sense that the interest in what is happening elsewhere is there.
  4. As I moved between countries a few times, the below list is hugely influenced by company’s repertoires at the time e.g., works that were last shown at the Royal Opera House before 2006, I will in all likelihood not have seen; the same principle applies to other locations. I am thus coming from a perspective of “works that are something special” rather than works that have already been lost/ are running the risk of being lost. I am avoiding a discussion as to which choreographers are more important than others and am thus keeping all nominations to a maximum of 5 works per choreographer. MacMillan – Romeo & Juliet, Mayerling, Concerto, Song of the Earth, Requiem, Gloria Cranko – Romeo & Juliet, Onegin, Initials R.M.B.E., Brouillards, Concerto for Flute & Harp Robbins – Dances at a Gathering, The Concert, Glass Pieces, En Sol Ashton – Rhapsody, Monotones I/II Balanchine – Jewels, Symphony in C, The Four Temperaments Tetley – Sacre du Printemps, Voluntaries Bintley – Carmina Burana, Still Life at the Penguin Café Forsythe – In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Herman Schmerman Duet Bausch – Sacre du Printemps Jooss – The Green Table Scholz – Air!, The Creation Petit – L’Arlesienne Bejart – Bolero, Songs of a Wayfarer, 9th Symphony, Le Presbytere, Seven Greek Dances Lander – Etudes Kylian – Falling Angels, Sinfonietta van Manen – Kammerballett Childs – Four Elements Bruce – Rooster Neumeier - Nijinsky As for those works that should be revived on a regular basis … many more.
  5. Profoundly sad news. Sincere condolences to family, friends, moderators & others who mourn him.
  6. Thanks, Sim, I think your post sums it up perfectly! All in all, the season was superb; my hope for upcoming seasons would be to spread out the "highs" right across the season rather than basically covering it all in the space of 6-8 weeks ...
  7. A late addition to this thread as the season here has only just ended. It was very much a season in two halves, with Sep 2018 through to March 2019 encompassing all the lows & “so-sos” as well as works that were fine, except for two works that I’ve put into the list of highs. So the list of highs in chronological order Stuttgart Ballet, Triple bill “Shades of White” – Cranko/ Concerto for Flute & Harp, Balanchine/ Symphony in C … musicality, serenity, joy & exuberance Keersmaker – a video screening of an extract from Fase … this was a completely unexpected bonus as I went to a Long Night of Minimal Music, didn’t expect any dance to be on the programme, and much to my surprise & delight, it did include this video Stuttgart Ballet – Triple bill “Break-through”: Clug/ Patterns in ¾ … creative, funny, great music Stuttgart Ballet – Triple bill “Breath-taking”: Galili/ Hikarizatto, Inger/ Out of Breath, Khan/ Kaash … energetic, thought-provoking, inducing a trance-like status, and moreover a triple bill that I really enjoyed from start to finish Stuttgart Ballet – Young Choreographer’s Evening: Roach/ Demon Days … hilariously funny & completely over the top The Royal Ballet – a cinema sceening of Pite’s Flight Pattern … utterly moving & compelling Colours International Dance Festival in Stuttgart with so much to offer, in particular Maguy Marin – May B … unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before & profoundly moving Ballet BC – Sharon Eyal/ Bedroom Folk … energetic & hypnotising Akram Khan – Outwitting the Devil – thought provoking, a fantastic cast with a standout performance by Dominique Petit. Furthermore, having the world premiere of a work by Akram Khan in Stuttgart, I mean ... John Cranko School – Annual Performances: Scholz/ Air!, Scholz/ Extracts from The Creation … musicality, liveliness, poetry, emotions. The performance of all students on stage, but in particular seeing Gabriel Figueredo perform live … unbelievable Stuttgart Ballet – ballet talks with Juergen Rose in relation to MacMillan’s Mayerling, and in particular seeing a number of costumes, hats and helmets in close up … Rose’s attention to detail is simply awe inspiring
  8. Magnificent second ballet talk with Juergen Rose about MacMillan’s Mayerling this morning. While the first talk back in May covered a number of topics e.g., MacMillan’s choreographic style, the music and the set & costume design, this second event dealt specifically with the costumes for Mayerling. From the 198 costumes for the ballet in total, around 20/25 costumes, 10 hats for the female characters and 10 hats/ helmets for the male characters as well as a number of costume drawings were on display. Rose referred to some of the items to detail aspects of sourcing the fabric, the millinery, the medals, the ornaments as well as the production of the costumes and medals. A few medals and items of cloth were passed round the audience so they could touch and feel them for themselves, and the audience was also able to see and study the costumes, hats and helmets on display up close at the end of the event. Rose’s initial thought had been to go with just black and white for all costumes but then decided to add other shades so as to help the audience distinguish between the various characters. Based on everything that I’ve seen so far, the colour scheme still remains predominantly black / white/ shades of grey/ shades of red though, plus shades of green for the hunting party. Almost all of the 198 costumes are different, even if they are seen on stage for only a short period of time, such as those for the ballroom scene at the start of Act 1. The costumes shown included ballroom dresses from the beginning of Act 1, the white jacket for Rudolph and the formal white dress for Stephanie in Act 1, the dress for Elisabeth in the PDD with Rudolph in Act 1, the hunting party in Act 3, the red coat and black nightdress underneath for Mary in Act 3, a dress for Sophie, etc. The amount of work that Rose and the costume department at the State Theatre in Stuttgart have put into research, sourcing and production is immense, and the level of detail achieved is awe inspiring. Glittering little stones and borders applied on fabric; pleated fabric that create beautiful effects of light and shadow; costumes with a variety of lace, frills, ornamental trimmings, etc. Medals printed with a 3-D device so they look like the real thing but are light enough for dancing. Medals with specific details, depending on whether they are worn by a character from Austria or from Hungary, etc. etc. etc. When I first read a number of months ago that there’d be new costumes for the performances of Mayerling by Stuttgart Ballet, I asked myself why this was necessary, why they wouldn’t just go with the original designs. The outcome, however, is hugely impressive. The event was filmed, and I hope that it or parts thereof will be made available at some stage. Ideally though, I’d love to see a DVD or book with the costumes as they are just so stunning. This ballet talk was also the final event of the current season for me. A wonderful add-on followed immediately afterwards, meeting jmb again following our initial meeting a little more than a week ago, and being able to discuss once more all things ballet as well as a number of other topics.
  9. Mid to end of July sees the annual performances by the John Cranko School. I saw the performance on 14 July from within the Opera House and on 21 July as part of Ballet in the Park. It was great to catch up with Yumiko again following yesterday’s performance – until next year, or earlier. Some of the works shown had also been presented last year, and were now being performed by a different cast. Air! by Uwe Scholz, George Balanchine’s Glinka Pas de Trois and Stephen Shropshire’s Lamento della Ninfa. Air! – I just love the jubilant and uplifting atmosphere and was very happy to see this piece again. Lots of arabesques, jetes and movements in canon; 2 serene PDD in the middle that included similar movements at different times without being in canon; a bouncy male quartet that was in perfect sync; interaction between male and female dancers that came with some gentle flirting; the full cast coming together again for the finale, displaying friendship and individuality within the group. A wonderful performance all around. Two pieces showcased the technical skills of the younger students, Viva Vivaldi by Stefania Sansavini/ Valentina Falcini and Extract from Najade and the Fisher by Jules Perrot. In particular with regards to Viva Vivaldi which was performed by classes 1 - 3 of the Lower School, it was heartening to see the intense focus of these youngest dancers and their visible joy when things went well (and it did). Full-scale contemporary with Todos os ais Sao Meus by Catarina Antunes Moreira, performed by graduating student Motomi Kiyota. He is equally and utterly at home in classical (Glinka PdT) as well as in contemporary works. I admire his virtuosity, his smile, his charismatic stage presence, it all looks so effortless. I will miss him dearly. Graduating students also for Extracts from The Creation by Uwe Scholz, as part of which Gabriel Figueredo performed a long solo. The skill, artistry and poetry of his dancing made me cry yesterday, it was so serene, emotional and beautiful. What a performance. There was a bit of a murmur of appreciation going through the audience when he appeared for his solo as part of Extracts from Etudes last Sunday (not something that I’ve come across in the past three years for anyone else during Extracts from Etudes). Lots and lots of appreciation for him yesterday at the curtain calls for Extracts from The Creation, he received a massive ovation, and I guess I’ve seen curtain calls for company dancers that didn’t come with as much of an ovation as that for Gabriel Figueredo yesterday. I feel so incredibly lucky to see him join the company next season. As every year, the performance closed with Extracts from Etudes by the school’s Director, Tadeusz Matacz, bringing on stage students of all age groups. Standouts in terms of dancers for this year were – no surprise – Gabriel Figueredo and Motomi Kiyota, it was a pleasure following them through the years since I first saw them in 2016, Alexander Smith with his performances in both Air! & Extracts from The Creation as well as Irene Yang and Danil Zinovyev, both with 2 more years to go until graduation, and already performing with the Academy/ Upper School in soloist roles (Irene Yang in the Glinka PdT, full of delicacy and poetry; Danil Zinovyev in Air! – both assured and dancing without any discernible difference in terms of technical skills in my - non-expert - eyes). There was one very clear standout in terms of choreography with Tabitha Dombroski, another graduating student, who contributed 3 (!) works to this year’s annual performances – Test Run, Meditative State and Cut the World. Test Run, a large-scale work for students of classes 5 and 6 (the two most senior years of the Lower School) – soft flowing contemporary movements with a classical basis and some acro here and there (cartwheels/ walkovers); Meditative State for two male dancers of the Academy/ Upper School – a recorded voice provides guidance with regards to entering such meditative state followed by music and some more voice/ music, I’ve taken the choreography as depicting what happens within someone who is in the process of entering said state; Cut the World to music by Anthony and the Johnsons, a solo for another graduating student who is wondering “when will [he] turn and cut the world”. Wow, what a choreographic talent, three works, three different styles, number of dancers, musical choices, all soft, fluid, contemplative, the kind of contemporary that I like most. Sonia Santiago, who hosted also this event in the park, interviewed her during the interval, and Tabitha Dombroski explained that it had been her contemporary teacher back in New Zealand who encouraged her to start choreographing, that her application by video to the John Cranko School came with a video of one of her choreographies, and that she has already created 10 works on graduating students that have since been performed in a number of countries around the world, including competitions. I do hope to see her back in Stuttgart soon, maybe as part of the Young Choreographer’s Evenings and/ or the annual school performance next year. The programme booklet lists the companies that the graduates have engagements with, without providing a breakdown by student or stating which of these are apprentice/ corps etc. contracts. This year’s graduates join Stuttgart Ballet (Gabriel Figueredo - corps de ballet, 5 other students as apprentice), Ballet Dortmund (googling the graduate’s names, I found 2 of them with Dortmund), The Hungarian National Ballet (3), The Estonian National Ballet, Northern Ballet (I’ve seen from a post about Northern Ballet on the forum that this is Alessandra Bramante), The Royal Ballet Fehervar and The Czech National Ballet. In addition to the contracts mentioned in the programme book, Tabitha Dombroski mentioned during the interview with Sonia Santiago that she had a contract with a company in Switzerland and a number of (choreographic?) projects lined up.
  10. Shades of White was back for two more performances. I saw Saturday’s performance as part of Ballet in the Park, which took place for the 13th time. In complete contrast to last year when I got thoroughly drenched, the weather was brilliant; it was warm, dry and slightly overcast hence no risk of sunburn. In addition to being free of charge, the audience in the park benefitted – as usual - from interviews with some of those involved in the performance. Tamas Detrich reflected on his first season as Artistic Director, which he had chosen to start with Shades of White before moving on to more modern works later in the season, this as a clear statement that Stuttgart Ballet is a classical company that looks into the future. Sonia Santiago, former Principal with the company and seasoned host of the events in the park, explained the structure and production of a practice tutu. Angelina Zuccarini, Soloist with the company, was interviewed about pointe shoes. The live screening came with 11 cameras in the Opera House, including from above the stage, allowing the audience in the park to see the various choreographic patterns for the dancers. Concerto for Flute and Harp had the camera often show the full cast and zoom in on individuals for their solos. I guess this is a work that I prefer to see from within the building as this allows me to make my own choice as to who I focus on from among the corps. The close ups were great, however, to show the dancer’s smiles. Contrary to expectation, I enjoyed The Kingdom of the Shades more than at the end of last year, and I found that this work really benefitted from full-stage views. I found Elisa Badenes and Adhonay Soares da Silva technically and artistically well matched as the two leads, and Soares da Silva performed a round of double tours en l’air that looked rather effortless in my (non-expert) view. Diana Ionescu, who has just been promoted to demi soloist for the start of next season, was very much fleet of foot in the first variation. The shades passed the wobble test with flying colours. I am still not overly keen on the work but, all in all, liked it more than the first time round. Symphony in C just fabulous, I was still humming the music the following morning, and I think this work is now becoming one of those that I’d like to see more often. Too much white tutu, a question that I had asked myself earlier in the season. Yes, I think, a little, or maybe this is just down to me having seen lots of contemporary work over the last month.
  11. World premiere of Akram Khan’s new work Outwitting the Devil on Saturday night. I had bought a ticket for Sunday, was then approached by a friend with a spare ticket for Saturday, and so had the privilege of seeing this extraordinary work twice. Outwitting the Devil took its inspiration from a fragment of the Epic of Gilgamesh and comes with a cast of six dancers. Gilgamesh is performed by two dancers – young Gilgamesh who domesticates and enters into a friendship with Enkidu, their killing of Humbaba, guardian of the Cedar Forest and the destruction of said forest, and old Gilgamesh who is haunted by the memories of his actions when he was younger. One dancer represents the Cedar Forest/ the creatures therein, another one a goddess-like person who turns her anger towards Gilgamesh over what he did. Choreography and sound design depict the domestication of Enkidu beautifully – a recorded voice reads aloud the names of a number of animals that live in the forest (tiger, panther, falcon, elephant, frog, spider, owl, etc.), and Enkidu, still the creature of the forest, performs shapes that represent these animals. Young Gilgamesh gets closer, Enkidu evades but is finally caught (assertion of power over someone throughout the piece through holding someone tight by gripping their ankle or pushing their head down). The voiceover then turns to saying the word “man” a number of times and with increasing speed. He is laid away by young Gilgamesh … he has become domesticated. They travel to the Cedar Forest and encounter Humbaba who is guardian of the forest. His attempts to protect the forest ultimately fail and he is killed (the neck takes prominence). Events turn against young Gilgamesh - the goddess is angry, some more voiceover of names of animals, and Enkidu is killed, too (the neck takes prominence again). Old Gilgamesh is on stage at the same time as all these events are shown – he is reliving his memories, and he is haunted by them. Haunting is shown through a variety of means. At the start, he is cradling a flab of stone or baked clay in the shape of a tree/ person. He stands/ moves in the midst of the other dancers or watches from the side. He is scared, frightened, his hands protecting his head, cowering on the floor, retreating to the side of the stage, he moves tentatively, his upper body bent forward, his facial expression matching his body language. A flab of stone/ baked clay is put on his shoulders at the very end, which I’ve taken as him carrying the burden of his past activities also going forward. In a very strong cast that was well matched to the roles (e.g., young Gilgamesh tall and strong, old Gilgamesh smaller and older, the goddess tall and imposing, the forest slender and hugely expressive), I found Dominique Petit in the role of old Gilgamesh phenomenal – his acting, his body language, his facial expressions those of a frail elderly man who is continuously haunted by his memories. Audio, set and lighting were well suited, too. The music gloomy & threatening, the sound of an axe, recordings of extracts of the tablet that was the basis for this work (right at the start: old Gilgamesh having the same dream night after night, showing him with an axe, unaware of what he would turn into in old age; towards the end: his confession, him remembering their cries, their open mouths when he destroyed the forest), the set in grey throughout with flabs of stone or baked clay on all three sides of the stage, the lighting in line with that gloomy atmosphere while ensuring that there was sufficient light to see what was happening on stage. The 80 minutes that the work takes flew by, it didn’t feel half as long, such was the power of the story that was told (dramaturg: Ruth Little), the performance by the dancers, the music as well as the visual and lighting design. I think the piece is special to me because it all came together as one. I guess it’s the kind of work that takes time to take it all in, and so the applause started relatively slowly but then turned into immense cheers, standing ovation, foot stamping, rhythmic clapping; the audience didn’t want to let go. Fabulous post-show talk on Sunday with Akram Khan, too. He came across as incredibly humble, thoughtful and open. Very happy to have had the chance to be there for both nights. Trailer on the public Facebook site of the Festival https://www.facebook.com/coloursdancefestival/?fref=mentions&__tn__=K-R List of dancers on Akram Khan’s company public Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzxp5-lDhGi/
  12. Ballet BC at the Theaterhaus last night for a triple bill with works by Sharon Eyal, Emily Molnar and Crystal Pite. Sharon Eyal: Bedroom Folk. No bed in sight for the bedroom folk but the back of the stage (in a warm orange glow) and the costumes (black leotards with flesh-coloured shoulder areas that made them look strapless for the women & black men’s high-waist tights with shoulder straps) made me think of a stylish bedroom-like environment. The music by Ori Lichtik electronic with thumping sounds, keyboards, fast, continuous, relentless. The dancing follows suit, fast, continuous, relentless. I found two aspects of the choreography fascinating - how the movements followed the speed/ drive of the music and how tiny variations in the size and direction of dancer’s steps created ever-changing patterns on stage. An equal number of female and male dancers standing close together, performing fast tiny steps almost on the spot, just a little bit on demi pointe, knees slightly bent, their upper body and arms performing a variety movements in unison. Small variations in these steps and their directions, and suddenly the dancers are in a single line next to each other. Some more tiny variations, and men and women face each other in that line, their movements mirroring each other. Even more tiny variations, and the single line changes into three lines of dancers or into a semi-circle. Back into a group, everyone in a deep grand plie this time, and some more variations … and all this while continuously performing said tiny steps and various movements with their upper bodies and arms. Individuals emerge with short solos and they get back into the group. Halfway through the piece, a black curtain at the back closes, lighting changes to a wide circular shaft of light within which the dancers move. One dancer is isolated in the centre and integrated back into the group. Back to orange glow for the stage and movements similar those at the start. The piece ends with an endless series of small degages to either side, dancers again standing very close to each other. I loved the choreography, fitting the music so well and admired the dancer’s coordination throughout the piece, making the changes in pattern look completely effortless. The audience reacted with lots of whistling and exuberant cheers, foot stamping in the row I was in and rhythmic clapping. Emily Molnar: To This Day. Dancers in a variety of block colours, everyone dressed differently. The music (Jimi Hendrix, Booker T. Jones Jr.) influences the movements – lots of sliding across the stage, some rolling on the floor, lots of body twisting. In complete contrast to the first piece, the majority of dancing is done in solos. More often than not, even if a number of dancers are on stage at the same time, each dancer has their own choreography. There was a funny part towards the end of the piece – a male dancer moves rather frantically and drops to the floor in happy surprise when he realises that a female dancer has been watching him. He gets back up quickly and continues his moves. In doing so, he gets closer but does not have the courage to start interacting with her and withdraws in sadness. She then takes the initiative and makes contact. This work was less my cup of tea than the first piece in terms of choreography and music but as the curtain calls went on, an increasing number of audience members showed their appreciation through a standing ovation. The aspect that I have taken away though (my own reading, I don't know whether this was intended by Molnar or not) is the singularity of every individual – they are all dressed differently, they move differently and at different times – everyone is special and unique in this world. Crystal Pite: Solo Echo. Change in atmosphere again. Poetic, melancholic, calm. Set to 2 Cello Sonatas by Brahms and inspired by the poem Lines for Winter by Mark Strand. Dancers in black clothes. Snow is falling on stage throughout the piece (there were actual small white particles falling from the top onto the stage). The first half of this work with several PDD, quiet passion, longing, yearning, togetherness, loving. The second half then turns to a different kind of longing – that following loss through (again, my reading) death. A male dancer drops to the floor, he is lifted high as in a funeral procession and laid down on the floor. A female dancer is lifted up and lowered down to him, she reaching out with both hands towards him and yet not reaching him. This motif of a women lifted and lowered down to a man lying on the floor is repeated later on. The group falls apart, there is some aggression emerging, they get back together again, more yearning (beautiful wave-live ripples through a single line of dancers here). All male dancers lie on the floor, a female dancer looks after each of them, and they start to move again. Yearning turning to acceptance as towards the end of Strand’s poem? I found this piece and Strand's poem utterly moving and thought-provoking through its melancholic atmosphere. Full standing ovation as far as I could see. Now looking forward to Akram Khan’s Outwitting the Devil at the weekend.
  13. Thank so much, Sim. If you are able to travel to Stuttgart (flight connections are fine) and chosen the date of the performance, feel free to message me, with a bit of luck I'll be there, too - it'd be wonderful to say hello and express my thanks for the forum in person.
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