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About Blossom

  • Birthday May 8

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    Ballet for exercise as well as a spectator, cooking - especially gluten free food, history, politics

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  1. Had a lovely evening at the ENB gala last night with my friend and our daughters. It was a great opportunity for our daughters to see lots of snippets of different pieces to start growing their tastes. After they were dazzled by Corsaire last Saturday night, we asked them to choose between the 2 evenings and was pleasantly surprised that they chose the gala. Our unanimous favourite was Forsythe's Playlist, which was a brilliant piece of choreography for an all male group. Cirio (a confirmed favourite of ours) shone, but also picked out Rhys Antoni Yeomans who had impressed in the last Emerging Dancer with Forsythe's 'In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated'. He had a wonderful energy at Emerging Dancer and the gala and is one of those dancers who visibly is getting so much joy from being on stage. Dust was incredibly powerful and beautiful, the snippet of Khan's Giselle also, looking forward to seeing his new creation in Spring. On the Classical side, the Sleeping Beauty excerpt was beautifully danced and a delight to see Katja Khaniukova and Daniel McCormick taking the lead roles. Pleased that ENBYouthCO was includied with Of What's to Come -a wonderfully energetic piece and loved the costumes. Between RNBYouthCo and ENB School in Khan's Giselle, it was exciting to see the ability of the students to take on such diverse styles and it demonstrates how much must have changed in the 70 years since the company was founded. Very much enjoyed seeing the company's character dance credentials shared with the colourful reel from Sylphide and Mazurka from Coppelia. Romeo and Juliet disappointed a little. I was looking forward to seeing McWhinney dancing the role, I could imagine how much this would suit her, but was perhaps disappointed with the section chosen for performance (Dance of the Knights) vs e.g. the balcony pas de deux to show off her talents. I think the key thing I didn't like in this piece was the choreography, having a greater preference for MacMillan's. Etudes was a piece on my wishlist, I've never seen it before and very much associated it with the iconinc shadows against a blue lit backdrop. It was a lovely piece to showcase the whole company and delivered excitement as the performance built from barre to grand allegro and a wonderful way to end the evening with everyone on stage. Cirio, Frola and Case were highlights here. As mentioned before, the video elements fitted seamlessly and really helped to celebrate the company reaching this milestone. ENB is a company close to my heart as growing up in Manchester, this was the company I probably saw most frequently. Tamara Rojo spoke about making ballet accessible for all - with touring being (for me the key component to making this happen.
  2. I was at the ROH last night for the final performance. After a horrific day at work, it was such a wonderful way to unwind! Sad not to see Lauren Cuthbertson, but my friend and I were thrilled that if she needed replacing, Fumi was definitely one of our preferred choices. Her rose adage was solid and assured and I actually got quite emotional (for her!) as she received rapturous applause for such a high profile performance. What a career making moment! Speaking of assured and solid performances, lovely to see her looked after by Gary Avis as her English prince. Bonelli was the perfect prince for a last minute switch- he is such a generous partner and a gentleman as well as a beautiful dancer. It was sweet to see them exchanging words as they took their post pdd applause. Contrary to general opinion, I actually really liked Gina Storm Jensen in the role of the lilac fairy. I am not, on the whole, her biggest fan, but I do think this role really suits her. Yes there were some iffy moments, but there were equally a few iffy moments from the wider cast, despite this being the end of the run. For example, at one point during the cavaliers’ allegro in act 1, it did seem as though not everyone was completely on time with each other/the music. Glorious prologue- great cast of fairies and their cavaliers- too many to name individually. Absolutely adore Kristen McNally as Carabosse, one of my favourite roles for her, such strong acting ability. Act 3 bluebird pdd was very special with my favorite pairing- Naghdi/Ball. Ball’s second solo with all of those brisées (please correct me if needed) was incredible and he such authority on the stage. Romany Padjack was a lovely Red Riding Hood and Florestan and sisters dances beautifully by Hay, O’Sullivan and Magri. Despite all of the stars and rising stars in Act 3, the grand pas de deux shone the most brightly. As a final comment, the audience was quite electric last night which I hope came across in the cinema!
  3. Overall, a really enjoyable time was had on Saturday night at the Coliseum. This was the first ballet I went to back in January 2016 after a hiatus due to having babies/small children and general pressures of working late quite often in my early career. It was wonderful to return to the performance which 4 years ago ran at the speed of lightning and was over far too soon! This time, I took my balletomane-in-training 12 year old daughter with me. This is one of those productions which is dazzling on the eye - beautiful sets conjuring up the image of a marketplace in Constantinople, the Pirates' Cave filled with treasure chests, a Middle Eastern palace and of course, the pirate ship with the billowing sail. Costumes are awash with vivid colours and sparkle in places and the big corps de ballet dance scenes were vibrant and joyous. I was also pleased that my daughter commented on how much she enjoyed the music. Standout male performances came from Daniel McCormick as Ali, Jonor Souza as Lankedem and Francesco Gabriele Frola as Conrad. All were technically precise and of course these roles have the ability to wow with giant leaps and turns. It was wonderful to hear the much deserved loud cheers for Daniel McCormick after his solo in the act 2 pas de trois. In terms of female performances, I really enjoyed Emma Hawes as Gulnare and as always, Alison McWhinney's delicately expressive Odalisque. She always seems to get so much joy from the roles she is performing. Erina Takahashi was a bit of a disappointment. She didn't seem to be technically strong enough for this role and there were a few areas where she seemed to struggle. There has to be a special mention for Stina Quagebeur who shone as the lead villager and dealt so professionally with a wardrobe mishap - ducking on and off set as if it was all part of the piece. In general, I have a minor criticism about the quality of acting in the company. There are some standout company members, for example Jeffrey Cirio (who didn't perform last night) who throws as much into the character as he does virtuosity, but in general, acting ability could really be stepped up a notch. The London Coliseum is a great venue for ballet, with great sight lines wherever you are sitting, but it is somewhat lacking in places to sit outside of the auditorium and bar spaces are quite cramped for such a large venue. I am also not at all keen on drinks being allowed in the auditorium, now a bigger gripe given that this means that everything is served in plastic to enable people to take their drinks in, which really goes against the majority of businesses really trying to cut back and consider our environment. Very much looking forward to next week's Gala.
  4. It does seem somewhat silly to dance Sleeping Beauty when there has been a long Royal Ballet run this season. Had hoped to see something new with such a top heavy first half of the season. I assume the aim is to interest as broad an audience as possible though, which I suppose will always make the visiting repertoire unoriginal (and no doubt pricey).
  5. Hopefully a fun post for a dreary January morning…. Delighted to hear that my daughter’s class teacher has started an initiative at school with her class. Each week, they will select a piece of classical music to play in assembly and a child will give a short piece of information about it. I hope my daughter will take part – she’s not keen on getting up in assembly but she is open to choosing a piece of music based on the ballets she has seen - Swan Lake, La Fille Mal Gardee, Coppelia (this one at the cinema!) and Giselle which isn’t bad going for a not quite 10 year old! I thought for Fille, the Clog Dance could be a good piece to play with video rather than audio alone as it’s quite fun and there are obvious highlights from some of the other pieces. I’ve also told the teacher I’d be happy to make some recommendations to keep them ticking along across the year. So, what would you choose and why?
  6. For me it’s between Royal Ballet Naghdi/Ball R&J for both their performances and the emotive choreography and the Royal Ballet Firebird/Month in the Country/Symphony in C triple bill which was a wonderful chocolate box of ballets to enjoy. Enjoyed so much else and so hard to choose! Saw some great performances from ENB and BRB also and as always particularly enjoyed ENB’s Emerging Dancer competition this year, so much rising talent.
  7. Saw the movie with the whole family tonight. The kids enjoyed it, I loved the songs as grew up with the poems as well as listening to the cast recording. Steven Macrae was brilliant as Skimbleshanks, his tap routine was probably my favourite of all the dance routines. Francesca Hayward was perfect for the role of Victoria, as a Royal Ballet dancer, she is capable of so much drama with her eyes alone! Was lovely to hear her sing and of course she brought so much talent dance wise. My husband who is a ballet refusenik could see that she and Macrae were a cut above the rest. Having some semblance of a story and dialogue did help pull it all together which is why I think the children enjoyed it. James Corden was pretty good as Bustopher Jones and also loved Mr Mistofelees. Unfortunately though, beyond the songs it was a bit of a car crash of a movie. Cats is a very marmite production- people love it or hate it, but is less forgiving on film than the stage show for many reasons, the 2 main ones being:- 1. The CGI - so poor in places, from details like the computer animated cats tails which were just plain weird to bigger picture dance routines which were obviously green screened but just didn’t look natural or real enough. Some of the green screen elements were too crudely pasted onto the background. 2. Something wasn’t quite right about a lot of the singing For many reasons was wonderful to share with the kids and off to find my copy of TS Elliot’s book and to download the original cast recording... and maybe to force them to watch the stage show which is currently available on Sky Arts.
  8. Completely agree with this, as an audience member the schedule for Autumn/Winter seems pretty full on - and that’s without considering the implications on the dancers. Despite this, I found this triple bill thoroughly enjoyable - it’s always such a treat to have such a range of styles in one evening. Having read earlier comments on this thread about the standard of character dancing and having found the Coppelia character dancing weak and disorderly, Raymonda pleasantly surprised. Still some room for improvement and I think next time such strong character works are scheduled, there needs to be an opportunity to go back and re-teach the stylistic elements of national dances as there are very few who have a natural flair for them. Mayara Magri particularly hits the mark for me and loved her solo last night. Marianela Nunez of course gave her usual all and was a pleasure to watch. Rewinding to the beginning of the evening, was delighted to see Anna Rose O’Sullivan opening Concerto. It’s been an exceptionally busy season for her so far and really enjoy her adaptability to seemingly every role which comes her way. Really enjoyed the choreography, the music, the colours and lovely to see Naghdi/Hirano’s finished work, rehearsed on World Ballet Day. Enigma variations was a lovely work of vignettes based on the diarised observations of Elgar. I assume it takes quite a few viewings to understand exactly who is who but was a perfect parcel of Ashtonian choreography. Only 2 minutes of Matthew Ball but so much character in his performance, as there was also in the comic role Paul Kay played (need to refer back to the cast sheet). Morera played Elgar’s wife with expression in every bone in her body. My friend and I had the pleasure of some lovely neighbours in stalls circle a77 and a80 last night (Identifying incase you are on here!)- was such a pleasure to chat.
  9. The ROH currently is the only theatrical haven where you can be certain you won’t be drenched by a fellow audience member’s glass of wine. I certainly hope they won’t change their policy.
  10. Something about general line and head placement too... Not enough technical expertise to really unpick what my issue is. I also wonder if perhaps a bit more space is needed on stage (the village set appears to encroach quite a bit).
  11. Loved Coppelia, has been on my wishlist for the ROH for a number of years and so pleased that there was an alternative to Nutcracker this year as I only really enjoy it for the grand pas. Beautiful performances from Hayward/Campbell - their personalities really shone through. Lovely to see Hayward shine equally in a classical role as much as the MacMillan choreography I so love her for and Campbell deliverrs on both the choreography and is perfection with his mime. Nunez/Muntagirov particularly loved for Marianela's super speedy footwork, amazed by her elevation. I am not a die hard Muntagirov fan, but along with Winter Dreams, this has to be one of my favourite roles for him, likely, because his 'Russian-ness' (or Ukrainian?) gives the character dancing elements of the role such flair. Which brings me onto what I feel is the elephant in the room, at least for me. I have been waiting for someone else to comment on the character dancing to no avail. I really feel that stylistically something was missing in tboth the Mazurka and Czardas from the corps de ballet, there was no sharpness in the footwork, epaulement, head lines. The way they travelled the stage looked messy and cluttered and it came across more like Morris dancing than Polish folk dancing. Thank goodness for Mayara Magri and soloist peasants who gave the dances the oomph they needed. These dances are one of my favourite parts of the ballet and so disappointed. Looking forward to the big screen with my daughters on Tuesday night - hoping my mind might be changed on the folk dance front with close ups of the action.
  12. Saw Hayward last time as Morera was injured. Definitely recommend seeing her. I have chosen to see Morera this time as she is a wonderful actress and plays young and gritty Macmillan roles so well. Can’t go wrong with either choice to be honest but very tough to make the choice.
  13. Another lovely interview, this time video from Dance Europe. https://vimeo.com/352217310?ref=em-share
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