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Found 23 results

  1. This fascinating article has appeared on the BRB website. It really is a worthwhile read: https://www.brb.org.uk/post/elisha-willis-change-of-career
  2. BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET’S CINDERELLA SIR DAVID BINTLEY’S ENCHANTING FAIRYTALE BALLET TO BE STREAMED TO MARK THE END OF BIRMINGHAM ROYAL BALLET’S HOME FROM HOME SERIES Birmingham’s Royal Ballet’s celebrated production of Cinderella will be broadcast in full on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s website and Facebook page to mark the end of its online Home from Home series. Its digital premiere will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 25 August and be available to watch for seven days thereafter via brb.org.uk/watch-cinderella Sir David Bintley’s enchanting fairytale ballet, set to Sergei Prokofiev’s sumptuous score, captures every imagination with its magical mix of dance, spectacular costumes and scenery by designer John Macfarlane, and a cast of characters from the fairy godmother and step sisters to a mythical world of mice, lizards and even a dancing frog. This family-friendly production was filmed during the premiere run of the ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome in 2010 and featured as the BBC Christmas ballet that year. It stars Elisha Willis as Cinderella, Iain Mackay as the Prince and Marion Tait as the Stepmother; the Royal Ballet Sinfonia is conducted by Music Director Koen Kessels. The broadcast of Cinderella will be free to watch; but in lieu of a ticket, from those who feel they can, we would be delighted to receive donations via the brb.org.uk/watch-cinderella page; all donations help us deliver the amazing work we do both on and off the stage, and we are very grateful for any support given. Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella will tour the UK in 2021, with dates and venue information available at brb.org.uk/cinderella Following an uncertain year for everyone, not least for the performing arts, Birmingham Royal Ballet, under the Directorship of Carlos Acosta, looks forward to returning to training in Birmingham from the beginning of August 2020. News of an exciting programme of live autumn performances, including work outdoors, in the community, in socially-distanced arena spaces and using augmented reality and technical innovation, will be announced very soon. ENDS NOTES TO EDITORS: Birmingham Royal Ballet Based at Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Royal Ballet is the United Kingdom’s leading touring ballet company performing a range of traditional, classical and heritage ballets as well as ground-breaking new works with the aim of encouraging choreographers of the future. The company’s Director from January 2020 is the internationally renowned Carlos Acosta. Birmingham Royal Ballet performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for approximately ten weeks of the year and the remainder of the year tours throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. On average, the company performs 175 shows a year nationally and internationally. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s permanent orchestra, it is also Britain's busiest ballet orchestra. The Sinfonia also plays frequently for The Royal Ballet and other leading ballet companies, including performances with: The Royal Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Kirov, Norwegian Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and La Scala Ballet.
  3. 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.
  4. In the order of Cinderella, Prince Guillaume, Benjamin Manchester Thursday 17 October Erina Takahashi, Joseph Caley, Jeffrey Cirio Friday 18 October (mat) Emma Hawes, Francesco Gabriele Frola, Ken Saruhashi Friday 18 October Shiori Kase*, Jeffrey Cirio, Barry Drummond Saturday 19 October (mat) Erina Takahashi, Joseph Caley, Brooklyn Mack*+ Saturday 19 October Emma Hawes, Francesco Gabriele Frola, Ken Saruhashi Southampton Wednesday 23 October Emma Hawes, Francesco Gabriele Frola, Ken Saruhashi Thursday 24 October (mat) Alison McWhinney*, Aitor Arrieta*, Henry Dowden* Thursday 24 October Shiori Kase, Jeffrey Cirio, Barry Drummond Friday 25 October Erina Takahashi, Joseph Caley, Brooklyn Mack Saturday 26 October (mat) Alison McWhinney, Aitor Arrieta, Henry Dowden Saturday 26 October Shiori Kase, Jeffrey Cirio, Barry Drummond *Debut in the role with English National Ballet +Guest Artist
  5. Hello all — on offer is a good seat for the matinee on Friday of Cinderella in the Round at the Royal Albert Hall Stalls L Row 3 Seat 77 Price: £70 (£71.08 face value) The lovely Emma Hawes is Cinderella. See rest of cast here It is an e-ticket
  6. The Australian Ballet's Melbourne year had been scheduled to start with a new Graeme Murphy, The Happy Prince, but due to Mr Murphy's health that has been postponed. Instead, they brushed up the Ratmansky Cinderella that closed 2018 in Sydney. Our subscription night was last Friday (22 March) and we saw Ako Kondo and her husband Chengwu Guo as Cinderella and the Prince. Having last seen the now-retired Leanne Stojmenov with Alexander Campbell in those roles, I was distinctly underwhelmed by Kondo and Guo. I hadn't seen them dance together for a couple of years and they have improved as a partnership but despite their individual general excellence and their real-world marriage, it's not a partnership I will rush to see again. Far more engaging were the Terrible Trio of Stepmother (Dana Stephensen), Skinny Stepsister (Ingrid Gow in the role she created) and Dumpy Stepsister (Jill Ogai). They work brilliantly together, and Ogai and Stephensen are now even better matches for Gow than they were in December. I still laugh every time Gow lifts her skirt, exposing her French knickers, as she carefully grounds (grinds?) her pointe shoe before pirouetting. I still find the Planets (instead of fairies etc) unattractive and confusing as a concept, as certainly do all the children I've seen and heard at performances of this production. Even mental repetition of the old mnemonic doesn't help me identify them all correctly - I found out last Friday the one I thought was Mars was in fact Uranus! The Prince's tour of the world only really works with a dancer who can engage the audience with his acting. In the hands of Guo it was just...blah. I also find the quartet of Prince's Friends seems to have degenerated into slapstick and sloppy dancing, very rough around the edges, which it certainly wasn't intended to be. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to see Sharni Spencer (who made an excellent début In December) with Brett Chynoweth, but was unable to afford an extra ticket, the only available ones being $274 for not-great seats at a Saturday matinée. Overall, the good bits balanced out the weak bits but it'll be a while and I'll check the casting carefully before I see this production again.
  7. Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the dress rehearsal for Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Sadlers Wells, December 2017. Here are some photos: Ashley Shaw, Dominic North © Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Ashley Shaw, Dominic North © Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr See more... Set from DanceTabs: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
  8. Opening this thread in hopes of reports from @jmb, @DD Driver and @Bluebird before I make it to Sydney! Alexander Campbell is dancing the Prince to Leanne Stojmenov's Cinderella on 12 and 14 December, otherwise only Ty King-Wall and Chengwu Guo, just two of six male TAB principals (one doesn't do it, two injured, one in Birmingham with BRB) and a wealth of talent from the middle ranks ie soloists Brodie James, Cristiano Martino and Marcus Morelli, and coryphée Callum Linnane. In the Cinderella role are both Stojmenov and Lana Jones in their final performances before retiring, also Ako Kondo and Robyn Hendricks, plus senior artists Dimity Azoury and Jade Wood, and soloist Sharni Spencer - I think her debut main stage principal role. Opening night was last Friday, after which Wood was announced as winner of this year's Ballet Dancer Award. Room for at least one promotion...but it won't be the night I'm there as I'm supposed to have Stojmenov and Campbell.
  9. Queensland Ballet's latest offering is Ben Stevenson's Cinderella, a work that was the first presented by QB in 2013, just after Li Cunxin took over as Artistic Director. Since then, QB has staged Ben Stevenson's Nutcracker every year, and his Swan Lake in 2017. In this way, Li Cunxin continues to honour his mentor, the man responsible for bringing him to the US, the first Chinese dancer to come, and then recruiting him to the Huston Ballet, where he became a principle. So Cinderella has a history with QB. And anyone who has read my previous posts about QB will know of the enormous respect I have for Li Cunxin and what he has done for QB. Which brings us back to Cinderella. And unfortunately, I have to say that this production left me unmoved. The dancing itself was of the standard we have come to expect from QB dancers, but chemistry between the two leads (Yanela Pinera as Cinderella and Joel Woellner as the Prince) was totally lacking. It also needs to be said that the principles were not helped by the choreography, which was simple and straightforward, without any real challenges that I could see. (This made it an excellent choice in 2013, but much less of a one today.) Prokokiev's music is complex and challenging, but the choreography totally ignores the dark sub-text that lurks constantly just below the surface, opting instead for comedy. This is chiefly seen in the ugly sisters, danced by the (male) principles Camilo Ramos and Vito Bernasconi. Pure slapstick, which is fine in small doses, but what we get here is a deluge. Cinderella herself moves from lightness and joy to darkness and weeping with unnerving rapidity, especially in the first act. One dancer to watch, however, is Liam Geck, who danced the role of the Jester with elan and real connection with the audience. Lots of fancy jumps, but these did not get in the way of Geck projecting a cheeky sense of fun. Great set design (Thomas Boyd) and costumes (Tracy Grant Lord). The Australian Ballet is presenting Ratmansky's Cinderella in December, and I look foward to seeing how he handles the balance of light and darkness in his version of the story.
  10. Ballet Cymru has revived Darius James and Amy Doughty's Cinderella which is my favourite work in the company;s repertoire and IMHO the best Cinderella anywhere. I say that for several reasons. It is very faithful to the Grimms' tale which is short and tight as us the ballet. I also love Jack White's simple but very moving score, James and Doughty's choreography and of course the cast. I caught the show at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale last night . I was enchanted by Bethe Meadway;s performance as Cinderella. Link Xander Parish and Kevin O'Hare she comes from Hull and they would have been proud of their fellow cod head. Great performances also from Robbie Moorcroft, Isobel Holland, Dan Morrison, Miguel Fernandes, Eka Mastrangelo and Alex Hallas. I noticed a few changes since the last run in 2015 most of which I liked. The company uses lighting in place of sets and [ properties since it does a lot of touring and it has acquired some new projections. If anyone is interested, I have written a longer review in my blog,
  11. Offer on top 3 ticket prices for Tuesday 10/4, Wed 11/4 and Thurs 12/4 evening performances only. With promo code cost £19.50 plus fees £2.90 and a transaction fee if booking online. If you can book in person as I did, you'll only pay £19.50 which saved me £10 on fees! Got my favourite seats too. Promo code: CINDERS
  12. Has anyone been to see MB Cinderella? I have just had an email that it is touring at my local theatre and tickets went on sale yesterday for it. I would love to see a MB, but wondering if it will be OK for my nearly 10 year old, as I know some of his ballets are a little on the darker side (my husband refuses to go to the ballet with me!!!!)
  13. Something to look forward to, depending of course on which cinemas are taking part: three Australian Ballet productions will be broadcast to 500 cinemas worldwide in October. The ballets are Ratmansky's redesigned Cinderella, David McAllister's jaw-droppingly lavish Sleeping Beauty and Peggy van Praagh's much-loved Coppelia. http://www.screendaily.com/news/cinemalive-partners-with-australian-ballet-on-trilogy-of-productions/5104519.article I'd happily pay to see all of them! I was on the verge of booking to see Cinderella at the London Coliseum next month when fate decreed that I'll be moving house on the only day I could have gone...
  14. Took 7 year-old DD to see Cinderella last night at the Peacock in London. Remi Nakano was absolutely exquisite as Cinderella and looked like she was loving every second of her performance - DD said she could have watched her for hours and I totally agree, I'll be looking out for her in future. For those that haven't come across the My First Ballet series, they are classical ballets danced by the students at the ENBS and members of the ENB and aimed at younger children. There is a narrator on stage and the whole performance is cut down to around an hour. Last year was Sleeping Beauty which was also excellent. I wasn't too keen on the idea initially - thought the talking would detract from the music and the dance - but it is done fantastically well. She plays the part of the grown-up Aurora or Cinderella looking back at her life, and is a fabulous actress - different voices for all the characters, and explains some of the mime used in the choreography. I have a feeling I will miss her at the next adult ballet as I learnt quite a lot! It's perfect for children who enjoy watching ballet but aren't quite ready for a full-length programme. There is also high tolerance of whispering and fidgeting which is both good (if you own a fidgeter) and bad (if you own a child who can't stand noise), and worth bearing in mind if you are very irritated by mild disruptions. The evening performances are much better than the matinees if you want less background noise. Ticket prices also good - two front row seats in the circle were £40 for the pair.
  15. Casting for Southampton is now up: https://www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/cinderella?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=cast_lists_southampton&utm_medium=brb 25th January eve: Momoko Hirata & Joseph Caley 26th January mat: Delia Matthews & Tyrone Singleton 26th January eve: Jenna Roberts and William Bracewell 27th January eve: Momoko Hirata & Joseph Caley 28th January mat: Jenna Roberts & William Bracewell 28th January eve: Delia Matthews & Tyrone Singleton As there are 2 weeks of performances in Birmingham I assume more casts may also be in the pipeline.
  16. http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/news/latest-news/article/item382169/matthew-bournes-cinderella-returns-christmas-2017/
  17. Well, for anyone just back from the AB cinema broadcasts, here's your chance to discuss it. I wondered how Sleeping Beauty was going to come in at 2 1/2 hours - significant cuts to Acts II and III is the answer. The credits rolled through so quickly that I couldn't spot who all the dancers were, and there were no casts sheets: can anyone tell me who were Bluebird and Florine? I can probably guess if I go and haul this summer's programme out. And I'm guessing the fairy of musicality would have been the canary one?
  18. I meant to post this one some time ago, but then it got lost in my inbox, and I've only just retrieved it, so apologies for being so late: The Australian Ballet 13 - 23 July 2016 The Australian Ballet, Asia Pacific’s pre-eminent ballet company, makes a welcome return to the UK to perform Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake and Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella at the London Coliseum in July 2016. Shanghai Season - Thunder Storm Thunderstorm 11 - 14 August 2016 Thunderstorm is an award-winning modern opera about family, society and corruption in Old Shanghai. Zhou Puyuan is the head of a wealthy, successful and seemingly happy Shanghai household. But a storm is gathering… Shanghai Season - Echoes of Eternity Echoes of Eternity 17 - 21 August 2016 The Song of Everlasting Regret is a legendary poem in the canon of Chinese literature, a favourite from the 8th-century Tang dynasty. This year, it will be brought to life by the world-renowned Shanghai Ballet. Eifman Ballet – Up & Down 6 - 10 December 2016 Eifman Ballet returns to the London Coliseum this December with the UK premiere of Artistic Director Boris Eifman’s awe-inspiring ballet Up & Down featuring the invigorating music of George Gershwin, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg. Plus we already know about this from other sources: English National Ballet - The-Nutcracker The Nutcracker 17 December 2016 - 7 January 2017 Over 100 dancers and musicians bring The Nutcracker to life with exquisite dancing, beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live. English National Ballet - Giselle Giselle 11 - 22 January 2017 Giselle is a haunting story of innocence and betrayal, a timeless tale about the redemptive power of love. (courtesy of Ticketmaster)
  19. Delighted to see such a positive reception to the "new" Hampson Cinderella in today's Links. If anyone's going to see it, do report back.
  20. Now that Youtube is official and the clips are (mostly) legally licensed, I have noticed that all sorts of old stuff is being uploaded. Thames News, for example, has posted some pretty old stuff including this: It's a news item about a royal gala at Covent Garden in 1986 (I think) which was a performance of Ashton's last production of Cinderella. Nice rehearsal footage and an interview with Anthony Dowell. The clip was uploaded earlier this year and the quality is very good for a change. (Sorry about the link but I've forgotten how to do it neatly - could some nice moderator direct me to the instructions?) Thanks Linda
  21. The World Premiere of Northern Ballet's new Cinderella is in Leeds on 17th December 2013. Please use this thread for thoughts. The Company has issued interviews with: Northern Ballet’s Chief Executive Mark Skipper, and Artistic Director David Nixon OBE discuss the themes and challenges involved with the new production of Cinderella. Composer Philip Feeney on creating a new score for Cinderella, 20 years after first producing the original score for Northern Ballet. Duncan Hayler on dreaming up magical set designs and turning them into reality. Greentop Circus consultant Trudi Patient, and Magic consultant Richard Pinner reveal how audiences can expect more than dancing in this new production. Interview with David Nixon OBE and Mark Skipper Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Northern Ballet Why did you choose Cinderella as your latest new production? DN – We wanted another addition to our Christmas season ballets that would also be appropriate to perform year-round. MS – In terms of choice, it wasn’t specifically about Cinderella, but the need for a selection of friendly Christmas-type ballets in our repertoire which already includes ballets such as Peter Pan, Beauty & the Beast and The Nutcracker. Cinderella is one of the most popular pantomime titles so it’s the obvious choice, although Northern Ballet’s production will be nothing like the panto. What are the key elements of the story that will be brought forward? DN – My Cinderella is far from the pantomime interpretation. Amidst all the action, magic and fun lies the story of a real woman and man who must travel separate roads to ultimate happiness even though that journey is fraught with challenges. Cinderella is ultimately a joyous story but it isn’t without pain, grief and loneliness. What inspired you to set the story in Imperial Russia? DN - Patricia Doyle and I were looking for a different setting and toying around with a few ideas before one of us started to think of Russia, which really started to fit as the scenario developed. Historically Russia has had a lot of princes, meaning that we wouldn’t need a King’s son for the story and it was also a time of superstition and belief in magic which really lends itself to the scenario. We also wanted a winter scene for the ballet and Russia is identified with very cold and very beautiful winters. What has it been like to have a completely new score for the ballet? And how did this come about? MS - It’s amazing to have new music and when you have the opportunity to create new music for dance then you have to do it. We have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to create new scores for many of our ballets such as Wuthering Heights and Cleopatra and the benefit is that the music is created for the story you want to tell rather than having to make the dance fit to existing music. Of course it adds a new financial aspect to the production with the composition fee but royalties can often be huge and securing rights on existing music can also be very challenging. We have had a relationship with Philip Feeney since 1987 when he produced a score for our short ballet Memoire Imaginaire. He creates exciting music for dance and is well respected in the field working with many other dance companies. We trust Philip as you know we’re going to get a high quality score rather than taking the risk with someone you don’t know. With a new production you need to keep some areas of stability. DN - I was never completely happy with the Prokofiev score so I was pleased to be able to build it from the bottom up and the opportunity to work with Philip Feeney again is always a wonderful thing. What are the challenges of pulling a new production together? DN - The Company’s touring schedule has been a challenge as we have been trying to rehearse here and there whilst also working on the rep that we’re touring. Another challenge is that the production is so huge, it’s been touted by our technical department as Northern Ballet’s biggest show to date. Time management is the biggest challenge as there are so many elements to pull together including the circus tricks and the magic which the dancers need training in. MS - Coordination of the various elements is the biggest challenge when producing any new production as there is so much to pull together, from the lighting, to the set design, to choreography and so on. The music needs to be composed in advance so the choreographer has something to work with but of course the Composer needs the scenario first before he can produce the music. Lead time is the most important thing so that you have enough for it all to come together and then add in the extra elements like we have done with the magician and circus elements in Cinderella. You also have to take into account that the costumes and props will develop with the story and the choreography so you often don’t know what you will need from the outset. Ideally two years would be the optimum time to start work on a new production but normally we work to a much tighter schedule. When did planning start for this new production? DN - We started planning in autumn 2012 but the scenario wasn’t finalised until the end of February this year so we have really had a short time. What can the audience expect from the production? MS - A magical family production which is an interesting interpretation of the story – not Disney-fied. DN - Audiences can expect something that is beautiful and fantastical to look at. The dancing, as with all Northern Ballet productions, will be of the highest level and there will something unexpected. Interview with Philip Feeney - Composer You have had a long relationship with Northern Ballet. How does it feel to be working with the Company once more, and what is it that keeps bringing you together? To some extent, Northern Ballet feels like home. I cut my teeth in composing full-length ballets over twenty years ago. I have also developed collaborative associations with the dancers and have, in Ballet Central, composed scores with Northern Ballet choreographers including David Nixon himself, but also Kenneth Tindall, who Signature 31/30 was included in the pick of the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this summer, and Daniel de Andrade, for whom I am currently creating a score for this year’s Ballet Central annual tour. Furthermore, it goes without saying that I hold the musicians of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, and the Northern Ballet music staff in great respect. When composing for companies across the world I have often missed the dynamic interchange and sheer expertise that they would bring to a project. It is Northern Ballet’s dedicated commitment to narrative ballet and to new scores that keeps bringing us together. A specially commissioned score opens up so many possibilities with a narrative ballet, allowing for great dramatic swiftness of foot which can be blocked by using existing music and tugging and pushing it into shape in order to fit the synopsis. I also admire Northern Ballet’s ambition. The Company has never been cramped by their modest size into modest aspirations. David Nixon has triumphantly continued in the tradition set up by Christopher Gable of a can-do culture of pioneering narrative work. You have previously composed a score for Northern Ballet’s Cinderella in 1993. What was it like to work with Cinderella again? It’s very rare for a composer in opera or ballet to tackle the same story twice. There are a few examples in Metastasian Baroque Opera, but we don’t have two Magic Flutes or two Coppélias. There’s no doubt that it was a challenge as initially I was quite ensure of how to engage with a subject that I had already created music for. However, David Nixon and Patricia Doyle’s synopsis took the story into quite different territory. Whereas Christopher Gable’s Cinderella is a visceral re-telling of the Grimm’s Tale, by setting it in 19th century Russia, David Nixon provided quite a different and tempting context which enabled me to think afresh when dealing with this timeless and ancient folk-tale. Of course we still have the prince and the dysfunctional family, and it was at these moments when I needed to dig deep and find a new way of depicting it rather than falling back on the solution I had discovered twenty years ago. Undoubtedly, the collaboration with David Nixon has provoked different ideas and different musical avenues. In the score, the work is entitled Zolushka which is a Russian name for Cinderella. I use that to give it a separate distinct identity. How does the new score compare to the one produced for the 1993 production? My score for Christopher Gable’s Cinderella is still very dear to me and had many elements that are still fresh, raw and emotional even now. When writing the new ballet, one area where I was slightly intimidated was in the two pas de deuxs that Cinderella has with the Prince in Act 2 which must be at the heart of any score dealing with the Cinderella story. I feel that the new score also creates its own unique sense of magic, a beautiful Japanese bell and a hesitant violin jeté fashioning an enchanted space where young love can take hold, and David Nixon’s choreography has done the rest. In many ways however the new score is a tighter score in which we can follow Cinderella’s narrative by means of the thematic growth of the music. The gentle lost music heard soon after the opening, symbolic of the love of Cinderella’s dead mother, provides the basis for most of the musical material in the score, acting almost like a protective angel, and like Cinderella, coming good in the end. Has it been difficult to avoid allowing the previous score to influence the new one? When debating exactly what my approach should be when embarking on a second version of Cinderella, I turned to an old Cambridge friend and colleague, the independent curator and Professor of the Bath School of Design, Mike Tooby. How was it, I thought, that while composers baulk at the idea of returning to the same subject, painters and visual artists seem quite content, even inspired, to do so? Tooby encouraged me with the idea of embracing the first version, and to allow it to inform the newer account. While none of the music of the 1993 production is used in the new score, there are points when it is self-referential. Devotees of the earlier score will, I’m sure, hear resonances at certain points in the story which are equivalent. An enriched and spatially infinite piano glissando that periodically creates moments of wonderment in the new score could be said to have its origin in the beautiful moment of Jayne Regan’s flying release from persecution at the end of Act 1 of Gable’s production. What have been the challenges with producing this new score? The challenge is the same as any undertaking that adds music to a story told through movement; to find a music world that is not only the equivalent of the dramatic situation on stage, but can actually control its dynamic. Other challenges have to do with the standard balance at Northern Ballet between creative ambition and small forces. I know there are passages, like the closing bars of Act 2, for the percussion that are unplayable; they would need a percussion section consisting of six rather than two musicians. However, I have left it up to them to find a way, so that we can have a flavour of glockenspiel, tamtam, timpani, cymbals and tubular bells to send us all out in a glow of celebration. The extraordinary thing is that they will! How has the music influenced how the story will be told? That is the real value of a new score expressly composed for a specific production. The entire score underlays David Nixon’s story; at points the choreographer allows the music to tell the story and create the shadows and texture that are so powerful in the Cinderella story. This allows for choreography which is not histrionic, but honest and which communicated with genuine emotion. When Cinderella flees from the ball, it is the music and the set coming alive that reflects the young girl’s desperate turmoil. What external influences or musical styles have you used when producing this new score? Some of my scores take on something of an eclectic channel-hopping technique where diverse and contradictory musical styles are co-opted to tell the tale; something which has a long and respected tradition in the theatre. This Cinderella isn’t really one of those. While there are resonances of other musical worlds, in particular there are several strains of waltz that appear in the ballroom scene (where else?!), the focus of the score is upon compiling an integrated score that is a backdrop and a regulator of what happens on stage. The Russian flavour is quite prominent in the score, certainly in the heady mix of street-fair music that explores the same tradition harvested by Stravinsky in Petrouchka. But there are also quite a few audio references to Russian folk instruments such as the balalaika and the dulcimer, digital software which can be heard as part of the orchestral texture. I did ask whether anyone in the orchestra could play the balalaika but the disappointing answer was that it was much too risky – what if they went off sick? However the harpist, Celine, Saout, suggested that she could do a fair balalaika on the harp, and so at perhaps the most delicate moment of the entire score, an ethereal tremolando signals the start of Cinderella’s ballroom solo. One thing I did borrow, but only from myself, was the opening distant humming theme, beautifully sung by actor/dancer Heidi Hall which was taken from a work I wrote while in Rome thirty years ago. It was a setting of Taleisin, a Welsh bardic poet from the dark ages; I felt that its unusual antique melody could be symbolic of ancient mystery, emblematic not only of Cinderella’s mother, but also of a pre-literate past wherein lies the origins of the Cinderella myth. What are your highlights or favourite pieces of the score? I don’t really do favourites but one of the things that most attracted me to David Nixon’s new Cinderella synopsis was the emphasis placed on magic. It was an invitation to be as inventive as I could while retaining a fundamental simplicity and this I found stimulating. Interesting combinations of woodwind, pizzicato strings and exotic ringing percussion could create its sound-world coupled to the sound of the harp, and two lonely chords on the piano. An encounter with the theories of anthropology giant, Professor Chris Knight, concerning the interpretation of fairy-tales underscores the ballet. Knight speaks of how in fairy-tales a world of enchantment is entered, where reality is suspended, which transforms the protagonist unlocking demons and ultimately empowering her forever. Here in David Nixon’s ballet, the agent of this magical transformation is the enigmatic magician. At his entry, the music jumps up a semitone, ending the first act in the wrong key. Gradually, as the magic begins to work, the music climbs through all the tonalities until it finally reaches the key of the opening, only an octave higher. Cinderella has found her lost happiness and won a prince to spend the rest of her days with. Interview -Duncan Hayler Set Designer, Northern Ballet This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Northern Ballet. Which other sets have you designed for the company? The first ballet I worked on for the Company was A Midsummer Night’s Dream followed by Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella is the third set I have worked on with Northern Ballet. Your set design comes across as quite magical in itself, how do you go about achieving this? My approach to design is that I never want to just produce decoration, which means that I want any design that I create to be really multi-functional. It needs to look good and give the public an idea of where they are. The fascinating thing when you play with the forms, the shapes and the colours is that you start an intriguing little game in your mind which develops ideas of how to change one form into another, or how to change one location into different location. That’s why I enjoy working with David Nixon, as it allows me to design a quick transformation that happens when the public really aren’t expecting it. You set up the convention of the public thinking they know where they are, then switch it; it’s that surprise switch that creates a magical element in the piece as far as it comes to design. When designing for a production like Cinderella, where do you begin? I start with the scenario, which for Cinderella was written by David Nixon and Patricia Doyle. Then I focus on the music, which for me, gives a real sense of the space in the production, the timing of possible scenic transitions and how big those possible transitions could be. That is the real inspiration for me, it’s what the music is doing and what sort of atmosphere it is creating which then transfers into a visual approach of what one could do the piece. So with Cinderella, I just tried to dream up as much as I could. My ideas seem to drop out of the sky once I have a certain amount of information concerning the music and I know what David Nixon wants to do with the scenario, I try to respond to that. Have you created any magical sequences for Cinderella? There are magical sequences within Cinderella although I shan’t reveal them so they will stay magical for a bit longer. I also think it’s important for the public to discover those magical moments themselves and not for me to pinpoint them. How long does the process take from your initial ideas to everything actually being created? After the initial request, I met the composer where we discussed ideas before I went away for a few weeks and came back with small model boxes to give a three dimensional sketch of what I think we should do. Then comes the fun part for me when David gives me the freedom to go off and be creative and invent everything. After these smaller models have been approved, I then create a bigger model which is used by the workshops until it becomes a full size reality on stage. I think the process from the beginning to the drawings being ready takes anything from four to six months before anyone has actually built anything. What are the biggest demands when it comes to being a designer? It’s a big demand on the designer to make a piece of set fit 10 or 15 different theatres. You really have to think a lot in advance about the biggest place you’re going and the smallest place you’re going, how the sets are going to adapt to the new place and how that will affect the dancers. It also means the timings for moving pieces of scenery are different because there might be more distance to travel, it has to be a really flexible thing. How much involvement do you have once you’ve handed those designs over to the workshop for them to start building it? I generally do around two or three checks around the building process. In today’s day and age, photos can be sent in order to give an update. It’s not the same as actually seeing it in reality but it gives an indication and helps me to give somebody a quick answer, but when I do come to visit it’s about rounding up and solving as many questions as possible. Interview with Richard Pinner and Trudi Patient - Magic and Circus Consultants for Cinderella Richard, you’ve had a very interesting career in the arts, can you tell us a bit about your career, starting with how you became interested in the magic and who inspired you to become a magician? RP - My father was a professional magician and so I learnt the family business and I never considered doing anything else. I remember having a conversation with my mum when I was young and when she asked me what I wanted to do, I said, “I want to be a Magician like my dad but I want to be a carpenter too so I can make things.” I’m far from a carpenter, but that’s why I studied design and performing arts so I could be either a performer myself or create magic for theatre. You are a Member of the Inner Magic Circle, what does that mean? RP - The Inner Magic Circle is a members club where most of its members are amateurs or enthusiasts of magic and we have various degrees. You can join by performing an exam, and if you pass, you become a Member of the Magic Circle. If you choose to you can do a further performance exam and if you are good enough you become an associate of the Inner Magic Circle. Our highest degree is Member of the Inner Magic Circle which is by gift of the President which you gain by being at a certain level professionally, and a certain standard of performance and notoriety. You are a consultant for theatrical magic, how did that come about and how long have you worked as a theatrical consultant? RP - It was around 1990 when I consulted on my first professional show which was Some Sunny Day at the Hampstead Theatre with Rupert Everett (before he was famous). My brief was ‘his character transforms into a floating orange blob and flies out the window’. I spent weeks trying to work out how to do it and when I showed it to the Director he said, “No, more like this.” So I changed it and did it in half an hour. That taught me a lesson early on that you can’t be precious about the magic and tricks you create. Trudi, can you tell us a bit more about Greentop Circus and what it does? TP - Greentop is a circus arts charity, which aims to use human circus skills to transform lives and bring about positive social and individual change. We offer professional training and artist development to circus professionals, workshops and master classes for the public, Youth Circus provision and regular cabaret performances. We also act as an entertainment agency providing circus entertainment across the UK. Have either of you worked with a ballet company before? RP - This is the first time I’ve worked with ballet, it’s usually theatre and musicals. I’ve done one Opera but there is a lot that’s very different to ballet; the creation process, the rehearsal process, not letting the dancers near the show until we’ve finished ‘tech-ing’; it is just a completely different way of working. So working with Northern Ballet is a whole new world for me. TP - No, this our first experience of working with a Ballet Company. It has been very good working with learners that are already body aware as they have been able to pick up a variety of more complex skills with relative ease. What are the different skills that you are working on with Northern Ballet? TP - Acrobalance, Stilt walking, Manipulation – ball, ring and club Juggling, Diabolo, Plate spinning, flower sticks. RP - We’ve agreed what we are trying to achieve, there’s lots of magic ‘peppered’ throughout this show and when I was first asked about it, it wasn’t the obvious elements. There’s no pumpkin turning into a coach, this is not a pantomime. The magic is incidental as well as integral and the set itself is quite magical. With our Magician character, his magical journey is from not being able to do a card trick to near Jedi as his powers grow stronger and stronger. How difficult is working with performer with no circus or magic experience? How quickly did the dancers pick up the skills? TP – From a basic level, the students picked up the skills quickly, and once the basics were grasped we moved on to more complex tricks and styles. We work with lots of different client groups, many of which are not performers or have no circus experience. It has been very easy to work with the dancers, as they have taken the sessions seriously and worked professionally to perfect their skills, having fun but with a serious purpose and dedication to their learning. RP - It’s better to teach someone with no magic experience. It’s much easier to teach actors to do magic than a magician to act. I’ve been asked in the past should we cast a magician for this and my answer is always “No we shouldn’t”. Dancers have this amazing skill of picking up steps in minutes as they have so much to learn, so I’m hoping it’s the same with magic even though it is completely new skills. Northern Ballet have been fantastic to work with and David Nixon’s attitude has been great. It’s always been “What’s the best we can do? Ok let’s do it”. How do you work alongside other members of the production team – costume designers and so on? TP - We generally don’t get to work with the production team on our projects, so this is really exciting for us to be involved in the production process. RP - I’ve worked alongside the costume department as we create a clever piece of costume that can be both efficient and magical to achieve what we want to. I’ve also worked with the technical department as there is something with air that we want to see if we can achieve. I’ve got an idea in my head, where physics isn’t as important, it works, but we will have to find out if we can do it in reality. The workshop is working with me to accommodate my magical needs and of course, I’m working with the dancers teaching them manipulation. Some things are mechanical and will happen around them, other things, especially manipulation, we are teaching them as early as possible so that it becomes natural. I can’t wait to see them do it. Ballet dancers doing magic, that’s just great. How would you recommend starting to learn magic or circus skills for anyone who is interested? RP - If you are in theatre it’s much easier to see what the play calls for, if you want to do it yourself it’s mastering being a show off without being annoying. Learning good magic is much easier than learning to play the piano or how to dance. The cleverness has already been done for you; the trick has already been created, so you are just learning the sequence of moves. Then you have to learn how to be a good performer and have confidence in your own abilities without coming across as arrogant. TP - The best thing to do is to come and have a go! You could come to one of our beginner’s classes or skill share sessions, book a private lesson, or come as a group of friends. See our website for more details (www.greentop.org) or contact circus schools in your area.
  22. ENB2's First Cinderella a ballet for children at the Peacock Theatre. A shortened version with a Narrator by English National Ballet School and English National Ballet. It will be going on tour after its London run. The Prince - Mlindi Kulashe with Cinderella - Daniela Oddi More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk
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