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Found 9 results

  1. The Royal Ballet in Sweden have just presented a wonderful triple bill, varied and well balanced, comprising three masterpieces: Robbins' In The Night, The Concert, and Balanchine's Theme and Variations. (When will we see a good triple bill again?) I was able to attend two performances. According to a video discussion available on the company website it was the first time the company had performed works by either choreographer so the level was competent rather than exceptional. The Concert never fails, one of the very few funny ballets where the humour survives, and mostly the dancers didn't overdo the humour, always a risk as Robbins coach Ben Huys said on the video. (He himself was amusing when describing Robbins' own notorious rehearsal technique, describing how he would make the dancers spend infuriating hour after hour gazing into the distance at that passage in Dances at a Gathering when the dancers are together, immobile, at the end.) Robbins' choreography, like Ashton's, looks much less difficult than it is, and it can be difficult for dancers new to his work to capture his style, but overall the dancers did well. The second pas de deux in In The Night almost invariably presents partnering problems ( true when The Royal did it) and this was no exception. But at the second performance I saw Rikako Shibamoto and Kentaro Mitsumori were exceptionally good in the first pas de deux, musical phrasing , capturing the delicate emotional engagement wonderfully. The theatre is grandly baroque inside but the auditorium feels quite intimate. There was a display of Swan Lake costumes and information on the history of Swan Lake in Sweden. It turns out that the first time Swan Lake was danced in Sweden was 1908, with the Mariinsky and Anna Pavlova in her first performances outside of Russia. But it wasn't called Swan Lake- but Swan Pond! The Ballets Russes also called the ballet Swan Pond when they took it to Stockholm in 1937, starring Igor Youskevich (who created Theme and Variations 10 years later, with Alicia Alonso, a coincidence that the theatre didn't note). The company itself has had seven productions, including by Mary Skeaping, Mts Ek, Peter Wright and Nureyev. There is a dance museum, quite close to the theatre and all the royal and government buildings, and on a main shopping street. Currently it has an exhibition on Nureyev that includes many of his costumes and many photographs, including some not seen in public before, owned by Charles Jude, one of the wonderful dancers Nureyev nurtured, and who, with his wife, did much to support Nureyev in his final months. The general material in the museum includes information about Pavlova, including the film of her in The Dying Swan, and a sculpture of one of her feet! It also has a pair of tiny pointe shoes owned by Galina Ulanova, and a huge sculpture of her dancing. There's a considerable amount of information on the Ballets Suedois in the 1920s and other key figures in Swedish ballet history. Well wort visiting.
  2. Dane Hurst has started his academic direction of Phoenix Dance Theatre with a bang. The company shares the stage with Opera North in a double bill celebrating Bernstein's music in the 1950s. The opera, Trouble in Haiti, a satire on the American dream, takes the first half of the bill. The second half starts with a mixed performance of spoken poetry represented by all the Phoenix dancers in Dane's choreography. Then follows his choreography to a suite made up of Bernstein's music for the West Side Story musical, albeit generic, divorced from the specific dramatic structure of the musical. The publicity beforehand promised mambos, waltzes and cha-chas but my overall impression was of visceral contemporary dance, some of it not that different from Robbins's own choreography for the musical and for the ballet that Robbins later composed for NYCB of dances from the musical. There was a mixture of relationships, some angry and conflictual ; Hurst says he was influenced by the tensions in his native South Africa. There are also varied emotional and sexual relationships but, like the musical, the dance culminates in a final climax of murder. There is clever use of scenery which the dancers frequently move round, often climbing up it or hiding behind it, reminding one of some of the scenes in the musical, indeed much of what takes place reminded me of the musical, whilst being entirely original. The dancers are excellent, dynamic and musical, helped by the stunning playing of the Opera North orchestra which brings out all the colours and rhythms of Bernstein's score. Altogether a wonderful start to Dane Hurst's directorship. There are 10 more performances altogether. It can be seen at Leeds (the Grand), Newcastle Theatre Royal, The Lowry, Salford, Nottingham Theatre Royal. In addition Phoenix Dance Theatre have an interesting mixed bill touring and a gala in December celebrating their 40th birthday.
  3. Wow - that was quite a powerful, deeply touching Defile from POB! Row and rows of masked performers walking towards an empty auditorium, as the glorious orchestra plays the Berlioz march. Usually there’s wild applause as each etoile steps forward...usually a huge ovation at the end. What fortitude of the participants to put this on for their citizens and the world!
  4. Tonight's premiere of Cathy Marston's The Cellist at the Royal Opera House is an event I've looked forward to, since long before I heard she had the commission. It is twinned with a revival of Dances at a Gathering. Discussion here please.
  5. To my astonishment I was given a set of earplugs at the Paris Opera Ballet mixed programme, prior to Schechter's piece, The art of not looking back. (The message on the plastic cover said, in French, 'So that the music remains a pleasure"). Has anyone been given ear plugs at the ballet before? Unfortunately the ear plugs didn't prevent someone in the central stalls being seriously incapacitated during the piece. Like the music, the choreography was often dark and aggressive, and contained words blaming his mother for leaving him. Danced by nine women it contrasted utterly with a ballet by another angry man, Robbins, for eight female dancers, which I had seen just three weeks before at the Robbins festival. Antique Epigraphs is brightly lit, has varied pastel coloured costumes, is joyous and serene, to lovely music by Debussy. The programme opens with a site specific work by the circus artist, Thierree, with a wide selection of POB dancers slithering about the steps and locations of the Garnier dressed as mystic creatures. The third item is The Male Dancer by Ivan Perez, to music by Part, for 10 males, including etoiles, all in extravagant costumes. The solos include references to L'Apres-midi d'un faune and Le spectre de la rose. The final piece, my reason for doing a day trip to Paris, was Crystal Pite's The Seasons' Canon to Max Richter's version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (which is also the music Kenneth Tindall is creating his new ballet on), as impressive and moving as ever. This programme was filmed last week and will be available to watch on line for several weeks. The music is all recorded.
  6. This programme, featuring a world premiere by William Forsythe, starts at Sadler's Wells this evening. I'm not going to be able to get away from work, but would love to get feedback from anyone else who's going.
  7. The latest Royal Ballet mixed bill opened tonight, with Viscera, Afternoon of a Faun, Tchaikovsky pdd and the new Carmen (from Carlos Acosta). Was at the dress rehearsals last week, to put together a gallery of the opening night cast: Viscera - Nehemiah Kish, Leticia Stock © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Carmen - Marianela Nunez © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Carmen - Marianela Nunez, Carlos Acosta © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr See more... Set from DanceTabs: RB - Carmen, Viscera, etc mix bill Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr By kind permission of the Royal Opera House
  8. Was at the dress rehearsal at ROH for the final Royal Ballet mixed bill of the season, featuring 'Afternoon of a Faun' and 'In the Night' both by Jerome Robbins, along with Kenneth MacMillan's masterpiece, 'Song of the Earth'. The season seems to have flashed by! anyhoo, here are a few photos: Afternoon of a Faun: Sarah Lamb, Federico Bonelli © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr In the Night: Thiago Soares, Marianela Nunez, Emma Maguire, Alexander Campbell, Zenaida Yanowsky, Nehemiah Kish © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Song of the Earth: Ryoichi Hirano, Lauren Cuthbertson, Edward Watson © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr See more... Set from DanceTabs: Royal Ballet - mixed bill Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr By kind permission of the Royal Opera House
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