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  1. The Stuttgart production with new sets and costumes by Jürgen Rose will be online for 24 hours from April 11th, 18.00 CET to April 12th, 18.00 CET on Stuttgart Ballet's Youtube Chanel https://www.youtube.com/c/dasstuttgarterballett The cast is the premiere cast at Stuttgart, with Friedemann Vogel (Rudolf), Elisa Badenes (Mary), Miriam Kacerova (Elisabeth), Alicia Amatriain (Larisch), Diana Ionescu (Stephanie), Anna Osadcenko (Mizzi), Marcia Haydée (Sophie) and Egon Madsen (Franz Josef).
  2. I have just realised that there is a performance of Anastasia on the saturday evening that I'm going to be in London in November - it's with Cuthbertson, Lamb and Macrae. They have some really good tickets still available and if I were on my own I'd have gone like a shot, but I'm going to be with my husband who is not a ballet buff. The last time I saw it was with Lynn Seymour (yes that long ago) and I can't decide what to do. I'd be grateful for some opinions on it - has anyone seen it lately or remembers it better than I do??????
  3. Well, it will soon be time for my Mayerling fix (!) and I have tickets for all three Watsons. But I would like to see somebody else and seem to remember forum members raving about Bonelli and Morera. Am I right? Oh, and does anyone know if Ed Watson is fit again??????????
  4. With a month to go, I thought a topic for news/comments, pre-performance, might be useful. I am pleased to see from social media that on 20 February Steven McRae began rehearsals at the RB with Akane Takada, her debut as Juliet being set for 28 March.
  5. Really liked the film, Hayward as glorious as expected (the camera clearly loves her) and the rest of the cast looked very good as well. Clever 'staging', though there was a bush that really needed pruning since it took centre view in a couple of scenes. The set and costumes are deliciously opulent. I was very happy to hear that Michael Nunn and William Trevitt are hoping to make more ballet films. I'd love to see Swan Lake filmed, though judging by the comments about mime and natural settings, that is unlikely to be a contender.
  6. So, the Royal Ballet season starts tonight. I hope people who are going will report back.
  7. No comment on the dress rehearsal today, for the usual reasons, but did anyone happen to catch the pre-show announcement about two (I think) cast changes? I missed this as my neighbour arrived rather noisily at exactly that moment and so I am puzzling as to who we saw who isn't on the cast list.
  8. Just received a tweet announcing a new filmed version of the the above starring Francesca and Bracewell as the lovers, supported by dancers from the RB. Being shown by Curzon chain on December 16th , I guess to tie up with release of Cats. Looks great, hope for DVD eventually. If there was any doubt this will rocket Francesca’s career to greater heights.
  9. Fabulous insight event (“Ballet Talk”) this morning about the forthcoming premiere of Mayerling with Stuttgart Ballet. Tamas Detrich spoke about why he chose to add Mayerling to the repertoire in Stuttgart – he’d seen the work performed by the Stanislavsky Ballet and was “blown away” by it, thought that the dramatic narrative would work well in Stuttgart with its history of three-act story ballets by John Cranko, and had been looking to get Juergen Rose involved. Gerald Dowler talked about the creation of the work for the Royal Ballet in 1978 and its reception – in London and elsewhere - over time as well as about recurring focus areas in Kenneth MacMillan’s works. This was really useful to refresh my memory since I last saw Mayerling at the ROH but more importantly his description of MacMillan’s choreographic style made me think that I should really really really really go for a ticket for Mayerling as vivid images came to mind from a number of scenes throughout the ballet. I was probably sitting there with a permanent grin on my face throughout the event. Mikhail Agrest, guest conductor with Stuttgart Ballet, described Lanchbery’s choice of music by Franz Liszt for Mayerling - theatrical, romantic, sweeping, music with a Hungarian touch, and he referred to a piece that Franz Liszt had written for Empress Elisabeth. Juergen Rose gave a humorous account of how he needed convincing that he should take on the costume & set design for Mayerling and highlighted how instrumental Marcia Haydee was in ultimately achieving this. Equally entertaining was his description of the challenges that he encountered and the solutions that he identified with regards to the sourcing of the set as well as of the fabric for the costumes. So the carriage that they located in Styria is from the 1880s, and the furniture that they unearthed in an antiquity shop near Munich is from that time period, too. As for the costumes, he went with different colours for different roles so as to facilitate the identification of who is who within the ballet. The costume designs for the hunt scene in Act 3 have been inspired by pictures of Emperor Franz Joseph in lederhosen, and so some dancers wear lederhosen during that scene. Tamas Detrich confirmed that there’ll be further performances of Mayerling next season. There is also an insight event planned for the end of the current season which will deal specifically with Rose’s costumes. Rehearsal pictures on the company’s web site https://www.stuttgart-ballet.de/schedule/a-z/mayerling/
  10. In the last month, I've seen Macmillan's R&J with Karlsruhe Ballet, Cranko's R&J (twice!) with Stuttgart Ballet, and now QB's R&J. And I still love the ballet! Both versions! Mia Heathcote was Juliet, and Romeo was danced by Patricio Reve, who is so new to the company that he's not yet listed in the program. He is another Cuban dancer, and brought the dash and brio that all Cuban male dancers seem to have to the role. Mia Heathcote was a beautiful, strong, and determined Juliet. (Her father, Stephen Heathcote was Lord Capulet ... nothing like keeping things in the family!) Vito Berlesconi danced Tybalt with the usual glower. I could wish that just occasionally dancers could create a more likable Tybalt, something that could be done while preserving his role in provoking Romeo and killing Mercutio (Kohei Iwamoto) - and not from the rear! But Tybalt could be a much more interesting character than the bully he is generally portrayed as. But it was a great production, and showed the company to great advantage. The marketplace scenes, and the Capulet,s ball were wonderful. So I still love R&J!
  11. First, good news for Londoners. Although this programme has been sold out for weeks at ROH, Yolanda Yorke-Edgell told me yesterday that she is hoping that an extra performance will be offered on 16 May. She is hoping that the ROH website will include it at the end of this week. The ROH website says there will be one interval but last night there were two. This very talented and innovative company performed in Leeds last night as part of a tour before arriving at the ROH in mid May. The first piece, Playground, one of MacMillan's dark works, will interest those of you who have indicated a wish to see My Brothers, My Sisters again. Many of us will find the choreography interesting but the content disturbing (what MacMillan wanted, of course). However, to see dancers of the calibre of Romany Pajdak, Jonathan Goddard and Dane Hurst supported by other excellent dancers, makes the experience worthwhile if harrowing. The second piece by a choreographer new to me, Sophia Stoller was a short contemporary dance for two female and two male dancers (including Dane Hurst). The third dance, Communion, was specially created by the 94 year old Robert Cohan for the company. It starts slowly with repetitive, almost minimalist, movements but eventually a complex series of solos (notably for Dane Hurst, dancing with infinite fluidity, also Jonathan Goddard) and small group dances. Much of it seems to refer to ritual and community (as the title suggests). A most interesting work. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the final piece, Imprint, by Yolanda herself, for 6 dancers to a mixture of music excerpts, including the currently ubiquitous Max Richter remix of Vivaldi.
  12. ENB's national tour of Manon started in Manchester (Opera House) this evening. I attended opening night where Alina Cojocaru (lead principal at ENB since 2013) and Joseph Caley (lead principal since 2017) danced the leads. Both noted as debuts in the roles with ENB on the cast sheet. I cannot find the words to say how good it was. To roll out the cliches - it was simply out of this world, and it was a privilege to be there. The rapturous response of the audience indicated that most people there agreed with me. I speak as someone who hasn't always loved neo-classical ballets or MacMillan (my first experience being Romeo and Juliet with Birmingham Royal Ballet a couple of years ago). It was my first Manon (I've only clips of that final scene on YouTube). I am asking myself since leaving the theatre - why was it so good? Was it Cojocaru and Caley? was it MacMillan? was it Massenet? It was one of those nights where one is transported, convinced to the level beyond admiration. Every scene with Cojocaru or Caley in it had that extra authentic intensity that made me fascinated, entranced. I got the tingles alright - and the tears! Naive fool that I am, I couldn't imagine Cojocaru as Manon, having lapped up her crystalline classical Petipa performances with ENB. But how seductive, how womanly, how human she was as Manon on her journey through this tragedy. How could I doubt this complete artist? Similarly Caley's embodiment of Des Grieux matched Cojocaru's genuine portrayal, and I found myself so touched by his performance. What a partnership. The last (and only) time I saw them dance before was in that half-empty Coliseum on June matinee this year where they filled the theatre with their brilliance in Sleeping Beauty, that several forum members praised. I was completely unprepared to be so blown away by them again in this 20th century ballet. It's very late now, so regrettably I must omit to mention the many other aspects of this which made tonight complete theatrical magic, and a memory to treasure. Thrilled to have discovered this masterpiece, and so grateful to ENB for bringing it to a theatre near my home. It was staged at Manchester's smaller venue the Opera House (compared to the Palace theatre) but I was in the Circle which was quite full, the balcony was not full but the cheers when the curtain came down made it sound like a full house. Look forward to hearing others' thoughts on this run.
  13. I was unable to be at the London Coliseum tonight for the first night of ENB's Sleeping Beauty (Kenneth MacMillan production), but I know a lot of forum members were, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Our coverage of the previous run can be found here:
  14. Principal casting for The Sleeping Beauty at the London Coliseum in June is now on the ENB Website https://www.ballet.org.uk/production/sleeping-beauty/#cast-section Wednesday 6 June, 7.30pm Alina Cojocaru* and Joseph Caley* Thursday 7 June, 2pm Erina Takahashi and Aitor Arrieta* Thursday 7 June, 7.30pm Maria Alexandrova*† and Aaron Robison* Friday 8 June, 7.30pm Alina Cojocaru and Joseph Caley Saturday 9 June, 2.30pm Jurgita Dronina* and Isaac Hernández* Saturday 9 June, 7.30pm Erina Takahashi and Aitor Arrieta Tuesday 12 June, 7.30pm Maria Alexandrova† and Aaron Robison Wednesday 13 June, 7.30pm Erina Takahashi and Aitor Arrieta Thursday 14 June, 2pm Alina Cojocaru and Joseph Caley Thursday 14 June, 7.30pm Jurgita Dronina and Isaac Hernández Friday 15 June, 7.30pm Maria Alexandrova† and Aaron Robison Saturday 16 June, 2.30pm Shiori Kase* and Cesar Corrales* Saturday 16 June, 7.30pm Jurgita Dronina and Isaac Hernández *Debut in role with English National Ballet †Guest Artist
  15. Tonight was the first night of the Royal Ballet's last triple bill of the season. I'm afraid I didn't make it through to the end, but would be glad to hear from those who did!
  16. Just back from seeing this. An interesting evening but first a few gripes. I hadn't been to The Pit before and was disappointed with a number of aspects. The lighting was virtually non existent when entering the auditorium and very difficult to find seats, with tiny seat numbers. Many people struggled. I mentioned how dark it was to an usher but it seemed it was intentionally dark to help create an appropriate atmosphere. Adding the extra row AA seriously compromised the view for me in row B. Rows AA and A are at the same level and the step up for row B is minimal. With just row A I imagine the view would have been ok and I'll look forward to seeing what I missed when the performance is available on line. It didn't help that a guy in row AA kept his hat on throughout the performance. The Stravinsky and Martin music were recordings and I found the Stravinsky particularly distorted. The House of Birds was much better with a live pianist. My final gripe is that the extract from Danses Concertantes was pretty minimal - little more than a couple of minutes. I think the audience was pretty surprised/disappointed that it was over so quickly. That said I'm very pleased to have gone. The extract from House of Birds was good and I enjoyed seeing Lauren Cuthbertson, Thiago Soares and Sayaka Ichikawa in the lead parts. The setting also worked well and I guess would have been great from row AA. Given how short the extract from Danses Concertantes was, it's difficult to say very much. Again good to see Akane Takada with Jose Alves if only briefly - I see Benjamin Ella is dancing the performances on 20 and 21. The highlight for me was Laiderette performed in full - very disturbing but fabulous to see Francesca Hayward make so much of the role in such an intimate setting. Thiago Soares was again very strong. At the the end of the evening there was a 15 minute panel discussion and it was fascinating to hear how Laiderette was notated from a black and white film although at the end the questions did rather fall into the deferential 1950s BBC style 'Is there anything you would like to say Minister'. The panel discussion features at every performance. I very much hope the ROH will put on such an evening when the Linbury reopens but with full ballets or certainly more generous extracts. With all the work gone into recreating Laiderette it would be good to see it performed in a more comfortable setting with significantly better views.
  17. Northern Ballet is in Bradford from 05-07 October with their mixed programme "A Celebration of Sir Kenneth MacMillan" comprising Concerto, Las Hermanas and Gloria. Please use this thread to record your thoughts on the performances. Here is a short film released by the Company:
  18. Northern Ballet has just announced that they will be dancing 3 of MacMillan's one act masterpieces to commemorate him: Concerto, Las Hermanas, Gloria. Performances will take place in Bradford (October5-7, 2017) and Leeds (March 16-17, 2018)
  19. Thread for all the mixed-company MacMillan celebrations at the Royal Opera House this autumn. It kicks off tonight with Birmingham Royal Ballet in Concerto, Scottish Ballet in Le Baiser de la fée (or The Fairy's Kiss, if you prefer) and a mixed-company performance of Elite Syncopations, if I'm not mistaken. And to start us off, here's a link back to David's notes on Le Baiser de la fée
  20. [A general thread for any feedback on the range of Kenneth MacMillan insight events being put on by the ROH in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of his death] And even more heart warming to see the tiny excerpt from House of Birds with Gable and Wells! But the whole programme excellent
  21. Listening to excerpts from Verdi's Vespri Siciliani last night on Classic FM, brought back vivid memories of MacMillan's The Four Seasons. This ballet had some wonderful inventive choreography - most notable perhaps the Spring section - I can still see Lesley Collier being partnered by Eagling, Ashmole and Hosking - simply ravishing. The original sets and costumes were rather "chocolate box", but when designs were revised by Deborah MacMillan using bare stage and leotards, the ballet really did not work. With so many ballets being revised this year in honour and memory of the great Sir Kenneth, what a shame this choreographic jewel was missed out. I am sure it would work beautifully if costumed well. May be I should put together some designs - would love to!!!!
  22. PRESS RELEASE 6 October 2017 A MACMILLAN CLASSIC RETURNS AND A ROYAL OPERA HOUSE PREMIERE FOR SCOTTISH BALLET THIS AUTUMN Kenneth MacMillan’s original choreography of The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) was brought back to life on Friday 6 October in a stunning new production by Scottish Ballet at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Scottish-born MacMillan created the work in 1960 for The Royal Ballet, and this revival marks the 25th anniversary of his death and its first presentation since 1986. The work will be performed as part of the MacMillan Festival at the Royal Opera House in October – a celebration of this iconic 20th century British choreographer. Several Scottish Ballet dancers will also perform alongside artists from Britain’s other ballet companies in MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations. This will be the first time the company performs at the prestigious London venue. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ice Maiden, MacMillan’s The Fairy’s Kiss stays true to the original tale’s dark edge and in the words of Clive Barnes ‘not only appears as a telling homage to the 19th-century Russian ballets that inspired it, but also as a work full of noble, singing poetry.’ Scottish Ballet’s new production features sets and costumes designed by Gary Harris, who worked closely with MacMillan. The choreographic score has been tirelessly re-constructed by professional Benesh notator Diana Curry over a three month period from fragmented records including piano reductions, rehearsal notes, and poor quality video recordings. The Fairy’s Kiss will be performed alongside Christopher Hampson’s The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps). Previously performed by the company at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2013, The Rite of Spring is a brutal and physical response to the raw energy of the Stravinsky score. The Fairy’s Kiss and The Rite of Spring will tour to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness this October/November 2017. The Fairy’s Kiss will be performed at The Royal Opera House, London in October 2017. For more details - https://www.scottishballet.co.uk/event/autumn-2017 Scottish Ballet CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson: ‘It is thrilling for Scotland’s national dance company to revive Le Baiser de la Fée, an early work showing the prodigious talents to come from one our most cherished choreographers. Reviving this formative work will allow generations to come to better understand Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s journey from a nurtured, young choreographer to becoming the 20th Century’s most iconic storyteller through dance.’ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION The recreation of The Fairy’s Kiss is generously supported by The Linbury Trust Media partner: WHEN AND WHERE Scottish Ballet performs The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) by Kenneth MacMillan and The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps) by Christopher Hampson, at: Theatre Royal, Glasgow Friday 6 & Saturday 7 October 2017 Friday 6 October – 7.30pm Saturday 7 October – 2.30pm & 7.30pm Pre-show and Post-show Talks: Stravinsky Pre-show Talk (Free but ticketed): Friday 6 October - 6.30pm Stravinsky Post-show Talk (Free): Friday 6 October - 9.30pm Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Wednesday 11 – Friday 13 October 2017 Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 October 2017 - 7.30pm His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Tuesday 24 & Wednesday 25 October 2017 Tuesday 24 & Wednesday 25 October – 7.30pm Pre-show and Post-show Talks: Stravinsky Pre-show Talk (Free but ticketed): Tuesday 24 October – 6.30pm Stravinsky Post-show Talk (Free): Tuesday 24 October - 9.30pm Eden Court, Inverness Friday 3 & Saturday 4 November 2017 Friday 3 & Saturday 4 November – 7.30pm Pre-show Talks: Stravinsky Pre-show Talk (Free but ticketed): Friday 3 November – 6.30pm Scottish Ballet performs The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) by Kenneth MacMillan, at: Royal Opera House, London Wednesday 18 & Thursday 19 October 2017 Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration Performances of The Fairy’s Kiss (Le Baiser de la Fée) by Scottish Ballet, Concerto by Birmingham Royal Ballet) and Elite Syncopations (featuring dancers from The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet and Scottish Ballet) www.scottishballet.co.uk ABOUT THE ARTISTS Kenneth MacMillan Biography Kenneth MacMillan (1929–92) was one of the leading choreographers of his generation. He was born in Dunfermline and discovered ballet while evacuated in Retford in Nottinghamshire during World War II. Aged 15, he forged a letter from his father to Ninette de Valois requesting an audition to Sadler’s Wells School (now The Royal Ballet School). He joined, on a full scholarship, and later entered the Royal Ballet Company. He was Director of the Royal Ballet from 1970–77 and was Principal Choreographer 1977–92. His ballets are distinguished by their penetrating psychological insight and expressive use of classical language. These qualities are demonstrated in his works Romeo & Juliet, Gloria, Manon, Mayerling and Requiem. He created his first major work, Danses concertantes, in 1955 and went on to become one of the world’s leading choreographers. He was the Director of Deutsche Oper Ballet Berlin (1966–9) and Associate Director of American Ballet Theatre (1984–90). He continued to create masterpieces throughout his life, including The Prince of the Pagodas (1989) and his last work The Judas Tree in 1992. He died backstage at the Royal Opera House during a revival of Mayerling. Gary Harris Biography Gary was born in London, and trained at the Arts Educational and the Royal Ballet Schools. He joined the London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) in 1978 and was one of the company’s leading soloists until he left in 1985 to pursue a career as a freelance dancer, performing in West End shows, including On Your Toes, La Cage aux Folles and Phantom of the Opera. He has worked the world over as a dancer, teacher, repetiteur and designer. In 1991 he joined the Royal Ballet, London, as notator and repetiteur, working with choreographers such as William Forsythe and Kenneth MacMillan and re-staging the works of Fredrick Ashton. He assisted Kenneth MacMillan in the first staging Manon for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1990, and restaged Song of the Earth for the same company in 1996. He was Associate Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Ballet and choreographed a cast of 1,200 performers for the handover of Macau back to China in 1999. Gary was Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet from September 2001 – December 2010. For the RNZB, he restaged Swan Lake, Paquita, Coppelia and Giselle. The company premiered his production of The Nutcracker in 2005 and Don Quixote in 2008. Notable design commissions include The Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda for the National Ballet of China, Christopher Hampson’s Double Concerto for English National Ballet and Saltarello, Esquisses and The Sleeping Beauty for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Since returning from New Zealand, Gary has continued re-staging the works of Kenneth MacMillan and in 2013, designed Christopher Hampson’s Hansel & Gretel for Scottish Ballet. Christopher Hampson Biography Christopher Hampson joined Scottish Ballet as Artistic Director in August 2012 and was appointed Artistic Director / Chief Executive of Scottish Ballet in June 2015. Christopher trained at the Royal Ballet Schools. His choreographic work began there and continued at English National Ballet (ENB), where he danced until 1999 and for whom he subsequently created numerous award-winning works, including Double Concerto, Perpetuum Mobile, Country Garden, Concerto Grosso and The Nutcracker. Christopher’s Romeo and Juliet, created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award (Best New Production 2005) and his production of Giselle for the National Theatre in Prague has been performed every year since its premiere in 2004. Christopher created Sinfonietta Giocosa for the Atlanta Ballet (USA) in 2006 and after a New York tour it received its UK premiere with ENB in 2007. He created Cinderella for RNZB in 2007, which was subsequently hailed as Best New Production by the New Zealand Herald and televised by TVNZ in 2009. His work has toured Australia, China, the USA and throughout Europe. Other commissions include, Dear Norman (Royal Ballet, 2009); Sextet (Ballet Black/ROH2, 2010); Silhouette (RNZB, 2010), Rite of Spring (Atlanta Ballet, 2011), and Storyville (Ballet Black/ROH2, 2012). Christopher is co-founder of the International Ballet Masterclasses in Prague and has been a guest teacher for English National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and the Genée International Ballet Competition. Christopher’s work now forms part of the Solo Seal Award for the Royal Academy of Dance. Registered in Scotland No:SC065497; VAT Registration No:261 5097 64; Registered Charity No: SC008037; Registered Office: Tramway, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow G41 2PE
  23. I am surprised that Scottish Ballet’s revival of MacMillan’s “Le Baiser de la fée”, based on Han Christian Andersen’s 1861 fairy tale - “The Ice Maiden”, has not raised more excitement amongst Forum members and, since it’s a quiet time I’m being cheeky and uploading some extracts from my own notes, gleaned from many sources in an attempt to whip up interest! It was in April 1960 that Kenneth MacMillan made his first attempt, choreographing his own version for The Royal Ballet with Svetlana Beriosova as the Fairy, Donald MacLeary as the young man and his own Muse, Lynn Seymour as the bride. “He made melting, skimming steps that showed off her fluid movements and luscious feet … she was adorably soft and spontaneous … Beriosova was a grandly fluent fairy”. By then he was the eighth choreographer to tackle the Hans Andersen story! Both Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine had warned him of the difficulties, arising chiefly from the lack of obvious relationships between Stravinsky’s score and Andersen’s narrative. This was Kenneth MacMillan’s third Stravinsky ballet, the previous two being Danses Concertantes (1955) and Agon (1959). He had no time for Stravinsky’s identification of the Fairy with Tchaikovsky’s Muse, or indeed for fairies of any kind: “I’m sick to death of fairy tales” he told The Times in December 1960. But like Ashton he was drawn to the music. For Ashton the instant of the kiss is the climactic ecstatic moment in the young man’s life. But MacMillan had a darker story to tell. “His instinct was for the bride betrayed. His narrative was one of good and evil - of the abandoned bride (“She is the one who is lost”) and a young man in the grip of everlasting darkness.” Most critics at the time reviewed MacMillan’s 1960 version favourably, singling out Lynn Seymour and for special mention: Richard Buckle: a “tremendous success - MacMillan, with his ear to the ground, has perfectly translated into movement the filigree of shimmering insect splendour which is a feature of this score”. Of Lynn Seymour as the Bride, he wrote that she “skims and flits like a happy gnat through her lovely allegretto variation: she has the priceless gift of lending to art an air of spontaneity, and without question makes a triumph of her first created role. Of Svetlana Beriosova as the Fairy. “Her swooping boreal gestures and Alpine style point the difference between god and human”. Alexander Bland (The Observer) wrote: “It is not until the pas de deux that interest quickens, the high point of the evening being soon reached in the fiancée’s solo, a delicious drifting rubato affair, which Lynn Seymour will make into a winner, when she has grown into it”. And so on ….. But despite the positive reviews the ballet did not survive. The reasons were partly that the musical demands of Stravinsky’s score were impractical for a touring company but primarily because of Kenneth Rowell’s set designs. In place of the traditional images of fairyland Macmillan had his designer, Kenneth Rowell, fashion a threatening landscape in dark colours, “an abstract world of rock, gorges, caverns and ominous icebergs” … described by Clement Crisp as “arguably the most beautiful and poetic designs seen at Covent Garden since the war.” These were so complex that, at a time when the Company could call on sixty other works in the repertory, there were only six other ballets with which Le Baiser de la fée could, for technical reasons, be programmed. Of those six some were not compatible on the same programme. MacMillan’s Le Baiser de la fée proved a nightmare to schedule. At a disastrous performance at the Edinburgh Festival the following August the scenery collapsed nearly braining one of the dancers. The ballet was mothballed after only 33 performances. However Le Baiser de la fée continued to fascinate MacMillan and 25yrs later in 1986 he revisited his 1960 original work making changes for a new generation of dancers: Fiona Chadwick, Sandra Conley and Jonathan Cope. He kept most of the choreography he had made for Seymour, but changed the Fairy’s role considerably, “making a new intricate solo for Chadwick, showing off her sense of anger and wilfulness”. It is this production that Scottish Ballet are reviving. In his earlier production, MacMillan’s preoccupation had been with the betrayed Bride, the figure in the ballet truly left alone after the fairy entices her husband away. But in the revised 1986 version, his focus was on the Fairy’s pursuit of the entranced young man, thereby returning to Stravinsky’s original intention: the work as an allegory for the artist’s dilemma, that ordinary happiness must be sacrificed to the muse. “It was the music that naturally attracted me”, he told Clive Barnes, “certainly not the story. I realise that the story is not altogether convincing. But I also found the theme, or, if you like, allegory, extraordinarily interesting.” Barnes commented: “MacMillan cuts to its heart - the artist in society, the man marked out from his fellows, unable to join in their life and dedicated to suffering”. To Mary Clarke of The Guardian who had seen the original ballet in 1960 it seemed that MacMillan had “retained much of what was written for Lynn Seymour – those swirling, circular lifts, those limpid descents when the foot melts into the ground above a bent knee, the sorrow of her exit after desertion. And how marvellous to see MacMillan writing again in a purely classical style.” John Percival of The Times also noted the close resemblances to the 1960 version. “I cannot understand why the earlier version was unsuccessful … it was blessed with superb performances and one of the most beautiful decors ever created for the Royal Ballet, a set of marvellous abstract landscapes by Kenneth Rowell.” Kenneth Rowell’s designs had been destroyed and were replaced with designs by Martin Sutherland but they did not find favour with the critics. In The Observer Jann Parry dismissed the set as unimaginative: “He succeeds in evoking neither the Fairy’s ‘Land beyond Time and Place’, nor the village from which she claims her initially reluctant hostage.” Though seen as Kenneth MacMillan ‘at his most exquisitely classical’, his 1986 production like its predecessor failed to hit a popular chord and once again it shortly disappeared from the repertoire. MacMillan’s original 1960 production was clearly too much, both orchestrally and with its intricate designs, for the Royal Ballet at the time but would probably have fitted well into the Company today in its present home. One would have expected the Royal Ballet to be the Company to revive it now, particularly since they still have several of the 1986 cast including Jonathan Cope among their ranks. However twice bitten, thrice shy and it is Scottish Ballet that have picked up this daunting challenge. They have enlisted the Benesh Notator Diana Curry who worked with MacMillan in the 1980s: “Although the technique was quite new in the 1960s Sir Kenneth always worked with a choreologist and much of Le Baiser de la fée had been recorded. However there was a significant lacuna and that was the solo where the bridegroom, danced by Donald MacLeary in 1960 and Jonathan Cope in 1986, goes looking for his bride and finds himself waylaid by the fairy. Fortunately that scene had been recorded on film which Ms Curry has analysed and notated”. The tricky problem of the design has been entrusted to Gary Harris, I understand at the personal wish of Lady MacMillan. Gary has an hugely impressive CV. “He has worked the world over as a dancer, teacher, repetiteur and designer … in 1991 he joined the Royal Ballet as notator and repetiteur, working with choreographers such as William Forsythe and Kenneth MacMillan and re-staging the works of Fredrick Ashton … He was Associate Artistic Director of the Hong Kong Ballet and then of the Royal New Zealand Ballet until December 2010 … Since returning from New Zealand, he has continued re-staging the works of Kenneth MacMillan and in 2013, designed Christopher Hampson’s Hansel & Gretel for Scottish Ballet.” One has to applaud Scottish Ballet. I have hopes that their revival may prove to be a significant event. Presumably, that is why someone (hopefully the BBC?) has undertaken to film it! Meanwhile I would welcome comments from the more knowledgeable members of the Forum, some of whom I’m sure will have seen one or both of the original productions.
  24. English National Ballet Song of the Earth & La Sylphide Romeo & Juliet / Akram Khan’s Giselle / Nutcracker National Tour Wednesday 11 October – Saturday 2 December 2017 Performance times and ticket prices vary www.ballet.org.uk Continuing its commitment to taking world-class ballet to audiences across the country, this autumn English National Ballet presents five productions on its national tour. Two works new to English National Ballet’s repertoire, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s masterwork, Song of the Earth and August Bournonville’s La Sylphide recreated by Frank Andersen and Eva Kloborg, will be performed at the Manchester Palace Theatre (11-14 October) and Milton Keynes Theatre (17 – 21 October). First performed in 1965, MacMillan’s choreography for Song of the Earth was different from anything he had previously devised. Featuring three central figures, a Woman, a Man, and a Messenger, this powerful, moving exploration of life, death, and renewal is set to Mahler’s song cycle, Das Lied von der Erde, performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic. These performances of Song of the Earth coincide with the 25th anniversary of MacMillan’s death. Devised by one of the world´s leading producers of Bournonville ballets, Frank Andersen and Eva Kloborg’s faithful version of the 1830s Romantic ballet La Sylphide sees James wake from a dream on the morning of his wedding to Effy to encounter a mysterious sylphide before him, setting off a fateful sequence of events. Song of the Earth and La Sylphide will also be performed at the London Coliseum in January 2018. Winner of the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance, Akram Khan’s Giselle comes to Liverpool for the first time, with performances at the Liverpool Empire Theatre (25-28 October). Hailed as “a masterpiece of 21st century dance” (Mail on Sunday), Khan’s Giselle is one of a community of migrant workers cast out of their jobs in a condemned garment factory. Last season over 40,000 people saw Akram Khan’s reimagined Giselle performed on tour. The world’s greatest love story, Rudolf Nureyev’s Romeo & Juliet returns this autumn with performances at the Bristol Hippodrome (21-25 November). Featuring inventive and passionate choreography, and set to Prokofiev’s famous score, performed live by the English National Ballet Philharmonic, these performances mark the 40th anniversary of the production, which was originally created for English National Ballet in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. English National Ballet had its most successful Nutcracker run on record last season, when over 100,000 people came to see the production on tour or at the London Coliseum. This year sees Wayne Eagling’s Nutcracker tour to the Mayflower Theatre Southampton (29 November – 2 December) before returning to the London Coliseum, continuing the Company’s tradition of presenting a Nutcracker production each year since 1950. Listings information: Song of the Earth / La Sylphide Manchester Palace Theatre Wednesday 11 October - Saturday14 October 2017 Press night: Wednesday 11 October 2017 For more information, see: www.ballet.org.uk/song-sylphide Song of the Earth / La Sylphide Milton Keynes Theatre Tuesday 17 October - Saturday 21 October 2017 Press night: Tuesday 17 October 2017 For more information, see: www.ballet.org.uk/song-sylphide Akram Khan’s Giselle Liverpool Empire Theatre Wednesday 25 October - Saturday 28 October 2017 Press night: Wednesday 25 October 2017 For more information, see: http://giselle.ballet.org.uk Romeo & Juliet Bristol Hippodrome Tuesday 21 November - Saturday 25th November 2017 Press night: Tuesday 21 November For more information, see: www.ballet.org.uk/romeoandjuliet Nutcracker Mayflower Theatre, Southampton Wednesday 29 November - Saturday 2 December 2017 Press night: Wednesday 29 November 2017 For more information, see: www.ballet.org.uk/nutcracker Booking fees may apply. About English National Ballet English National Ballet has a long and distinguished history. Founded in 1950 as London Festival Ballet by the great English Dancers Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, it has played a major role in the growth and history of ballet in the UK. Today, English National Ballet is renowned for taking world-class ballet to the widest possible audience through its national and international tour programme, offsite performances at festivals including Glastonbury and Latitude, its distinguished orchestra English National Ballet Philharmonic, and being a UK leader in creative learning and engagement practice and delivery, building innovative partnerships to deliver flagship programmes such as English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s. Under the artistic directorship of Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet has gained new acclaim as it introduces innovative new works to the Company’s repertoire while continuing to honour and reinvigorate traditional ballet.
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