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  1. 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/
  2. In anticipation of the Royal Ballet's Autumn season which starts on Tuesday 5th October, here are some rehearsal photos to whet your appetite! William Bracewell and Fumi Kaneko certainly seem to make a lovely pairing - which is good as I am seeing them on the 9th! https://www.flickr.com/photos/royaloperahouse/albums/72157719943466395
  3. 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).
  4. UK readers may be interested to know that the film "Nijinsky" is being screened on Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81) on Friday 26 February at 9pm. I am not sure if this 1980 film has ever been shown on 'free' channels previously, as I don't think I have seen it since its cinema release. It stars ABT principal George de la Pena as Nijinsky, with Leslie Browne as Romola, Alan Bates as a very credible Diaghilev, Carla Fracci as Karsavina and Anton Dolin as Enrico Cecchetti. London Festival Ballet dancers play other Ballet Russes dancers, and future principal dancers can be spotted amongst the corps de ballet. The film includes large chunks of the LFB/Beriosov productions of "Scheherazade", "Polovtsian Dances"", "Petrouchka" etc., and an almost complete "L'Apres-midi d'un Faune" (with a bit of artistic licence at the end) in a recreation of the glorious sets and costumes by Bakst. There is also a snippet of "Jeux" choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan and an attempt to recreate part of 'Sacre' using the original set and costume designs. The film was directed by Herbert Ross, who was the husband of the great American ballerina, Nora Kaye, so all the dance scenes are filmed with a real appreciation of the choreography. Well worth a lockdown watch!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. So, the Royal Ballet season starts tonight. I hope people who are going will report back.
  8. 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??????
  9. 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??????????
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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:
  16. 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
  17. 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!
  18. 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.
  19. 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:
  20. 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)
  21. 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
  22. [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
  23. 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!!!!
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