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Found 21 results

  1. As I have had enough of clearing broken branches following the storm on Friday, I thought I might as well start a thread for the Royal Ballet's performances of Swan Lake which start next week. I am very much looking forward to my trips on 1st (Nunez and Muntagirov) and 16th March (Bracewell and Hayward) and it will be the first time I have been to Opening Night. Here are some rehearsal photos from ROH's Flickr of Cesar Corrales and Mayara Magri https://www.flickr.com/photos/royaloperahouse/albums/72177720296700854 and from 2020 with William Bracewell (who I am particularly looking forward to seeing having seen his Romeo) https://www.flickr.com/photos/royaloperahouse/albums/72177720296516106
  2. The General Rehearsal is on Monday (March 4th) and I can't believe how many rehearsal tickets remain unsold and how many hundreds of seats are still available for every show. I have never seen anything like it. I do hope that they use Student Standby very actively, otherwise there will be swathes of red velvet right in front of the dancers - and that would be such a pity for them.
  3. The drought is over. Well, the metaphoric ballet drought is over. The real drought still has much of western NSW in its grip. In fact, the parents of my nephew's partner (is there a word for that?), from Wagga in the west, were in Sydney a couple of weeks ago during a particularly heavy rainstorm. And they just sat on my sister's balcony, watching and listening to the rain. Nearly broke my heart. But the ballet drought ... nothing from December to March, is over. And given the heaviness and sadness of the last 10 days, it's a real relief. Thank god it was Liam Scarlett's Dangerous Liaisons. If it were his Swan Lake, I don’t think I could have taken Seigfried holding the lifeless body of Odette. But it wasn't Swan Lake. It was Dangerous Liaisons. Dangerous Liaisons is the first work that Scarlett has created on the Queensland Ballet: and this only 6 years since Li Cunxin took over an insignificant little provincial company. My admiration for Li Cunxin is boundless! As Michelle Potter, an influential critic, stated, QB is a national treasure. Anyway, as I'm sure you know, Dangerous Liaisons is about Sex. And sex. And sex. The audience gets a foretaste of what's to come when the curtain rises on the funeral of the husband of Madam de Merteuil, the female protagonist. The guests leave and Madam de Merteuil has it off with the Compte de Gercourt, her lover, right there on the coffin. The first night audience gasped and laughed ... nervous laughter if ever I've heard it. The audience the following night was rather more blase, but it was a shock. Things went on from there. First night I gave up trying to follow who was doing what to whom, but second viewing gave me more of a handle on the plot. The dancing was extraordinary as Valmont (Alexander Idaszak) tossed and threw Merteuil (Laura Hidalgo) around in what can only be described as desperate, vicious sex. The contrast with the calm, restrained PDD as Cecile (Yanela Pinera) and Danceny (Rian Thompson) fall in love was striking. Apart from the dancers, however, mention must be made of Tracy Grant Lord's costumes. The nobility dressed in sumptuous costumes which became a vital aspect of the dance as they billowed, flashing vividly coloured underwear, before being ruthlessly crushed. The young and innocent dressed in whites, creams and pastels, gentle creations that served to underline the fluidity and purity of line of their dance. As Madam de Merteuil, Laura Hidalgo was mesmerising; imperious, utterly immoral and utterly sure of her right to command. Every gesture, every step expressed her complete and vicious self-absorption. Music is by Saint-Saens, and Martin Yates, the arranger, characterises what he did as plunder Saint-Saens' work. Each character is associated with a musical theme (something which really helps distinguish who's who) but these are woven into a rich orchestral score which sounds as if it were created ab initio for the work. Overall, Liam Scarlett has created a lasting and extraordinary work, richly textured, a work which tells a complex and difficult story succinctly and clearly, if you take the time to absorb the many strands that make up the tale.
  4. Well, tonight was the start of a repeat London run of this programme, at Sadler's Wells. Previous threads on the subject are: Photos from the original 2014 London run: http://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/6470-english-national-ballet-lest-we-forget-london-april-2014/?tab=comments#comment-86727 Discussion of the run itself: http://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/6462-english-national-ballet-lest-we-forget-april-2014/?tab=comments#comment-86645 The 2015 run: http://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/10515-english-national-ballet-lest-we-forget-2015/?tab=comments#comment-141214 And photos therefor: http://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/10520-english-national-ballet-lest-we-forget-september-2015/?tab=comments#comment-141338
  5. Liam Scarlett's A Midsummer Night's Dream is a magical delight. The ground is of course well covered, by Ashton and Balanchine as well as others, but Scarlett manages a unique take. The narrative is pared right back (as with Ashton): Oberon and Titania quarrel over the foundling boy, played by Jules Missell with a cheeky sparkle that is not hidden by his enveloping onesy. And, perhaps to reassure those of us who had wondered just why Oberon wanted the boy so badly, Titania and Oberon finally unite in returning the boy to the place in which he was found. Meanwhile, the four lovers and the mechanicals together become explorers searching the forest for heaven only knows what, and Puck makes mayhem as he tries to remedy lovers' quarrels. Rian Thompson makes a surprisingly endearing Bottom. I don't know if it is appropriate to talk of chemstry between Bottom with his asses' ears, and Titania, but if it wasn't chemistry I need another word. I have in the past not warmed to Principal Dancer Victor Estevez, but as Oberon he was riveting. His Oberon was commanding and authoritative, with something of the wizard about him. He dominated the rather cramped stage with great leaps and glorious arm gestures, high and wide. In contrast, Laura Hidalgo's Titania was gentle and romantic, while not sacrificing her authority. Their pdds included multiple beautiful high lifts that emphasised their affinity with the air and the magical. The fairies were delightful, dressed in deep blue powderpuffs (I really can't call them tutus), skimming across the stage and huddling in tight, excited groups. Kohei Iwamoto gave us an irrepressible Puck, bounding back from each setback with an endearing shrug and a startling leap. The human characters, in contrast, were much more earth-bound, not withstanding the romanticism of Hermia, beautifully danced by Yanela Pinera, and Lysander (Joel Woellner). Great chemistry there! The slapstick that characterised Helena (Mia Heathcote) and Demitrius (Alexander Idaszak) belied the complexity of their choreography, while the rustics were, well, rustic. The set itself, the work of Tracy Grant Lord, emphasised the difference between magical and mundane. It was a wonderful set, think Avatar's Pandorra, overseen by the outline of a huge full moon, and offering lofty vantage points from which Oberon could survey his realm, while Puck variously slid down a pole from his erie, and, on one spectacular occassion, swung down on a rope. The mortal characters were restricted to ground level. My main gripe was with the character of Helena. In the second decade of the 21st century, do we really need a bespectacled, man-chasing nurd? Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses? Please!! In spite of this, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a wonderful ballet, and one that Li Cunxin is proudly taking to China in November. I just hope that while it is not scheduled for Brisbane in 2019, it makes a return to the lineup in 2020.
  6. Queensland Ballet is presenting Liam Scarlett's Firebird right now, in late May 2018. The Australian Ballet presented Graeme Murphy's Firebird in March. Interesting programming, that. Queensland Ballet is presenting Ben Stephenson's Cinderella in September. TAB is presenting Ratmansky's Cinderella in November. Even more interesting programming. And in October, Queensland Ballet takes its party piece, Scarlett's Midsummer Night's Dream to Melbourne. Not Sydney, not Adelaide, but Melbourne. Home and bulwark of TAB. What do they say? Once is accident, twice is coincidence, three times is ... no, not enemy action, but action, certainly. A little context. In 2012, Queensland Ballet was a worthy provincial ballet company known for its dedication to taking ballet to regional centres throughout Queensland. In 2012, Li Cunxin, (Mao's Last Dancer Li Cunxin), was appointed Artistic Director. In 2013, he brought in Jenna Roberts from Birmingham Royal Ballet and Carolyn Judson, Texas Ballet Theatre, to help raise standards. In 2014, it was the big guns ... Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo and Steve Macrae (!!!), and in 2015 Alina Cojocaru. In 2016, Liam Scarlett became Artistic Associate and in 2017 Evgenia Obratzova of the Bolshoi replaced Alina Cojuocaru when she had to withdraw. (How does a small and insignificant provincial company attract such stellar names? Heaven only knows.) And this October, they're going to Melbourne. Looks remarkably like an announcement. 'We're here.' After Firebird, they are. Liam Scarlett's Firebird is unlike that of Fokine or even Murphy. It is not a battle between good and evil. At the heart of the work is the relationship between the firebird and Koschei. Both are powerful magical creatures, engaged in an eternal battle for dominance, but at the same time linked by a shared and profound sensuality. Laura Hidalgo's firebird is elemental, a force of nature; curious, inquisitive, intelligent. Koschei (Rian Thompson) is a far darker creature, one who expresses his power through sexual domination. Into their kingdom, blunders the Prince (Joel Woellner). The firebird is intrigued. The Prince is terrified. The fear and desperation to escape that the firebird exhibits in Fokine's original belongs here to the Prince, although he finally succombs to the firebird's curiosity and her sensuality. She leaves, but not before giving him a feather to summon her in case of need. From here, the story is more conventional. Koschei's enslaved maidens enter, together with the newly enslaved Princess. Prince and Princess fall in love (a beautiful, gentle pdd) before Koschei's creatures enter, followed by Koschei himself. A confrontation ensues, during which Koschei demonstrates his sexual domination, leading ultimately to the Prince summoning the firebird. Here the narrative deviates from tradition once again. The firebird does not fight Koschei; rather she causes him and his minions to fall asleep. She then shows the Prince the egg which conceals Koschei's soul. The Princess seizes and smashes the egg, thus killing Koschei. (This I think, was a total surprise to the firebird. She didn't understand humans at all ☺)The ballet ends with the firebird standing over Koschei's body, radiating grief. Laura Hidalgo as the firebird was utterly compelling, dominating the stage whenever she was on it. I could not take my eyes off her. Rian Thompson as Koschei came near to matching her, and together, these two created an utterly memorable evening. I wish I could say that Acosta's Carmen was similarly memorable. Perhaps it was, given that I thought at the beginning that I had mistakenly wondered into a performance of The Full Monty. The woman to my left fell asleep and snored loudly through most of the performance. The woman to my right turned to me after the final curtain and said, 'Well, that shows that great dancers are not necessarily great choreographers.' Just about says it all, really. But The Firebird demonstrates that we now have two serious classical ballet companies in Australia. Alleluia.
  7. Royal Ballet will be going live with Swan Lake rehearsals this Thursday at 230 pm British Time, on their facebook feed. https://www.facebook.com/royaloperahouse/?hc_ref=ARQFMqwzMe8tEGC8dnNGqnlM6PHTikGmw-MaAptQD80Uklz1O2NiGvTFrTopOA-XAiE
  8. This topic has already been touched on in "TimesWatch" but the Royal Opera House magazine has an article about the new production. A few key points: Odette "and her black swan nemesis Odile" are "magical beings.......two distinct entities, creations of von Rothbart and controlled by him" von Rothbart will be built up into a "true dramatic villain"......" who dances, not just a character figure" Siegfried is on stage throughout: "We follow him and see his point of view", says Scarlett the role of Benno will be "more substantial" and the two dancers with whom he will perform the Act pas de trois "will be Siegfried's sisters" many company dances and divertissements will be re-choreographed (but not Ashton's Neopolitan Dance) there will be an entirely new Act IV the ending has been decided but remains undisclosed Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov will lead the first night cast there will be 6 different casts initially (as yet not announced) with opportunities in due course "for some of the up-and-coming company dancers to take the principal roles" There is, of course, much more in the article about the background to the new production and the approach that Scarlett and Macfarlane (designer) are taking. Can't wait!
  9. The RDB gives the world premiere of Scarlett's Queen of Spades (Spar Dame in Danish) on April 14th - there's a page about in English on their site and more information and a couple of videos if you switch to the Danish version. From the photographs etc you can deduce that the first cast has Kizzy Matiakis as the Countess and Andreas Kaas as Hermann, but there are few clues to who else is dancing and if/when a second cast goes on. ( But, hey, there's still a week to opening night - plenty of time to plan your visit.) If anyone is going, please report back!
  10. I will kick this off, though in many ways I'd rather not. I enjoyed Vertiginous Thrill - I'd forgotten most of it except the tutu shapes, and it was fun and well danced - lots of turning and jumping. Tarantella: Hayward and Sambe brought the house down. Absolutely brilliant - superb technically, and so full of effortless charm. Strapless looked stylish, but was as problematic as last time round. But it was Symphonic Dances that really depressed me. As a tribute to the wonderful Yanowsky, it could have been thrilling. She was beautiful - how could she not be. But the work itself was, in my view, dire. (And also in black and red, like Strapless! Does no-one think of these things?). Lots of swirling and strutting and running, incredibly old fashioned, tawdry designs. Gosh. I could have wept. But the dancers did their best - James Hay and Reece Clarke stood out particularly. And there were from time to time a few moments of interest, even of beauty. But they were drowned in the awfulness of the rest. I must acknowledge that it got an excellent reception. Maybe it's just me.
  11. http://www.roh.org.uk/news/watch-rehearsals-for-the-royal-ballets-symphonic-dances (from around 15 minutes in)
  12. I was back in Nice at the weekend for the current triple bill of Ballet Nice Mediterranee, which included the premiere in France of Liam Scarlett’s Vespertine. I saw the performances on Saturday evening and on Sunday afternoon. The programme started with Sinfonietta by Jiri Kylian. Sinfonietta was part of the first programme that I ever attended at the ROH, back in 2006, and it was a joy to see it again. In particular the entry of the men at the beginning, one by one, and each then performing the same choreography, the duets of grands jetes in rectangles across the stage, and the closing section with couples performing higher and higher lifts diagonally across the stage. It’s that energetic, joyful, celebratory atmosphere that captivated me, and also the backcloth which reminded me of a rural coastal area in the UK or in Ireland. In watching the duets with their grands jetes, I was thunderstruck by a dancer whom I hadn’t seen before. His lines, his precision, the clarity of his dancing, the way he moved between the jumps and turns completely got me. I was properly awestruck. A check in the programme book during the interval showed Alessandro Audisio as name. A search on the web later that night showed that he graduated from the RBS in 2014 and then joined the Romanian National Ballet. So no wonder! He did the RBS proud, he will be a great asset for the company in Nice (yes, I am still awestruck!), and I look forward to seeing more of him in future seasons. Scarlett created Vespertine with music by Arcangelo Corelli for Norwegian National Ballet in 2013. With the exception of a PDD for two dancers at POB last summer, I understand that Nice is also the first company in France that shows any piece by Liam Scarlett. The stage is lit by (up to) 9 chandelier-like groupings of around 25 bare light bulbs each. 4 lead dancers and a further 8 dancers perform in 17th century-style clothes – high-waisted culottes and knee-length coats for the men, long dresses with an extremely wide skirt, a tight top and a shoulder cover for the woman, all in burgundy. Plus nude trunks & bodies underneath, as the choreography later shows. An introductory male solo is followed by a long and sensual PDD (trunks and full dress), superbly danced by Zaloa Fabbrini and Zhani Lukaj, both promoted to soloist level only at the end of last season. Various lifts upside down, including with shivering of legs by the woman and one very high lift upside down where the female dancer does what looks like a one-armed handstand on the man’s shoulder; he holds on to her thigh and then walks across stage in that position rather fast. Various group sections with a female solo and a male duet in between follow, sometimes in full clothes, sometimes in underwear for the men and/ or the women. Some group movements look like court dancing, some like playing a string instrument, all are highly musical. The male duet seems to be about relationships and male rivalry. The programme booklet doesn’t indicate a story for the ballet, and yet I’ve taken this piece as couples at a 17th-century court and what happens on stage - and more importantly, what happens behind the scenes. Alvin Ailey’s Night Creature, to music by Duke Ellington, comes with the atmosphere of a NY jazz/ night club. 1920s style dresses and headbands for the female dancers, lots of hip shaking, some ballroom dancing, some jazz dance, and intermittently overhead lifts, arabesques, pas de bourree, pas de chat and jetes. This was not my piece as there was too much hip shaking for my taste. The audience on Saturday however truly adored it (I didn’t stay for it on Sunday as I was heading to a local cinema to see the new documentary about the Opera de Paris, see my post in the Opera & Music section), and the music proved to be an earworm – on the way back to my place, I was shaking my hips, too. Eric Vu-An has published two videos with extracts of stage rehearsals on his public Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Vu-An-383731904998106/?fref=nf. There’ll be further performances of the triple bill later this week. Sinfonietta will also be performed by the company in Antibes in June as part of another mixed programme. The programme booklet shows 28 dancers, up from 26 dancers when I saw the company last autumn and 25 last spring. This growth in size (well, I hope it is growth rather than filling vacancies that happened to exist just when I saw the company last year), the addition of Alessandro Audisio and the entry of Scholz’ Oktett into their repertoire last year/ Scarlett’s Vespertine this year makes me excited about the future development of the company. I really look forward to the announcement of the coming season (and as an aside, I do hope that the flight connections from Stuttgart will have improved by then as getting there from London seemed to be somewhat easier & cheaper).
  13. Was at the rehearsal on Tuesday evening, with the opening night cast, of Liam Scarlett's world premiere of 'Frankenstein', based on the Mary Shelley gothic classic. Here are a few photos: Federico Bonelli © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Federico Bonelli, Laura Morera © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr Steven McRae, Federico Bonelli © Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr See more... Set from DanceTabs: RB - Frankenstein Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr By kind permission of the Royal Opera House
  14. Young Mr Scarlett continues to keep busy - this news is contained in the Press Release here: https://madmimi.com/p/5cccf8?fe=1&pact=419170-135326198-8326731442-db0c166fa5ea16b2efebbe03229c331b6d5d08e8
  15. The RB's insight event into Liam Scarlett's Frankenstein is being live-streamed tonight (April 7) from 7.15 BST. Link here.
  16. 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
  17. I think this may be the wrong place to post this but as this is up and running I will just show you some pictures from yesterday evening's rehearsal. First night is tonight and I will leave comments to the critics, just to say that all three ballets were very dark. Liam Scarlett's No Man's Land Russell Maliphant's - Second Breath Akram Khan's - Dust More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk
  18. So just as Charlie and I had met, we were joined by Alex Beard, who I interviewed for the London Ballet Circle recently, who gave us a mini tour of the ROH redevelopment plans exhibition - well worth seeing in my opinion. Then up to the Clore where Kim Brandstrup was rehearsing Deirdre Chapman and Bennet Gartside in Ceremony of Innocence. Although I've already seen it performed in Snape and Copenhagen, Kim used this opportunity to amend and fine tune this work. Although there is no narrative as such, this scene was inspired by a memory from Benn's character's childhood when a day at the beach was marred by getting separated from his mother. Years later his mother still remembers being frantic with worry and it appears the experience scarred her for life, still worrying about him as a grown man. Liam Scarlett's work Age of Anxiety is still in development. Based on the book, the first section that was rehearsed saw Matthew Ball and Natalie Harrison as the young couple very much in love in a late night bar. Liam's ability to articulate every facet of the characters helped his dancers find their unique interpretation. It was great fun to watch the development of that section. The evening concluded with Liam rehearsing Tristan Dyer's solo which was a masterclass in the eloquence of the smallest of movements. Many thanks once again Charlie for the opportunity to sit in on the rehearsal this evening. Kind regards Allison
  19. ENB's run of performances at the Barbican Theatre starts tonight: is anyone going? If so, please could you report back on running time and running order (as well as everything else)? Thanks.
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