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I went to the Saturday evening performance to see Tierney too - I love seeing the 'up and coming' young dancers! I thought she was great. I was up in the amphitheatre and didn't need binoculars to get the detail. I know nothing about ballet and would love to see an alternative cast for comparison, but on the other hand that would mean seeing Carmen again and for me the money would be better spent on something else. I agree with many of the comments here - it was unwieldy and a bit of a bizarre mish mash of stuff. I also think they need to differentiate the costumes between the two male characters in a more striking way, because from the back of the opera house they were hard to distinguish. I also felt the story was thoroughly unclear. I'm not familiar with the original story of Carmen but I have recently seen Matthew Bourne's Car Man. I have difficulty believing that the two were based on the same story frankly. No idea what the narrative actually was in Acosta's choreography, and the bit with the bull? Eh?! I laughed in a couple of places where I don't think I was supposed to - notably near the beginning where the whole boiling of them are on stage, a man walks across in a suit with a briefcase and gets shot dead, at which point the whole lot of them disappear noisily. It felt like a supremely clumsy and therefore comic way to clear the stage! 

 

Unfortunately I had it fixed in my head that the performance started at 7.30 and so I missed Viscera. However, Faun was my favourite of the whole evening. It was absolutely magical and Olivia Cowley and Matthew Ball were beautiful. So subtle and clever. The Tchaikovsky is what it is, it was impressive and glitzy but felt rather meaningless by comparison.

 

Why is Carmen being treated as a sort of Acosta swansong when he is dancing in Elizabeth in the Linbury in January? Is it his final thing on the main stage?

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I assumed so.  I thought we'd originally decided there might be something on later in the year that he might be in, but could be wrong about that: I can't remember what the last section of the schedule is.

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Ah.  That would explain it.  Unusual of the Observer to be that late putting things up, isn't it?  Thanks, Janet.  I'll have a look later when I'm somewhere where I have stable broadband.

 

No, I was particularly early.  If I'm just doing it at home without a time constraint I usually go back and check if nothing has appeared but I didn't have time yesterday.  They usually seem to be visible on the site from around 0830.

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I assumed so.  I thought we'd originally decided there might be something on later in the year that he might be in, but could be wrong about that: I can't remember what the last section of the schedule is.

 

There's only one ballet programme: New McGregor; The Invitation (MacMillan); Within the Golden Hour (Wheeldon).

 

It's difficult to envisage Carlos in this unless he will play the older man in The Invitation. However, some critics seem to be referring to him "retiring next year" so 12th Nov. may not be his last appearance on the main stage. No doubt 'something' will be revealed as part of the cinema broadcast.

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To my mind, the main burden of Luke Jennings' was not so much the financial aspect of recent RB narrative commissioning, but that he sees a lack of story structure in recent work, something he attributes to a refusal to involve outsiders in the narrative process, leaving the chosen choreographers to 'sink or swim.'  So, for him, it's back to the need for an Editor or Dramaturg.  Dare I say that such an approach has worked well over the years for Cathy Marston, delivering strong, dramatic work in Bern and elsewhere through her cooperation with Edward Kemp, now Director at RADA?

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Didn't Wayne McGregor engage the author Audrey Niffenegger as dramaturg on Raven Girl?  That sure didn't work.....

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It's difficult to envisage Carlos in this unless he will play the older man in The Invitation. However, some critics seem to be referring to him "retiring next year" so 12th Nov. may not be his last appearance on the main stage.

 

He's doing a retirement tour, apparently.  Not sure how I managed to miss out on that.

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Didn't Wayne McGregor engage the author Audrey Niffenegger as dramaturg on Raven Girl?  That sure didn't work.....

 

Maybe involving the author rather than outsider was the problem? There will surely be a resistance to any pruning or changes.

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I have to confess I had to look up what a dramaturg actually was, as I'd never heard of it before.  Presumably, they would be involved right from the beginning?  So that the creative process would be a collaboration?  In which case, I can see there might be a few issues with that when it comes to cutting bits out.

 

I was thinking more of a fresh pair of experienced eyes, who comes along when the whole thing is roughly worked out, who could then make suggestions.  Of course, whether or not the creator takes any notice depends on the personalities of the individuals, but in the case of someone who is new to choreography, I would have thought they would welcome the input from someone else who is knowledgeable in that field. 

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it is far too easy to think of Ashton and MacMillan as choreographers who did not require assistance at any stage of their careers. Ashton worked in the commercial theatre as well as creating ballets for the Camargo Society. I think that working for an impresario like C.B. Cochran must in many ways have been the making of  Ashton the choreographer. He must have learnt very quickly what would and would not work in the theatre and what would please the audience. But even he occasionally had people in the rehearsal room. Sophie Fedorovitch the designer was one person who occasionally gave him advice and I am pretty sure that I remember reading somewhere that when he was setting  some of his ballets he had someone in the room to check that what he was setting was immediately comprehensible.

 

Perhaps everyone has forgotten that both Ashton and MacMillan occasionally worked with people other than the dancers in the rehearsal room.John Cranko, who was definitely a man of the theatre down to his fingertips, was very supportive of MacMillan in the early days of his career as a choreographer.Perhaps it doesn't fit in with the idea of MacMillan as outsider and universal genius for us to be reminded of this too often. Gillian Freeman worked as a dramaturg for MacMillan on two pieces Mayerling(successful) and Isadora (unsuccessful). and also worked with Lynn Seymour providing her with a scenario for a ballet which Seymour created  for SWRB in 1978 called Intimate Letters which worked quite well. The point about a dramaturg is that they provide the choreographer with the scenario for a ballet , it used to be called a libretto. It helps the choreographer focus his or her thoughts on what is going to be represented in each section of the piece and may help to provide a structure that the work might otherwise lack but it is up to the choreographer to recognise what can and can't be represented in dance.

 

I don't think that Isadora's failure can be ascribed to Gillian Freeman's scenario. MacMillan, as an experienced choreographer, should have been able to appreciate before he got the scenario that Isadora was going to be far too amorphous and episodic to hang together as a ballet and that it was not going to work as a theatrical tragedy told through dance.

 

In the case of Carmen a dramaturg might have helped to eliminate the feeling that the dramatic scenes and those for the corps exist almost entirely separate from each other with the scenes with the corps having the effect of putting the brakes on the drama each time it seems to be going somewhere. A friendly, trusted pair of eyes in the rehearsal room might have persuaded Acosta that little of what he was doing was that revolutionary and that much of the choreography that he had set for the corps goes on for far too long and merely draws attention to the fact that he has far more music than he has ideas to fill it with. 

Edited by FLOSS
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Maybe involving the author rather than outsider was the problem? There will surely be a resistance to any pruning or changes.

 

Except that I seem to remember Wayne, when Niffenegger expressed doubts, saying something along the lines of "leave the narrative to me", or at least I think he said that in an interview.  The whole thing was a collaboration between the two, wasn't it, rather than a staging of an existing work?

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I went to Saturday night's, Viscera was the same cast (still not impressed with the outer movements, just the pdd) but the other 3 ballets were the third cast, have enjoyed seeing all these different dancers and still the first cast to come, Olivia Cowley and Matthew Ball made another great couple in Faun, likewise Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Golding in the Tchaikovsky, Lauren in particular looked so relaxed and happy!

 

I'm glad others liked Tierney Heap in Carmen, doesn't matter now if I say I thought she wasn't really strong enough at times to be the centrepoint of the ballet, Vadim Muntagirov was dancing and acting like a man possessed (fantastic performance) and the final pdd looked a little onesided. Matthew Ball's acting and technique was very exciting, and although the ballet itself makes me laugh in the wrong places with some major changes it could be another valid Carmen ballet, think Roland Petit's will still be my favourite.

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Except that I seem to remember Wayne, when Niffenegger expressed doubts, saying something along the lines of "leave the narrative to me", or at least I think he said that in an interview.  The whole thing was a collaboration between the two, wasn't it, rather than a staging of an existing work?

 

If I remember correctly, he told her to write the story without worrying about how it could be told in dance, I seem to recall him joking during the insight evening that he ended regretting it. While the book didn't exist before the commission, neither had much if any input in what the other was doing. 

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it is far too easy to think of Ashton and MacMillan as choreographers who did not require assistance at any stage of their careers.

 

Perhaps everyone has forgotten that both Ashton and MacMillan occasionally worked with people other than the dancers in the rehearsal room.John Cranko, who was definitely a man of the theatre down to his fingertips, was very supportive of MacMillan in the early days of his career as a choreographer.Perhaps it doesn't fit in with the idea of MacMillan as outsider and universal genius for us to be reminded of this too often.

 

In the case of Carmen a dramaturg might have helped to eliminate the feeling that the dramatic scenes and those for the corps exist almost entirely separate from each other with the scenes with the corps having the effect of putting the brakes on the drama each time it seems to be going somewhere. A friendly, trusted pair of eyes in the rehearsal room might have persuaded Acosta that little of what he was doing was that revolutionary and that much of the choreography that he had set for the corps goes on for far too long and merely draws attention to the fact that he has far more music than he has ideas to fill it with. 

 

Thanks very much, Floss.  I was going to ask about Ashton and MacMillan.  It seems to make perfect sense to have a "friendly, trusted pair of eyes" to come along and offer a word or two of advice.

 

And on a practical level, I am slightly surprised the people holding the purse strings don't think it is necessary.  Or perhaps they do, and the final Carmen is the result of somebody else giving it the once over and making suggestions!   

Edited by Fonty

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Does anyone in the world have a more joyful, contagious smile than Marianela Nunez? Although Vadim gave her a run for her money tonight!

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I attended Monday's night performance of the quadruple bill and was seated in the Amph upper slips (right) after I got my dates wrong and had to return the original ticket and quickly grab another. This didn't make for the best viewing experience - will try not to do that again.

 

I do like Viscera and after seeing Morera rehearse the female lead bit on World Ballet day I was looking forward to seeing that part of the piece. Apart from not being able to see all of the stage and looking around heads and clasped hands, it felt a bit flat for me with Hinkis. All the precision and the definition of the movements that I saw Morera rehearse and refine on the broadcast didn't really makes it way up to me... perhaps it was just my position. The portions of the pas de deux section that I could see were better.

 

Lauren and Eric were very enjoyable to watch in Faun and the audience seemed to really love that performance. I think Some of the ladies were cheering at the sight of Eric's bare torso but I could be mistaken because of my less than ideal vantage point..

 

I always enjoy seeing the Tchaikovsky pas de deux and it was good to see the RB do it again. Lovely well judged performance by Marianela Nunez and Vadim! How does he manage to land his jumps so softly? I do remember seeing Marianela and Carlos ( if memory serves me right) do this some years ago and Marianela put on the afterburners and then had a bit of a wobble and made a funny face then smiled and managed to get through it.

 

I think I was pretty much anaesthetised to Carmen having read all the details here on the forum before seeing it. I really didn't expect much at all. It wasn't as awful as I'd feared and I was actually impressed with the dancers giving it their best. Morera did a great job and it was quite a physical performance for her... I did giggle in bits (horned man) and I agree with the suggestions of pruning. Am I the only one who noticed the twerking moves in one bit? It was during the section that has a sort of cabaret-cum-musical feel to it. I was also intrigued with the rather tatty looking wig they gave Carmen... Whose idea was it that Carmen should have mousy-brown coloured hair with a bird nest effect ? Usually I tend not to notice hair but that was quite a bad wig...

 

Second viewing (first cast) is on Friday and not in the upper slips this time

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 I think Some of the ladies were cheering at the sight of Eric's bare torso but I could be mistaken because of my less than ideal vantage point.

 

Based on previous performances where his bare chest has played a part (and now I start to think of it, there are quite a few of them), I doubt you were mistaken :)

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Actually, have any of the professional critics given Carmen a good review? I haven't found one yet.

 

Jann Parry on DanceTabs was kindest: "Acosta’s Carmen is far from a disaster…"

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Just out, Ismene Brown's review of Carmen (and Connectome / Raven Girl) in The Spectator, based on several viewings, as befits a name critic:-

 

http://new.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/carlos-acostas-incoherent-carmen-is-a-disaster/

 

Actually, have any of the professional critics given Carmen a good review? I haven't found one yet.

 

I *love* what this review says about Tierney Heap!

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I *love* what this review says about Tierney Heap!

I agree. I thought this was a terrific review, it summed up so much of what I thought of Carmen. I only saw the Morera cast on the Saturday afternoon, and I agree she and Bonelli in particular, were trying their best to give the proceedings some dramatic oomph. But they were fighting a losing battle. I felt sorry and faintly embarrassed for them. Would be good to see it played with a sense of humour, might even be enough to rescue it from oblivion. Then again, maybe not.

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By the way, I asked this question on Twitter but got no reply, so perhaps somebody here knows the answer.  In Carmen, besides the many instantly recognisable bits of music adapted from the opera score plus a chunk of the Farandole from L'Arlesienne, there is a piece of music I don't recognise.  It's the slow music for Carmen's pas de deux with Escamillo.  Can somebody please tell me what it is?  I've watched that ballet twice now and it was no more familiar the second time.

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I know the piece of music you mean, Ruth. Matthew Bourne also used it, far more effectively, in his version, The Car Man, but there it was used for the Don Jose figure and his sweetheart rather than Carmen. I don't know what it's called though and where it comes from. I had assumed that it was from the opera. Like Ismene Brown, I thought that it didn't fit well with a pdd for Escamillo and Carmen.

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I know the piece of music you mean, Ruth. Matthew Bourne also used it, far more effectively, in his version, The Car Man, but there it was used for the Don Jose figure and his sweetheart rather than Carmen. I don't know what it's called though and where it comes from. I had assumed that it was from the opera. Like Ismene Brown, I thought that it didn't fit well with a pdd for Escamillo and Carmen.

 

Maybe when I see it for the last time (tomorrow) I will suddenly realise that it's something obvious, just in a strange arrangement... but I know the opera really well and it didn't seem familiar at all.

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.....there is a piece of music I don't recognise.  It's the slow music for Carmen's pas de deux with Escamillo.  Can somebody please tell me what it is?  I've watched that ballet twice now and it was no more familiar the second time.

 

 Is it another extract from L'Arlesienne? The music is familiar to me but I know it isn't from the opera, Carmen.

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I'm going on Monday Janet - it would be great to say hello.

 

I shall lurk near the piano in the Floral Hall during the interval.

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 Is it another extract from L'Arlesienne? The music is familiar to me but I know it isn't from the opera, Carmen.

 

That's entirely possible - the only bit of L'Arlesienne I know is the Farandole, mainly because we used to play it in school orchestra! 

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