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The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker, 2015-16


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 I'm not actually disappointed. They usually cast the 'wee' ones in that role, Yasmine more of a medium, as far as physical stature concerned. And besides, as I said before, Claras don't as a rule, go on to Principal - and Yasmine will (in my own opinion). You seem to get more Rose's in the top echelons (e.g. Zenaida Yanowsky, Laura Morera). Just my musings, I hasten to add.

 

Well, Alina Cojocaru used to dance Clara for the RB, and I don't think many would dispute that the RB have their eye on Frankie Hayward as a future Principal, so I don't think that necessarily holds water.  (I'd also be quite surprised if, should Hayward win that promotion in the next couple of seasons, they'd suddenly stop casting her as Clara, any more than Laura Morera's principal status has stopped her being cast in less-than-leading roles that she's really good at.)  I agree Naghdi doesn't seem a natural Clara (not for this production, anyway) but look forward to her future Sugar Plum Fairy.  (She is also the one of the current crop of very talented mid-ranking RB dancers who I'm very disappointed hasn't been given a Giselle debut this season.)

 

Watching Anna Rose O'Sullivan's first Clara last night - which was confident and lovely, as I thought it would be - I was struck that she's a little taller than I thought she was, and certainly on the tall side to be partnered by James Hay.  As for the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince, Campbell (standing in for Bonelli) is similarly a bit on the short side for Morera - presumably, as she'd have been rehearsing with a taller partner, the reason for the small mishap on the final pose of the grand pas when her hand touched the ground!

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Yes, Anna Rose is taller than Yasmine, so another reason why Yasmine could be Clara (am referring to Dave's post above)! :)

 

It did strike me last night as such a shame that so many of the excellent male dancers in the RB are on the short side. James Hay danced beautifully last night, and his mime and acting were superb, but he did struggle slightly on some of the lifts. Alexander was also excellent, but when Laura went on pointe she was taller than him, which looks strange. As Ruth pointed out, in the final fish dive she was too close to the ground so she had to palm it to stop from falling out of the lift. In the Arabian dance, there was one point where Thomas Mock almost dropped Tierney Heap.

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In my inexpert opinion, the RB really needs a couple of leading men who are (1) reasonably tall, (2) physically expressive, (3) facially expressive, and (4) a really solid partner.  Rarer than hen's teeth I'm sure, so I don't dispute that achieving this this is easier said than done.  Thank goodness Muntagirov decided to join the company, as without him they'd really only have Bonelli who, though he isn't THAT tall, just about fits fits the bill.  I can't think of another dancer of theirs at Principal or First Soloist level who has all four, and you really start to notice it when somebody like Bonelli is out injured.  If they lose any more Nutcracker leading men to injury, I wonder whether they might bring Muntagirov in early? His first scheduled show (with Nunez) isn't till 5th January... or maybe he's guesting elsewhere and unavailable.

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So, are both Bonelli and Golding injured? That's going to be tough to cover in such a long run. As for Campbell, I'm surprised that there was an issue height-wise. He's not small and Morera is not tall; surely, she's not taller than 5' 3 or 5'4.

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In my inexpert opinion, the RB really needs a couple of leading men who are (1) reasonably tall, (2) physically expressive, (3) facially expressive, and (4) a really solid partner.  Rarer than hen's teeth I'm sure, so I don't dispute that achieving this this is easier said than done.  Thank goodness Muntagirov decided to join the company, as without him they'd really only have Bonelli who, though he isn't THAT tall, just about fits fits the bill.  I can't think of another dancer of theirs at Principal or First Soloist level who has all four, and you really start to notice it when somebody like Bonelli is out injured.  If they lose any more Nutcracker leading men to injury, I wonder whether they might bring Muntagirov in early? His first scheduled show (with Nunez) isn't till 5th January... or maybe he's guesting elsewhere and unavailable.

 

Muntagirov is guesting in Japan (Nutcracker...).

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So, are both Bonelli and Golding injured? That's going to be tough to cover in such a long run. As for Campbell, I'm surprised that there was an issue height-wise. He's not small and Morera is not tall; surely, she's not taller than 5' 3 or 5'4.

Well, add two inches when she is on pointe and she was definitely a bit taller than him. He is not that tall. Having said this, it did not detract from a lovely performance by them both. He is doing a sterling job of doing his scheduled performances and stepping in for Golding and Bonelli. He is a real trouper, very committed and very talented. I am liking him more and more with each passing month, as I said in my review towards the beginning of this thread.

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Well, Alina Cojocaru used to dance Clara for the RB, and I don't think many would dispute that the RB have their eye on Frankie Hayward as a future Principal, so I don't think that necessarily holds water.  (I'd also be quite surprised if, should Hayward win that promotion in the next couple of seasons, they'd suddenly stop casting her as Clara, any more than Laura Morera's principal status has stopped her being cast in less-than-leading roles that she's really good at.)  I agree Naghdi doesn't seem a natural Clara (not for this production, anyway) but look forward to her future Sugar Plum Fairy.  (She is also the one of the current crop of very talented mid-ranking RB dancers who I'm very disappointed hasn't been given a Giselle debut this season.)

 

Yes, Alina was the last to go on from Clara to Principal (unless someone can correct me). Ms Naghdi would be an excellent Clara I have no doubt, but its just I see her more as SPF - and agree in the disappointment of not being cast as Giselle. THAT would be a debut to fight for a ticket! :-)

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Well, add two inches when she is on pointe and she was definitely a bit taller than him. He is not that tall. Having said this, it did not detract from a lovely performance by them both. He is doing a sterling job of doing his scheduled performances and stepping in for Golding and Bonelli. He is a real trouper, very committed and very talented. I am liking him more and more with each passing month, as I said in my review towards the beginning of this thread.

 

 

And some of us were huge fans BEFORE he joined RB!!!

 

At BRB, David Bentley publicly referred to him as the Boy Wonder because of his all round talent and his capability of learning roles in a very short space of time.  

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Now we are coming to the point when we see whether Mr. O'Hare takes the easy option,one which Mason took, of acquiring outsiders as Principals or whether he looks to the lower ranks of the company and takes steps to develop his own dancers. It is why his choice of repertory over the next couple of years is all important. It may even be one of the reasons why he decided to revive Two Pigeons. It gives opportunities for several dancers to show what they can do and roles which do not carry the weight of expectation and the history that some other ballets which are shown regularly at Covent Garden do.

 

He has at least one really talented tall young man in the junior ranks called Reece Clarke. I believe that he spent some time off with injury during his first season. If O'Hare is committed to recruiting from within the ranks  then I would not expect someone who gave a very stylish account as Jean de Brienne at the RBS's Covent Garden matinee and made a positive impression taking the Somes' role in Symphonic Variations as his first major role with the company to spend too long languishing in the lower ranks. O'Hare might decide to promote Hristov to Principal as an interim measure. A promotion from within the ranks would  boost morale within the lower tiers of the company, much as Morera's promotion did. It helps, if occasionally, a dancer who has a strong technique and is a real team player is rewarded for their efforts, It encourages the rest of the stalwarts.

 

As for Mr Campbell while you can see that partnering Morera is at the very limit of his capacity because of her height when on pointe he performs his duties as cavalier very elegantly. He dances well and is very adaptable and seems suited to a wider range of roles than McRae who is always, for me, Steven McRae technician in whatever role he dances. 

Edited by FLOSS
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I just heard on the radio that today is the anniversary of The Nutcracker's first performance in St. Petersburg....December 18th 1892. Just to show that ballet criticism has been ever thus:

 

"The first performance of The Nutcracker was not deemed a success. The reaction to the dancers themselves was ambivalent. While some critics praised Dell'Era on her pointe work as the Sugar Plum Fairy (she allegedly received five curtain-calls), one critic called her "corpulent" and "podgy." Olga Preobrajenskaya as the Columbine doll was panned by one critic as "completely insipid" and praised as "charming" by another." [Wikipedia]

 

Happy Birthday, Nutcracker! :)

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O'Hare might decide to promote Hristov to Principal as an interim measure.

 

I would hope no AD of any company would regard promotion to Principal as an "interim measure".  Either the rank is deserved or it isn't.  If you move the goalposts once, you set a dangerous precedent for doing it again in the future. And O'Hare seems perfectly happy to cast First Soloists in so-called "principal" roles.

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Totally agree, Alison - to me, while both Hristov and Ryoichi Hirano (another First Soloist who I don't think has been mentioned) have some of the qualities that make them useful leading men, neither of them is at the all-round level of the RB's best principal men, and I don't personally see that they ever will be.  In many ways the same goes for the always-reliable Bennet Gartside who has demonstrated in the likes of Mayerling and The Winter's Tale that, as cover, he's more than capable of carrying a challenging full-length ballet.  I'm not sure of the most diplomatic way to say this, but there are already male principals with the RB who don't have the "edge" that the best ones have, and if Kevin O'Hare simply has very high standards when it comes to promotion to principal, I can't see that that's a bad thing.

Edited by RuthE
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In my inexpert opinion, the RB really needs a couple of leading men who are (1) reasonably tall, (2) physically expressive, (3) facially expressive, and (4) a really solid partner. Rarer than hen's teeth I'm sure, so I don't dispute that achieving this this is easier said than done. Thank goodness Muntagirov decided to join the company, as without him they'd really only have Bonelli who, though he isn't THAT tall, just about fits fits the bill. I can't think of another dancer of theirs at Principal or First Soloist level who has all four, and you really start to notice it when somebody like Bonelli is out injured. If they lose any more Nutcracker leading men to injury, I wonder whether they might bring Muntagirov in early? His first scheduled show (with Nunez) isn't till 5th January... or maybe he's guesting elsewhere and unavailable.

I've just realised my gross oversight in this earlier post: yes, the RB has another Principal with all four qualities. Ed Watson. But he's not cast in Nutcracker...
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Reece Clarke was indeed wonderful in Symphonic Variations- was that back in autumn 2014?- how time flies- I hope to see him again soon.

 

Surely there are more where  he came from. One of the virtues of a long run of Nutcracker is that it does give a good shop window for talent: it could be that next year we get a real treat.

 

(Meanwhile a rummage in my dvd cupboard has produced the RB recording with Cojocaru as Clara and my personal favourites for the SPF and Prince, Miyako Yoshida and J Cope so maybe watching that this evening will remind me what we are looking for...)

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Now we are coming to the point when we see whether Mr. O'Hare takes the easy option,one which Mason took, of acquiring outsiders as Principals or whether he looks to the lower ranks of the company and takes steps to develop his own dancers. It is why his choice of repertory over the next couple of years is all important. It may even be one of the reasons why he decided to revive Two Pigeons. It gives opportunities for several dancers to show what they can do and roles which do not carry the weight of expectation and the history that some other ballets which are shown regularly at Covent Garden do.

 

He has at least one really talented tall young man in the junior ranks called Reece Clarke. I believe that he spent some time off with injury during his first season. If O'Hare is committed to recruiting from within the ranks  then I would not expect someone who gave a very stylish account as Jean de Brienne at the RBS's Covent Garden matinee and made a positive impression taking the Somes' role in Symphonic Variations as his first major role with the company to spend too long languishing in the lower ranks. O'Hare might decide to promote Hristov to Principal as an interim measure. A promotion from within the ranks would  boost morale within the lower tiers of the company, much as Morera's promotion did. It helps, if occasionally, a dancer who has a strong technique and is a real team player is rewarded for their efforts, It encourages the rest of the stalwarts.

 

As for Mr Campbell while you can see that partnering Morera is at the very limit of his capacity because of her height when on pointe he performs his duties as cavalier very elegantly. He dances well and is very adaptable and seems suited to a wider range of roles than McRae who is always, for me, Steven McRae technician in whatever role he dances. 

 

Well Reece Clarke & Matthew Ball! I can see both of them flying through the ranks.

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The choice of casts for the Peasant Pas de Deux may give a bit more of a clue as to which young men are seen as having real potential. But we will have to wait until the actual performances to find out , just as we will have to wait until then to find out who the Myrthes are to be.As a general point I would much rather see young talented dancers given chances than see another Principal appointed just for the sake of it . But I am afraid that there will be those who will complain simply because RB audiences have got out of the habit of watching young dancers develop and grow from performance to performance.I for one want dancers who have grandeur and artistry and not merely "the ability to spin like a top"

Edited by FLOSS
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The choice of casts for the Peasant Pas de Deux may give a bit more of a clue as to which young men are seen as having real potential. But we will have to wait until the actual performances to find out , just as we will have to wait until then to find out who the Myrthes are to be.As a general point I would much rather see young talented dancers given chances than see another Principal appointed just for the sake of it . But I am afraid that there will be those who will complain simply because RB audiences have got out of the habit of watching young dancers develop and grow from performance to performance.I for one want dancers who have grandeur and artistry and not merely "the ability to spin like a top"

 

 

I know we are going O/T here but it is not just RB's audience.  I have overheard people at performances by other companies commenting when non-principals are in leading roles.  Which possibly begs the question should dancers be listed by rank in programmes and on websites?

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That's a very interesting question! I think, though, that if such ranks exist they should be made known, for the sake of both dancers and audiences. I have to say though that if I know that a dancer is not a principal it makes me even keener to see how they deal with a principal role, so I don't mind at all what rank someone is - it all adds to the interest. I know that contemporary companies tend to be more egalitarian/rank-free, but then they don't tend to have such a wide range of roles at different levels (both technically and artistically) in their reps.

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Yes, and, just as a matter of interest, all the leading roles in ENB's Nutcracker opening night on Wednesday were taken by Soloists of one rank or another. The only Principal on stage that night was Yonah Acosta who was cast for the Russian Dance.

 

However, I have overheard some very dispiriting conversations among the audience of both the RB and ENB when it is realised that a Principal (not always one particular Principal) is not dancing. I have been so bold as to intervene on occasion to tell the complainants something about the wonderful dancer(s) they are about to see. They have not been disappointed.

Edited by capybara
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Why would somebody complain if they were not getting a Principal?

 

I could understand the disappointment if they had booked to see a particular dancer and they were injured, but generally I like to see the lower ranks being given the chance to show what they can do.  If someone is chosen from the corps and gives a stunning performance, then everyone can congratulate themselves on having the immense good fortune to be there the night when a potential star of the future is dancing. 

 

I am pretty certain that when Darcey Bussell danced the lead role in Prince of the Pagodas all those years ago, the audience didn't sit around complaining that it wasn't a Principal dancing. 

Edited by Fonty
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Not everyone is a regular ballet goer and many expect to see "the top dancers" when they have booked to see a company - whoever those "top dancers" may be.

 

I think that we have a tendency to forget that not everyone is as keen on ballet/dance as the members of this board - I don't mean that they don't like ballet/dance but that they will probably only go to one performance of a production.  I believe they feel entitled to see the "top dancers".

 

Some years ago at BRB the dancers who were then soloists were doing the bulk of the leading roles in the company as the more senior dancers were winding down their performing careers.  I heard people complaining that they weren't seeing principals on a number of occasions and, as with Capybara, mentioned to them the qualities of the dancers they would be seeing.  None of them were disappointed.

 

How many people went to see Rudolf Nureyev when he was on his farewell tour and expected to see him dancing as he had done in his prime?

 

While we, the board members, enjoy seeing youngsters getting their chances I suspect we would be in the minority in an "entrance poll" of people before the performance started.  Although I am sure their opinions would have changed at the exit poll stage.

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Not everyone is a regular ballet goer and many expect to see "the top dancers" when they have booked to see a company - whoever those "top dancers" may be.

 

I think that we have a tendency to forget that not everyone is as keen on ballet/dance as the members of this board - I don't mean that they don't like ballet/dance but that they will probably only go to one performance of a production.  I believe they feel entitled to see the "top dancers".

 

Some years ago at BRB the dancers who were then soloists were doing the bulk of the leading roles in the company as the more senior dancers were winding down their performing careers.  I heard people complaining that they weren't seeing principals on a number of occasions and, as with Capybara, mentioned to them the qualities of the dancers they would be seeing.  None of them were disappointed.

 

How many people went to see Rudolf Nureyev when he was on his farewell tour and expected to see him dancing as he had done in his prime?

 

While we, the board members, enjoy seeing youngsters getting their chances I suspect we would be in the minority in an "entrance poll" of people before the performance started.  Although I am sure their opinions would have changed at the exit poll stage.

 

 

Also, how many people go to watch Misty Copeland in New York, and expect to see the best dancer in the world...who are new to ballet, and may even believe it 

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Someone who knows little about ballet is entitled to assume that a dancer who they have heard of like Acosta is going to be better than someone they have not heard of and that a principal dancer, however unsuited to a role he or she may be, is going to be better than a more junior dancer.Most people work in hierarchical organisations and are used to the idea of differences in  ranking representing differences in ability and quality when applied to the task in hand.Why should the world of ballet be different?The situation is even worse when it comes to international tours because the AD is under an obligation to show his top name dancers and if he fails to do so the local audience will feel cheated as will the dancers who expected to dance on the opening night of each programme. Meeting those expectations and,at the same time, programming casts who will do justice to a particular ballet is not always easy. When it is impossible to do both the prejudice seems to be in favour of showing off the dancers and leaving the ballet to fend for itself.

 

 I seem to recall that when the RB went to Moscow in 2014 a major critic whose reviews were translated into english remarked about the lack of rapport between the dancers cast as Manon and de  Grieux and when  I read the names of the dancers concerned I felt that she had a point. But they were the company's "best dancers" or at least the best known ones and clearly the dancers who the AD wanted to show off..I can't help thinking that while he might have shown better cast combinations, if he had done so, the same critic would inevitably have complained about being deprived of seeing the company's "best dancers" even if those other combinations proved to have real rapport. Something similar happened in New York this year Song of the Earth seemed to leave those who saw the opening night cast baffled. They had seen Nunez and were entitled to assume that her performance was all there was to the work. Those who then went to Cuthbertson's performance came away satisfied that they had seen the ballet because everything that had baffled them initially made sense in Cuthbertson's performance..

 

The idea that a company should show its best known dancers/stars and that those dancers are by definition its "best dancers" and they will inevitably be best in every ballet danced by the company is an idea that it is hard to disabuse people about. It is nothing new. I seem to recall that the cast for the premiere of MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet were not the dancers he wanted or indeed the dancers he had created it on but they were the company's mega stars and good box office.

Edited by FLOSS
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out of curiousity, did anyone see Tierney Heap's debut in the Arabian Dances? 

 

yes - very sultry, but as she been had swopped in as it were, the partnering from the chaps wasn't perfect (as no doubt they'd been rehearsing with Tara Brigitte Bhavnani, and Tierney more used to her chaps).

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Now we are coming to the point when we see whether Mr. O'Hare takes the easy option,one which Mason took, of acquiring outsiders as Principals or whether he looks to the lower ranks of the company and takes steps to develop his own dancers. It is why his choice of repertory over the next couple of years is all important. It may even be one of the reasons why he decided to revive Two Pigeons. It gives opportunities for several dancers to show what they can do and roles which do not carry the weight of expectation and the history that some other ballets which are shown regularly at Covent Garden do.

 

He has at least one really talented tall young man in the junior ranks called Reece Clarke. I believe that he spent some time off with injury during his first season. If O'Hare is committed to recruiting from within the ranks  then I would not expect someone who gave a very stylish account as Jean de Brienne at the RBS's Covent Garden matinee and made a positive impression taking the Somes' role in Symphonic Variations as his first major role with the company to spend too long languishing in the lower ranks. O'Hare might decide to promote Hristov to Principal as an interim measure. A promotion from within the ranks would  boost morale within the lower tiers of the company, much as Morera's promotion did. It helps, if occasionally, a dancer who has a strong technique and is a real team player is rewarded for their efforts, It encourages the rest of the stalwarts.

 

As for Mr Campbell while you can see that partnering Morera is at the very limit of his capacity because of her height when on pointe he performs his duties as cavalier very elegantly. He dances well and is very adaptable and seems suited to a wider range of roles than McRae who is always, for me, Steven McRae technician in whatever role he dances. 

 

 

As for Mr Campbell while you can see that partnering Morera is at the very limit of his capacity because of her height when on pointe he performs his duties as cavalier very elegantly. He dances well and is very adaptable and seems suited to a wider range of roles than McRae who is always, for me, Steven McRae technician in whatever role he dances. 

 

So agree with you.  I am a great fan of Macrae but only for some things.  He was amazing in Winter's Tale, fabulous when he danced with Osipova in Woolf Works, but his R&J, for me, was just emotionless.  

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