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Audience "Best of 2015"


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A very quick list ...

 

(i) I agree with all the praise for Ball/Naghdi in Oneign .... They were a brilliant coupling as were Osipova/Golding in that outing.  A total joy.  
(ii)  I too enjoyed the Ball/Naghdi R&J - most especially for Naghdi - what a gloriously musical artist she is.  Certainly above any other she shone out for me in M1.  More please, Mr. O'Hare.  MUCH more :) 
(iii) Hayward's Manon (more for me than her Juliet) was a revelation I thought - just as much as was Muntagirov in the same ballet.  The potential of their youth was emblazoned in hope for us all.  So enjoyed him in Fille and Two Pigeons as well.

(iii a)  Though I have not always been her greatest fan, I thought that Salenko dazzled in Pigeons.  She was charm personified.  I went a second time just to make sure I felt secure in this belief.  I did.  She helped McRae give one of his best performances as well.  

(iii B) Morea in practically everything - but most especially the joy of her gypsy lust.  

(iv) Osipova in Month in the County - she took on the frame of the glorious Astonian bones and more than merely adding flesh ... seemed to shake them as well - certainly by the last performance.  It was a joy to watch her grow.  
(v)  The development of such fine ENB artists as Ceasar Corrales in a variety of roles (more please - MUCH more) - and the pow of Cao and young Drummond being elevated in far more than anyone's middle.  
(vI) a truly wonderful ENB Choreographics programme where James Streeter and the glorious Stina Quagebeur ONCE AGAIN showed their incisive potency as dance makers.  MORE PLEASE.

(vii) The joy once again of being able to see Scottish Ballet's STREETCAR - A cohesive dramatic joy - without apology - from start to finish.  
(viii) The further development of David Nixon's astute leadership of NORTHERN BALLET ... supporting dance makers in a brave and meaningful way.  Also my joy at watching Isacc Lee-Baker come into full and witty focus of his powerhouse frame.
(ix)  BRB for both supporting the glory of Wright's SL - the best currently in the country for my money - and watching William Bracewell dazzle in the best piece I've seen Bintley produce in years, The King Dances.  It's a dire shame that the London audiences could not fine the wherewithal to support this by filling more seats.
(x) My delight at the transformation of the heavenly Robbie Fairchild and the RB's very own Leanne Cope in a musical theatre stretch in Wheeldon's delightful AN AMERICAN IN PARIS - with one of his best ballets being that 17 minute title number set in the second act - at the Chatelet in Paris
(xi) In a not dissimilar light being entranced by Marcelo Gomes' transformation into the AMP fabric that is Bourne's punchy CAR MAN (although acknowledging that this goes outside the bound of this listing as it is definitively NOT ballet);

(xii) The privilege of seeing Denis Rodkin mature and rise above a rather tawdry Russian surround in both SL and BAY at the Coliseum 
(xiii) My GREAT joy of discovery of the potency of Kobborg's stunning ensemble that is the Romanian National Ballet.  Barnaby Bishop's Oberon was TRULY stunning ... and what a joy it was to revisit with Ratmansky's breathtaking Concerto DSCH.  Some things were just born to breathe ...

(xiv) ... and while we are on the subject of Ratmansky - Hats off to him for the Paquita in Munich I was privileged to see in January.  Continually this man proves he is a major force for BALLET in the 21st Century.  He helps us all to see the music in a way that the world we're told has forgotten.  It is, I promise, well worth travelling for.  Bravo.  

(xv) Osiel Gounod in Corsaire:  who alongside Ceasar Corrales - provides a reason to broaden your heart's smile ... :) 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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In chronological order (because it's just too hard to put them in order of merit/enjoyment etc.): 

 

1. Anna Tsygankova in Don Q - last minute stand-in for Osipova and absolutely electric on stage. Plus she brought out the best in Matthew Golding. 

2. Onegin - First time Onegin for me and it shot into my top 3 ballets. Osipova magnificent but the stand-out memory for me was Matthew Ball's solo as Lensky - so haunting. 

3. La Fille Mal Gardee - Another first and so enjoyable. Had expected great things and Osipova/McRae did not disappoint. 

4. Osipova & Vasiliev in Facada - A last minute ticket to the Ardani 25 gala and so glad I did. Brilliantly entertaining. 

5. BRB's Swan Lake - First time I'd seen this production and bought a ticket to see Mathews/Lawrence largely on Janet's recommendations! So glad I did - loved the production and Delia and Brandon are such stars! 

6. Francesca Hayward's Juliet - Ok, I get it, I missed Naghdi/Ball :-). However, Francesca was a pretty good consolation! - I had been so looking forward to this and she did not disappoint. Like Osipova, she is just so watchable and I really get that buzz of excitement when she is about to come on stage. 

7. ZooNation - Into the Hoods - So entertaining, cleverly told story and fantastic dancing. I am loving this company since seeing Mad Hatter last year.  

8. The Two Pigeons - Never heard of this before I started reading this forum. Cuthbertson/Muntagirov fantastic and great dancing throughout.  Really enjoyed Morera's performance in this one as well.

 

It's not been a bad year really ...

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I am choosing just four, as these were head and shoulders above the rest in my year. In reverse order:

 

4/ Monotones I and II. The purest ballet I have seen. No story to distract, just the beauty of the dance to wallow in. And when performed by Maguire/Naghdi/Dyer and Nuñez/Hristov/Watson it was sublime.

 

3/ La Fille Mal Gardée. This is the most perfect ballet I have seen. It has everything needed in a story ballet, can be understood without reading-up first and has no extraneous content. I saw the Osipova/McRae cast but it is the ballet I remember rather than the performance.

 

And equal first:

 

1/ Royal Ballet Swan Lake. Nunez/Soares. Very special to me as it was the RB Swan Lake Blu Ray with these two that got me loving ballet in the first place so to finally see them perform it live was the highlight of my year.

 

1/ Romeo and Juliet. Naghdi/Ball. Possibly the best ballet I have seen, me eyes are filling up just thinking about it. And a special thanks to Sim for the Naghdi/Ball review which captured the emotion of the performance (post 280 of the R&J thread). I’ve saved this and re-reading it will help me remember the performance forever.

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Here's my top ten of the year, in the order I saw them.  A really varied year, thanks largely to off-peak Senior Railcard travel!

  1. Royal Danish Ballet Bournonville programme, London
  2. Birmingham Royal Ballet mixed bill, especially In the Upper Room (Tharp), Birmingham
  3. Rambert mixed bill, especially Rooster (Bruce), Mold
  4. English National Ballet mixed bill, especially In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated (Forsythe)
  5. National Dance Company Wales mixed bill, especially Walking Mad (Inger), Mold
  6. Royal Ballet, Woolf Works (McGregor), London
  7. Paris Opera Ballet/Company Wayne McGregor, Tree of Codes (McGregor), Manchester
  8. Dutch National Ballet, Cinderella (Wheeldon), London
  9. Birmingham Royal Ballet mixed bill, especially The King Dances (Bintley) and Enigma Variations (Ashton), London
  10. Royal Ballet, Romeo and Juliet (McMillan), London (Francesca Hayward debut)

If I had to choose a company of the year, I think it would be Birmingham Royal Ballet, for proving that you don't need great stars to perform consistently at the highest level, for The King Dances, and for finally giving me a chance to see Enigma Variations.

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Just to say that reading all these very interesting posts I am gnashing my teeth at all I have missed!! Esp Naghdi/Ball R&J, BRB Swan Lake and much else. Will have to do better in 2016. BUT am very grateful for the wonders I did see in 2015.

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I am choosing just four, as these were head and shoulders above the rest in my year. In reverse order:

 

4/ Monotones I and II. The purest ballet I have seen. No story to distract, just the beauty of the dance to wallow in. And when performed by Maguire/Naghdi/Dyer and Nuñez/Hristov/Watson it was sublime.

 

3/ La Fille Mal Gardée. This is the most perfect ballet I have seen. It has everything needed in a story ballet, can be understood without reading-up first and has no extraneous content. I saw the Osipova/McRae cast but it is the ballet I remember rather than the performance.

 

And equal first:

 

1/ Royal Ballet Swan Lake. Nunez/Soares. Very special to me as it was the RB Swan Lake Blu Ray with these two that got me loving ballet in the first place so to finally see them perform it live was the highlight of my year.

 

1/ Romeo and Juliet. Naghdi/Ball. Possibly the best ballet I have seen, me eyes are filling up just thinking about it. And a special thanks to Sim for the Naghdi/Ball review which captured the emotion of the performance (post 280 of the R&J thread). I’ve saved this and re-reading it will help me remember the performance forever.

Timmie what a lovely thing to say! Thank you so much....I think we all feel the same way about that performance; how could you not?! :)

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My favourite performances this year - more than 10 sorry!

=1. The Trocks- everything they did still leaves me in awe!

=1. ENB Le Corsaire Rojo/Hernandez/Corrales - a star is born in Corrales.

2. Dutch National Ballet - Jewels - just fabulous

3. Dutch National Ballet - La Dame au Camellias - a real show stopper ballet - my fave cast Tsygankova/Stout

=4. Paris Opera Ballet - La Bayadere - Gilbert/Heymann/and the wonderful Hannah O'Neill as Gamzatti - a wonderful opulent ballet.

=4. BRB Triple Bill at Sadlers Wells and especially King Dances was just amazing and I want to see it again soon!

5. BRB Swan Lake - lovely version of this wonderful icon of ballet beautifully danced by all the casts I saw. 

6. Dutch National Ballet Cinderella - lovely version of this ballet and very clever special effects.

7. Royal Ballet School Annual Gala - what an amazing performance from these young dancers I was left truly wow-ed.

8. Tchaikovsly PDD in The Royal Ballet Life Reimagined Gala with McRae/Osipova - real show off dancing!

9. My year was off to a fabulous start with Royal Ballet's Don Quixote at Royal Ballet - all casts - just love Acosta's version.

10. Vienna State Opera Ballet - Don Quixote not my favourite choreography but loved Liudmilla Konovalova as Kitri.

11. Dutch National Ballet Season opening Gala - a great tutti fruiti mix of talent all in one show - ballet heaven!

12. Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty and Carman (Gomes/North)

Edited by Don Q Fan
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Yes, ditto to all the above, but sometimes it is the most unexpected things that give you great pleasure. So,I would like to mention that hard working little troupe, the Vienna State Ballet, who tour the provinces endlessly, doing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, choreographed by Daryl Raizal, cheeky and sexy, with more than a nod to Ballanchine, as part of their 35th Anniversary Gala show. Great fun.

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OK, here's my list:

Yasmine Naghdi/Matthew Ball's Olga/Lensky - virtually stole the show in Onegin (RB)

The opening night cast in Symphonic Variations were sublime. Sadly, they were only all together the once (RB)

Ballet Black in the Linbury - I always seem to love what they do!

The Ann Maguire gala at Sadlers Wells - really well done under difficult circumstances. Very poignant

Woolf Works (first and third parts, and not just because of Alexandra Ferri, though that didn't hurt!) (RB)

Dutch National Ballet's Cinderella. Really enjoyed thsi - perhaps cos no gallumping 'ugly sisters'

Sylvie Guillem's 'Life in progress'. Maybe not the best thing she's ever done. but it was the last time I'll see her dance.

ENB's 'Lest We Forget' trilogy at Sadlers Wells. 'Dust' alone worth the entry fee for me.

Yasmine Naghdi/Matthew Ball again, this time in the leads as Juliet and Romeo. One of my favourite performances of the year - easily my fave R&J (possibly ever)

BRB's 'Variations' mixed bill at Sadlers Wells (even though I'm not keen on Enigma Variations). Kings Dances was extraordinary in the flesh.

Ballet Cymru (with Cerys Matthews) TIR mixed bill in Lilian Baylis studio theatre. Hearing the old songs did make me ever so homesick!

Nutcrackers - first time I've managed to photograph all 3 'major' Nutcrackers in one season (RB, BRB  and ENB). And I always enjoy the RB Nutcracker, no matter how many times I see it.

 

oops - gone over 10, I wasn't counting when I started typing...

 

Oh dear - I forgot to mention Crystal Pite's 'Polaris' at Sadlers Wells. That was sensational!

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Well there's loads I've missed judging from above posts but these are the highlights for me in 2015...In no particular order

 

Matthew Bournes the Carman.....I didn't review this because of the death of Jonathon Ollivier the very next morning so didn't feel appropriate somehow....but I loved it ....brilliant show....had me on the edge of seat.

 

The King Dances by BRB ...just fabulous the whole thing

 

Sylvia Guillems farewell performance at the Coli .....still amazing and loved the final piece in particular.....end of an era.

 

Cuthbertson in song of the Earth ....so wonderful to see her back and the best bourrees in the business I reckon!!

 

I'm sure Osipova's Juliet would have been stunning but didn't happen.

 

And haven't yet seen Two Pigeons by RB which I'm just so looking forward to in January and haven't seen for at least 30 years!! Especially as Beatriz Stix Brunell is dancing the lead.

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My highlights:

  1. Irina Kolesnikova London Season - my first La Bayadere - loved all the ridiculous mime, silly Solor costumes, Rodkin's grands jetés, prop malfunctions. cat fights.. it was pure entertainment
  2. Naghdi/Ball R&J - queued from 7am for a day ticket and boy it was worth it! Like watching it for the first time.
  3. Bolshoi Live in cinema - Lady of the Camellias. Exquisite. Encore screening in 2016 please.
  4. Two Pigeons - Cuthbertson/Muntagirov. An exciting first night and perfect pigeon whispering by Vadim.
 
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My top ten for 2015 in no particular order:

 

·         Morera/Muntagirov in Fille (unalloyed joy – wish they had been on the cinema relay)

·         Naghdi/Ball in R&J (as others have said it was as if, through them, one was discovering this ballet anew)

·         Morera/Bonelli in Onegin (stunning from both of them)

·         Lamb/Muntagirov in Faun also Nunez/Muntagirov in Tchaikovsky pas de deux (both breathtaking but in entirely different ways)

·         Morera, Muntagirov, Campbell and Choe in Two Pigeons (great interpretations – in different shows, of course)

·         the second couple pas de deux in Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land for ENB performed by Erina Takahashi and James Forbat

·         the sheer beauty of Vadim Muntagirov’s dancing, the truthfulness of his portrayals, and the generosity of his partnering – all across a wide range of roles

·         the greater prominence in casting being afforded Alexander Campbell and the believableness of his characterisations

·         the range of artistry being shown at such a young age by Matthew Ball (Lensky, Untouchable, Connectome, Escamillo, Faun, Romeo), Yasmine Nagdhi (Juliet, Monotones I, Rose Fairy, well everything she does, really), Francesca Hayward (Juliet, Clara and everything again!) and Cesar Corrales (only 19!) (Swan Lake pas de trois, Mercutio, 3 male roles in Le Corsaire etc etc etc.)....... and, more generally, the emergence and nurturing of young talent in the RB in particular but also at BRB and ENB with several notable debuts in addition to those mentioned above such as Fumi Kaneko as the Gypsy Girl in Two Pigeons, Luca Acri as Alain in Fille, Laurretta Summerscales and Alison McWhinney in ENB’s R&J and Yaoquin Shang and Brandon Lawrence in BRB’s Swan Lake – all lovely to see (as well as Ksenia Ovsyanick (ENB) in whatever she does)

·         the recruitment of  Isaac Hernandez to ENB and the added interest provided in that company by his  talent and that of Cesar Corrales (catch them in Le Corsaire if you can).

 

I’m going over my ten now but I must add that the beautiful Elena Glurdjidze’s farewell performance as Odette/Odile in ENB’s Swan Lake last January was a cause for both celebration and sadness. I have really missed her warm and engaging ‘starriness’ on stage this year. 

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Woolf Works... I absolutely adored it and seeing Alessandra Ferri perform was a highlight. The whole production really impressed me, I am a massive McGregor fan but understand he can be a little 'marmite' for some of the ROH audience. I felt that this piece may go some way to finally softening those critics.

 

Osipova in Onegin, I have always wanted to see her dance the role and was not disappointed. It was also one of my best friends first time attending a ballet, she spent most of the performance sobbing, it was emotionally wonderful to share my passion with her finally!

 

Richard Alston Dance Company, Opening Gambit. I commissioned this to be performed at a festival I curated this year, they danced in the beautiful public space of Central St Martins with a small audience sitting on the floor. It was one of my highlights because of how intimate it felt, I swear at one point a dancers foot grazed the top of my head!

 

Edward Watson in everything... My goodness that man just fills me with every emotion when I see him dance. I particularly enjoyed Other Stories both him and Wendy Whelan were fabulous, although it was the pairing rather than the choreography which made it magical.

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I do very much like the way McGregor works with the dancers. As a dancer he must be great to work with.....and perhaps some of his choreography is better to actually dance than watch!

 

Unfortunately I missed Woolf Works so hopefully they will do again at some point.

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Not a vintage year for me, with the best at the beginning and the end of the year. 

The Royal Danes in January set the bar high with some wonderful diverts at the Peacock Theatre. I thought he best male dancing all year was Ulrik Birkkjær in a heart wrenching La Sylphide pas de deux. The final performances of Diana Cuni were sublime but her impending retirement made the ballet world a emptier place for me as did the loss of the superb Elena Glurdjidze.

At the RB I liked Woolf Works and was very happy to see Two Pigeons revived. If an award could be made for best supporting dancer it would have to be for Laura Morera's Gypsy Girl. Osipova and Bonelli in their respective Onegin's hit the spot and Muntagirov impressed in just about everything. Kimin Kim guesting with StPBT has the kind of elevation I thought was a thing of the past.

Out of the UK I loved Kolesnikova's Juliet in Paris and at the very end of the year the Kirov's Victoria Tereshkina, gold standard in just about everything, was superb as Medora in Corsair.  Indeed the Kirov performances I saw in Germany in December were very impressive, perhaps it was the casting, but more enjoyable than I've seen from them in quite a while.

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