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Dutch National Ballet - Mata Hari


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With the premier of Mata Hari having taken place last weekend to good reviews, I am really looking forward to seeing Sunday's matinee! If anyone else is going please can you post your thoughts here? I have been following the excellent videos by Dutch National Ballet on the making of Mata Hari and I have watched a biography documentary as well so I hope I am prepared ahead of the ballet!!

 

 

You can find the videos on the DNB YouTUbe channel here:-

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW6ru0sy_mpgJ9boWJS59fg

 

 

http://www.operaballet.nl/en/ballet/2015-2016/show/mata-hari

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Well what can I say?  This ballet was fabulous and it is absolutely fantastic, in my book, that a new classical ballet has been created.  Ted Brandsen has made a lovely job of telling the story of Mata Hari and Tarik O'Regan's brand new music score enhanced the story and in my opinion definitely helped to tell the story.  The music was different in that it used lot of percussion instruments and there was also a very lovely leitmotif for Margarethe/Mata Hari.  By Tarik's own admission the score is not easy but under the baton of Matthew Rowe the orchestra played like a dream.  The story is very easy follow and more so if you have done some homework as I had done.

Maia Makhateli played the role of Margarethe/Mata Hari and the performance I saw yesterday was her debut in the role. Needless to say Maia played the role perfectly.  There are several extended pdds in the ballet and the 3 leading men were Young Gyu CHoi as McLeod (husband to Margarethe some 20 years her senior), then Jarred Wright as General Kiepert (another lover) and Vadime de Masloff played by Remi Wortmeyer (another and, final, lover).  I have to say that Maia was on stage the whole time with very little break an on speaking to her after the show she told me that is a very big demanding role, one of the biggest she has ever done, so kudos to her for that!  The men had it slightly easier because they only appear in chronological order, if you like, so whilst the choreography is demanding for all concerned, it was easier for the men as they had less to do!  

The ballet starts with a young Margarethe (Maria Zolenka) rebelling against a strict upbringing by aunts and uncles after her father has disappeared and her "escape" is in her dreams - here we see a beautiful ballroom scene with the corps de ballet all in lilac - and working her way through the dancers, the young Margarethe switches with Maia at the back of the stage so that the adult Margarethe is introduced to the audience.  The story is that Margarethe marries Rudolphe McLeod a man 20 years her senior, his sister lives with them which causes friction - very well portrayed in the robotic moves of the choreography- and eventually they go to Indonesia with his job in the army.  Margarethe becomes bored and enjoys the company of younger army officers, which of course makes her husband jealous and we see some feisty choreography depicting arguments.  It is also here that Margarethe sees the temple dancers for the first time.  I liked how the dancers turned their hands feet out (typical oriental style) and I could even see good use of 4th position in there!  The story is now already quite tragic because Margarethe loses her son (he dies) and McLeod then takes her daughter away with him and their marriage is over. Margarethe goes to Paris in search of work.

There was a fabulously colourful scene in the Moulin Rouge with the corps de ballet playing can- can girls, Michaela de Prince was an acrobat partnered by Nathan Brhane and I really liked their little piece as acrobats (in the ballet style of course)! The scene ends with Margarethe being spotted by Guimet an art collector who invites her to his salon to perform for his friends. Margarethe has finally made it and becomes known as Mata Hari.  The first act ends with all the colourful Moulin Rouge dancers standing on a set of stairs with Margarethe at the top and the curtain comes down on the first Act. 

The second act shows Margarethe travelling the world with her exoctic show and her lover Kiepert played by Jarred Wright who is "only" a coryphee - obviously going places though.  A very colourful Spanish dance in reds and blacks was very enjoyable,  but then after time Isadora Duncan comes on the scene not only stealing the limelight and show but also Mata Hari's lover Kiepert.  Isadora was danced by Erica Horwood.  Diaghilev is then depicted in a scene which I really liked - we see Les Sylphides being rehearsed and Sheherazade so that was like having a triple ballet treat!  Sadly Mata Hari did not get to dance with Diaghilev's troupe, but she gains a contract of work in Berlin.  World War 1 then breaks out - really well signalled by the style of music - lots of drums signifying machine gun fire, for example.  WW1 means Mata Hari has to return home to Paris from Berlin -  Kiepert gives her money and some secret documents.  The journey to Paris is a nightmare and we see Mata Hari running between many corps de ballet dancers. Arriving in Paris, Mata Hari meets Vadime de Masloff by chance and it is love at first sight.  When Masloff goes to the Front, Mata Hari then seeks help from Ladoux head of the French secret service and in exchange for her information/documents (from Kiepert) so she can go to the Front.  When Masloff is injured Mata Hari visits him in the field hospital but she is then arrested by Ladoux.  Masloff is broken hearted that Mata Hari is a spy despite her protestations to the contrary but it is no good and he leaves.  We then see Mata Hari being questioned and then her life passes her by - very cleverly done - Mata Hari is sitting at one end of a long table and Ladoux at the other so the characters from her life encircle the table.  It was also a very neat way of getting all the stars back on stage near to the end.  The final scene shows Mata Hari facing the French Army firing squad, refusing as in real life, to be blind folded.  After she is shot, the officer (Ladoux I think) "finishes her off" with a single shot to the head.  Oddly the gun shots were acted/silent - I think if there was one way to enhance the dramatic effect it would be to use a real shot sound - cap gun style because that really would ram home the tragedy of it all.  

As the curtain came down the applause erupted with many people standing and I have not heard applause like it at a ballet for a very long time.  It was loud and went on and on.  Maia Makhateli appeared for a solo curtain call (much as you see just the lovers at the end of Manon/R&J etc) still in her black dress so you could soak up the atmosphere from the death scene.  It was, after all, HER show.  Then the curtain came down again and the usual style curtain call ensued.  After the curtain finally went down there was a round of applause you could hear from the dancers on the other side too!  Maia did a signing session in the foyer so I was able to say hello again, and that was the icing on the cake really to a fabulous afternoon of ballet.  I felt that I had seen a really special ballet performed expertly by Dutch National Ballet.  Everything from the choreography, music, costumes, sets and dancers was just fabulous.  

Ted Brandsen seems to have a gift for finishing scenes at just the right point, I don't recall drifting off at any point because a scene went on too long.  Your interest was kept throughout.  There was a lot going on all through this ballet so it definitely merits a second, third, even fourth viewing, but that is not possible for me and I think it is sold out for the rest of the run so I can only hope it is revived next season. I hope you may get the chance to see Mata Hari, as I do not think you will be disappointed!

Edited by Don Q Fan
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I saw it on 13 Feb with Anna Tsygankova in the tile role and have also reviewed it.   In the first paragraph I wrote:

"As Anna Tsygankova stood alone on stage for her curtain call after last night's performance of Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari every single person in the Amsterdam Music Theatre or Stopera rose as one. She would have got a similar standing ovation anywhere - even snooty old London - for her portrayal of the life of the tragic adventurer and dancer (Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" MacLeod) was compelling It is not often that one sees theatre like that in any medium and I think the sounds and images of that performance will remain with me for the rest of my life."

I have never written a review like that before but then I have rarely seen anything so good.

 

I might add that I attended an equally outstanding but very different performance of Ballet Bubbles by the Junior Company the next day at the Meervaart theatre in the western suburbs. I also attended a preview of the new season for Friends of HNB with some lovely dancing and singing interludes from the new season's ballet and opera as soon as I arrived in Amsterdam. The next morning I toured the opera house, attended company class and even walked on the stage of the Stopera too on another Friends event.

 

Wall to wall ballet from the moment I arrived to the catching the bus for the airport.   I have written about all that if anyone is interested,

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I have read your reviews Terpsichore on your blog and thank you so much for posting your thoughts here too.  I think we have a real gem of a company in DNB and I am just so glad they are within easy reach!  I think that next season I shall be taking your lead and join up as a Friend of DNB.

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I envy you, terpsichore. How much does a DNB Friends membership cost? Did you watch class in their studios or was it on stage?

 

I paid 53 euros when I last renewed my sub on 12 Jan 2016.

 

Someone has proposed setting up a British branch of the Friends of the HNB:

 

"I had envisaged an organisation more like the London Ballet Circle, focussing on website information, news, discussion and an annual group visit to Amsterdam.  I am particularly keen to encourage regular visits to Amsterdam - it is a short journey and affordable by Easyjet.

 
I was not thinking of anything more than a token membership fee - more about linking British supporters together.  You are filing interviews with dancers online - and maybe we could formalise these in a British friends website, which will of course be in English.  We could also supply news about the company, casting information and advice about how to book and upcoming booking deadlines.
 
Finally we could agree on a weekend, when we all travelled to Amsterdam.  If the company is agreeable, we could attend class, arrange for a pre-performance talk in English - and go to dinner with some of the management and dancers during the weekend.  I am thinking along the lines of the annual dinner of The Ballet Association, which began quite small 40 years ago.  The dinner depends on the supporters between them paying for their own dinners and those of the guests."
 
Ernst Meisner has indicated that the company would welcome something along those lines.

 

The company class took place in a rehearsal studio and not on stage. We did get to walk on the stage after the class.

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Twitter announcement today that Mata Hari will be shown on Mezzo TV a Dutch pay to view TV Channel next week sadly I could not see that it is available to the UK but I have tweeted to ask if there are any DVD plans which would seem possible if they are filming for TV.  Fingers x'd!

 

Here are the TV channel details for those able to receive in other countries.

 

http://www.mezzo.tv/en/our-programs/mata_hari_de_ted_brandsen_dutch_national_ballet

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Can I ask DNB regulars where they stay in Amsterdam and what it is like travelling around the city at night. I happily travel around London on my own at night but I'm always a bit wary about cities that I don't know.

 

I stay here 

http://www.bastionhotels.nl/nl/hotels/hotel-amsterdam-amstel?gclid=Cj0KEQiAl5u2BRC6yszC1_75v5wBEiQAD-hdzwqj9qsx37mnkWKuxzueV7fGCbi-wHK75dlistCacD8aAmhd8P8HAQ

It is the Dutch equivalent of a Travelodge with similar prices. I booked a night's accommodation without breakfast through booking.com for £70 (I paid in sterling).

 

It is situated in a rather run down part of town but it is perfectly safe. It is about a quarter of a mile from the Metro (more like Manchester's Metrolink than London's tube) which is a few stations down from Waterlooplein where the Stopera is situated and one stop from Amsterdam RAI where one can pick up a direct train to the airport. They do quite a good breakfast for £11 but I was too busy to take it.  I have not been to their restaurant but the bar is OK. The staff speak English and are generally efficient and friendly.   There is a review from me somewhere on booking.com

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Can I ask DNB regulars where they stay in Amsterdam and what it is like travelling around the city at night. I happily travel around London on my own at night but I'm always a bit wary about cities that I don't know.

If you are worried about travel at night (not that I have had any bother on my own) there is a very reasonable Ibis Hotel (Ibis Stopera) in 5 minutes walking distance of the theatre - otherwise I have recently used Hotel Larende and Hotel Alp both on De Clerque Straat (residential area 3/4 tram stops from Dam Square) and both are on line 14 tram from right outside the hotels which drops you right outside the theatre.  Both hotels are very reasonable and well rated on Tripadvisor and I booked them as they were on line 14 and therefore very easy to get to the theatre.  

Edited by Don Q Fan
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The Dutch National Ballet has sent me some rather nice photos of Anna Tsygankova in the title role for publication in my blog.   I posted the first one today. It is from the last scene where Mata Hari approaches the firing squad.  She is shown on pointe  reflecting the composure with which the historical character met her end.  This is my abiding image from the ballet.

 

I shall be publishing more photos from HNB over the next few days but I regret that I don't think I am licensed to reproduce them anywhere else.

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The Dutch National Ballet's Mata Hari ended its run on Friday. As promised I have uploaded another four photos to my blog including a magnificent photo of Mata Hari's vision of dancing with Shiva. In all the photos Mata Hari is danced by Anna Tsygankova. Shiva is danced by Young Gyu Choi.

 

Many thanks to Ian Macmillan for the link to Nina Siegal's write up in the NYT. 

 

Too bad we can't get Mezzo in the UK. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 2016-02-18 at 23:12, Terpsichore said:

 

I paid 53 euros when I last renewed my sub on 12 Jan 2016.

 

Someone has proposed setting up a British branch of the Friends of the HNB:

 

"I had envisaged an organisation more like the London Ballet Circle, focussing on website information, news, discussion and an annual group visit to Amsterdam.  I am particularly keen to encourage regular visits to Amsterdam - it is a short journey and affordable by Easyjet.

 
I was not thinking of anything more than a token membership fee - more about linking British supporters together.  You are filing interviews with dancers online - and maybe we could formalise these in a British friends website, which will of course be in English.  We could also supply news about the company, casting information and advice about how to book and upcoming booking deadlines.
 
Finally we could agree on a weekend, when we all travelled to Amsterdam.  If the company is agreeable, we could attend class, arrange for a pre-performance talk in English - and go to dinner with some of the management and dancers during the weekend.  I am thinking along the lines of the annual dinner of The Ballet Association, which began quite small 40 years ago.  The dinner depends on the supporters between them paying for their own dinners and those of the guests."
 
Ernst Meisner has indicated that the company would welcome something along those lines.

 

The company class took place in a rehearsal studio and not on stage. We did get to walk on the stage after the class.

 

I am just wondering if anything came of this idea.

 

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