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Northern Ballet - Swan Lake - Spring Tour 2016


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Northern Ballet's Spring Tour opened with Swan Lake in Leeds on Thursday and, of course, I was there!

 

David Nixon's production can in no way be described as traditional and I love it.  It is set in New England just before the start of WW1.  

 

There is a prologue showing two young brothers playing by the lake.  One  jumps in and does not reappear.  The other jumps in after him, just as the first brother climbs out.  The second brother never comes back...

 

Act 1 opens with a picnic party by the side of the lake in 1912,  Antony is a troubled young man obsessed by the water and still thinking he is blamed for his brother's death.  His closest friend is Simon and he is flirting with Odilia. Basically a love triangle between Antony, Simon and Odilia starts.  

 

Antony remains by the like as everyone else leaves, contemplating his feelings.  Swans arrive and he is transported by them.  (Although there are nods to the Ivanov Act 2, the choreography is original.)

 

Act 2 is set at a birthday party for Antony, who is still confused by his feelings for both Simon and Odilia.  In this act there is a sparkling Neapolitan danced with fun and virtuosity by Matthew Koon and Kevin Poeung.  At the end of the act Antony impetuously proposes to Odilia.

 

In Act 3, Antony's obsession with swans continues and his marriage is obviously unhappy.  Odilia asks Simon to intervene and is then shocked by the feelings between the 2 men.  Antony, in anguish, dashes back to the lake and joins the swans...  This particular section is very moving.

 

Opening night honours went to Javier Torres as Antony, with Giuliano Contadini as Simon, Martha Leebolt as Odilia and Ayami Miyata as Odette.  The company looked on splendid form with Giuliano, Martha and Ayami all terrific in their roles.  Javier gave the best performance I have ever seen him give; it really was his night.  He was wonderful throughout and particularly moving in the anguish of Act 3 and the final scenes.

 

I've got lots more performances booked!!

 

 

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I saw the matinee on Saturday and enjoyed it tremendously. There have been some interesting changes since this production was first staged in 2004 - the giggle-inducing dead swan no longer appears in the opening scene (for this relief, much thanks!), and the tulip-shaped skirts worn by the swans have been redesigned. The original semi-transparent wired skirts were pretty but probably rather awkward to dance in.

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I expect it's too late now, but I'm told by someone who was there that the production very clearly wasn't designed with the upper reaches of The Grand in mind.  Apparently the view from the top is very poor for Act IV.  Just thought I'd warn people for future reference.

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I expect it's too late now, but I'm told by someone who was there that the production very clearly wasn't designed with the upper reaches of The Grand in mind.  Apparently the view from the top is very poor for Act IV.  Just thought I'd warn people for future reference.

One of my friends was up top yesterday and said exactly the same thing Alison. Good point!

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Well, I saw Northern Ballet's Swan Lake, matinee Saturday. Only just, due to huge problems on the trains. I arrived at Leeds Grand frazzled and with only minutes to spare before curtain up.

 

Anyway, I was immersed into this wonderful take on Swan Lake right from the start. It's an interesting version and I think I like it. I will be seeing it again next week in Sheffield so may feel better at commenting properly after a second viewing. On first viewing I think it's a clever twist on the story but keeping some of the original version. But it is quite an unusual version and won't please everyone.

 

As to the dancing, well this was just superb. Tobias Batley and Martha Le Bolt were divine together, as were Toby and Nicola Gervasi playing out the other part of the love triangle. Also Abigail Prudames was wonderful as were all the supporting cast plus perfect playing by NB Sinfonia. Great sets, costumes and lighting too. Some really clever stuff involving the lake, reeds, bicycles!

 

David Nixon use some bits of music that are not from Swan Lake in this ballet but still by Tchaicovsky. If anyone can tell me the piece of Tchaikovsky that is used for the pdd in Act 1 between Anthony & Simon, I am desperate to know. I have trawled every piece of Tchaikovsky on YouTube to no avail.....!!

 

All in all, a very enjoyable, different version of SL, superbly danced.

 

What a stunningly beautiful 19th century theatre the Leeds Grand is, my first visit to this venue. I was in stalls row F, about 4 rows from front. Perfect view and could see dancers' feet. Many thanks to Janet of the forum for encouraging me to try out new theatres! This would have been an easy commute by train from my home in Nottingham if it hadn't been for signalling problems! Next week, NB again in Sheffield, another first theatre for me, I can't wait!

 

I know not everyone will like this version of Swan Lake but Northern Ballet's dancers really are superb so I highly recommend everyone to get to see this! For me, it was emotionally moving and gorgeous dancing.

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I was lucky to see both performances in Leeds on Saturday.

 

Nicola has described the matinee performance and I would just add that I was swept away by the performance.  My body reacted involuntarily at the end and I found myself leaping to my feet!  Toby and Martha are a wonderful partnership and I always have a feeling that all is well with the world when I see them on stage together.  Nicola Gervasi is another dancer I love to watch - he has got very beautiful feet and is a lovely actor/dancer and there was great chemistry between him and Toby and Abby Prudames who was gorgeous as Odilia.  It was another performance to savour.

 

In the evening I finally got to see the cast led by Jeremy Curnier as Antony with Ashley Dixon as Simon, Antoinette Brooks-Daw as Odette and Ayami Miyata as Odilia.  Goodness me, the tension on the stage was electric and the inter-action between all the leads was utterly compelling.  In the denouement between Antony, Simon and Odilia I quite forgot to breathe!  Antoinette was totally sublime as Odette and Ayami was a total delight as Odilia.  Jeremy and Ashley's duets were just sensational!

 

Northern Ballet has had some injury problems amongst the ladies and I must single out Ayami Miyata for especial praise.  Looking back over the publicised casts she performed either Odette or Odilia in 8 out of 11 performances.  What an achievement for a young lady thrown in at the deep end!

 

I really do love this production of Swan Lake and I am looking forward to more in Sheffield on Saturday!

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Thanks for the reviews.  

 

I noticed on Northern Ballet's website that Issac Lee-Baker was no longer listed (or certainly such as I could see) with the Company.  Does anyone know where he's gone to?  I thought his performances with the Company in the Linbury last year showed particular promise.   

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Sorry Bruce, we noticed he has gone from the website but have no further information.  He has an enormous talent that was blossoming as he was given the leading roles in Wuthering Heights, 1984 and other works.  He is a loss to Northern Ballet.

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Sorry Bruce, we noticed he has gone from the website but have no further information.  He has an enormous talent that was blossoming as he was given the leading roles in Wuthering Heights, 1984 and other works.  He is a loss to Northern Ballet.

 

Much thanks as ever, Janet.  If you do hear anything through the proverbial grapevine about his professional whereabouts I'd love to know.  Certainly I would love the chance to see him dance again.  

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..........................

 

I really do love this production of Swan Lake and I am looking forward to more in Sheffield on Saturday!

 

I am so glad you enjoyed it Janet, I was also in the audience on Saturday evening and I agree the dancers were good.

 

I have now seen this ballet twice. The first was its première in 2004 and the second time was last Saturday.  There was a reason for the 12 year interval and I shall leave it at that.

 

I like some of Nixon's work a lot more than others. Madame Butterfly is my favourite but I also admire his Cinderella and Midsummer Night's Dream.

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In the evening I finally got to see the cast led by Jeremy Curnier as Antony with Ashley Dixon as Simon, Antoinette Brooks-Daw as Odette and Ayami Miyata as Odilia.  Goodness me, the tension on the stage was electric and the inter-action between all the leads was utterly compelling.  In the denouement between Antony, Simon and Odilia I quite forgot to breathe!  Antoinette was totally sublime as Odette and Ayami was a total delight as Odilia.  Jeremy and Ashley's duets were just sensational!

 

 

I saw the same cast this Thursday matinee in Sheffield.  I absolutely agree with Janet that the tension between the leads was electric. I went all tingling with emotion! Curnier, Ashley Dixon ,Antoinete and Ayami All the dancers just floored me with emotion. It was a superb performance. 

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I saw both performances in Sheffield on Saturday.

 

The matinee performance was Jeremy Curnier, Ashley Dixon, Antoinette Brooks Daw and Ayami Miyata and it was just breath-taking.  

 

In the evening we were treated to Javier Torres, Giuliano Contadini, Ayami Miyata and Martha Leebolt.  I cannot even begin to describe the waves of emotion pouring off the stage.  It was an exhilarating and very special performance.  I honestly think that this is the best role I have seen Javier dance - he is just sensational, totally subsumed into the tortured character of Antony.

 

Roll on Norwich!

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  • 1 month later...

My friend and I came home from a superb weekend in Norwich, enjoying four performances of Swan Lake.  I really love this production!  It fits the current NB roster like a glove and the standard of performance has been spectacular!

 

On Thursday evening I finally caught up with Joseph Taylor as Antony with Giuliano Contadini as Simon, Abigail Prudames as Odette and and Ayami Myata as Odilia.  It has been a joy watching Joseph develop as an artist over the last couple of years and this has been his best role so far.  As well as dancing beautifully you could see every thought passing across his face.  His interactions with the other dancers were very intense and utterly believable.  It was also the first time I had seen Abigail as Odette - she was a total delight.  Her head and neck movements were particularly fine.  Ayami Myata and Giuliano have continued to grow into their interpretations.  All in all, it was a scintillating performance to start our extended weekend.

 

On Friday night we had another powerhouse performance from Javier Torres' cast.

 

Saturday afternoon's cast was Jeremy Curnier as Antony, Ashley Dixon as Simon, Antoinette Brooks-Daw as Odette and Abigail Prudames as Odilia.  The waves of emotion coming off the stage took my breath away.  I was in tears after the white act adagio, in the duets between Antony and Odilia and then Simon in Act 3 and was in floods by the end.  Jeremy is another dancer whose career I have enjoyed watching and Saturday afternoon was the best performance I have ever seen him give.  His duets with Ashley were particularly electrifying.  For me this was the most emotional performance of the weekend and one I shall long remember.

 

Saturday evening's stellar cast was Toby Batley as Antony, Giuliano Contadini as Simon, Martha Leebolt as Odette and Hannah Bateman as Odilia.  What can I say... well I could say a lot but will just say it was sublime!  It was wonderful to see the glorious performance of Hannah as Odilia, back in a leading role after injury - she was divine.  Her embarrassment in act 1 when she realises Antony does not share her feelings was delicious.

 

The Neapolitan in act 2 was, as ever, a highlight.  Kevin Poeung and Matthew Koon were nano-second perfect together and so exciting to watch.  I also enjoyed Riku Ito/Jeremy Curnier and Matthew Topliss/Ashley Dixon.

 

All the dancers looked as though they were having a ball in the party scenes.  The lady swans were exemplary throughout.

 

It is the final week of Swan Lake in Milton Keynes this week - how I wish I could be there!

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