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Well, it's already been talked about a lot, particularly here:

http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/12514-obsidian-tear-new-mcgregor/

 

but tonight is the premiere of the new McGregor work, Obsidian Tear, along with a long-overdue revival of MacMillan's The Invitation, plus what should be a welcome re-viewing of Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour. Thoughts here, please.

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Was at the rehearsal yesterday - we had 2 of the 3 pieces to photograph, some here are some examples...

 

27309286465_9f00df04b0_z.jpg
Obsidian Tear (McGregor): Calvin Richardson, Matthew Ball
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Obsidian Tear (McGregor): Edward Watson, Eric Underwood
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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The Invitation (MacMillan): Gary Avis, Francesca Hayward
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...

Set from DanceTabs: RB - mix bill (with Obsidian Tear and The Invitation)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind permission of the Royal Opera House
 

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Briefly ... Was at the Osidian Tear premiere.  Fear it was not entirely to my taste ... Indeed I was underwhelmed by all but the stunning wood on the set ... and the glorious score ... which I had, of course, heard before.  It was here rendered beautifully by the ROH Orchestra under the composer's own illustrious baton.  As to the dance .... Well, I thought it might best be subtitled either as 'The Emperor's OLD clothes' .... or, more simply 'Nix' ...  

It was a treat to see The Invitation again ... and thought the entire Company - as here deployed - was aglow ... most especially Hayward's innocently knowing 'girl' and that theatrical giant - Gary Avis - as the Husband ... as well as a stunning contribution from Muntagirov as the 'Cousin'.  Each of this ALL only EVER seem to go from strength to strength.  

 

Sadly I could not stay for the Wheeldon on this occasion (blessedly I have another ticket) as I have one of those ridiculously early flights for work tomorrow morning.  Indeed I must crawl into bed now if I'm to have any rest at all :)

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Even more briefly:

 

The new McGregor well worth the journey - some amazing dance highlights and a good addition to the rep.

 

The Macmillan revival well worth the wait - all dancers stunning with Yanowsky the star turn.

 

The Wheeldon revisit well worth the replay too.

 

A very good triple bill - go see if you can.

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Superb photos (esp of Gary Avis, and Muntagirov/Hayward-that is beautiful) once again sent me to the box office.

 

The costumes for McGregor look strange- what is the significance of the huge baggy trousers and tunics  attire?

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I wasn't sure about the McGregor piece at first but it grew on me and got more interesting and even a bit shocking as it went on. I was really impressed by Matthew Ball's dancing. This was the first time I've seen him in a prominent role.

 

The Invitation had excellent choreography and acting by all the leads and Francesca Hayward was especially brilliant.

 

This was my third time seeing Golden Hour and I loved it once again. One of the most beautiful scores I've heard and the choreography fits it like a glove. It's meant to be 40 mintues but it felt like 15 and I didn't want it to end. This was one of the better triple bills I've seen and the company was on excellent form.

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I really enjoyed Obsidian Tear last night. Emotions through physical contortions and the seamless intertwining of movements by individual dancers with those of small groups, and of contemporary with more classical movements. Calvin Richardson in stand-out red and with a magnificent performance. Once on stage, most dancers didn’t leave the stage until just before the end of the piece (respect for the stamina required!) and several dancers walked along the perimeter of the stage when they didn’t dance, providing an atmosphere of an enclosed space with no way out. I also liked the costumes (with the exception of the tunic for Edward Watson) – individual, inventive, giving an impression of “make do” within an isolated tribal community.

Superb acting in The Invitation by the four leads, and by Francesca Hayward and Gary Avis in particular. And the shock that, at the end, the women picks up her husband and ignores the girl. However I struggled with the overall story. Lots of scene setting at the beginning with children’s dances, the governess intervening, guests arriving and being greeted by the married couple, then the three entertainers. I guess this will be necessary to show the contrast between the superficial idyll and the stark reality behind the scenes however it went on for too long for me (the scene setting and corps dances in act 1 of Frankenstein didn’t bother me half as much). The husband eyes the girl as soon as he arrives at the couple’s house, she rejects his advances, he rapes her and then feels sorry for what he has done? This goes beyond the imaginable for me I am afraid.

Within the Golden Hour was a joyful ending to the evening, with the delight of dancing this piece visible on a number of dancer’s faces. I most enjoyed the duet by Luca Acri and Marcelino Sambe, dancing in perfect unison.

On another note, given the content of The Invitation, I was surprised to see a number of children, certainly below the age of 10, in the audience last night.

Edited by Duck
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I was at the general rehearsal and the performance last night. Having seen it twice and from two different parts of the house, I liked Obsidian Tear. I wasn’t expecting to, but I did. It wasn’t as big a surprise to me as Woolf Works was, because I really, REALLY liked that, but I was pleasantly pleased by it. The first movement could be cut back because for me it is too long; two dancers and a solo violin, and not quite enough to sustain my interest for as long as it lasts. Things start to get much more interesting with the arrival of the other seven (all male) dancers, all of whom prove why they have earned their place in this new piece. I was very relieved to see that McGregor has eschewed his signature I-have-my-finger-in-a-live-electric-socket movement and moved on to a more fluid, contemporary style which I liked a lot. The set was simple, but made interesting by some very clever lighting. As with Chroma, the dancing is set in the middle of a square with those not dancing waiting around its perimeter. As with Chroma, there is much to-ing and fro-ing, so always something to watch and keep up with. As mentioned previously, I never read McGregor’s programme notes, so my interpretation of what was happening is probably way off kilter with what he was visualising, but hey, that’s part of the fun! What was obvious is that the wonderful Calvin Richardson, starkly apart from the others in his red costume, is clearly the outsider. I won’t say any more for the sake of those who haven’t seen it yet. One red costume, all the others black. I really liked them, and they have been cleverly devised to channel the dancers’ movements, especially in the impressive spinning parts of the choreography. Like Duck, I didn’t like Ed Watson’s tunic; his was the only body under wraps, although those amazing legs were on view. I also wasn’t sure about Luca Acri’s midriff wrap, but that’s a small niggle. One of the dancers had said to me a couple of days ago “be prepared for difficult music”. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting; as a matter of fact it wasn’t bad at all and by the second performance I quite enjoyed it. Needless to say, the dancing was superb by all, with the wonderful Matthew Ball showing once again that he needs a double promotion right now. Calvin Richardson has proved that he needs to be given a lot more to do next season.

 

The Invitation is of course a very disturbing ballet, and in true MacMillan style there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. An unhappy married couple, each sexually frustrated for different reasons, find outlets in the two innocent young cousins they meet at a party. The wife, touchingly played by that superlative dance actress Zenaida Yanowsky, reaches out to the boy for comfort and gratification (shades of Mrs Robinson). The husband, here played by that superlative dance actor Gary Avis, can’t take the girl’s teasing and rapes her to relieve his pent-up frustration and anger. He regrets it afterwards, but that means nothing because the girl’s life has been irrevocably damaged. The young couple, Vadim Muntagirov and Frankie Hayward, both dance beautifully and with passion. They are totally convincing, and make the journey (so often portrayed in MacMillan’s ballets) from innocence to despair a very moving one. Liam Scarlett should take note….here is a story told in one hour, in one act, with all its clarity and narrative cohesion from start to finish. The genius of MacMillan is how much is said in a small movement; here, the whole mood changes in a flash when the man kisses the girl on the neck during a flirtatious pdd. With that one small act, he has overstepped the mark; the whole story changes and what could have been just another story about a flirtation between a man in midlife crisis and a lovely young girl becomes something violent and tragic. Likewise, at the end, the girl’s reaction to the naked statue of a man, something that had been a figure of fun at the beginning of the ballet, horrifies her, and in that one gesture everything is said about this young girl’s future possibilities of having a relationship. The answer is, there is no chance. Realising this, having rejected her cousin and real love interest, this young girl is left to face the future alone, ashamed and in physical and emotional pain. I had never seen this ballet before, and it was very interesting to think how shocking it must have been when it was made on the very young Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable back in 1960. It was also interesting to see portents, both choreographically and dramatically, of MacMillan’s three-act ballets that were to follow. I am very pleased to have seen this twice yesterday, with two different casts (I know I’m not supposed to talk about rehearsal casts, but let me just say that the Naghdi/Donnelly/Cowley/Whitehead cast is just as good as the first cast) putting their own interpretations onto it. I love Georgiades’ set design, and the tightly corseted women, showing the tightly corseted society in which they lived. Liam Scarlett should also take note of the use of music here: it was perfectly fit to the choreography, it moved things along and it complemented and enhanced the emotion and the drama of what was happening on the stage. I look forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks’ time.

 

After such an emotionally draining middle piece, Within the Golden Hour was just the right tonic to finish with. I loved it a few months ago, and I loved it again, twice, yesterday. The cast clearly loves dancing it as much as the audience loves watching it.

 

All in all this is a very disparate triple bill, and for that reason very well put together: three totally different ballets, displaying the wide-ranging choreographic talents produced by the Royal Ballet over the years. Well done to all involved.

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I feel that, after a year of ups and downs in a number of respects, the Royal Ballet's 2015/16 season is ending on a high:

 

  • (as Sim has said) 3 very different works, themes and styles from 3 RB choreographers
  • ballets to get the audience talking - and, in the case of Obsidian Tear, debating the whats and wherefores
  • a programme which puts the audience through a range of emotions (but restores us to a happy state at the end)
  • a reminder of the amazing dance-making skills of Kenneth MacMillan
  • a celebration of the rich talent in depth within the RB with an opportunity to focus on many rising stars
  • the challenge of new things for the dancers when spirits might be flagging a little at the end of their year

So glad to have booked for several shows. And I shan't be 'sitting out' the McGregor this time either.

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Looks like I will be braving the trooping of the colour and naked bike ride events .....both fun but irritating for getting anywhere on time....to see this on 11th after all!!

 

I'm a bit surprised some find this theme of Macmillans " beyond imagining"

 

Not in my life experience anyway.

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I'm a bit surprised some find this theme of Macmillans " beyond imagining"

 

Not in my life experience anyway.

  

What I find "beyond imagining" is certainly not the theme of The Invitation. Apologies if my wording can be read in this way. It is the fact that the husband, having shown his interest and intention from the start, once he has raped the girl, changes into remorse.

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Yes I see what you mean ....and hope my post didn't come across as too disrespectful I didn't mean it to be.

 

It's just that this crime is not that uncommon but at least talked about more these days thank goodness.

 

and I can see how someone who wouldn't normally do this could suddenly act completely out of character and then realise the awful consequences of his actions....too late. So could then feel remorse .....but not enough to want to disrupt his "normal" life and declare his hand in the whole thing!!

 

I usually love Macmillans dramatic ballets often because they deal with difficult themes and he had a certain genius which I think Sim describes so well.

Glad you enjoyed the other two

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We'll have just bought ticket for the only day I can make the June 11th matinee!!

 

Have decided to risk the hordes of people who will be in London that week end after all these more or less pretty favourable reviews!

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I know it's 20 years ago, but I didn't remember the husband back then showing much remorse?  (Mind you, apart from the beginning and end sections I don't remember that much of The Invitation, and am wondering whether I nodded off in the middle last time around!).  Which reminds me: Adam Cooper was one of the Husbands last time - does anyone remember who the other one was?  Interesting to note that this time the Husband is being cast solely from the company's senior character dancers - which is why I was wondering about casting back in 1996.

 

Intrigued by Obsidian Tear, and certainly want to see it again.  I agree with Sim that the dance seemed to struggle to fit the length of the first movement - but I guess that's the price you pay when you use an existing score.  (Also agree on Watson's tunic - not flattering round the shoulders, I thought).  And I can happily watch Golden Hour at any time :)

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 Interesting to note that this time the Husband is being cast solely from the company's senior character dancers - which is why I was wondering about casting back in 1996.

 

 

 

Thomas Whitehead is listed as a Soloist, not a 'character artist', although he has moved in that direction.

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I know it's 20 years ago, but I didn't remember the husband back then showing much remorse?  (Mind you, apart from the beginning and end sections I don't remember that much of The Invitation, and am wondering whether I nodded off in the middle last time around!).  Which reminds me: Adam Cooper was one of the Husbands last time - does anyone remember who the other one was?  

The performance database to the rescue again:

 

http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/production.aspx?production=12205&row=1

 

In 1996 the other husband was played by Irek Mukhamedov.

 

Edited to say that it's a great pity that this database only goes up to 2012.  

Edited by Bluebird
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Looks like I will be braving the trooping of the colour and naked bike ride events .....both fun but irritating for getting anywhere on time....to see this on 11th after all!!

 

I'm a bit surprised some find this theme of Macmillans " beyond imagining"

 

Not in my life experience anyway.

Urgh the Naked Bike Ride! My sister and I certainly got the shock of our lives whilst waiting for the bus on The Strand/Aldwych after Trooping The Colour in 2014 glad you reminded me so can avoid The Strand LOL!!!! That aside I'm there 11th hope to see you:-))

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What strange byways we end up with sometimes on this forum... Has there ever been a naked cyclist in a ballet?? Let's hope there's never an avant-garde production of Enigma Variations.

 

Anyway I'm not seeing this bill until next week but am looking forward to it very much.

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