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Wasn't sure at all that I would like the new direction story wise, aside from the clunky prologue, very much enjoyed and worth a visit. Music reworked in places to fit the new story of a princess bride losing her husband to his other love, black swan solo music brought forward to the first act to show her demise into madness, music from the lake making its first entrance at the end of act 1 as she is taken away to the sanitorium. Pas de trois incredibly emotive - bringing to life the realisation that there were 3 people in the marriage.

 

Beautiful costumes, flowed in sync with the dancing and wedding dress of billowing fabric negotiated incredibly well by the dancers. Swan costumes looked feathery soft and light.

 

Incredible costumes, wedding dress of billowing fabric - negotiated incredibly well by the dancers.

 

Magical swan scene, beautiful staging, raised 'lake' at one point gave the impression that the swans had taken to the air. Faultless corps de ballet as both white swans and black swans in act 4.

 

Amber Scott gave Odette elegance as well as emotional highs and lows with every movement.

 

Didn't really understand the audience going wild for Adam Bull's performance - more so because male choreography overall was a little underwhelming.

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Wasn't sure at all that I would like the new direction story wise, aside from the clunky prologue, very much enjoyed and worth a visit. ...............................

 

Your post is encouraging.

 

I am trekking down to London this Saturday and next to see Swan Lake and Cinderella.

 

I don't generally take too kindly to radical reworkings of Swan Lake though I quite liked David Dawson's for Scottish Ballet.  I have seen Nixon's twice - when it first came out in 2004 and again  in March this year because I thought I ought to give it a second chance.   

 

I am hoping for the best with Graeme Murphy's version but if I am disappointed I still have the Bolshoi's version to which I can look forward at the end of the month.   

I will review both the Australian and Bolshoi performances in my blog.

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Blossom:  I'm pleased that you enjoyed the show, but that 'fantastic' in the thread title might have to be moderated out should it emerge that others don't quite see the show in that light - just saying, as they say.

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I have now edited the thread title to show just the company and ballet names and the date.

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I have just bought tickets for tonight to see the second cast, so will hold my thoughts until I've seen it again.

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Blossom:  I'm pleased that you enjoyed the show, but that 'fantastic' in the thread title might have to be moderated out should it emerge that others don't quite see the show in that light - just saying, as they say.

Makes sense to me! Thanks for editing.

Edited by Blossom

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The company has some fine dancers and it is lovely to see a ballet company that really is a company because most of its dancers have a shared training and they all share the same aesthetic. However for me it is let down by its version of Swan Lake which is not up to the standard of the dancers who appear in it.They deserve better.This production may have notched up almost two hundred performances and won plaudits around the world but it does not work in the context of the story it is trying to tell. It needs to tell the story with absolute clarity in order to justify the way in which the score has been cut and patched together.

 

The ballet opens with a prologue set on the night before Siegfried's wedding. The first act is set just after the wedding and ends with Odette being committed to a sanatorium. She is led off by nuns. The second act is set in the sanatorium where Odette is a patient; the lakeside scene is set just outside the windows of the institution. Here we are given Murphy's version of the lakeside choreography which proves to be a strange concoction. Act 3 is set at a party given by Baroness von Rothbart with Odette as an uninvited guest while for the final act we return to the lake  where Odette commits suicide.This scene ends with the material which was used to create the lake disappearing in an image which from where I was sitting looked like water disappearing down a plug hole.

 

 From time to time during the ballet the music and the choreography appear integrated but this really only occurs when the choreographer allows himself to be influenced by, or to quote, the traditional text. For the main part the dance movement seems to lie on top of the music rather than being closely connected with it. Mr Murphy's choreography is an odd mixture of classical and contemporary steps and movement with a great deal of repetition where a movement or step which might be interesting and novel if we only saw it once or twice in a given section of choreography is repeated three or four times without any modification at which point it becomes predictable.. Occasionally the audience is given glimpses of the original choreography. After all Swan Lake would not be Swan Lake without four cygnets and some fouettes, but for the main part the choreography is all Mr Murphy's own work.

 

As for the references to the traditional text  the four cygnets dance choreography which is recognisably connected to it but we see them at several novel angles including from the back while, for reasons best known to the choreographer, they link arms behind their backs from time to time. During the third act the choreographer allows Odette her fouettes. I am not sure whether this is because Mr Murphy likes these sections or whether they are included to satisfy the audience that they have indeed seen Swan Lake.

 

I am pleased to have seen the dancers but I wish they had brought a better work to London. As far as the applause for Mr Bull is concerned this version makes considerable demands on Siegfried as a dancer. The prince's choreography may not be that interesting or exciting but there is a lot of it and much of it displays the dancer's partnering skills. I think that the applause was given because the audience recognised this. As there are quite a lot of Australians in London I assume that there were quite a few members of the audience who had come to see dancers with whom they were already familiar and that they were there to see the company and give it their support.

Edited by FLOSS
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I am pleased to have seen the dancers but I wish they had brought a better work to London.

They have, of course, also brought Ratmansky's recent production of Cinderella with them, FLOSS.

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I'm seeing both Saturday matinees.

 

Given that the Company has very recently premiered a new production of Swan Lake in Australia, I have wondered why they have brought the previous version here.  This production has been here before, I saw it at The Lowry a few years ago.

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I know that they have brought Cinderella with them but until we have seen it we won't know whether it is an improvement on the version Ratmansky made for the Mariinsky or whether it is better or worse than this Swan Lake. 

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Saw the matinee today loved it every bit as much as first time I saw it at The Lowry years ago. Great dancers, costumes, sets and music. Was interesting to see this 3 days after the equally wonderful Ratmansky SL in Milan. Robyn Hendricks gave a super performance of Odette she really brought out the emotions.

Edited by Don Q Fan
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I was at the rehearsal earlier in the week - here are some photos:
 
28037324330_3f320ccc70_z.jpg
Dimity Azoury, Adam Bull, Amber Scott
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Amber Scott (and company dancers)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Amber Scott (and company dancers)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...

Set from DanceTabs: The Australian Ballet - Swan Lake
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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I saw this for the first time on Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

The changes in the ordering of the music, and the assignment of some of the dances is disorientating, but I settled into it much better when just I went with the flow and tried to stop comparing it a classic performance - 'tried' because it's all so very familiar of course!  I knew of the ballet before, and in particular the well publicised references to the Charles/Diana/Camilla story, but I found that became distracting too, so I tried to jettison that narrative as well.

 

For me the merging of the characters of Odile and Rothbart worked very well despite the regretted loss of a favourite melodramatic villain!  The resulting Baroness was a much more rounded character offering the chance to a third principal to dance through a wider range of emotions.  This narrative has Siegfried disloyal from the get-go, and his weakness (as much as the Baroness's plotting) drives the story - it felt wholly appropriate that he was denied the usual 'united after death' trope.

 

I found I instantly liked the blending of classical and modern dancing, although it certainly won't appeal to all, and I came to enjoy the twists inserted into the most familiar dances (the Dance of the Cygnets comes to mind).  The design of the production is outstanding and I thought the beautiful costuming in particular reflected great attention and precision.

 

Amber Scott was amazing as Odette - this ballet arguably calls for a wider range of emotions in its female lead than the classic version, and Scott delivered tentative, scorned, mad, seductive and serene with equal skill and grace.  Adam Bull's Siegfried didn't hit me in quite the same way, but I suspect that was because not so much was asked of him rather than it being any reflection of his performance.  But I was really impressed by Dimity Azoury as the Baroness - the sensuality of her delivery was compulsive, and her collapse during Act 3 was wonderfully done.  If it was designed to make us feel a tinge of sorry for her despite all she had done - it worked with me!

 

Altogether a memorable evening for me, although our familiar Swan Lake was really just the starting point.

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And some more pictures from the rehearsal.

 

Australian%2BBallet%2B-%2BSwan%2BLake%2B
 
Adam Bull - Prince Siegfried and Amber Scott - Odette
 
Australian%2BBallet%2B-%2BSwan%2BLake%2B

 

Amber Scott - Odette, Dimity Azoury - Baroness von Rothbart and Adam Bull - Prince Siegfried

 

Australian%2BBallet%2B-%2BSwan%2BLake%2B

 

Amber Scott - Odette with members of the company

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

 

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I saw this for the first time on Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

 

 

Hello Richard, welcome out of the lurking shadows!  Thanks for your thoughts on the production.  I do hope that now you have taken the first posting step you will continue to join in.

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Great photos. Really shows how simple yet striking and elegant the costumes and set were. The wedding dress train seemed to dance its own dance...

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I have now seen this twice, on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and was really bowled over by it.  I thought it was imaginative, emotional, beautifully danced and with a very clear narrative.  I was going to write some words today but I feel so sick at heart about Nice (a city that I know well and love a lot) that I am just not in the frame of mind.  Maybe over the weekend.

 

What I will say is that art can and should be a reminder that there is a beautiful side to humanity, and what I've seen at the Coli the last couple of nights achieved that aim.  Thanks to all at Australian Ballet for that.

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Thanks for all who have commented and reported on this. I'm booked to see it this evening. Unlike Sim I have never been to Nice, but even so the tragic happening there has cast a gloomy shadow on today - so I hope this will be a bit of an antidote. Pure escapism perhaps, but we all need that sometimes.

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I hope you enjoy it, FrankH.  Do let us know what you think.

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I so agree we need to keep reminding ourselves of the greater aspects of Humanity just at the moment.

 

Not seeing this programme as having a break from London for a week or so .....have been up and down so much in the last month!!

 

I have seen the Ratmansky Cinderella so would have gone for this version of Swan Lake if going. The pictures look gorgeous though so will have to catch another time.

 

I was hoping they would bring Nijinski with them but I think they've been touring this alot at home so probably needed a break from it.

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Welcome to the forum from me too, Richard - and thanks for the report.

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In theory we can none of us be familiar with this company's Cinderella unless we have seen them dance it as it is supposed to be Cinderella mark 2 rather than a rehash of the version which Ratmanskey made for the Mariinsky. It will be interesting to see.just how different this one is from his first attempt.I hope that it is a radical reworking rather than a merely cosmetic one. I hope that he has rethought the seasons and the bag lady fairy godmother and that the choreography for this version acknowledges the music rather than studiously ignoring the most dansant sections of the score..

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Very pleased people like the dancers, especially Dimity Azoury (promoted to soloist last year after her debut as the Baroness) and Robyn Hendricks (promoted to principal four weeks ago after dancing Odette-Odile in the Stephen Baynes 2012 "traditional" Swan Lake - I was there and it was clear within seconds of her first entrance that we were seeing something very very special). Incidentally, Azoury's husband Rudy Hawkes is Siegfried to Hendricks' Odette.

 

Gorgeous photos, Dave and John; thanks!

 

Janet, AD McAllister calls this Swan Lake (his first commission after becoming AD) the company's "international calling card". I understand he has read the New York reviews from 2012.  ;) 

 

I was hoping they would bring Nijinski with them but I think they've been touring this alot at home so probably needed a break from it.

 

Nijinsky is still in rehearsal; the first performances will be in Melbourne in early September.

 

 

I hope that he has rethought the seasons and the bag lady fairy godmother and that the choreography for this version acknowledges the music rather than studiously ignoring the most dansant sections of the score..

 

Um... :wacko:

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Friday performance. Cast - Adam Bull, Amber Scott, Dimity Azoury - seems the same as the opening night.

 

I went with conflicting prejudices.

 

On the one hand, I dislike excessive messing around with classics, in any art form. For me, Swan Lake is THE ballet classic.

 

On the other hand, I was so impressed with the Australian Ballet's contribution to World Ballet Day 2014, especially the joyous Class session led by the inspirational Fiona Tonkin. The AB's section also featured part of a rehearsal of Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake.

 

I don't think I would have bothered to see this work, if it had been performed by any other than the AB. I'm so glad I let my positive prejudice overcome my negative one. I not only enjoyed this (sort of) Swan Lake, but found it surprisingly moving. I had great sympathy and sorrow for both Odette and the Baroness von Rothbart, each a tragic figure. I believe the greater complexity of the characterisation adds to emotional depth of the ballet. But I don't want to compare this with other SLs - I will just regard them as different ballets using some of the same elements, above all Tchaikovsky's sublime music.

 

I am not competent to comment on the details of the choreography. All I can say is that it largely worked for me in telling the story, which is the most important thing in a narrative ballet.

 

What I did find rather jarring was the premature appearance of the Act 2 Lake theme towards the end of Act 1. This haunting music, ethereal and otherworldly in its beauty, deserves to be treated as a rare treasure, only used when absolutely necessary, not just introduced for effect.

 

Besides the principals, I took time to observe the Corps closely. I think that perhaps you get a better idea of the general standard and morale of a company from the Corps. I expected the AB's Corps to excel, and I thought they did.

 

My observations on three of the cast - not in any way to diminish the excellence of the rest.

 

Adam Bull (Prince Siegfried). As Floss pointed out, he doesn't have much that is interesting or exciting to do - but he does have a great deal to do, and did it in exemplary fashion. It seemed to me that he had an exceptionally large amount of lifts to perform - he must have lifted well over the average "tons of ballerina" by the end. And he had done the same thing only two days previously. Adam Bull, Kevin Jackson etc. have to do this while maintaining a slim, athletic build. What a physically demanding profession ballet is - and how dedicated the dancers must be.

 

Benedicte Bemet (one of the cygnets etc.). In the Class in the AB's section of WBD 2014, I thought she was one who really stood out. They also interviewed her after the Class, and she stars in a couple of YouTube clips. The AB clearly think a lot of her. At the time of WBD 2014 she was only a member of the Corps, but now, at the age of 22, she is already a Soloist. When I bought my ticket, I had no idea of the cast, so I was pleased to find that she was in the Friday performance. In the cygnets' dance my binoculars were largely focused on her - I have become a "fan". Her dancing, indeed her whole "persona", seem to epitomise what I find so attractive about the Australian Ballet.

 

Colin Peasley (Lord Admiral). He didn't do any dancing - no surprise as he's approaching his 82nd birthday. He had appeared in the same role in the rehearsal in WBD 2014, and many of the tweets etc, which were highlighted, expressed joy at seeing him. I then googled his name and found that he is something of a living legend in Australian ballet. So it was great to see that he is still playing a part in an AB production - and must be a great inspiration and influence to the company.

 

I am now booked to see the AB's Cinderella on the last evening of their current season at the Coliseum. I'm so looking forward to it!

 

Incidentally, I thought the lavish and informative programme good value for £6. 

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Benedicte Bemet (one of the cygnets etc.). In the Class in the AB's section of WBD 2014, I thought she was one who really stood out. They also interviewed her after the Class, and she stars in a couple of YouTube clips. The AB clearly think a lot of her. At the time of WBD 2014 she was only a member of the Corps, but now, at the age of 22, she is already a Soloist. When I bought my ticket, I had no idea of the cast, so I was pleased to find that she was in the Friday performance. In the cygnets' dance my binoculars were largely focused on her - I have become a "fan". Her dancing, indeed her whole "persona", seem to epitomise what I find so attractive about the Australian Ballet.

 

I’m in complete agreement with what you say about  Benedicte Bemet..  I was lucky enough to see her as Clara when the Australian Ballet danced Peter Wright’s Nutcracker in 2014. She was an absolute delight and I can’t put it better than Michelle Potter did in her review of  the ballet when it was shown on Australian TV that Christmas.

 

http://michellepotter.org/reviews/the-nutcracker-on-film-the-australian-ballet

 

I hope it’s OK to quote the following extract from Michelle Potter’s review. 

 

“She commanded the role from beginning to end, never losing strength or characterisation. She showed off a wonderfully fluid technique and I especially loved her use of épaulement, her gorgeous carriage of the head, those beautiful arabesques that seemed to soar upwards, and the way she always, but always, stepped forward onto a turned out foot. Those technical matters came as if they were second nature and she looked every inch the dancer from start to finish.” 

 

I also saw Benedicte's impressive Aurora  last December. The performance was at the Sydney Opera House.  I think it was her debut in the role but can't be certain that she hadn't already danced it in Melbourne.  She’s most certainly a great prospect for the future.

Edited by Bluebird
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