Jump to content

Dances for Dancers


Recommended Posts

On the RB Spring Casting thread, FLOSS challenged me to say what ballets I would like to see Vadim Muntagirov dance if I were the AD. I would prefer to widen the 'brief' and to think in terms of the ballets which would, in my view and of course over time, help the wonderful raft of (tallish) young men at the RB develop their artistry and also provide a flow of treats for the audience.

 

I am thinking initially in terms of works which have been in the RB repertoire and have strong male roles. My quick list (I gave myself a limit of 15 which is not enough!) is:

 

Month in the Country (Belaiev) - Ashton

Marguerite and Armand - Ashton

Prodigal Son - Balanchine

Song of the Earth – MacMillan (both roles)

Mayerling (Rudolf) - MacMillan

La Bayadere (Solor)

Apollo - Balanchine 

Winter Dreams – MacMillan

Judas Tree – MacMillan

Onegin – Cranko (name role)

Winter’s Tale - Wheeldon (Leontes)

Pierrot Lunaire - Glen Tetley

Romeo and Juliet - MacMillan

Manon - MacMillan (Des Grieux)

Symphonic Variations - Ashton (lead man)

 

Please not Sylvia (which has been suggested elsewhere) - Aminta comes across as such a wimp  and has far too little dancing.

 

I started to think about what I would like to see the equally wonderful young RB women in but maybe someone else would like to start that off.

 

I know that we shall all differ widely in our views. But that's the fun of BCF, isn't it?

 

 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I would watch and gaze with wonder at Muntagirov in almost every ballet, I'm struggling to imagine him as Onegin and maybe even Rudolf. He comes across as so utterly adorable and chilvalrous; princely and romantic in the most lovely way. This maybe partly do do with the roles in which I've seen him, but while he's still young - and he has a very youthful face too - do you think he'd really be able to access that maturity and the darkness of Onegin?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the moment I don't see him as either Onegin or Rudolf but I do see him as Lensky.

 

I would like to see Alex Campbell as Romeo next time around - he already proved himself in the role at BRB - he was utterly wonderful.  I could see him as Rudolf too.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see Muntagirov as Lensky over time too.  I can't yet see him as Onegin in my mind's eye.

 

I would like to see Brandon Lawrence as Romeo with Delia Matthews as his Juliet.  I would also like to see him as the Prince is David Bintley's Cinderella.

 

I would like to see William Bracewell as the Prince in the same Cinderella and as Edward ll with Brandon as his Gaveston (can we please have E2 back in the rep BRB???).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the RB Spring Casting thread, FLOSS challenged me to say what ballets I would like to see Vadim Muntagirov dance if I were the AD. I would prefer to widen the 'brief' and to think in terms of the ballets which would, in my view and of course over time, help the wonderful raft of (tallish) young men at the RB develop their artistry and also provide a flow of treats for the audience.

 

I am thinking initially in terms of works which have been in the RB repertoire and have strong male roles. My quick list (I gave myself a limit of 15 which is not enough!) is:

 

Month in the Country (Belaiev) - Ashton

Marguerite and Armand - Ashton

Prodigal Son - Balanchine

Song of the Earth – MacMillan (both roles)

Mayerling (Rudolf) - MacMillan

La Bayadere (Solor)

Apollo - Balanchine 

Winter Dreams – MacMillan

Judas Tree – MacMillan

Onegin – Cranko (name role)

Winter’s Tale - Wheeldon (Leontes)

Pierrot Lunaire - Glen Tetley

Romeo and Juliet - MacMillan

Manon - MacMillan (Des Grieux)

Symphonic Variations - Ashton (lead man)

 

Please not Sylvia (which has been suggested elsewhere) - Aminta comes across as such a wimp  and has far too little dancing.

 

I started to think about what I would like to see the equally wonderful young RB women in but maybe someone else would like to start that off.

 

I know that we shall all differ widely in our views. But that's the fun of BCF, isn't it?

 

Great list, capybara, except that I never want to see The Judas Tree again, and am very dubious about Marguerite and Armand (except when done by Rojo and Polunin...). Other than those, I'd be very happy with a season including all the above works. :)

 

I'd also add Van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces, specifically for Muntagirov to do.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great list, capybara, except that I never want to see The Judas Tree again, and am very dubious about Marguerite and Armand (except when done by Rojo and Polunin...). Other than those, I'd be very happy with a season including all the above works. :)

 

I'd also add Van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces, specifically for Muntagirov to do.

 

I'm with you Bridiem - NO to Judas Tree - and I would just love to add that I would dearly love to see Muntagirov/Reece, Ball, Sambe/Hay/Campbell with (respectively) Nunez/Osipova, Nagdhi/Stix-Brunnell and Hayward in Balanchine's Leibesleider Waltzer - which is in the RB's rep - but which has not been performed for such a long time.  If a team such as that was to do it ... I would be there for each of their performances.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't worry too much about the tallish young men - there are loads of roles for them - but I do wonder how Kevin O'Hare plans to cast some of the less tall but extremely talented young dancers - Sambe for instance. I'd love to see  Balanchine's Donizetti Variations here - Nikolaj Hubbe put it on in Copenhagen for the young Lendorf and it was sensational.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen Pierrot Lunaire live, only on recorded clips, and I would be interested to know why it is included in the list?  I can't say it would be something I would rush to see!

 

I have seen it live - and don't ever wish to repeat the experience

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fonty you ask why Pierrot Lunaire is on the list? The answer for me, at least. is that Pierrot is an extraordinary work about innocence.its loss through experience and final acceptance. It is not all gloom and menace, there are snatches of humour in it, and it is on my list of "must see ballets". 

 

Tetley used  the score with extraordinary freedom and his choreography creates wonderfully arresting images particularly in the opening section in which Pierrot is alone on his tower, happy and full of childlike wonder and yearning. Ter-Arutunian's set design of a white tower apparently made out of scaffolding poles amplifies and expands the images which the choreographer has created to an extraordinary degree while his costume designs tell the audience with absolute precision who the three  Comedia characters who appear in it are, and the part they are likely to play in the rest of the ballet. Thus preparing the audience for the action of the ballet itself.

 

 As far as the clips you have seen of the ballet are concerned,clips of ballets rarely do much for the ballet from which they have been wrenched. A bravura pas de deux may stand up to close scrutiny as far as the technical abilities of the dancer's are concerned but just how much does such an easily isolated pas really tell you about the ballet from which it is taken? Is the Don Q pas de deux really representative of the entire ballet from which it comes? Now of course Pierrot is not that sort of ballet.It is a "through composed work" without easily detached divertisements or pas.A clip, say of Nureyev  swinging about on the tower, is not going to give you much of an idea about the ballet as a whole just as a four minute clip of Song of the Earth is unlikely to give you much of an idea of why it is so highly regarded.

 

.Very few ballets are well served by being seen in recorded form. A recording can show you what the dancer did but they are not really capable of capturing the mood and emotion generated by the dancers in the theatre. Of course you may project your own emotional response to live performances which you have seen and supplement the recording's impact in that way but a recording is essentially a dead thing.It is better than nothing but not better than the experience of a live performance.I think that Muntagirov would be very good as Pierrot as would Matthew Ball but I am not sure who I would cast as Brighella or Columbine. The ballet is in Rambert's repertory and they revive it from time to time.It is well worth seeing. Ignore everything that is said about the score by those who only like Tchaikovsky and Minkus' muzak and only sit through ballets to music by Stravinsky because Balanchine created them. The score has an uncanny, eerie beauty which Tetley mirrors beautifully in this work. Don't be put off by what other people say about the ballet. Try it. I find it difficult to think of a score written in 1912.over a century ago. and a ballet, created in 1962,as being "difficult" or "modern".I think of them in combination as a fascinating major contribution to twentieth century ballet.

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I think that Muntagirov would be very good as Pierrot as would Matthew Ball but I am not sure who I would cast as Brighella or Columbine.

 

Mm, yes, good point.  The Brighellas in the last run were Carlos Acosta and Ed Watson, and the Columbines Mara Galeazzi and Deirdre Chapman, weren't they?  Hmm, yes, I don't know who I'd see as their successors, either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I entirely agree with all that Floss has said about Pierrot Lunaire, especially the music which seems to upset many ballet goers. I hate to say this, and no doubt will be roundly abused for saying it, but I have the impression that the average ballet fan is not particularly musically literate and finds it difficult to accept a score that does not have "easy tunes". Things have improved a bit, but I recall a time when the opening bars of the "daybreak" music in Daphnis and Chloe used to be drowned in chatter because they were - and still are- played with the drop curtain down, and so qualified as "only music".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I entirely agree with all that Floss has said about Pierrot Lunaire, especially the music which seems to upset many ballet goers. I hate to say this, and no doubt will be roundly abused for saying it, but I have the impression that the average ballet fan is not particularly musically literate and finds it difficult to accept a score that does not have "easy tunes". Things have improved a bit, but I recall a time when the opening bars of the "daybreak" music in Daphnis and Chloe used to be drowned in chatter because they were - and still are- played with the drop curtain down, and so qualified as "only music".

 

I think that happens quite a lot with music that's played before the curtain goes up, no matter how tuneful it is. But I would say that people posting on this forum are not really 'the average ballet fan' - they're rather more involved than that, and I would have thought (hoped) are mainly open to a range of musical styles. I personally love the music for Pierrot Lunaire - it may not be exactly 'tuneful', but it's expressive and interesting and moving and powerful (as is the work itself).

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I entirely agree with all that Floss has said about Pierrot Lunaire, especially the music which seems to upset many ballet goers. I hate to say this, and no doubt will be roundly abused for saying it, but I have the impression that the average ballet fan is not particularly musically literate and finds it difficult to accept a score that does not have "easy tunes". Things have improved a bit, but I recall a time when the opening bars of the "daybreak" music in Daphnis and Chloe used to be drowned in chatter because they were - and still are- played with the drop curtain down, and so qualified as "only music".

 

 

I don't think I'm musically literate as it happens and I do like tunes but there again I also like Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Max Richter.

 

As with any music, some appeals more than others and we are all different.

 

I also don't like Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Primavera!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fonty you ask why Pierrot Lunaire is on the list? The answer for me, at least. is that Pierrot is an extraordinary work about innocence.its loss through experience and final acceptance. It is not all gloom and menace, there are snatches of humour in it, and it is on my list of "must see ballets". 

 

Tetley used  the score with extraordinary freedom and his choreography creates wonderfully arresting images particularly in the opening section

 

Thanks for the explanation, Floss, but unfortunately the score is the reason why I just do not want to see it live. 

 

I don't know whether I could be classed as musically literate or illiterate, and frankly I don't care!  I enjoy listening to a wide range of styles, but when I hate something, nothing whatsoever will persuade me to pay a ticket for a performance that includes it. 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although I have been watching ballet for more than 50 years, I guess I am still musically illiterate because I don't particularly like the Lunaire music either.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that it isn't a 'tune'.  There are many 'tunes' I dislike too.  I just find the Lunaire music very grating, and it detracts from my being able to concentrate on what the dancers are doing onstage.  But hey, I guess that is to be expected from a musical illiterate!  :)

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wulff. The dawn chorus was virtually inaudible at every performance of Daphnis which I attended when the RB last revived the ballet in 2004.It was so bad that I hope that when it is next revived management put a notice on the cast sheet requesting the audience to remain silent throughout the entire performance as there are people in the auditorium who wish to hear all fifty nine minutes of the score and not merely those sections when there are people present on stage. But of course talking during music which is not accompanied by movement is not confined to  performances of twentieth century ballets I have attended performance of Swan Lake at the Coliseum at which nice middle class ladies have happily chatted through the music while the curtain was down.They were affronted when I asked them to be quiet as I wished to listen to the music "because no one was dancing".

 

 I remember years ago talking to someone whose ballet going was restricted to works created to major twentieth century scores such as Daphnis and Chloe and Petrushka, which tend to turn up in the concert hall in the form of suites, and those that only turn up there occasionally, such as the Rite of Spring, Les Noces, Pierrot Lunaire and Song of the Earth. At that time Song was more of a concert hall rarity than it now is. He found it difficult to understand how the audience for an art form  which had been so ready to embrace the radical and new in music during the first four decades of the twentieth century had become increasingly conservative in its tastes during the seventies and eighties.I would counter his claim that ballet audiences were ultra conservative and musically illiterate by saying that ballet audiences happily watch ballets to music by Stravinsky and Prokofiev while the opera audience which will always buy tickets for Tosca and Boheme was not so ready to buy tickets for operas by Janacek, Prokofiev or Stravinsky. His response was that in his opinion most ballet audiences would rather sit through the bland interchangeable music written by Minkus than music written by twentieth century composers like Stravinsky and Hindemith. If they did sit through their music it was not the result of enthusiasm for the composers but the price they had to pay to see ballets such as Balanchine's Agon and the Four Temperaments.

 

Now I am curious about why tastes changed. It seems to me that in selecting the nineteenth century ballets which she wanted for her company de Valois was as much concerned about their musical quality as she was about the quality of their choreography. All of her nineteenth "classics" are ballets which are as significant for their scores as they are for their texts. Perhaps her fastidious musical taste was innate and merely reinforced by her experience working with the Diaghilev company. She did after all famously decline Nureyev's offer to stage Don Q for the company. I have always thought that decision had as much to do with the quality of the score as questions about whether the ballet was a natural fit for the company and its dancers.I have always thought that the first four directors of the company thought of Minkus' music as a pollutant representing all that was bad about nineteenth century ballet and its musical values and that the Kingdom of the Shades was exempted from the ban simply because of the quality of its choreography. 

 

I think that great musical arrangements such as those devised by Constant Lambert and good, if not great music, are an essential part of a good ballet. I recognise that we all differ as to what we regard as "good" music. I believe that the worse thing that any of us can do is to deter others from going to see a ballet which they have never seen because we do not like the score or have a  general antipathy to all of its composer's works.If you dislike Pierrot Lunaire. fair enough, but others should not be dissuaded from seeing it. If you condemn all of Schoenberg's music then you might dissuade others from seeing works created to his music such as Tudor's Pillar of Fire. Not that there is much chance of seeing any of Tudor's ballets either at the RB or at ABT.

 

Here are a  few suggestions for ballets which the RB should perform. They are all by the other great British choreographer whose centenary was ignored by the RB and whose existence is rarely acknowledged by his first company. Rambert's last revival of Dark Elegies seemed totally lacking in the weight and depth that I recall it once managed in performance. I can't help thinking that any, or all, of the following Tudor ballets would look good on the RB in its present state,and do a great deal to develop its dancers. Jardin aux Lilas (Lilac Garden), Dark Elegies,Echo of Trumpets,Pillar of Fire and Shadowplay the one work he made for the RB company. Then there are his ballets satirical ballets Gala Performance and Judgment of Paris and what about trying to revive Knight Errant? Surely it was notated

 

AntonyTudor was the master creator of the psychological ballet perhaps that is the reason why his works are so studiously ignored by the RB. Perhaps Tudor's ballets are seen as presenting a threat to MacMillan's reputation as a choreographer of great psychological depth.  As to the nature of Tudor's ballets Baryshnikov once said that appearing in even one of his ballets amounted to "a passport to become mature, to be an adult, a dancer in depth and it was an obvious school for everyone". Now of course that was the effect of working with Tudor as coach but his ballets have a depth and substance which you don't encounter everyday.Someone once went so far as to describe Lilac Garden as "a Henry James story told in dance". It seems to me that it would benefit the company's dancers and its young choreographers to come into contact with some Tudor ballets as they are works in which in Lucia Chase's words "The the movement phrases ride over the music" and "There are no steps only phrases".It has always seemed to me that in his ballets Tudor consistently achieved a pyschological depth  which MacMillan strove for, but rarely achieved

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would love to see the RB or ENB do some of Tudor's ballets. I just don't understand how they have ignored him for so long. It's ironic that we had to wait for an American company (ABT) to come over and present Lilac Garden a few years ago for us to be able to see it in London. A silly situation.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having seen William Bracewell yet again give some truly magnificent and mature performances in BRB's Shakespeare bill I could see him as Onegin (perhaps with Brandon Lawrence as Lensky)!

 

Come to think of it, I could see Chi Cao as Carabosse, but I believe Sir Peter Wright no longer wants men to perform this role in his Sleeping Beauty. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would love to see the RB or ENB do some of Tudor's ballets. I just don't understand how they have ignored him for so long. It's ironic that we had to wait for an American company (ABT) to come over and present Lilac Garden a few years ago for us to be able to see it in London. A silly situation.

  

....... and the Royal Ballet School 5 or 6  years ago, of course,

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...