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The Royal Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty


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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the rehearsal for the Royal Ballet's 'The Sleeping Beauty', which opens at ROH on the 21st Dec. The photo call was of Sarah Lamb and Vadim Muntagirov in the Act 3 grand pdd.
 
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Vadim Muntagirov, Sarah Lamb
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Vadim Muntagirov, Sarah Lamb
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Set from DanceTabs:  RB - The Sleeping Beauty (Act 3 gpdd)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

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Loulabelle,you may not believe me but I wish that I could be more positive about Matthew Golding's presence in the company.It is nearly three years since he joined the Royal Ballet as a Principal dancer but apart from a handful of performances in Acosta's Don Q in which he partnered Tsygankova rather than a company member and his appearances in The Four Temperaments he has not done anything which has impressed me.He may have a fine technique and be very good as Basilio, if he is dancing with the right partner, but even if Don Q stays in the repertory this time, and there is no guarantee that it will, it is unlikely to become a staple of the repertory as it does not play to the company's strengths as dance actors. 

 

The company has plenty of ballets in its repertory which play to its dancing and acting strengths but on current showing they don't seem to suit Golding.We all look for different things in performers and performances but a fine technique is not sufficient for most of the works that I am talking about and most of them require an element of speed which seems to be a problem for him. Unlike Don Q, as it has come down to us, they do not exist simply as vehicles for a display of bravura technique by the leading dancers.They are ballets which require the dancers performing them to apply their technique to telling the story and portraying the characters created by the choreographer.On the basis of his performance of Oberon which was  ponderous rather than light and mercurial I would suggest that he lacks the speed required for quite a bit of the Ashton repertory. I wonder whether it was his lack of speed which led to him being replaced in Symphonic Variations as I  don't recall any announcement of an injury simply an announcement that he was being replaced.

 

I know that it takes dancers who have worked elsewhere a bit of time to settle into the company, become fully integrated and become part of the team. Muntagirov has settled in very quickly but I see little sign that Golding has done so. His prince in Sleeping Beauty appeared to be more interested in his solos than in his Aurora; Russian critics noted the lack of chemistry between him and his Manon and the general consensus among the critics writing about his debut as Romeo was that the performance showed the limits of what a Juliet could do in the absence of a responsive Romeo.The replacement of Golding by Muntagirov in Sleeping Beauty was simply announced without any explanation which is rather odd. I can't help wondering whether Kevin was thinking about the Royal Ballet's repertory when he hired Golding as he is hardly going to change it to suit this one dancer. 

Edited by FLOSS
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I've never seen Golding in anything, but he doesn't appear to have many fans on here, poor chap.   Looking at his CV, he seems to won several prizes, included a Prix scholarship to study at the RB when he was a student, so he must have something!

Edited by Fonty
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I feel people can be over harsh. I didn't mind his Oberon with Osipova, and he was actually rather good with her in Onegin. I think he would be good as Des Grieux too. I'd have liked to see him as the Man in Song of the Earth, and he provides solid support in the classics. It can't have been easy for him as he was brought in (cf About the House circa 2013/14) to be the partner of Osipova in the Sleeping Beauty, but she injured herself in rehearsals, and then she fell in a solo in the first night of Don Q some months later. Anyway, I hope he's ok.

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I, for one, am pleased that FLOSS' second - (and I'm not one to talk in this regard) - LONG posting was removed.  To perhaps put it more appropriately I think its removal (or 'hiding') was more than justified.  I thank the moderators.  Certainly I am glad that I was not the only one - or at least so it seems - to have struggled with it.  Certainly it was not to my taste as I felt it breached - at least on my reading - an element of good taste.  

 

For what it is worth I thought that Golding was an outstanding Oneign - in a cast (Osipova, Ball, Naghdi) that - for me - and it seems a goodly few others - could not have been bettered in that particular run.  His partnering in that instance was sublime.  

 

May Mr. Golding have a truly speedy and complete recovery as well as a very Happy Xmas and New Year.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I also liked his Onegin very much, but his Romeo did nothing for me and I wish I could have seen Hayward with a different one because she didn't bowl me over like she did many other people (and I am a huge Hayward fan).  I also thought he was miscast as Oberon.   However, if Miss Osipova likes dancing with him then he clearly must have something!  That would be a good classical technique and strong partnering.  For me, in general, it is the dramatic, emotional side that is missing.

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Personally I think Matthew Golding gave a very memorable performance as Onegin. I also liked him as Des Grieux, and thought his interpretation powerfully showed how morally compromised DG becomes by the choices made. I hope to see him repeat both roles.

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I personally think he is an excellent classical dancer and brilliant partner ( I wouldn't mind him anyway!!) Good partnering skills are definitely not to be underestimated in the ballet world.

 

I would now like to see him doing a more dramatic role as I've not seen him live in anything that would challenge him in this particular way I would just like to see what he can do in this respect and I think seeing someone live is really the best way to assess this.

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My post above was in response to several rather dismissive posts regarding Mr Golding.  Reading all the reviews of his Romeo to Hayward's Juliet, that did seem to be a case of miscasting.  

 

Finding the right partner is vital for both males and females. surely?  I remember similar comments about Jonathan Cope in the past - superb partner, elegant dancer, but lacking in the acting department was the view of many, myself included I have to say.

 

That was before I saw him in Mayerling, with Tamara Rojo.  

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I thought Matthew Golding gave a marvellous debut as Des Grieux with Melissa Hamilton's Manon, they only had one performance, this had the makings of a very good partnership and I expected to see them in R and J,  such a shame it didn't happen for him. I had been looking forward to seeing him in Nutcracker with Sarah Lamb as they are supposed to dance well together, it's all about finding the right partnership.

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Not all critics were quite as dismissive of Matthew Golding's Romeo as may be suggested. Judith Mackrell is worth quoting:

"It’s only in act three that [Hayward's] inexperience registers; while touchingly convincing in Juliet’s revulsion against Paris and in her uncomprehending fury against her parents, Hayward doesn’t quite register the gutted desperation, the cold steel of adult knowledge that elevates Juliet from teenage girl to tragic heroine.

Matthew Golding, whose Romeo starts out as a romantic boy, spiking with hormones, finds that steel in his own closing moments. He’s surprisingly well paired with Hayward, an ardent, attentive partner. ."

While Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball were mesmerising in their debut, I found the Hayward/Golding performance very moving as well as being technically brilliant.

Edited by alison
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Getting back to the subject of the thread, I've been meaning to say how beautifully matched Lamb and Muntagirov look in those photos.

 

I very much like the idea of mixing Beauties into the Nuts as the RB has done this year

 

Capybara, I welcome virtually anything which breaks up a run of Nuts!  My only concern, as I think I mentioned when it was originally announced, is whether it will put excessive stress on the dancers, and the female corps in particular.

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Good partnering skills are definitely not to be underestimated in the ballet world.

 

In many companies, including some of the best ones, this is a number one, and in some cases, the only criterion of whether somebody is deemed to be principal worthy or not.

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I saw Golding dance Albrecht in March. To me at least he seemed very good technically and an assured partner. My only complaint would be that his acting is not as good as some, and I didn’t find his performance as emotional as Munatgirov’s. Golding also flagged a little towards the end of act two, but I’m not sure that anyone could have kept up with Osipova and Nunez that night! 

 

All in all, I don’t think Golding deserves all the criticism he gets, especially as he has been unfortunate recently with injuries to himself and his scheduled partners. If he is going to miss his Sleeping Beauty performances it looks set to be another lean year for him sadly. 

 

I am, however, excited (but unfortunately ticket-less) at the prospect of a Lamb/Muntagirov partnership. They were so good together in Afternoon of a Faun.

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They were so good together in Afternoon of a Faun.

 

And wonderful together in Manon. 

 

Sadly, I didn't buy tickets for this performance because I needed to choose carefully and as Golding isn't a favourite didn't buy one.  Now I am missing the chance to see Muntagirov and Sarah dance together again!  Oh well.  Another time, I hope.

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And wonderful together in Manon. 

 

Sadly, I didn't buy tickets for this performance because I needed to choose carefully and as Golding isn't a favourite didn't buy one.  Now I am missing the chance to see Muntagirov and Sarah dance together again!  Oh well.  Another time, I hope.

 

But there are 3 Beauty shows, Sim, and you could try Friday Rush, perhaps. Of course, they are also dancing Nutcracker together.

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And wonderful together in Manon. 

 

Sadly, I didn't buy tickets for this performance because I needed to choose carefully and as Golding isn't a favourite didn't buy one.

Personally, I'm not sure I've ever bought a ticket for Beauty based on anything but who the scheduled ballerina is. I suppose if it were someone I was slightly iffy about a really good Prince might just sway me, though. (And as I started typing this I remembered that last time around Lamb was dancing with McRae)

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Personally, I'm not sure I've ever bought a ticket for Beauty based on anything but who the scheduled ballerina is. I suppose if it were someone I was slightly iffy about a really good Prince might just sway me, though. (And as I started typing this I remembered that last time around Lamb was dancing with McRae)

 

I have known performances where, after the very female-orientated Prologue and Act 1, a really special Prince has come on in Act 2 and transformed the whole proceedings  :)

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I did not see the post from Floss, so I am simply making the assumption that it was critical of Matthew Golding.  As I have learnt so much from this poster and always value their insights, I am sorry that it has had to be removed.

 

For what it's worth (and I don't have anything like Floss's knowlege) I can understand the criticism of this dancer.  Yes, he has a lot going for him, not least strong partnering skills and a pleasing appearance as well as excellent technique, but his dancing has never moved me and when I book for performances I avoid his casting.  That is not to cast aspersions, simply to say that he does nothing for me and his partnership with the wonderful Francesca Hayward was a disappointment.  

 

My view is that a lot of the flack he gets is because fans of RB expect and are used to a certain type of dancer and therefore feel short-changed when the person under scrutiny doesn't measure up to pre-determined aspirations.  My own penchant is for lyrical emotional dancing combined with a great stage presence and an ability to take on the character which probably explains why I was in love with Kobborg and Cojocaru, live in dread of the day that Edward Watson hangs up his shoes and have huge hopes for Hayward and Naghdi and Ball.  

 

Despite my having favourites, I would say that most of the dancers have their special area where they shine so that they too are appreciated, even if one doesn't follow them slavishly.  Steven Macrae comes to mind here.  I did not enjoy his Romeo and worry about his Rudolf, but when it comes to cheeky chappy roles (Winter's Tale) or technical fireworks (Woolf Works), there is no-one I would rather watch.

 

Matthews skill seems to be that he is supremely competent which is fantastic but is not, in itself, an attribute that especially attracts followers.  For me it was a strange piece of recruitment given RB's current devotion to Wayne Macgregor and its reliance on Macmillan.  Looking through the winter programme, I realised how little he is being used and although injury has played a part, I wonder where the future lies.

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