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Christmas TV and New Year dance programmes - discussion 2016

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I think the Fonteyn programme was ultimately unsatisfying because it raised lots of questions but answered them very superficially or not at all. e.g. if Fonteyn really felt that at the height of her performing career she was lost personally (and I know she said this herself), was this reflected in her performances? How could she be such an effective performer if she didn't know who she was? Was her performance style able to overcome this, or was it evident in any way? Or did performing compensate for her personal unhappiness? The quality and effect of her dancing was also raised but all the comments about this were very brief and we then moved on. I have always found Fonteyn a great enigma. Nothing she said publicly (either in interviews or in her autobiography) was truly revelatory, and she chose to keep many aspects of her life private whilst apparently living it in a glare of publicity. That is (was) her privilege, but it means that a documentary seeking to 'explain' her life needs to be very diligent in looking behind appearances. This one kept saying that it was going to do so, and then pulling back at the crucial moment. But I enjoyed it anyway, because of the interesting film footage and knowledgeable people being interviewed (even if very briefly). But it portrayed Fonteyn's life as being so sad - I wonder if she saw it as such. I hope perhaps not.

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Fonteyn belonged to a stoical generation, they squared their shoulders in adversity and got on with life.  I can think of other ballerinas that faced difficulties in their lives, but haven't so far had documentaries made about them.  Svetlana Beriosova springs to mind.

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Fonteyn belonged to a stoical generation, they squared their shoulders in adversity and got on with life.  I can think of other ballerinas that faced difficulties in their lives, but haven't so far had documentaries made about them.  Svetlana Beriosova springs to mind.

 

I believe the one made on the life ot Tanaquil Leclercq could quite rightly fall into that category.  The documentary made on her was very good I thought ... as was the two part 'Margo' on Fonteyn.  It said so much more about Fonteyn  - both as an artist and human being - than the one Ms. Bussell was featured in.  

 

I suppose the BBC just wanted - in this regard - something they could call their own and gain residuals from.  Times they are hard ... and it seems with the BBC they may well be getting harder.   

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Yes, but for the casual viewer who's not going to bother recording, they're only likely to come across it if it's on TV at a reasonable hour. Mind you, it *was* straight after the News, I believe.

 

It is being repeated New Years Eve afternoon on BBC1 at 3.15pm for those who want a more prime-time showing.

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Sorry if it's obvious somewhere but when is this Nutcracker prog on? It hasn't been on already has it?

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Sorry if it's obvious somewhere but when is this Nutcracker prog on? It hasn't been on already has it?

It's on Christmas Day afternoon at 4pm on BBC2 and called Dancing the Nutcracker - Inside the Royal Ballet.

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Oh great ....many thanks Jacqueline so glad haven't missed it its so nice to see Lesley Collier too......another one looking great for her age

This morning have just started the dreaded chesty lurgy thingy so looks like settling down in front of our new tv with a glass of Baileys to watch ballet will be just what the doctor ordered. My partner enjoys ballet when he hasn't got to go miles to see it and maybe there will be a Christmas Day episode of Pawn Stars to keep him happy!!

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Three clips from the BBC programme about The Nutcracker are here:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04m1cgy

 

 

I don't much use it ... but he word 'adorable' comes to mind in this sequence.  Loved that last look between the two principals ... and that shot of Ms. Hayward's sugar-spun hand rising above the rim of her tutu.  

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As mentioned elsewhere, a repeat of the Bussell Fonteyn programme over the New Year's weekend, along with a repeat of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. Fuller details when I have time.

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Just got home from Sleeping Beauty and fast-forwarded through the "Bussell on the BBC" programme.  This actually looks as though it might be worth recording, with some significant clips of her in performance.

 

(But which stupid idiot went and scheduled the repeat of this against the repeat of her Fonteyn programme???!!!  One on BBC2, one on BBC4)

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Oh boy, what promise those three clips show for the Christmas Day programme! Looks to be beautifully shot, edited and directed. I am already enthralled (more so than by the actual ballet :D)

Edited by cavycapers

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Christopher Carr always terrifies me...but he gets the job done! "I only do perfect"... a tough taskmaster indeed!

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I watched the Darcey prog last night. It contained a lot of footage which was interesting to see again and see how La Bussell evolved over the course of her dance career. She appeared supremely confident from an early age, despite the diificulties she has talked about elsewhere. Then again, as she also said you have to work very hard to get to and stay at the top.

I only saw Darcey live once, in Viva la Diva, about which the less said the better. Watching her dance last night, I could appreciate the beauty and precision of her movement and her extraordinary physique. As Eric Morecambe said of playing the right notes on the piano, Darcey - to my eyes anyway - danced all the right steps and quite probably, in the right order. And yet, I got no sense that she was feeling the music and the story.

There was a clip from Sylvia, involving a dramatic looking tussle between Sylvia and her captor, whose name escapes me. It was all going on and when the camera gave a close up of her face - nothing was registering there. She could have been waiting in a queue somewhere.

I found myself comparing and contrasting, given the news we had yesterday of Zenaida Yanowsky's retirement. Not only a fabulous dancer but a terrific actress with a hugely expressive face, most recently seen, for me to great advantage in Elizabeth.

So much of effective dancing is in the face, the eyes and so on. Sarah Lamb is another fine example of the sort of understated expression I find compelling.

I wonder if Darcey's career had taken a rather less turbo powered trajectory from such a young age, she may have had more time to develop her acting skills. We'll never know.

Anyway, it was interesting to see Darcey dance again. She seems so associated now with Saturday night tv and glamour, it was a reminder of where it all started.

Edited by Jacqueline
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I caught up on Darcey Bussell's Margot Fonteyn programme yesterday and I must say that I enjoyed it.  OK it wasn't a deep investigation into Margot Fonteyn but I felt Darcey had a huge respect for her and seemed moved when she visited her resting place in Panama.

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I agree with so much of what you say Jacqueline. My thoughts about the programme, much of which was familiar to me, was that despite her staggering facility and undoubted star quality I can never quite think of Darcey as a ballerina. I do wonder if had Macmillan lived and worked with her longer her acting skills might have been developed.

 

she is a great example of nothing succeeds like success. You are a star, everyone says you are a star, people hear that you are a star so they want to see you. Ergo, you become a bigger star.

 

I hope this doesn't sound ungenerous as Darcey is undoubtedly very widely respected and liked but whenever I saw her dance I was enormous impressed with her physical ease but cannot remember ever being moved by her. I must confess now that I never saw her as Giselle or Juliet so I may well have lost out but in works like Winter Dreams, which i saw a number of times, she could have been seeing her lover off to the bus stop rather than losing him for ever.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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Last night's programme reminded me that I only saw Darcey on stage very rarely and that my two most vivid memories came via TV - her supremely assured Rose Adagio during the 1999 ROH Reopening Night, and the last minutes of her final performance in Song of the Earth when, whatever may have been the case at other times, her face and eyes were fully involved in the story being told in that anguished, winding reverse bourrée.  

 

And she's a joy on Strictly!

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I enjoyed the Darcey Bussell programme last night immensely. It really made me miss her dancing! For me, there was something special about her that I'll never quite be able to put my finger on. I loved seeing her in the beautiful Prince of the Pagodas solos and Winter Dreams pas de deux again. While I know that there is a lot of criticism out there for Darcey as a presenter, to me she has an enthusiasm and obvious passion that I find warm and inviting.

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Because I only caught the end of Darcey's career ( after a long break away from seeing any ballet) I didn't see her do loads ....the first thing was Sleeping Beauty a role which I felt she was well suited. Like others have said here I noticed her ease and grace she was definitely a very fine and beautiful dancer in that respect. She was lovely in Prince of the Pagodas too ....though not a favourite ballet of mine.

 

I didn't see her do anything very dramatic but sensed she would struggle here a bit. And I do get fed up of every new dancing talent being called "the next Fonteyn" .....Fonteyn was a one off so nobody will be like her. And she wasn't good at everything either though still one of my favourites.

 

From the programme last night I felt this feeling was confirmed ....no way was she a fiery and feisty Spanish lady ...as Carmen!! She comes across as too nice and polite. It's difficult though with "extracts" like this as just showing a pas de deux it's harder to build up any dramatic momentum but I didn't think she was a dancer who would have moved me enormously though quite like the bits we saw of Song of the Earth....usually that final trio has me in tears but wouldn't expect that to happen from the couple of excerpts we saw.

 

What a technician though! And this is still important we do need dancers who have that ease and facility which is why I won't "knock" her. As I think with all dancers you just choose what you want to see them in ....where their particular skills are best on show.

 

I still haven't seen the Fonteyn programme but enjoyed last nights very much.

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Good to see the Song of the Earth extracts - would be wonderful to see again that whole farewell performance as I think it's only been broadcast once and isn't available on DVD. And what about a repeat of a magical Cinderella from years ago with I think Alina, Johan and Anthony Dowell/Wayne Sleep as the Ugly Sisters? Again I think that only ever had one broadcast. Perhaps a new thread on what isn't on Christmas television?

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I am so glad they presented the programme about Darcey Bussell's career through the eyes of the BBC.  (I just wished each excerpt had been longer!)  I have a lot of the footage on Video Cassettes, however my poor video player broke down some time ago, so this programme is a very welcome replacement. So many memories of her beautiful dancing, and Winter Dreams and Song of the Earth certainly portrayed to me a vast amount of emotion, to name but two.  In my eyes she deserves every amount of success that she has enjoyed. 

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Last night's programme was much better than I had hoped, almost non-stop dancing,  most extracts I had seen before but Tryst with Jonathan Cope was new to me, plus Song of the Earth, Darcey Bussell never lost her youthful, fresh style.

 

I thought the Margot Fonteyn programme was well presented too, it took a safe not too controversial view, I would not have been so generous about Tito, lovely to see faces from the past especially Donald Macleary, I wish there was some film of him and Svetlana Beriosova. there's a lot lurking in the BBC archives.

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Last night's programme was much better than I had hoped, almost non-stop dancing,  most extracts I had seen before but Tryst with Jonathan Cope was new to me, plus Song of the Earth, Darcey Bussell never lost her youthful, fresh style.

 

I thought the Margot Fonteyn programme was well presented too, it took a safe not too controversial view, I would not have been so generous about Tito, lovely to see faces from the past especially Donald Macleary, I wish there was some film of him and Svetlana Beriosova. there's a lot lurking in the BBC archives.

 

... but not much of Beriosova and almost nothing of Macleary, unless they've recently found some more?

 

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I was pleasantly surprised by the Darcey Bussell programme last night - so many clips without intrusive commentary. As others have said, a glimpse of the treasures in the BBC archives. I was fortunate enough to see Darcey a couple of times, most memorably in Prince of the Pagodas. Macmillan's comment about her being unlike an English dancer in her attack as well as her physique was so apparent at the time of her rise to fame, perhaps less so now. I loved the clip from Cinderella - I think her sunny personality perfectly suited the role. Surprised there wasn't a little more made of her excelling in Balanchine works and her success in America - although the extract from the Tchaikovsky pas de deux did illustrate this to some extent.

This, combined with the clips, promises well for the Nutcracker documentary tomorrow.

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I didn't see the Bussell programme, it seemed from the write up to be full of clips I have seen before.  However, I did see her live many times.  There is no doubt that she was a superb technician, and was at her best when she simply had to move without having to portray too much emotion.  She had a lovely creamy quality of movement that, combined with a wonderful physique, was ideally suited to non acting, pure dance roles

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I enjoyed the Darcey BBC program very much - as others have said, it favoured dance over commentary, and I saw lots of footage that I've never seen before.  I hope it reached a wider audience that may only really be aware of her from Strictly.  I was also struck by how often TV programmes seem to have given performance spots for Darcey, which was a great profile raiser not just of her but for the art form - I'm probably not that exposed to them, but does it ever still actually happen that a ballet dancer performs on a light entertainment show?  Picking up on Macmillan's comments, her physique was perhaps more along Russian lines than English.  Those legs!

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