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Project Polunin at Sadler's Wells

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Views and discussions here please. I have to wait until Friday, so who will start us off?!

 

I look forward to reading about it from those who go before then!

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Oh dear...the three reviews posted up so far on today's links are pretty bad.  Any comments from anyone?  Does the silence mean anything I wonder??!!

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I am sad to report that the reviews pretty much sum it up (and far more eloquently than I can).

 

There are occasional flashes of brilliance (particularly from Osipova) which only illustrate what a night it could have been.

 

I might add some more thoughts later (I am meant to be working at the moment...!)

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Ooh, those reviews are very negative. Tbh, I was concerned when I saw the photographs before last night's performance. It demonstrates how difficult it is to curate an evening of dance. It's not a given that great dancers have great artistic taste or make even passable choreography. I wonder how much advice and help Polunin received when planning the evening and creating his own choreography.

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It's hard to sum up quite how bad it was. I know Osipova's Sadlers Wells program was a bit of a marmite piece, but Polunin's offering really made it look like Swan Lake in comparison. The opening piece, Icarus, was terribly classically Soviet, filled with a lot of melodramatic and rather comical emoting from Polunin, combined with some awkward lifts and a lot of flashy leaping about. Reminiscent of the worst parts of Spartacus. It ended rather abruptly to be followed by curtain calls that lasted nearly as long as the piece itself. This was followed by a short break and then the dreaded Tea or Coffee. I confess when I looked at the program and saw neither Osipova nor Polunin was in it, my heart sank a little (what's the point of these vanity projects if you're not in them?), but even my expectations were too high for the piece itself. Dull, derivative modern dancing combined with a whiny, grating modern score. I can't even put in to words how awful it was. In a hotly contested field, that may have been one of the worst things I've ever seen.

 

After all of that, I really did not have much hope for Narcissus. And I was right. The set looked like a low budget science fiction movie from the 50s and the costumes were a cross between the sparkly cover of a naff little girl's novel and a fantasy themed lingerie collection from Victoria Secret. I'm sure the - erm - sparkly codpiece has already been commented on, but it was certainly - er - eyecatching. Ignoring that, the choreography was again very dull, lots of leg waving, head tossing etc. Sergei quickly stopped dancing and draped himself over one of the glowing science fiction planets. I understand that dancers don't have unlimited stamina, but he did seem to be going rather easy on himself, having spent most of the performance either backstage or fake napping. Osipova came on in some spangly outfit which started shedding like Ginger Rogers' dress in Top Hat's famous dance number and proceeded to wave her legs around and toss her head back a lot, joined by some more tackily dressed fairy/nymphs (this was dubbed Echo and the Echoettes by my friend). She managed to lend the piece some emotional poignancy in her pas de deux with Polunin and the subsequent bereavement sequence after his descent into the pool (in fact a hole with smoke pouring out if it...) but even Osipova was struggling with the set, costumes and choreography available to her. The piece ended with some people coming in with what looked like clocks on their heads, but by that point I may have been so depressed that I was hallucinating. Despite the 'Polunin selfie sequence' (I think, this was meant to express Narcissus' love for his reflection??) it certainly seems to have lost its way rather with the original plot (although I'm a little amused, I confess, by the fact that Polunin seems to have chosen Narcissus as a subject completely unironically).

 

What this proves is that being a fantastic dancer does not mean having good taste in productions, choreography or costuming. I hope Sergei remembers not to try his hand at this again, because if this was his big come back it fell extremely short of the mark.

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I wonder how much advice and help Polunin received when planning the evening and creating his own choreography.

 

The word is that Polunin received a very great deal of help, advice and support. And that is, of course, sometimes a problem in itself.

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Yes, those first reviews are pretty damning - and if Graham Watts' Tweets last night are any guide, his review will be in a similar vein.  And I fear it's true that capability as a dancer does not necessarily translate into capability as a Director.  I still recall one of the early Acosta and Friends bills at the Coliseum and the surprise of the people next to us that we had reached the Interval.  The three or four pieces to that point were all so identical in mood that they had not noticed the transitions from one to another.  And to be honest, had I not been keeping track of the changes in music used, I might have been similarly surprised.

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It's hard to sum up quite how bad it was. I know Osipova's Sadlers Wells program was a bit of a marmite piece, but Polunin's offering really made it look like Swan Lake in comparison. The opening piece, Icarus, was terribly classically Soviet, filled with a lot of melodramatic and rather comical emoting from Polunin, combined with some awkward lifts and a lot of flashy leaping about. Reminiscent of the worst parts of Spartacus. It ended rather abruptly to be followed by curtain calls that lasted nearly as long as the piece itself. This was followed by a short break and then the dreaded Tea or Coffee. I confess when I looked at the program and saw neither Osipova nor Polunin was in it, my heart sank a little (what's the point of these vanity projects if you're not in them?), but even my expectations were too high for the piece itself. Dull, derivative modern dancing combined with a whiny, grating modern score. I can't even put in to words how awful it was. In a hotly contested field, that may have been one of the worst things I've ever seen.

 

After all of that, I really did not have much hope for Narcissus. And I was right. The set looked like a low budget science fiction movie from the 50s and the costumes were a cross between the sparkly cover of a naff little girl's novel and a fantasy themed lingerie collection from Victoria Secret. I'm sure the - erm - sparkly codpiece has already been commented on, but it was certainly - er - eyecatching. Ignoring that, the choreography was again very dull, lots of leg waving, head tossing etc. Sergei quickly stopped dancing and draped himself over one of the glowing science fiction planets. I understand that dancers don't have unlimited stamina, but he did seem to be going rather easy on himself, having spent most of the performance either backstage or fake napping. Osipova came on in some spangly outfit which started shedding like Ginger Rogers' dress in Top Hat's famous dance number and proceeded to wave her legs around and toss her head back a lot, joined by some more tackily dressed fairy/nymphs (this was dubbed Echo and the Echoettes by my friend). She managed to lend the piece some emotional poignancy in her pas de deux with Polunin and the subsequent bereavement sequence after his descent into the pool (in fact a hole with smoke pouring out if it...) but even Osipova was struggling with the set, costumes and choreography available to her. The piece ended with some people coming in with what looked like clocks on their heads, but by that point I may have been so depressed that I was hallucinating. Despite the 'Polunin selfie sequence' (I think, this was meant to express Narcissus' love for his reflection??) it certainly seems to have lost its way rather with the original plot (although I'm a little amused, I confess, by the fact that Polunin seems to have chosen Narcissus as a subject completely unironically).

 

What this proves is that being a fantastic dancer does not mean having good taste in productions, choreography or costuming. I hope Sergei remembers not to try his hand at this again, because if this was his big come back it fell extremely short of the mark.

 

Thank you, VickyPage! This review made me laugh so much that I almost don't mind that I may not enjoy myself as much this evening as I was hoping too...

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Yes, the reference to 'sparkly codpiece' in VickyPage's review and 'posing pouch' in one of the reviews in today's Links made me laugh out loud. What on earth was Polunin thinking of?

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Oh Lord, I just drove up from the sticks to see this tonight - the omens don't look good. Luckily my ticket was less than a tenner.  I shall attempt to view it as postmodern irony and see if that helps...

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Oh Lord, I just drove up from the sticks to see this tonight - the omens don't look good. Luckily my ticket was less than a tenner.  I shall attempt to view it as postmodern irony and see if that helps...

Well its not all bad Quintus.....I've seen worse!

 

If you like the incessant drive and relentless choreography of Spartacus, then Vasiliev's Icarus is bearable. As a whole piece this is probably the best section of the evening.

 

The second piece is very Arthur Pita. Apparently it was choreographed for the Stanislavsky and had a limited run. Polunin wished to bring it to a wider audience. I am still wondering why, though quite a few of the audience seemed to get a whole lot of linguistic jokes that passed me by. It is one of those pieces that might be better for a second viewing.

 

I think a lot has already been said about Narcissus. The set is from a very bad 1960's sci-fi B movie. The costumes are naff (although the husband really appreciated Osipova's outfit (and we are betting on how much of it will be left by Saturday)! Mostly the choreography is uninspiring (and probably under-rehearsed) but there were some absolutely wonderful and very emotional sections with Polunin/Osipova and then her final solo at the end. Those alone make me happy to sit through the rest of the nonsense again at the end of the week.

 

Polunin seemed nervous and his dancing wasn't as tidy as expected. It will be interesting to see it all again after they have had a few performances. I wish him luck in his ventures and hope he gets the fame he craves. He won't get it with this as, like Carlos, choreography is definitely not his strong point.

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It sounds as if it might be best to draw a veil over the whole thing ( especially the codpiece) -  it was a first attempt and  I am sure he can do better than this.

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I attended last evening.  At best I was bemused.  

 

It was lovely to see Vasiliev - who I always much admired as a performing artist - at the curtain call.  

 

Mr. Polunin I read said he wanted HIS Project to be a 'role model' for young dancers.  

 

Heaven help them.  That is what I was thinking as I made my way down those steep stairs at the conclusion of a sadly dull - one might almost say wasteful - (in terms of an opportunity afforded to few) - event.  

 

That, and my sincere hope that Mr. Polunin now finds personal fulfilment in his career as a film actor.  That particular - and sole - aspect of his journey I will now follow with interest.  But that will - of necessity - be for other boards - not here.  Clearly this Sadler's Wells outing was witness that this - sorry, HIS - particular balletic enterprise - certainly in terms of inspiration - is best left to others elsewhere.  

 

As to the audience ... Well, 'you pays your money and ... '

 

-----

 

 

On the journey home - in pursuit of Peter Pan's 'happy thoughts' -  I pondered who would now partner Osipova's M at the ROH.  Perhaps Richardson or maybe Sambe.  That would be inspiring enough for me I think.  Nay, it might well come as a revelation .... a prospect which - just then - seemed especially desirable.  Time will ... as must we all ... move on.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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VickyPage, your review made me laugh out loud! oh dear.

 

Thank you, VickyPage! This review made me laugh so much that I almost don't mind that I may not enjoy myself as much this evening as I was hoping too...

 

I was laughing too, by the end! I'd almost say it was worth the ticket price just for the pure joy of mocking it. (Although the humour is starting to wear off and an underlying disappointment is setting in.)

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I very much enjoyed your veil and codpiece link, Mary. The mind boggles.

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Just seen the photo on dancetabs - oh my goodness NO, who on earth let him go on stage looking like that?

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Graham Watts has written a thoughtful piece about last night's performance. He endorses the point that capybara made earlier when he says that Polunin needed critical friends for this project rather than personal friends and long term associates. That's the problem with these very personal / vanity projects: nobody is looking at the programming and content with a dispassionate eye.

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Graham Watts has written a thoughtful piece about last night's performance. He endorses the point that capybara made earlier when he says that Polunin needed critical friends for this project rather than personal friends and long term associates. That's the problem with these very personal / vanity projects: nobody is looking at the programming and content with a dispassionate eye.

 

 

Link to Graham Watts' review: http://dancetabs.com/2017/03/project-polunin-icarus-tea-or-coffee-narcissus-and-echo-london/

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Well, tonight marks the first time I've ever left at an interval....

 

I actually quite enjoyed 'Tea or Coffee' - I'm not adverse to a bit of dance theatre on occasion - but upon realising that Narcissus was up next, I decided that, well, life is too short.

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Well I've returned inspired................... to fish out my old karate groin-guard and glue sequins on it.  Mrs Quintus is in for a real treat.

 

 

It was't great, but it had its moments, most of which belonged to poor Natalia, who can make the most of anything she's landed with.  The Soviet Icarus piece was rather dull but worthwhile as a showcase for some big jumps, and could be watched with detachment as a period piece - good too to see Vasiliev at curtain call.  That piece did get enthusiastic applause from the audience.

 

The second piece was  just not my cup of tea, or indeed coffee. One person would say something in German and the other would render it either correctly, over-elaborated or completely off into Spanish. People were laughing at that but I can't say I found any of it funny. Then there was a bit of slow wrestling, at which point I was lost. I hoped after the first blackout that it was over, but sadly we had to plough on for an age.

 

As for Narcissus, I didn't mind the music and again I enjoyed Natalia Osipova (and will happily buy her costume designer a beer), but much of the dancing felt sterile and unchallenging. The lighting and set design was unfortunate in that it made Narcissus' reflecting pool look like a mound with a small smoking volcano crater on top.  Not sure why the nymphs rather than Narcissus turned into flowers either, or why he got dragged into the volcano.  Or indeed why he was lounging on a large orange much of the time. Towards the end I really was getting the giggles, when the two TV screens were showing Sergei's selfies and he was running round the stage - it did descend into farce at that point...  

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More reviews appearing online- not good. Mr Crisp is the kindest so far which shows his high regard for SP.

It's a really sad shame.

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VickyPage has really said it all. My only compensation was seeing Vasiliev at the curtain call for Icarus, which was a thrill for me. My initial bemusement at Narcissus and Echo turned to incredulity as the piece wore on and by the end I was holding my head in my hand and peeking between my fingers to see if it was really happening. Afterwards, I was speechless. Not only was it jaw-droppingly awful/tawdry/tasteless etc, I was also distressed by aspects of Polunin's own dancing - although at times still beautiful and powerful, it was also sometimes overly rushed or even downright sloppy. As my friend said as we left the theatre: 'Well that's two hours of our lives we won't get back'. :(

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I did have reservations about this and said if there were good reviews I might dash up to London on Saturday for a ticket etc etc ....but have been bitten before by these "projects" ...not by Polunin though...anyway a friend who is really keen on him has just told me to save my money and not to bother. How sad.

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Well I've returned inspired................... to fish out my old karate groin-guard and glue sequins on it.  Mrs Quintus is in for a real treat.

 

 

 

 

We want photos, Quintus!!

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I think last night's performance may have been better than the first one, all the dancers looked happy enough and Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin did pull off some good dancing, especially in Icarus, that Soviet style suits her, lovely to see Vladimir Vasiliev at the end!

 

Tea or Coffee was very bad, apparently it had been well received at the Stanislavsky last year but the black Russian humour evaded me, the only real dancing came at the end as the only man left standing had a good solo for two minutes before another crockery crash and blackout (yes really).

 

I must confess I quite enjoyed Narcissus, after Tea or Coffee anything would look good, liked the music (at least there were melodies) and colourful designs, at the start there was some good choreography by someone (lots of people involved) for 5 or 6 men plus Sergei Polunin, and Natalia Osipova ldanced well again, although her costume was shedding Christmas type tinsel as she danced, and the ending was effective.

 

I dithered all morning as to whether it was worth paying the rail fare, but it was a beautiful spring day and went ahead and am glad now, the audience seemed really happy, after all half of the purpose of this show is to see Osipova and Polunin and they don't disappoint!

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Well, Vicky Page, I have nothing to add to your excellent review other than to say that the evening confirmed all my worst fears about Polunin.  If I ever hear him spouting off about the tyranny of belonging to a ballet company again, I shall have a deaf ear.  I wonder how long his celebrity will last if this is to be the sort of output we can expect?

 

His costume reminded me of John Hurt playing Caligula!

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Well I've returned inspired................... to fish out my old karate groin-guard and glue sequins on it.  Mrs Quintus is in for a real treat.

 I've got some Swarovski Crystals and a hot-fix glue gun you can borrow Quintus...

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Gosh I have just read all the reviews on Today's Links.  Pretty excoriating....every one of them.  What a sad waste of such a rare and wonderful talent.   Surely SOMEBODY should have known better, if not Polunin himself??

 

Well I hope he achieves his dream of becoming an actor because by the sounds of it this will be the more likely way for him to achieve the fame and fortune he wants....but can he act?!  Not that it necessarily matters these days.....  :)

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