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Jan McNulty

Northern Ballet - A Celebration of Sir Kenneth MacMillan - October 2017 and March 2018, West Yorkshire

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Northern Ballet is in Bradford from 05-07 October with their mixed programme "A Celebration of Sir Kenneth MacMillan" comprising Concerto, Las Hermanas and Gloria.

 

Please use this thread to record your thoughts on the performances.

 

Here is a short film released by the Company:

 

 

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Tickets still available for this next week at very reasonable prices. Stalls from £17.50 to about £35. The Alhambra are offering a further reduction of £10 off per ticket with the code BALLET. 

Edited by Yorkshire Pud

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If I were able to travel, even one of the three would probably have me there like a shot (particularly since I have free accommodation up the road)! :(  Go, folks, if you can!

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Saw the triple bill this evening - really wonderful! Las Hermanas, riveting. Amazingly well

done - guts, passion, detail, viscious. Concerto surprisingly well done - really thought it might be too tricky as I've often seen RB having issues! Central PDD beautiful. Lady M's sets and costumes less of a success. Gloria  threw me initially because of the recorded music, but I got over it quickly as I was bowled over by the dancers' commitment to this piece. Stunning. So glad I made the journey. Nothing but praise for NB.

Edited by Vanartus
Typo
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I thought last night's performance was outstanding! I agree about the Concerto set and costumes!

 

NB proved yet again that performing outside their comfort zone is rewarding for both the dancers and the audience.

 

Roll on today!

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I am pleased to learn that Northern Ballet have shown their affinity to this ultra testing work as it is one of the few fairly regularly performed MacMillan works where even a hair out of place screams at you as it is so very obvious and so very visible.The choreography is extremely exposed, a feature that we tend to associate with Ashton rather than MacMillan, and brings the entire company under intense  scrutiny as the choreographer intended. The original Jurgen Rose designs emphasized the exposed nature of the ballet through their pure simplicity and the choice of colour which gave the ballet a hard edged quality and seemed to emphasize the dancers' outline and their every movement. May I ask do Lady M's designs have the effect of softening the dancers' bodies in some way? How does she handle the transcendent middle section?

 

Somehow I am not surprised to learn that Lady M's new designs are not that effective. Replacing the work of a major ballet designer, and Rose was a very important ballet designer, is a dangerous enterprise particularly where the choreographer selected the designer and retained his designs throughout his lifetime with every staging as it suggests that the choreographer thought that they worked.Designing for ballet is incredibly difficult to do well. It never ceases to amaze me that people who should know better do not seem to understand that the impact of a ballet is magnified or diminished by the quality of the design and choice of materials selected for them. Design is as much an essential element of a ballet as the music to which the choreographer has created the movement.It is not an optional factor that can or should be changed in order to "freshen" up a ballet.It is an integral part of it.Somehow you might have hoped that someone with an artist's eye would be aware well of the importance of design and its effect. Perhaps the temptation of requiring companies to perform this work in new designs for which presumably they would have to pay was too great to resist.

 

I think that the RB only had "issues" with Concerto at its 2010 revival when it was danced so incredibly sloppily that several national critics expressed surprise that the company was struggling with it after it had danced so much MacMillan during the preceding weeks. I know I sat there remembering how beautifully and easily the company had once danced it and thinking how ironic it was that the ballet which MacMillan had created for his Berlin company to save him the need of attending daily class to identify dancers whose technique was suspect was now presenting so much of a challenge for the Covent Garden company.But then the company had been dancing emote and sprawl MacMillan rather than MacMillan the classicist in those preceding weeks.  I look forward to seeing Northern Ballet in Concerto even if the designs are more than a little suspect.

Edited by FLOSS
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I'm dismayed to hear that Concerto has been re-designed; the designs are (were) for me part of what makes (made) it so beautiful and striking, and I've always remembered them. (WIth some works that isn't necessarily the case - the dance or the music are paramount and are what stick in the memory. With Concerto, the designs were central to the effect.

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I saw today's matinee in Bradford and can't add anything about the performances except what has been said above - outstanding performances of what must have been unfamiliar material. Looking in the programme I see that the costumes and set for Concerto were loaned by the Noriko Kobayashi Ballet Theatre and doing some further digging I see that they're not exactly new, having been created for their performances of Concerto way back in 2007.  I didn't find them distracting, though I agree they lacked the visual impact of the Jurgen Rose designs.  I did find the use of a recording for Gloria distracting, and particularly as the sound quality of the recording left a lot to be desired, but I guess it wasn't practical to get a full choir and soprano soloist in.  A shame, but I'm going to see them perform Gloria again later in the month in London, and I'm pleased to see they'll have the ROH Orchestra and Chorus backing them there!  Actually it was a treat to hear three wonderful pieces of of music in this mixed bill.  Las Hermanas had Frank Martin's harpsichord concerto wonderfully played by Darius Battiwalla and Andrew Dunlop was equally good in Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Concerto - I saw the Mariinsky dance Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH last year in Cardiff which uses the same music and it's fast becoming one of my favourite piano concertos.  I loved the Poulenc too.  I've sung it 6 or 7 times in various choirs so know it inside out, which made it doubly distracting that it was a recording.

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Just seen both matinee and evening shows. Truly emotional. Really stunning performances by Northern Ballet. Quite sensational. Will write more tomorrow. On a buzz.....

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I just don't know what to say about the 3 performances I saw over the weekend!  They showed Northern Ballet at their absolute best!

 

Over the three performances we saw 2 and a bit casts and every single dancer on stage showed total commitment to their roles.

 

Random highlights in this wonderful programme for me were Antoinette Brooks Daw in the first movement of Concerto with Kevin Poeung at one performance and Matthew Koon at the other.  She was absolutely radiant!  In Gloria in total contrast she had an amazing vulnerability and was utterly radiant.

 

The evening's opener Las Hermanas was compelling dance drama that allowed the dancers of Northern Ballet to show of their already proven acting abilities.  Both casts were tremendous but I must mention the amazing chemistry between Hannah Bateman as the oldest sister and Javier Torres as her fiancé.  I quite forgot to breathe while watching them.  Pippa Moore was just breath-taking as the jealous sister and Victoria Sibson was positively terrifying as the Mother.  The cheers these remarkable dancers received at the curtain calls were more than justified.

 

The performances of Concerto, once I could ignore the new colour palette, were crisp and full of joy.  In one performance Dominique Larose and Alexander Yap moved me to tears in the adagio.  Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor were also superb in these roles.

 

Gloria, despite the recorded score, was glorious, breath-taking and incredibly moving.

 

It is such a shame that there are only 4 performances this year and 3 in Leeds in March next year.  I have already booked for Leeds and am counting the days...

 

Huge kudos to Northern Ballet for taking on these works and performing them triumphantly.

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So good to read about this - was sorry not to be able to see the Bradford run but I'll certainly be there in Leeds!

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Speaking of Las Hermanas, this will be of greater interest to London-based readers, but I see the Cervantes Theatre has a season of performances of the Lorca play from which it derives, The House of Bernarda Alba.  If you want to be really daring, you could pick the ones in Spanish :)

http://www.cervantestheatre.com/home/?page_id=836

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Northern Ballet have issued a trailer for their performances of this programme in March at Leeds Grand:

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Northern Ballet have issued a trailer for their performances of this programme in March at Leeds Grand:

 

 

Go see if you can. One of the best triple bills ever...so enjoyed it last year in Bradford.

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The House of Bernarda Alba has a further run at the Cervantes Theatre starting in February. I saw a performance in the autumn and very much enjoyed it. Don't expect elaborate staging.The theatre is tiny and it's a very intimate space which suits the theme of the play (8 years mourning at home!).

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I hope the people of Yorkshire appreciate what they're being given the opportunity to see.  Did NB's ROH visit last year get much coverage in Yorkshire?

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From the press coverage of the Royal Ballet's visit to Hull last autumn, I'd guess there is a whole new market for ballet there. I hope Northern Ballet gets the resources to build on it.

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So do I.  But Hull is a long and inconvenient way from Leeds and Bradford.  I'm more concerned that they get decent houses in Leeds, remembering my own initial resistance to mixed bills when I started my ballet-going (and of course now I kick myself for the things I missed back then).  I was thinking that bigging-up their success at the ROH might make more people take notice.  I'm sorry the video doesn't use the original music (which might be recognisable to some), but perhaps there are rights issues involved.

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Can those in the know advise on the best place to sit in the Leeds Grand. My usual question: what is the rake like in the stalls? Are you looking up if you sit in the front row or front couple of rows?

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I like the front row (row C) but I know some people find it a little low and go on the 2nd or 3rd row.  When I've sat further back in the stalls I've not had an issue.

 

Upstairs the central blocks are best.

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I've just had a mailshot to say that Zenaida Yanowsky will be appearing in Las Hermanas for the Leeds evening performances - doubly excited to be going now!

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This will be  wonderful, although I'm a little gutted as, trying to be frugal, I only booked for the Saturday matinee and have already booked my train ticket home. I am sure others will report back! 

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Well, it seems I had the rush of blood to the head which is familiar to all us ballet-goers, as I've just booked for the Friday night as well (bizarrely buying a whole new journey, there and back, was considerably cheaper than replacing the homeward-bound ticket I'd already bought for the Saturday). I'll never be rich at this rate but I suppose I'll be rich in memories...

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2 hours ago, RHowarth said:

Well, it seems I had the rush of blood to the head which is familiar to all us ballet-goers, as I've just booked for the Friday night as well (bizarrely buying a whole new journey, there and back, was considerably cheaper than replacing the homeward-bound ticket I'd already bought for the Saturday). I'll never be rich at this rate but I suppose I'll be rich in memories...

 

Ha! Very familiar feeling!! I was in exactly the same position - I had only the matinee for Saturday booked and return trains. I've now gone and booked the Friday evening as well plus overnight hotel and new train ticket......Looking forward to both shows and being rich in memories, never mind the pennies!

 

:D

Edited by nottsballetlover
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Just my luck! There's me sitting behind a pillar in the dress circle...

Edited by RHowarth

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I was hoping to go to this as I think it's such a terrific triple bill but cannot go now!! Still seeing Northern in May at the Curve in Leicester ( Little Mermaid) tickets have arrived now and at Sadlers later in the month but originally was planning on going to this .....a little bit of ballet heaven I think. Looking forward to the reviews anyway. 

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