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JohnS

Viviana Durante Company: Kenneth MacMillan - Steps Back in Time, London, April 2018

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Just back from seeing this.  An interesting evening but first a few gripes.

 

I hadn't been to The Pit before and was disappointed with a number of aspects.  The lighting was virtually non existent when entering the auditorium and very difficult to find seats, with tiny seat numbers.  Many people struggled.  I mentioned how dark it was to an usher but it seemed it was intentionally dark to help create an appropriate atmosphere.  Adding the extra row AA seriously compromised the view for me in row B.  Rows AA and A are at the same level and the step up for row B is minimal.  With just row A I imagine the view would have been ok and I'll look forward to seeing what I missed when the performance is available on line.  It didn't help that a guy in row AA kept his hat on throughout the performance.

 

The Stravinsky and Martin music were recordings and I found the Stravinsky particularly distorted.  The House of Birds was much better with a live pianist.

 

My final gripe is that the extract from Danses Concertantes was pretty minimal - little more than a couple of minutes.  I think the audience was pretty surprised/disappointed that it was over so quickly.

 

That said I'm very pleased to have gone.  The extract from House of Birds was good and I enjoyed seeing Lauren Cuthbertson, Thiago Soares and Sayaka Ichikawa in the lead parts.  The setting also worked well and I guess would have been great from row AA.

 

Given how short the extract from Danses Concertantes was, it's difficult to say very much.  Again good to see Akane Takada with Jose Alves if only briefly - I see Benjamin Ella is dancing the performances on 20 and 21.

 

The highlight for me was Laiderette performed in full - very disturbing but fabulous to see Francesca Hayward make so much of the role in such an intimate setting.  Thiago Soares was again very strong.

 

At the the end of the evening there was a 15 minute panel discussion and it was fascinating to hear how Laiderette was notated from a black and white film although at the end the questions did rather fall into the deferential 1950s BBC style 'Is there anything you would like to say Minister'.  The panel discussion features at every performance.

 

I very much hope the ROH will put on such an evening when the Linbury reopens but with full ballets or certainly more generous extracts.  With all the work gone into recreating Laiderette it would be good to see it performed in a more comfortable setting with significantly better views.

 

 

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I totally agree about the lack of lighting, John.  Given that the audience could be expected to be similar to a normal ROH ballet audience, i.e. including a fair proportion of older people, I was very concerned that someone might stumble in the dark on the way in - it's a fact that your ability to see in the dark gets worse as you get older.

 

I thought perhaps a bit of explanation/background could have been given before the pieces: for example, it wasn't very clear to me whether House of Birds was a single extract, a combination of extracts, or what.  Like you, my highlight of the evening was Laiderette: seeing Francesca Hayward inhabit the title role from so close-up was a very powerful experience, and it was fascinating to see MacMillan dealing with outsiders even that far back.  It took 8 months to notate the score from the Rambert film you refer to, but I'd say it was well worth the effort.  I also think the stage size suited it better than it did House of Birds, which could have done with a bigger stage.

 

I was of course also delighted to see Ricardo Cervera back on stage, even if he was virtually unrecognisable!

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I haven't been to the Pit since the RSC left it many years ago but even in my younger and more athletic days it was always a bit tricky to negotiate. Might have been better to use the Silk Street theatre. I'll be interested to see the relay tomorrow, particularly the excerpt from House of Birds which I saw and enjoyed in the past. 

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Thanks for the review, John. Where did you find info about the full casting for the week?

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4 minutes ago, RHowarth said:

Thanks for the review, John. Where did you find info about the full casting for the week?

 

The brief programme gives full casting details for all performances.

 

7 hours ago, alison said:

 

I was of course also delighted to see Ricardo Cervera back on stage, even if he was virtually unrecognisable!

 

I should have said how good the costumes are for all three ballets!  Thanks also for setting this up under Performances.

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I was at one of the rehearsals - where the dancers were not fully costumed, or not wigged/made-up, so not the full on experience. But still great!

Here are some photos from that.


27678557318_72141145ea_z.jpg

Laiderette: Thiago Soares, Francesca Hayward, Isabella Coracy, Sayaka Ichikawa, Marie Astrid Mence. © Dave Morgan. 
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

39739876190_fb27ca5685_z.jpg

Danses Concertantes: Akane Takada, Benjamin Ella. © Dave Morgan. 
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

41548615341_de095c32dd_z.jpg

House of Birds: Sayaka Ichikawa, Lauren Cuthbertson. © Dave Morgan. 
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...
Set from DanceTabs: MacMillan Steps Back in Time - Viviana Durante Company
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

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Here is the full casting, as I was given it (featuring RB dancers, all of Ballet Black, and several male dancers from Scottish Ballet)

 

House of Birds

 
Girl - Lauren Cuthbertson (or Meaghan Grace Hinkis)
Boy - Thiago Soares
Bird Woman - Sayaka Ichikawa (or Cira Robinson)
Enchanted boys - Pascal Johnson, Javier Andreu, Matthew Broadbent, Simon Schilgen, Eado Turgeman, Jose Alves, Mthuthuzeli November, Ebony Thomas
 
 
Danses Concertantes
 
Akane Takada, Jose Alves (or Benjamin Ella)
 
 
Laiderette
 
Laiderette - Francesca Hayward (or Yasmine Naghdi)
Host - Thiago Soares
Mask seller  - Ricardo Cervera
Guests - Isabella Coracy, Cira Robinson (or Sayaka Ichikawa), Marie Astrid Mence, Jose Alves,  Mthuthuzeli November, Ebony Thomas
Clowns  Sayaka Ichikawa (or Cira Robinson),  Pascal Johnson, Javier Andreu, Matthew Broadbent, Simon Schilgen, Eado Turgeman
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Dave:  It's been a change for me to see some colour in House of Birds, as all I've seen is a series of black and whites from a revival circa 1963.  (I think it was exclusively a Touring Company work before falling out of the rep.)

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11 hours ago, JohnS said:

 

 

I hadn't been to The Pit before and was disappointed with a number of aspects.  The lighting was virtually non existent when entering the auditorium and very difficult to find seats, with tiny seat numbers.  Many people struggled.  I mentioned how dark it was to an usher but it seemed it was intentionally dark to help create an appropriate atmosphere.  Adding the extra row AA seriously compromised the view for me in row B.  Rows AA and A are at the same level and the step up for row B is minimal.  With just row A I imagine the view would have been ok and I'll look forward to seeing what I missed when the performance is available on line.  It didn't help that a guy in row AA kept his hat on throughout the performance.

 

 

oh help! I'm in row 'b' on Friday....:wacko:

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11 hours ago, alison said:

it wasn't very clear to me whether House of Birds was a single extract, a combination of extracts, or what. 

 

It's a combination of extracts, I seem to remember a large female corps for that ballet with cages on their heads.  Very spooky and menacing when performed in full.  The Art of the Royal Ballet by Keith Money has a number of pictures from the 1960's revival with Christopher Gable as the boy and gives a good idea of the look of the piece.

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11 hours ago, alison said:

I thought perhaps a bit of explanation/background could have been given before the pieces:

 

Actually, even the dates would have been helpful, plus context in which they were created, i.e. company and possibly venue.

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I should mention that there was the odd (fairly last-minute, I think) return last night, so if you don't mind taking a chance you might be lucky.  There was a facility for a returns queue.

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3 minutes ago, alison said:

 

Actually, even the dates would have been helpful, plus context in which they were created, i.e. company and possibly venue.

 

The dates are given in the programme under the heading Creative Team.  Laiderette 1954, the other two 1955.

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9 minutes ago, alison said:

 

Actually, even the dates would have been helpful, plus context in which they were created, i.e. company and possibly venue.

 

the dates were 1954 for Laiderette, 1955 for the others. Can't help with the other info though

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I did provide some feedback to the Barbican on the lack of lighting when entering/leaving the auditorium and impact of row AA.  They do have a useful email facility - info@barbican.org.uk.  I do hope zxDaveM and bangorballetboy have a better view.

 

The brief free programme was helpful and also yesterday's dance tab links is good - the interview with Viviana Durante.

 

The three dances were just under an hour in total and the discussion 15 minutes so the whole programme finished c9pm.

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I am going to the live stream tonight. Maybe the lighting will be better.  We don't get the talk afterwards, apparently.  

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Could some kind person put the link up of the live broadcast this evening? I can't find it anywhere! Thanks so much.

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I saw the streamed performance last night - as did Mrs M, who danced in two of them when with the Touring Company a year or two ago.  The two extracts were a tad frustrating compared with the complete Laiderette.  Janet does not recall House of Birds with great fervour and I've a suspicion that the extract may have sold it short.

 

Now, can anyone tell me where, when, and by whom Laiderette was performed when new?  I may be being stupid, but I can find no mention of it whatever in Alexander Bland's "The Royal Ballet: The first 50 years."  

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1 minute ago, Ian Macmillan said:

Now, can anyone tell me where, when, and by whom Laiderette was performed when new?  I may be being stupid, but I can find no mention of it whatever in Alexander Bland's "The Royal Ballet: The first 50 years."  

 

From the Kenneth MacMillan website: Laiderette, 1954. "Laiderette (from the French ‘laideronette’, “little ugly one”) like Somnambulism was a workshop production for the Sadler’s Wells Choreographic Group. Its motifs of rejection and exclusion would be recurrent themes in MacMillan’s later work. Maryon Lane danced the lead role..."

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1 hour ago, RuthE said:

 

From the Kenneth MacMillan website: Laiderette, 1954. "Laiderette (from the French ‘laideronette’, “little ugly one”) like Somnambulism was a workshop production for the Sadler’s Wells Choreographic Group. Its motifs of rejection and exclusion would be recurrent themes in MacMillan’s later work. Maryon Lane danced the lead role..."

 

 

And acquired by Marie Rambert for her company when de Valois did not want it for Sadler's Wells.

 

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1 minute ago, Sim said:

Ian, this WAS the entire Laiderette!

 

I think you've misunderstood Ian; I definitely read it as "the two extracts (from the other two ballets) were a tad frustrating compared with the complete Laiderette".

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