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BEST PERFORMANCES OF 2018


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I  see from today's links that The Stage has kicked this off. Shall we give it a 'go'? i'd love to know people's views.

 

How about BEST PERFORMANCES (be they individual or company)? [I don't myself fancy mentioning the worst as The Stage has done.]

 

No more than 5 from each of us? Now there's a challenge!

 

 

 

 

Edited by capybara
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Permit me to put in an early word for the seven dancers of Ballet Black in their touring double bill comprising Cathy Marston's The Suit, a story with drama and melancholy, and Arthur Pita's A Dream within A Midsummer Night's Dream, all sparkle and fantasy - all in all, a well-balanced evening's entertainment.

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For me this was my year of discovering the wonder that is Kenneth MacMillan.  Loved Manon, I second penelopesimpson- Francesca Hayward was the perfect Manon. Gave Mayerling another chance- totally confuses me the first time, swotted up this time and loved it. Laura Morera and Federico Bonelli were a perfect partnership.  Winter Dreams was a lovely end to the year and finally Vadream made sense to me but not including it in my 5 as I need room for Bayadere!

 

Bayadere- a dream to see Osipova, Nunez AND Corrales on stage and to go to the rehearsal and experience coaching by Makarova. Also enjoyed seeing a second cast - Cuthbertson/Ball/Magri - Ball was a far superior all round actor/performer, Corrales needs to mature in terms of acting. 

 

The excitement of Matthew Ball arriving to fill in for Hallberg in Giselle and seeing his rise and rise from there.

 

A new Swan Lake- loved the costumes and designs, seeing Nunez/Muntagirov in rehearsal followed by perfection in a stage performance by Yasmine Naghdi. So delicate and fragile in white and a streak of wickedness in black. 

 

Marguerite & Armand - a favourite but Nunez really elevated it for me. As it was part of the same triple bill, also have to mention Elite syncopations which I had wanted to see for many years and it did not disappoint. 

Edited by Blossom
I forgot Bayadere- how could I?!!
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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

Best. :  Francesca Hwayward IS Manon.  Sublime, intoxicating, utterly engrossing. Perfection.

 

Most Disappointing:  No Edward Watson all year

 

This thread is for dance performances only.  There are plenty of other places for sounding off about what's wrong at the ROH (or elsewhere).

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

I  see from today's links that The Stage has kicked this off. Shall we give it a 'go'? i'd love to know people's views.

 

How about BEST PERFORMANCES (be they individual or company)? [I don't myself fancy mentioning the worst as The Stage has done.]

 

No more than 5 from each of us? Now there's a challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

Wow Capybara - you don't make it easy!!!  I will list my favourite performances - I am not claiming they are the best but they are the ones I have most enjoyed.

 

OK - here goes:

 

1.  Miki Mizutani and Lachlan Monaghan of BRB in La Fille Mal Gardée.  I was completely blown away by them in Birmingham and they were even better at The Lowry.  Such totally joyous performances from both dancers and the whole company sparked off that.

 

2.  Dreda Blow and Javier Torres at the Saturday matinee of Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre in Cardiff.  I took my best friend and it was lovely to share this intensely emotional performance with her.  We were both sobbing out loud by the end.

 

3.  Northern Ballet's MacMillan.Celebration in Leeds (OK - it was 3 performances) - Gloria was particularly memorable and moving.  It was an unforgettable weekend.

 

4.  Northern Ballet's revival of The Three Musketeers was enormous FUN and danced with verve and gusto by the whole company (I only saw 6 performances and wish I had been able to see more).

 

5.  BRB's dazzling array of Auroras and Florimunds in the spring - 9 casts - I saw and was blown away by 8 of them.

 

 

Others:

 

1.  Alex Campbell as Des Grieux and as Lescaut with 2 glorious Manons.

 

2.  Alex Campbell as Albrecht with Francesca Hayward as his Giselle.

 

3.  Matthew Ball as Albrecht with Yasmine Naghdi as his Giselle.

 

4. The Les Patineurs mixed programme at the matinee on Thursday 20th December.

 

5.  Ballet Black's glorious double bill of The Suit and Dream within A Midsummer Night's Dream.

 

6.  Alina Cojocaru and  Joseph Caley in Manon

 

 

Actually, come to think of it I have had the most wonderful year of ballet and dance watching.  Ballet has never looked so strong throughout the UK - long may that continue!!!

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1 hour ago, alison said:

 

This thread is for dance performances only.  There are plenty of other places for sounding off about what's wrong at the ROH (or elsewhere).

Consider me rebuked.  However, for me, ROH the building and it’s often wonderful staff, (especially Box Office and very many of the ushers) are very much part of any performance and therefore integral to the experience.   

Edited by penelopesimpson
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A fiver - hopefully picking a few others might not mention ... 

 

1.)  The rightful ascendancy of Sambe and, most especially, O'Sullivan.  Their performances in City Center's 75th Anniversary Balanchine performances in NYC made them the rightful darlings of the day.  Totally unforgettable.  

2.)  Tiler Peck holding court in Symphony in C's first movement, Tschai PDD or in Dances at a Gathering be it in NYC, Hamburg, Paris or Copenhagen showing why she continues to be one of the world's most radiant talents. 

 

3.)  The unveiling of Dylan Wald, a PNB corps member thrown into the lead of Robbin's incendiary Opus 19/The Dreamer in Paris.  The audience applauded so much at the end of the first movement the conductor had to delay the beginning of the second.  The memory will remain emblazoned in my mind's eye and ear.  

 

4.)  Joseph Sissens and James Hay in EVERYTHING they do.  The latter not only develops as a dancer but is one of the finest dramatic interpreters the ROH stage has EVER seen - reference his Lescaut and his Bratfisch.  More please.  MUCH MORE.  The former simply sparkles.  Those entrechats six could cut glass with their ripe musicality.  There is oh, so much to come from both. .... Other great hopes are ENB's Daniel McCormick and the RB's William Bracewell.  Both excel in refinement and detailed zeal.   

 

5)ENB's  Alina Cojocaru showing us all that Aurora can be re-born.  Motherhood has only enriched her extraordinary artistry. 

 

I will stop there .... 

 

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Easy for me!

Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nunez in Swan Lake, Bayadere- wow-, and that live screening perfomance of Nutcracker -  and Vadim in Winter Dreams -double wow- no, treble wow.

Many bravos and a Merry Christmas to him!

and to the whole cast of that screened Nutcracker- perfection on a grand scale!

also- BRB The King Dances was a tranporting and wonderful evening with the gorgeous dancers of BRB I hope to see more of in 2019.

 

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51 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Ballet has never looked so strong throughout the UK - long may that continue!!!

 

-totally agree and 'hear, hear, hip hip hurray' Jan. Hope to see some Northern Ballet next year, and thanks for all the enticing reviews Jan and all on the forum showing us what's out there.

 

Bruce- Agree totally about James Hay's Bratfisch and his excellent acting and interpretation

 

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1. Vadim Muntagirov in Winter Dreams

2. Vadim Munagirov in Bayadere

3. Vadim Muntagirov in Swan Lake

4. Vadim Muntagirov in Manon

5. Vadim Muntagirov in anything else

 

OK, perhaps this is a slight exaggeration but I do think Vadim has developed so much this year; not just in the dancing but as a great dance artist. As I can't attend the ROH as often as I'd like I do have to select dancers and programmes I really like and he is one of the main dancers I go and see. Other must see dancers include Francesca Hayward and Yasmine Naghdi and I'm becoming to appreciate Matthew Ball and Marcellino Sambe the more I see of them. I also love seeing Joseph Sissens in whatever role he has. So to amend my original list slightly

 

1. Vadim Muntagirov in Winter Dreams (Also Sarah Lamb, Gary Avis and Yasmine Naghdi and a big thumbs up to the fabulous Les Patineurs)

2. Vadim Muntagirov in Bayadere (Also brilliant performances by Marianella Nunez, Natalia Osipova and Gary Avis)

3. Vadim Muntagirov in Swan Lake (and a big thank you to Liam Scarlett for this fabulous new production which I love even though I'd like a different ending)

4. Matthew Ball for rescuing Giselle after Hallberg's injury and for giving an amazing performance. (Also Hayward and Naghdi for their amazing debuts in Giselle.)

5. Brandon Lawrence and Delia Matthews from BRB for lighting up la Fille at the Lowry.

 

 

 

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For me, the culmination of expectation and yearning being fulfilled by Yasmine Naghdi's Giselle, would be my No 1. From seeing her dance as a Wilis in the corps years previously, I knew she would be a superb Giselle, and was not disappointed. Her other performances - Swan Lake, Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Infra, etc - have gone on to exceed my expectations at every performance. She brings me joy (even through tears) whenever she dances.

Second on my list - Ballet Black's double bill of The Suit and A Dream Within a Dream. The former was a clever piece of story telling from Cathy Marston, with minimal props/scenery, superbly danced by BB's marvellous dancers. And 'Dream' made me hoot out loud!

Have to mention Akane Takada in Infra. She was simply astonishing! Actually, she is another dancer gone from strength to strength - her 'Girl' in Two Pigeons was probably my favourite for example - and recent performances have only enhanced her in my eyes. 

Next - Jane Eyre by Northern Ballet. Wish I'd seen this more to be honest. Another example of Cathy Marston's masterful story telling through dance. Hope to see this again before long.

My fifth would be to agree about performances from Francesca Hayward. Been missing her these last few months as she goes off to be a Cat. Saw the film she did with Matthew Ball (another dancer who is coming to the fore) by Alice Pennefather, which was beautiful.

 

Honourable mentions - Viviana Durante's restoration of old MacMillan pieces at the Barbican; MacGregor's Yugen; Ballet Cymru and their Dylan Thomas double at Sadlers Wells Baylis studio theatre (along with our Cerys); RB's Symphony in C - because its symphony in C; John MacFarlane's designs in the revamped RB Swan Lake

 

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5 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

Next - Jane Eyre by Northern Ballet. Wish I'd seen this more to be honest. Another example of Cathy Marston's masterful story telling through dance. Hope to see this again before long.

Totally agree Dave - it was so good!

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Possibly a different kind of list as for me 2018 was the year I properly got into watching ballet - much assisted by the many helpful comments and discussions on this forum! Bearing that in mind, my top 5 performances:

 

Winters Tale - the performance streamed to cinemas. I'd booked to watch in Cardiff, but last minute needed to go to London for a meeting. So went to see it in person instead and loved every minute! On the night Sarah Lamb as Perdita particularly stood out for me.

 

Alessandra Ferri in Marguerite and Armand.

 

Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre - enjoyed both the Dreda Blow and Hannah Bateman casts in Cardiff.

 

Beatriz Stix-Brunell in Infra followed by my first experience of Symphony in C - mind blowing!

 

The whole Les Patineurs triple bill on the evening of 20th December - but particularly Winter Dreams, and in common with many others it seems, especially Vadim Muntagirov's performance!

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3 hours ago, ninamargaret said:

 

The whole company in everything they have done this year

 

I fully agree, although if I have to be more specific to contribute to this thread:

 

1.  Liam Scarlett's 'Swan Lake' (I was dreading the change but completely blown away by it and thought this version was amazing).

2.  The Winter's Tale, because every time I see it it seems fresh and exhilarating . 

3.  Les Patineurs - I hadn’t realised Ashton could be so much fun.

4.  La Bayadere - I thought the whole company bought into the dancing and acting and I loved the improved special effects. 

Edited by RobR
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Not in order of merit simply memory!

 

* Northern Ballet MacMillan triple bill seen in Leeds 

 

* Hirano and Osipova in Mayerling

 

* Berlin + RB Bayaderes! (OK 2=1!)

 

* ENB American triple bill

 

* Staatsballett Berlin Double Bill (Eyal’s Half Life)

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Does nobody else rate Hayward as Manon - surely a totally standout peformance?

 

Hirano in Mayerling?  Really?  I nearly listed it as a failure but didn't want to be unkind to a dancer whom I admire.  However, his Rudolf was below par and wooden apart from the final Act where some emotion emerged.  Definitely not the right role for this artiste.  

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48 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

Does nobody else rate Hayward as Manon - surely a totally standout performance?

 

 

I would count almost everything both Francesca Hayward and Yasmine Naghdi do as unmissable (yes, even in ballets that are less than great)

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There's one performance I didn't mention in my favourites of 2018 not because it wasn't wonderful but because it brought about the end of an era and I couldn't really think sensibly about the performance.

 

Of course I refer to BRB's Saturday evening performance of Romeo and Juliet in Birmingham which marked the retirements of Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao.  I had watched and loved watching their careers from the day I first saw them 23 years earlier.  Their final performance with BRB was beautiful, poignant and intensely emotional and I think I cried the whole way through.  It was a fitting valedictory performance for 2 stellar dancers and one that will remain in my memory for ever.

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In date order:

 

Giselle and special debuts on 9/10 February - Hayward/Campbell and then Naghdi/Ball, not forgetting Takada/Ella.

 

Francesca Hayward’s Manon - I was fortunate enough to see three performances.

 

Opening night of Liam Scarlett’s Swan Lake followed by so many wonderful performances.

 

Laura Morera back on stage after injury and what a fabulous final Mayerling - every role she dances just exudes such class.

 

The Royal Ballet’s dynamism where so many dancers are set on such an upward trajectory - it’s invidious to pick out individuals because there are so many across all ranks, suffice it to say I’m really looking forward to seeing Anna-Rose O’Sullivan and Marcelino Sambe in Romeo and Juliet next year.

 

 

 

 

 

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I am only able to watch the RB but I don't doubt there are some amazing dancers in other companies.

Currently there are many good dancers at the RB but the performances and Principals I enjoyed watching the most in 2018:

 

Giselle: Yasmine Naghdi (partnered by Matthew Ball),  also Francesca Hayward (partnered by Alexander Campbell)

Winter's Tale

Manon

Swan Lake: Yasmine Naghdi (Odette/Odile) partnered by Frederico Bonelli.

La Bayadere: Akane Takada as Nikiya and Yasmine Naghdi as Gamzatti

Mayerling: Laura Morera and Frederico Bonelli

Les Patineurs: First Soloist Marcelino Sambe (Blue Boy) 

Winter Dreams: the Sarah Lamb/Vadim Muntagirov/Yasmine Naghdi cast (with First Soloist William Bracewell as her partner)

Edited by Xandra Newman
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Trying to stick to 5 is virtually impossible!!

 

I'm tempted to have the same 1. to 5. as jmhopton's first offering (i.e. wall to wall Muntagirov; I think he is the most beautiful and thrilling dancer imaginable). But I'll go with these, though there are plenty of others I could have included:

 

In no particular order (as they say):

  • Lamb/Muntagirov in RB's Manon. Absolutely heartbreaking. For me this is the most moving partnership at the RB at the moment (though there's plenty of competition)
  • Nunez/Muntagirov in the new RB Swan Lake. Though I now have serious reservations about the production, there's also a lot to love and these two dancers gave it the best possible première performance
  • ENB's Lest we Forget programme - absolutely brilliant
  • Les Patineurs, RB - perfect, really
  • La Bayadère, RB - to my great surprise I loved these performances, especially the Nunez/Muntagirov/Osipova casts

And as you will see I haven't even mentioned Campbell, Hayward, Naghdi, Hirano and so many other dancers who have given me so much joy this year, or the superb performances of Mayerling. I'm so grateful to all the dancers, and to everyone else who makes these performances possible.

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And now I'm going to have to cheat because I can NOT leave out Lamb/Muntagirov in Winter Dreams. His solo in particular was breathtakingly beautiful with a slightly wild quality I haven't seen in him before whilst still being wholly disciplined and technically stunning.

 

Disqualify me if you so wish! :D

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