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5 hours ago, onemouseplace said:

How full were the other cinema screening people attended?  Mine only had about 20-25 people in which made for a bit of a lack of atmosphere (and certainly no applause!) but I did see than my other two local-ish cinemas were fully booked/ nearly fully booked.  

 

Mine isn't a proper cinema, just our local arts centre which can be converted into a cinema for live broadcasts etc. I suppose the main hall must have a capacity of around 160 and it was packed and it appeared everyone enjoyed (even the husbands who went at the behest of their wives!)

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38 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I think I’ve only ever been blown away by live performances, so don’t feel bad!

 

I had it the other way round with Mayerling though: I was more moved by the cinecast of that than seeing it live, thanks to much prefering McRae to Hirano as Rudolf, so I'm not sure I can entirely blame my feelings about last night on it not being live.

 

35 minutes ago, J_New said:

 

It must have been the cinema experience putting you off! The other cinema was full with a very well-behaved appreciative audience, although they did bring the odd glass of wine in with them. No food though!

 

I don't think feeling sick throughout Act 1 helped, for sure. Yes, the Arts Picturehouse does generally have better audiences & not all the popcorn etc. but unfortunately there weren't any decent seats left there by the time I decided I wanted to go, so had to put up with the Light.

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57 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

Reading all the comments, I seem to be in a very small minority in not being blown away by last night's performance. I'm now feeling guilty that I evidently missed or didn't get something that almost everyone else got.

 

Well as you say, it's 'almost' everyone else, not everyone else; and please don't feel guilty! It is quite disconcerting when your reaction is very different from that of most other posters here - it's happened to me a number of times - but there's no right or wrong about it. All sorts of things affect how we react to an individual performance and/or to individual dancers, and no one person's reaction is any more or less valid than anyone else's. And your view may be shared by many forum members who don't post anything (maybe in case their views don't tally with those of the majority!).

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I was at the cinema last night. I thought Yasmine Naghdi was utterly wonderful. Her dancing was gorgeous and I didn’t find it too classical or restrained - on the contrary, I thought it expressed Juliet’s feelings perfectly, especially in the bedroom pas the deux when her anguish and despair was palpable.

 

And her acting, particularly in Act 3 was fantastic. The sitting on the bed moment, with her dawning hope and determination, along with that beautiful swelling music, was spine tingling, and a real test with the camera close-up. At the end of that particular sequence, my sister turned to me and just said “Wow.” Wow indeed.

 

I’m afraid I’m in the camp who doesn’t think Ball matched her. They did have lovely chemistry, and his partnering in the pas de deux was very strong, but although he looked the part, I just didn’t feel him. It wasn’t that he was bad in any way - just that I found his dancing good without being outstanding, and his acting fine but not mindblowing, and not on Naghdi’s level.

 

I thought Zucchetti was very good as Mercutio, but having seen Sambe recently I think he may have spoilt me for any other Mercutio! I did, however, really enjoy Ella’s Benvolio - I always like to watch him and last night both his dancing and acting were very strong. I’d like to see him promoted (but that’s another thread!).

 

Regarding the broadcast itself - yes, it was very dark, and after Tybalt’s death, if anyone wasn’t sure of what was going on, they would have been hard put to guess as Lord Capulet lurked dimly in the shadows at the top of the steps and Lady C gesticulated at - apparently - nothing. It was only really a problem at certain moments, but still....

 

When Juliet sits on the bed with “that” music, I find it very effective, and it’s a bold choreographic move to use stillness rather than movement at a time like that. When Juliet runs to find Friar Lawrence, though, I do see in my mind’s eye the In the Round version staged in the Albert Hall, and remember Daria Klimentova’s beautiful fleet footed run (she barely seemed to touch the ground) around that huge arena with the billowing cloak streaming behind.... I always think it’s a shame they don’t have all that room on the ROH stage, as the music really lends itself to the run, and it remains a wistful memory!

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13 hours ago, Sim said:

 

The RB dancers used to do this more often, but I have noticed this run that it hasn't been done, so I was very pleased to see Naghdi do it.

 

I think it is entirely in context.  The tomb is very dark, and Romeo has had to travel a long way to get to it, probably through the night so he wasn't seen re-entering Verona, so would be exhausted.  Juliet has been in a deep, deep sleep.  She has just woken up in a dark, forbidding place and tripped over Paris' dead body.  There are no outward signs of death to Romeo, and it isn't until she kisses him that she realises the awful truth.  It is totally feasible that she would think, for a brief moment, that he had fallen asleep whilst waiting for her to wake up. 

It's also in the music - a few bright, hopeful notes before the score returns to despair. Naghdi's interpretation fitted the notes like a glove.

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7 hours ago, JohnS said:

Does any one know if Anna-Rose was lead Juliet’s friend in every performance (when she wasn’t dancing Juliet)?

 

Sae Maeda was Juliet's lead friend several times early in the run but I have only seen her once in the more recent performances.

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33 minutes ago, Coated said:

It's also in the music - a few bright, hopeful notes before the score returns to despair. Naghdi's interpretation fitted the notes like a glove.

That’s a good point, Coated. 

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4 minutes ago, Sim said:

That’s a good point, Coated. 

 

It’s in the music, and (accordingly) it’s in the choreography!

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Just now, bangorballetboy said:

 

It’s in the music, and (accordingly) it’s in the choreography!

But often not done....

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Posted (edited)

[Some kind poster somewhere on this forum posted in encouragement of less knowledgeable posters, that we need all reactions from WOW! to long erudite reviews. What you may not need is what I usually offer, which is long non-erudite “reviews”. However I do this partly to help me remember performances, and to examine my reasons for my reactions. I do not expect to enlighten anyone in a field in which I have as yet very little knowledge]

 

My prediction as to how full my local Curzon might be for this proved correct; considerably fuller than for the recent modern trilogy, but not sold out as has been the case for all screenings of the Tchaikovsky “Big 3”. I shall be interested to see how Coppélia fares next season.

 

I have only managed to do a superficial read-through of the many reactions and reviews in this thread (perhaps more such than has been recorded for any RB screening?) but am immediately struck by the differences of opinion, especially on the performances of the two main dancers. Were they equally magical? Did one portray his/her character better than the other? Did one show too little emotion? And so on.

 

I was looking forward to this screening with great anticipation as it was my first opportunity to see either Yasmine Naghdi or Matthew Ball in a really major role. As I knew that both were among the most appreciated RB artists for posters in this forum, I wondered if I would have the same reaction as, for example, when I first saw Francesca Hayward in a major role.

 

Yasmine Naghdi. I do see why so many on this forum think so highly of her. However, I wasn’t bowled over by her the way I was by Francesca Hayward (in the much lesser role of Clara in The Nutcracker). For me, Ms Hayward possesses to a remarkable degree a sort of charisma which can really be described as the X factor, because it is undefinable. For me, Ms Naghdi has less of this, but I suspect she is more of a dance-connoisseur’s dancer – one whom those who really know about ballet, will appreciate more than I can at present. So I certainly don’t wish to in any way play down her undoubted excellence.

 

Matthew Ball. Again I can see why so many rave about him. He is clearly a formidable talent – destined for the very top of his profession? As an aged heterosexual male, I probably don’t have the right to say this, but he strikes me as almost too good-looking!

 

But what about their acting in Romeo and Juliet? Contrary to some on this thread, I don’t think either was guilty of underplaying their role. I initially thought they were both over-acting! But I soon realised this wasn’t the case. We were being shown close-ups which would only have been available to well-placed audience members in the ROH, and then only if they had binoculars. Ballet-dancers in narrative ballets have to convey emotions to an audience without close-ups, so exaggerated facial expressions, for instance, are necessary. Perhaps in future screenings of such ballets as MacMillan’s highly emotional dramas, they should avoid close-ups.

 

Despite the excellence of not just Ball and Naghdi, but the entire ensemble (how good are the RB corps at crowd scenes!) and my general enjoyment of the dancing, I found myself largely emotionally unmoved by the ballet as a whole.  But that is perhaps a consequence of what is, to me, a rather unattractive plot.

 

While I can understand why Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, I think, at a deeper level, it is far from his most sympathetic. Young Romantic Love will always be a superficially attractive theme. But R & J could also be seen as a portrayal of the obsessive selfishness which is an almost automatic accompaniment of such emotions. And so, among the five deaths which litter this drama, I found myself more moved by the deaths of the minor characters. Especially Tybalt. A great characterisation by Gary Avis, but I wonder if he almost made Tybalt too likeable. He clearly didn’t intend to kill Mercutio, in Avis’ interpretation, which makes his subsequent death at the hands of Romeo that more of a tragedy.

 

As for Paris, the poor chap unwittingly wanders into this tragic mess, and is swatted away without even a drawn-out death scene. Is this a deserved fate for anyone who dares to threaten Young Romantic Love?

 

Despite my reservations, I did enjoy the ballet, and will remember many fine things in it. Perhaps especially the stark beauty of the final tableau – Juliet’s body draped over the side of the bed, her hand reaching for, but not touching, the hand of Romeo. Is that scene pure Kenneth MacMillan?

Edited by FrankH
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10 hours ago, Coated said:

It's also in the music - a few bright, hopeful notes before the score returns to despair. Naghdi's interpretation fitted the notes like a glove.

 

I do not recall a RB cinema relay generating so many reactions and discussion. The vast majority absolutely loved this cast (bar a few who didn't, De gustibus non est disputandum, in matters of taste, there can be no disputes). Yasmine Naghdi, Matthew Ball and the entire cast were excellent ambassadors for The Royal Ballet to be seen worldwide.

 

I have been reflecting on why it is that I am so taken with this particular cast (yes there were other really lovely Juliet's and Romeo's during this run!). One of the many aspects I so value and appreciate in Yasmine Naghdi's interpretation (and her dancing in general) is that she dances on the music, as if the notes of the score function as her notation, she uses the score as if the music is her leitmotiv, she makes the notes visible (I have seen that too in other performances of hers). She is known as a highly musical dancer and I think this is what moved me so much in her Juliet interpretation; she simply rides high on the waves of this incredible Prokofiev score. The Macmillan notation is embedded in her feet and body but equally the music is embodied in her dancing and facial expressions. It is this rare combination and ability which moves me so much. Her performances are driven by her tremendous technical control (Firebird. Sleeping Beauty adagios. Swan Lake, to name a few) and her classicism is perfectly explained and justified by To The Pointe here below. Juliet is after all from an aristocratic family and she behaves and acts according to her education, until she manages to escape the strict harness of her controlling parents and her environment, discovers love and takes charge of her own destiny.

 

To The Pointe wrote: (sorry don't know how to get two quotes in here)

"I think it’s quite interesting how some find Naghdi too classical for Juliet. Naghdi and Takada are, in my opinion, the next big classical stars at the RB and I loved both of their Juliets because they looked so aristocratic. Because they naturally have such a classical hold, they really looked like they belonged in the Capulets' decadent mansion, and I think this worked really well. It explains how she is meant to be paired with Paris and married off and why she is a product of her upbringing. I really dislike it when Juliet is made to be too feral which I found with Osipova’s take. She ran into the ballroom looking completely in awe of her surroundings and completely shocked that someone like her could have a place in such a magnificent setting. To me, that is more like Giselle turning up to an extravagant party. Although it’s likely to be Juliet’s first party, it’s being held in her house, and she would be very aware and used to the glorious setting of it all. Naghdi and Takada are so classical, elegant and graceful that I think they were perfectly suited to depict the aristocratic nature of Juliet. I also felt that they cleverly ‘loosened’ as they fell in love, culminating in complete despair and limp like bodies by the end".

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10 hours ago, FrankH said:

As for Paris, the poor chap unwittingly wanders into this tragic mess, and is swatted away without even a drawn-out death scene. Is this a deserved fate for anyone who dares to threaten Young Romantic Love?

Macmillan does not portray Paris like this though- he makes very clear that he tries to force himself on Juliet when she has made it clear she does not want his attentions: he manhandles her and there is a suggestion of assault.

I have not seen any interpretation that does not foreground this very clearly.

 

It helps the audience to understand her desperation, and his stabbing by Romeo ( who can't know this- but we do.)

 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Mary said:

Macmillan does not portray Paris like this though- he makes very clear that he tries to force himself on Juliet when she has made it clear she does not want his attentions: he manhandles her and there is a suggestion of assault.

I have not seen any interpretation that does not foreground this very clearly.

 

It helps the audience to understand her desperation, and his stabbing by Romeo ( who can't know this- but we do.)

 

 

 

 

 

My comment about Paris was rather tongue-in-cheek.

 

Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention, or didn't catch all the nuances, but in the "assault" scene, I didn't read it as an obvious attempt at rape, although it might have developed into one. I had some sympathy for Paris. It must be rather unpleasant if someone you touch shrinks away in disgust.

 

I still think Paris' despatch was undeservedly perfunctory. However at that late stage in the ballet, it is probably artistically correct not to draw it out.

 

As you say, Romeo can't know what we know, so his killing of Paris adds to the impression I have that, because of his obsessive love for Juliet, he has become a rather unlikeable person.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Mary said:

Macmillan does not portray Paris like this though- he makes very clear that he tries to force himself on Juliet when she has made it clear she does not want his attentions: he manhandles her and there is a suggestion of assault.


I know MacMillan is considered a genius (happy to agree) but I find his obsession with rape and abusive relationships excessive. The NYTimes asked: "Does the aesthetic beauty of ballet tame and make palatable the violence we see onstage?" For me, not so much. Am sure many disagree. And apologies if this is off-topic. Fwiw, R&J is my fave of all his work. But I like Paris better as Shakespeare's befuddled suitor than MacMillan's potential abuser. 

Edited by Candleque
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7 minutes ago, Candleque said:


I know MacMillan is considered a genius (happy to agree) but I find his obsession with rape and abusive relationships excessive. The NYTimes asked: "Does the aesthetic beauty of ballet tame and make palatable the violence we see onstage?" For me, not so much. Am sure many disagree. And apologies if this is off-topic. Fwiw, R&J is my fave of all his work. But I like Paris better as Shakespeare's befuddled suitor than MacMillan's potential abuser. 

 

I agree.  I have't studied the R&J text closely since I did it for GCSE (a long time ago!), but I've been reading this discussion with great interest as I really noticed in the cinema broadcast Paris's aggression and the suggestion of assault and was thinking how different it was from my reading of Paris in the play, who I remember feeling much sympathy for and as much a victim of circumstance as any of them - indeed (and I may misremember this) - isn't the entire reason he is at the Capulet tomb because he is genuinely mourning Juliet?

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20 minutes ago, onemouseplace said:

isn't the entire reason he is at the Capulet tomb because he is genuinely mourning Juliet?

 

Yes. He comes to the tomb with flowers

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Posted (edited)

 

 

I didn’t see Paris’s reaction as “assault” really - it came over to me as short-lived anger over Juliet’s (to him) inexplicable rejection of him when she had seemed willing before. I thought Nicol Edmonds portrayed that very well, as he very quickly looked contrite, and stared at his hands as though he couldn’t believe they had just manhandled Juliet. It didn’t seem that he was a man of habitual violence.

 

After all, her parents and nurse were present, and despite the fact that they were exasperated and angry with her, I doubt they would have stood there and countenanced any real violence towards her.

Edited by Balletfanp
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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Balletfanp said:

 

 

I didn’t see Paris’s reaction as “assault” really - it came over to me as short-lived anger over Juliet’s (to him) inexplicable rejection of him when she had seemed willing before. I thought Nicol Edmonds portrayed that very well, as he very quickly looked contrite, and stared at his hands as though he couldn’t believe they had just manhandled Juliet. It didn’t seem that he was a man of habitual violence.

 

After all, her parents and nurse were present, and despite the fact that they were exasperated and angry with her, I doubt they would have stood there and countenanced any real violence towards her.

 

You remind me of the details of what actually happened in the scene. So that's why it didn't look to me like an attempt at rape. As you point out, it's not that Paris and Juliet were alone together. Her parents wished to marry Juliet to Paris - it doesn't follow that they intended him to rape her!

 

However Mary and Candleque in their posts above say that MacMillan did intend a suggestion of assault, and Candleque connects this with an obsession of his about rape. If that is so, then that didn't come over clearly in the RB performance that was screened. Have they altered the MacMillan original in order to make Paris a more sympathetic character?

 

Candleque and onemouseplace then both agree that Paris in the Shakespeare play is an unfortunate victim of circumstance, which is exactly how I saw him in the RB screening of this ballet. I wasn't influenced in my reaction by the play, as I haven't seen it for decades, and have never studied it closely.

 

So did the RB change the ballet at this point? I wouldn't know if they did, as I have never seen the MacMillan version before. Perhaps Nicol Edmonds changed this emphasis, just as Gary Avis changed the intention of Tybalt in the killing of Mercutio (unless that also is in the MacMillan original). Can anyone who knows the history of this ballet enlighten us on these points?

Edited by FrankH
clearing up a point

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

Reading all the comments, I seem to be in a very small minority in not being blown away by last night's performance. I'm now feeling guilty that I evidently missed or didn't get something that almost everyone else got.

 

Dawnstar if we all felt the same about each  performance this would be a pretty dull Forum!

 

So many  casts, all with their own interpretations, and indeed techniques, all of which is bound to come across differently to individual audience members.

For myself, as a relative newcomer, I am finding the process of learning about ballet, and what/whom I really love, and what/whom not so much, is a fascinating (if expensive) process! And my views have, and probably still will, change about dancers and ballets as I develop my interest.

Some dancers will suit particular roles more than others, and of course that can also change as dancers learn or reprise roles, and  improve their techniques and acting skills.

 

As bridiem says it can be disconcerting when few posters, or even no-one at all, appears to agree with you - I have certainly felt that - but I don't think we should imagine there is anything wrong about this - after all, there can be no right or wrong in terms of one's instinctive, subjective  reaction to a particular performance. I think stating what you like and don't like helps everyone else who has an open mind to learn more about their own understanding of this wonderful art form. Indeed the prevailing view of the majority can  change over time - I understand both Swan Lake and the Nutcracker were  poorly received at the outset.  

 

For what it's worth, though,  I was also in the "not blown away" category for this last  performance of R&J; I have enjoyed  other R&J casts much more.

 

Actually, now the run is over,  I am reflecting that the ballet itself is not (at least at present) one of my absolute favourites  (it would probably just about scrape into my "top 10" of full-lengths). I share many of FrankH's reservations about the R&J story which he cogently sets out above. Of MacMillan's three major full-lengths, I am putting it below Manon, but above Mayerling. 

 

Indeed now we can reflect on the run as a whole, I wonder where  others  would place  the RB's R&J in their list of favourites? 

Edited by Richard LH
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 I don't particularly like this production of R and J at all, never have done, too much fighting, not enough dancing for me, Act 2 in particular is very short on dancing, and Act 3 drags on and on.  I like the play, and Ashton's version, which I saw danced by the Peter Schaufuss company, it was shorter, had different orchestration, and more actual dancing. I have read that MacMillan focussed on death and Ashton focussed on love, and I agree with this. I am interested in the discussion about Paris, in the past in this version I have never seen him as anything other than kind to Juliet, and always felt sorry for him, different interpretations are creeping in. Have to say I didn't see any of the current run!

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Re Paris: in the text it is made clear that Paris is a kinsman to the Prince, and is therefore of higher status than the Montagues and Capulets. This explains what I see as a touch of pushiness , for example in Act 1, scene 2 when he asks Lord Capulet for Juliet’s hand in marriage, it’s clear from Capulet’s response that Paris has asked before and been given the same answer, ie that Capulet thinks Juliet is too young. Paris answers back ‘Younger than she are happy mothers made’, still not wanting to take no for an answer! Things change after Tybalt’s death when Lord Capulet, in need of an heir, decides the marriage will take place quickly. When Juliet encounters Paris at Friar Lawrence’s cell, Paris addresses her as ‘my lady and my wife’, this hint of possessiveness at which Juliet bridles (‘that may be Sir, when I may be a wife’) would be conventional for a man of his status in that society. He does indeed bring flowers to Juliet’s tomb, and when he sees Romeo challenges him, assuming that as a Montague Romeo’s attendance at Juliet’s tomb is suspicious. Their fight is quick, and it is only after Paris is killed that Romeo recognises Paris. Before Paris dies he asks to be laid next to Juliet. Romeo is sorry for Paris, saying he is ‘writ with me in sour misfortune’s book’.

 

 I do apologise if I’m explaining what some people already know, but knowing the context I think it’s far too much of a stretch to suggest that Paris is capable of assaulting Juliet. 

 

 

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I’ve always found Lord Capulet’s treatment of Juliet disturbing, even when toned down in more recent runs as I’m sure in the past Capulet has indicated he’d hit Juliet with his belt.  But we still see that threat with most Capulets making as if to hit Juliet but then restraining themselves, and all Capulets signal to Paris in effect to do as he wishes with Juliet in that grotesque pdd.  So I’m not in the ‘poor Paris’ camp.  

 

What has thrown me this time round is Mercutio’s death as much caused by Romeo’s push as Tybalt’s sword and then Tybalt’s remorse, particularly as shown by Gary Avis.  Romeo then fights and kills Tybalt but this no longer comes across as justified revenge as Romeo seems as culpable for Mercutio’s death as Tybalt.  With doubts about Romeo’s moral compass, he risks losing some of our sympathy and it’s no longer as clear that Romeo deserves Juliet (as a poster mentioned much earlier in the thread).  That ambiguity I think sits rather uncomfortably with the final scene, and risks diminishing its impact, even when played so beautifully by Matthew Ball/Yasmine Naghdi in the cinema relay.

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6 hours ago, Candleque said:


I know MacMillan is considered a genius (happy to agree) but I find his obsession with rape and abusive relationships excessive. 

 

"Old hat" is the phrase which comes to my mind. Manon, R&J, even my beloved Mayerling look tired in so many ways these days, however much oomph our various favourite casts put into them.

 

Except I know that I am wrong about this, because of what we are told: happily we can rely for many years to come on the MacMillan family guaranteeing the absolute truths that Kenneth MacMillan is the sharpest knife in the box, the greatest choreographer, and above all, the most exciting and cutting-edge radical possible, who finally did away with all those fusty dusty twee works by lesser artists such as Petipa and (mostly) Ashton. 

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2 minutes ago, Geoff said:

who finally did away with all those fusty dusty twee works by lesser artists such as Petipa and (mostly) Ashton. 

 

I didn't comment at the time about it, but there was an extraordinary quote from Lady MacMillan in the article in the FT on Clement Crisp's retirement: she said, "He seemed to have an insight into where Kenneth was going: taking ballet out of the 19th century." To which I thought, "I wonder what Diaghilev was up to in that case" (let alone Balanchine, Ashton, Tudor, etc, etc).

 

I like Romeo and Juliet best of all his three-acters - think it's a masterpiece - but I could gladly do away with the harlots' knicker-flashing antics - were they always this crudely drawn or is this a development over the last 50 years? Manon and Mayerling in my opinion have both greater longueurs and more of what I think of as "bad", prurient MacMillan - subtle as a brick when compared to Paris's manhandling of Juliet. I also think that, unlike Georgiadis' matchless designs for Romeo and Juliet, Manon's and Mayerling's could do with being at least re-worked: too much '70s browns and orange, too reminiscent of the wallpapers of my childhood (which my parents had never got round to replacing).

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Actually IMHO, the harlots are an integral part of the earthy humour inherent in the street tableaux, with support from the 'lads' (Romeo, Mercutio & Benvolio) & the townsfolk, angry or otherwise. It’s not supposed to be subtle. 

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1 minute ago, RobR said:

Actually IMHO, the harlots are an integral part of the earthy humour inherent in the street tableaux, with support from the 'lads' (Romeo, Mercutio & Benvolio) & the townsfolk, angry or otherwise. It’s not supposed to be subtle. 

 

But none of the lads’ behaviour veers into outright caricature. Surely there’s a happy medium to be struck between “subtle” and “Carry on up the Palazzo”.

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An interesting discussion is developing here! I have to agree with Richard and Beryl above and say that RJ is not one of my favourite ballets. I think apart from Romeo/Juliet/Mercuito/Tybalt there is little 'real' dancing (sorry!) and whilst the pdds can be incredible, I do miss the divertissements and pure 'corps all in synchrony' that you would get in the Petipa/Balanchine style. I also think Ashton has some incredibly clever footwork and is continual dance, whereas sometimes a lot of MacMillan seems to me like 'filler' for the main pdd and leans more towards telling a story through movement as opposed to classical ballet/dance being the main attraction and a story is simply a consequence of dance (if that makes sense?). 

 

RJ for me is worth watching for the performances for the principals, and the score and some of the fighting scenes, but it's certainly not one of my favourite ballets and I always feel a bit guilty that I haven't been moved or dazzled by it the way others do. 

 

Manon I much prefer because I think there is a far stronger emphasis on dancing (I find it odd that Juliet is nowhere to be seen all of Act 2 in RJ and hardly present in Act 1, similarly Romeo isn't around for a lot of act 3!) and to be honest I prefer the music for Manon too - it always gets me! There also seems to be a deeper storyline as there are more scenes with Manon/Des Grieux/Lescaut, I feel in RJ they are separate most of the ballet so for me sometimes its difficult to see the progression of the relationship and build that connection and sense of time passing (although I do know RJ is supposed to take place in a fairly compressed time frame to be fair). I also think Manon perhaps provides for more interpretative licence for the principal - good girl who is manipulated, or someone who knows fully what she's getting into and then regrets it? Or completely naive? I know there is some room for interpretation in RJ of course, but I feel it is more limited as they are supposed to be young and in love whereas with Manon you never really know how she feels about her relationship with Lescaut/Monsieur GM and it's up to the ballerina playing her to decide. 

 

Mayerling I didn't like at all, no disrespect to Hirano as I think he's a brilliant dancer but I just couldn't get into the character. I found the women more compelling but similarly to RJ felt they only popped in occasionally so it was hard to build that sense of character/time/relationship if they only have one or two short entrances/solos/pdd, and to be honest it got rather confusing as to who they were and their relationship to Prince Rudolph, without the programme I wouldn't have a clue and I think it's a failing of dance if you need to read a plot summary to understand (see the recent Month in a Country which perfectly distills a complex set of relationships without need for a plot summary). I would be willing to see Mayerling again but only with Watson I think. 

 

In short - I can appreciate MacMillan but (apart from Manon) I can't say I feel his ballets have the effect on me that others do, with the caveat I have only seen the three mentioned above and song of the earth (which again I sadly wasn't impressed by). I am hoping that RB gives RJ/Mayerling/Manon a rest in the 20/21 season and perhaps brings back some of his one acters so we get a bit of a different flavour (or just give MacMillan a rest and revive some Ashtons/Balanchines!!). 

 

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I do agree with your last paragraph JMC. Despite attending and really enjoying four different R and J casts the ballet itself has never been a huge favourite. OK Macmillan might have created down to earth characters and situations that we can easily relate to today but he wasn't the first. Didn't Ninette de Valois choreograph The Rake's Progress? I've never seen it but I understand it was pretty shocking realism wise. Also like some others I think Macmillan concentrates a lot on the pas de deux (which admittedly are usually splendid) but possibly to the detriment of the ballet as a whole as often the corps de ballet don't seem to have nearly as much actual dancing to do as they would in an Ashton ballet. Think how hard the corps work in Sylvia or la Fille and compare the second act of Romeo and Juliet where the street people just seem to be chasing the harlots or the brothel scene in Manon where there isn't a lot of dancing until Lescault arrives. The fact that Ashton seems to think the corps are as important as the principles is just one reason he is my favourite choreographer. Another is he just choreograph great ballets without any agenda about being 'modern' or 'relevant' There are too many others to mention. 

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37 minutes ago, jmhopton said:

I do agree with your last paragraph JMC. Despite attending and really enjoying four different R and J casts the ballet itself has never been a huge favourite. OK Macmillan might have created down to earth characters and situations that we can easily relate to today but he wasn't the first. Didn't Ninette de Valois choreograph The Rake's Progress? I've never seen it but I understand it was pretty shocking realism wise. Also like some others I think Macmillan concentrates a lot on the pas de deux (which admittedly are usually splendid) but possibly to the detriment of the ballet as a whole as often the corps de ballet don't seem to have nearly as much actual dancing to do as they would in an Ashton ballet. Think how hard the corps work in Sylvia or la Fille and compare the second act of Romeo and Juliet where the street people just seem to be chasing the harlots or the brothel scene in Manon where there isn't a lot of dancing until Lescault arrives. The fact that Ashton seems to think the corps are as important as the principles is just one reason he is my favourite choreographer. Another is he just choreograph great ballets without any agenda about being 'modern' or 'relevant' There are too many others to mention. 

Very srongly agree, Jmhopton! 

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Okay, finally got around to seeing the screening and I have to say I have very mixed feelings about the performances -- enthralled yet dissapointed. So, first let's start with the positives! Aside from the stupendous (!!!) Gary Avis (who I could not praise enough), the stand-out performers were surprisingly Nicol Edmonds, Benjamin Ella, and Beatriz Stix-Brunnel (even though they had "limited" roles)! My goodness, charisma just oozes out of these three so readily! Nicol Edmonds was so perfectly aloof yet dangerously charming; Benjamin Ella has such a grandiose presence that I felt myself constantly peering at him in the first act in captivation. I need to see him as Romeo and Albrecht asap! He would be so compelling. And last but not least, the wonderful Beatriz Stix-Brunnel who I may have underestimated at times. In short, she had so much captivating allure (which was aided by her temptous eyes and smile) that it truly showed what a deeply committed (and versatile) actress she is and could become. In fact, I was desperately hoping she would have been cast as Juliet as the minutes progressed! I can definitely see why many in here were smitten by her performance as Juliet -- such charisma! KOH must cast all three of these dancers in more principal roles asap! 

 

Okay, now onto the negatives of which will mostly be directed at Yasmine Naghdi (apologies to her as I admire her discipline as a dancer). Now perhaps because I was already smitten by the grandiose charisma/presence of the aforementioned dancers and had very high expectations of her Juliet because of those who raved about her Juliet in the past, I was quite disappointed by her overall performance. At times I felt she was aware of the audience (understandably first-time nerves!), and never fully engrossed herself into the character to the point where it felt like I was watching a very tragic, borderline ugly/gritty love story. There was no sheer abandonment and I felt she never acted through her body but rather her face (which I feel is not how MacMillan's choreography is intended to be danced as). Too many plastique poses and restrained, cautious dancing especially in the bedroom pas de deux; and I felt her interpretation of Juliet rarely changed as the ballet progressed (it was quite static) -- which made it impossible for me to experience a whirlwind catharsis of emotions. And as a result, this undercutted the rapture between Ball and herself (from my perspective). Ball, however, was a great Romeo. He is clearly a more introverted person and thus takes a more introspective approach but I thought his portrayal was very compelling and got more gritty as the ballet progressed. 

 

 

Okay! Cue the pitch-forks now! 😀  And apologies for my liberal use of exclamation points. Clearly, I was excited about some of these performances 

 

Edited by HappyTurk
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