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HappyTurk, whilst I don’t agree with you about Naghdi and Ball, I wholeheartedly agree with you about Benjamin Ella. He is a dancer I have  always liked. I have enjoyed his recent performances in whatever ballet I have seen him in and I hope he will get more opportunities because I feel he should be promoted.

 

Ditto Nicol Edmonds. I really liked his portrayal of Paris, plus having just seen him in Symphony in C tonight (more later on the appropriate thread) I feel he is a dancer who is underrated and who also needs promotion.

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I liked him as Paris too. 

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Yes I do often feel a bit sorry for the corps in RJ as they don’t really have much to do (although they do seem to have great fun so I hope that doesn’t offend anyone!). I can’t really tell the difference between the harlots from the amphi, and no one outside the named roles really seems to have any discernible character, and therefore no ‘real’ dancing to do. This is not to downplay the skill that must be required in the corps here, but I feel in ballets such as swan lake/la bayadere or in the recent symphony in c the corps get real recognition as they do some excellent dancing and contribute a lot to the atmosphere. 

 

I also have to say that I was fairly surprised the first time I saw RJ to note that nobody wears pointe shoes apart from Juliet? 

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7 minutes ago, JNC said:

I also have to say that I was fairly surprised the first time I saw RJ to note that nobody wears pointe shoes apart from Juliet? 

 

Juliet's friends also wear pointe shoes.

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7 hours ago, HappyTurk said:

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. 

 

I understand what you're saying about Naghdi, HappyTurk, in that I don't think her Juliet is very MacMillan-esque. But I think there comes a point when a ballet has its own life independent of the choreographer, and R&J has long gone beyond that point. I think her style of dancing and her approach to the drama is entirely valid, effective and beautiful. She's not wild or completely abandoned, but I don't think that's necessary for the tragedy to unfold. There are all sorts of different Juliets (as there are all sorts of different people!). I did see progression in her, from a happy young girl to a distraught young woman, but she was at all times herself - capable, intelligent, loving and beautiful.

 

I agree that Ball is more introverted as a dancer; and I sometimes feel as if he's not entirely convinced by what he's doing. But clearly others get more from him than I do! (I do think he's an excellent dancer, and a terrific partner.)

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I agree about Beatrix Stix-Brunell. She has such a radiant stage presence that she demands my attention every time she dances and what a fine dancer she is too. Thank you! 💐

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Just back from an Encore showing at Saffron Screen - a full house but, as ever, very few there under 40.  Hadn't seen R&J for some time, but it certainly still does the business for me.  I see dissenting views above but, based on Act 3, Miss Naghdi is a particularly fine Juliet indeed. 

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On 14/06/2019 at 01:46, Balletfanp said:

 

 

Ditto Nicol Edmonds. I really liked his portrayal of Paris, plus having just seen him in Symphony in C tonight (more later on the appropriate thread) I feel he is a dancer who is underrated and who also needs promotion.

I agree wholeheartedly. He made Paris into a real character and he partnered Sarah Lamb beautifully with support and accuracy. 

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I agree completely with HappyTurk on Naghdi's Juliet.

I don't seem to get Ball's Romeo, either. He dances a lot of Romeo's steps with such a princely manner that they have become quite out of context. I don't think MacMillan intended Romeo to be a typical princely character as Albrecht in Giselle. The close-ups in cinema broadcast also didn't do him favour, because clearly he didn't know what kind of expressions he should put on under certain circumstances such as Mercucio's death. His partnering was exceptionally good, though.

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If I may go back to the discussion about Paris, surely his behaviour is, in the context of the period in which the story is set, pretty normal? The marriage would have been arranged, very likely with much payment, Capulet might have gone to great lengths to get a good deal and his annoyance at Juliet's behaviour is understandable under these circumstances. Similarly, Paris has been promised a good match, and expects a nice compliant wife. Juliet was considered as property and would be expected to do what she was told!

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I saw the Romeo and Juliet and while I think Naghdi is a lovely dancer she has a very queenly, regal persona that belies her youth. That works against her in Juliet. Margot Fonteyn could look queenly and regal but she also had those big eyes and smile that made her look youthful in Juliet.

 

I thought Matthew Ball was good as Romeo, but he and Naghdi seemed very rehearsed in their balcony duet. 

 

Also this is a drawback of HD ... I could see the dirty soles of Naghdi's shoes all too clearly in HD. It's not really her fault but I'm surprised she didn't wear a brand new pair of shoes for the HD. I know many ballerinas say they pick a clean pair of shoes if they're going to be filmed.

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1 hour ago, Ivy Lin said:

I saw the Romeo and Juliet and while I think Naghdi is a lovely dancer she has a very queenly, regal persona that belies her youth. That works against her in Juliet. Margot Fonteyn could look queenly and regal but she also had those big eyes and smile that made her look youthful in Juliet.

 

I thought Matthew Ball was good as Romeo, but he and Naghdi seemed very rehearsed in their balcony duet. 

 

Also this is a drawback of HD ... I could see the dirty soles of Naghdi's shoes all too clearly in HD. It's not really her fault but I'm surprised she didn't wear a brand new pair of shoes for the HD. I know many ballerinas say they pick a clean pair of shoes if they're going to be filmed.

Yasmine's shoes were indeed clean - at the beginning of the pdd - just not by the end of the fairly vigorous dance.

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Well, for what it's worth, this writer finds the various clips of Miss Naghdi in this role out there on Youtube - which is why I stayed away from the live broadcast - rather unsettling.  Leaving aside the manifest weakness in the choreography, and issues with the way the score is being conducted, and played, Miss Naghdi seems to receive a NOW FLING THE LEG UP pr POINT ARM UPWARDS signal every time a third-register note is played.  Note - Fling.  Note - Fling.  Tires the mind.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but one imagines Prokofiev did not write this to provide leg-flinging photo-ops. 

 

Secondly, must one really think about how one LOOKS when dancing?

 

To say the least, Miss Naghdi is so deliberate a dancer, that she makes Sarah Lamb look utterly spontaneous, indeed, wild.  Were dancing about posing, one might just as well go back to early 19th Century stalking about and posing in heavy drapery that was all the rage at the time.

 

HOWEVER, as a friend has noted, forcing a classical troupe to dance so much "contemporary" or whatever it's called, to ear-splitting Acid Rock and generally in flesh-coloured bathing costume and bare legs, blunts the emotions.  Because the dancers must protect mind and body from injury in such dangerous choreography, and from being goggled at practically in the all-together. 

 

And that in turn blunts the finer points of technique that have little - or nothing - to do with how highly arched one's feet or photogenic some other unfortunate body-part may be ...  

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Posted (edited)

 

The Royal Ballet is to be applauded for enabling millions of people, in various countries, multiple continents, to watch ballet, free of charge via the open-air Big Screen in the UK and in cinemas worldwide. People who have never seen a ballet, people who have never seen/will never get to see the RB perform at the ROH, people who cannot afford to buy a ROH ticket, people who live too far away from London, people who would never travel to London from the country they live in...millions watched R&J from the USA, all over Europe, in Japan and all over the UK. 
The majority will have never heard of Kenneth Macmillan, let alone have any idea what Macmillan choreography entails, they will have never seen Fonteyn dance Juliet. All that matters to them is to watch a beautifully danced ballet with gorgeous dancers and costumes and a great score, all that matters is that they have had the chance to watch ballet and that they greatly enjoyed the experience. They won't remark "She's too classical or she's too regal or she's too aristocratic or..."  (that's precisely what their idea of a ballerina is) or " he is too princely or he didn't know what facial expressions he should put on or his Romeo was not this and her Juliet was not that...". They don't compare, they just enjoyed the show!
What matters is that millions of people were moved by this ballet, what matters is that the live stream and open-air screening will hopefully encourage more people to go and see ballet and encourage young boys and girls to take up ballet lessons.

 

On 14/06/2019 at 09:12, bridiem said:

But I think there comes a point when a ballet has its own life independent of the choreographer, and R&J has long gone beyond that point. I think her style of dancing and her approach to the drama is entirely valid, effective and beautiful. She's not wild or completely abandoned, but I don't think that's necessary for the tragedy to unfold. There are all sorts of different Juliets (as there are all sorts of different people!). I did see progression in her, from a happy young girl to a distraught young woman, but she was at all times herself - capable, intelligent, loving and beautiful.

 
Many commented on social media saying how fresh and new Naghdi and Ball made R&J look, and I agree with Bridiem saying the ballet now has its own life. It was danced by a new generation of dancers who brought R&J well into the 21st century. Ballet is an art form which must evolve and not remain static - if not it just becomes a museum piece, becomes old-fashioned and unappealing to the younger generation - just as any other art form. The regulars (incl. myself) are now a minority, some can afford to watch multiple casts but the majority are not regulars, they do not watch multiple casts and they have not seen the dancers who performed it in the 20th century.
 
Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball are the RB's youngest principals, they are principals who appeal to the current generation of young people and it is precisely this group which needs to be groomed for future attendance at the ROH, they certainly appealed to the masses last week and are admired by the current generation of dancers-in-training because they are closer to their own age.  If rumours are correct that a DVD will be produced of Naghdi/Ball's R&J performance it certainly demonstrates that the AD Mr. Kevin O'Hare, RB Management, and Lady Macmillan fully approve of their beautiful performance, making R&J look modern, fresh and totally relevant to a new (to-be-groomed) generation of ballet fans. They were meticulously coached by Leslie Collier who compliments their wonderful technic and clearly shows her fond love for the dancers (in the Bussell interview with her and Naghdi).
 
PS. Yes, clean dancers' shoes do get dirty on a dirty stage :). They can't change their shoes in the middle of an act. Surely they are concentrating on their dancing and not looking at their shoes to check if they are clean or not! Osipova is the queen of dirty pointe shoes.
Edited by Xandra Newman
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I actually get a bit tired of the sense that the aim is to be as abandoned as possible (in all the MacMillan works,  in fact). It's not a competition; it's art.

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Regarding the R&J cinema broadcast  I can only say that both the performance I saw from Naghdi/Ball in the ROH on 1st June and then in the cinema on the 11th were performances I will always remember.  To me they made Romeo and Juliet flesh and blood and the story unfolded before my eyes.  I didn't have any attention to spare for the condition of their shoes given the beauty of the dancing and what was being conveyed.  

 

It is interesting to read comments that Yasmine has become too technical or regal, in her portrayal of Juliet - I just can't see that.   To me she perfectly encapsulated Juliet's transition from a young, sheltered and innocent young girl, stuck by the coup de foudre of first love and almost bewildered by it, to the maturing though to womanhood and her desperate fight against her fate, all her choices narrowing to that tragic conclusion.  Tears by the end for me!

 

What I like about this pairing is the interaction between them on stage - neither just projects 'this is my version of Romeo/Juliet', they seem to read and respond to the other's performance so well.  This might sound obvious but in my experience it doesn't always happen!  It makes all the difference for this story because even a very good supporting cast will not make the ballet work if the central relationship doesn't convince.  Am I right in thinking that Yasmine hasn't danced Manon yet?  I hope to see her in more Macmillan  and dramatic roles generally.

 

I have hardly been able to see any ballet this year sadly - catching up with comments on this forum, it sounds as if the Hayward/Corrales R&J was something very special, as well as Anna Rose O'Sullivan/Marcelino Sambe and Osipova/Hallberg.   I hope these will be considered for future broadcasts and yes please to the DVD of the broadcast on the 11th!  In the meantime I am loving the clip of the balcony pdd! 

 

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4 minutes ago, cjp said:

Am I right in thinking that Yasmine hasn't danced Manon yet?

 

Yes, and she (inexplicably, to me) isn't scheduled to do so in the next revival, either!

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Posted (edited)

There are 14 public performances (plus 1 closed School Matinee) and 8 existing Manons: Nunez, Lamb, Cuthbertson, Hamilton, Hayward, Osipova, Takada and Morera each dancing 2 performances (Hamilton the closed School Performance).

Where would they/could they "squeeze" in Naghdi as a new Manon? 

Sadly it seems they could make no room for her and we'll have to wait until it comes back after this run (god knows when?)

Edited by Xandra Newman
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One *could* suggest that as a Principal she should be given precedence over Melissa Hamilton.  I'm not suggesting I would agree with this approach particularly, as I like Hamilton in Macmillan.

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Isn't it about time for the company to reconsider its 'everybody does everything, every time' policy? Seven casts for 14 public performances is ridiculous - think of the reharsal time!

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5 hours ago, Jane S said:

Isn't it about time for the company to reconsider its 'everybody does everything, every time' policy? Seven casts for 14 public performances is ridiculous - think of the rehearsal time!

 

And I'm not sure that it's helpful to dancers in terms of developing their interpretations. Someone said to me, " Not enough rehearsal time; first show to get it under your skin; second show an improvement. Then 'cheerio', see the role again in 4 or 5 years' time." I think they like to have at least 3 'goes'.

As I have said previously, dancers who first essayed some of these roles 10 or more years ago could be 'rested' in turn.  Manon is a case in point. 

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I was one of those on twitter commenting during the intervals in the cinema

 

I don't know much about ballet; everything I know comes from taking my daughter to lessons but I thought the production was exceptional, the music was excellent and both Romeo and Juliet were beautiful. I love the way the cinema has made ballet accessible to all. I wouldn't necessarily have either the money nor the wherewithal to go otherwise. I can't comment on technique or shoes as I was captivated by the story and the acting. Overall absolutely stunning and a real treat

 

 

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Well at the risk of being very unpopular I am going to put forward the view that several of the younger dancers may have been given too many of major roles very early in their career. Much as I enjoy the dancing of Naghdi, Styx - Brunell  and O’’Sullivan, when I look at the roles they have already danced in both established ballets and new work, I think it would have been both fairer and kinder to allow other dancers more opportunities to establish themselves in roles. It might be seen as a strength that the Royal Ballet can field so many promising  Juliets and Manons, but how is this fulfilling in the long term for the dancers? To follow up on an earlier point, I find it ludicrous that Hamilton gets one school performance of Manon next season. A similar case could be put regarding some of the male dancers, although the number of injuries has had a considerable impact on the amount of new roles certain dancers have had to take on. Which leads me to a point about the impact this ‘packing things in at the start of a career’ is having on the physical and even mental well being of the dancers. I am all for fostering new talent, but I think that this has to be tempered by other considerations about keeping a balanced and healthy company with  opportunities for dancers to steadily develop their careers.

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19 hours ago, RuthE said:

One *could* suggest that as a Principal she should be given precedence over Melissa Hamilton.  I'm not suggesting I would agree with this approach particularly, as I like Hamilton in Macmillan.

But how much precedence is there, really? Hamilton doesn't even get a public performance of Manon.

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Just heard from ROH shop that the dvd will be out next year. So thrilled to have this performance to keep and watch again!

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The issue of injuries is often raised here, without much discussion of WHY.

Let us take David Hallberg as a glaring example.

Mr. Hallberg is very tall, as hyper-extended and hyper-lax as a woman, and cursed (although others would doubtless say « blessed ») with extremely high and therefore weak and unstable arches.  This type of physique is an accident waiting to happen, and in point of fact, such individuals whether man or woman were, a few decades ago, generally discouraged from becoming professionals.  In the man, given the circus-tricks now demanded, plus the dangerous and non-stop lifting, a physique like that of Mr. Hallberg cannot hold out.

As it happens, owing to what this writer considers the catastrophic turn taken by so-called « technique » and choreography, the profession has become far more dangerous, far more exacting, and far more image-driven (hence the search for the ultra-thin ultra-tall ultra-lax).  The « danger factor »has been increased a thousand-fold. 

A big star like Mr. Hallberg may be lucky enough to find the financing for medical care, thanks to the publicity given the case.  What of the dozens who are simply discarded ? 

An exhaustive list and description of the injuries sustained by professionals in companies allowed to perform « Mayerling » to give but one notorious example, might be thought-provoking.  If one wishes to think about it.

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On 19/06/2019 at 15:09, Riva said:

Just heard from ROH shop that the dvd will be out next year. So thrilled to have this performance to keep and watch again!

 

Thanks for the information Riva! Not sure why the DVD will take so long to release, I appreciate they have to edit it etc but a whole 6 months-1 year seems quite long...I'm still waiting for last November's La Bayadere!!

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Hopefully the "La Bayadere" and "Romeo&Juliet" DVD will be released latest by the beginning of December! 

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