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Jan McNulty

Northern Ballet : Victoria by Cathy Marston, First Run

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

The casting is up for all except Saturday night at SW.

 

https://northernballet.com/victoria/cast-list

 

I just decided not to bother about which child was which and the same thing for spouses and politicians.  It made it much easier for me Mandy!  I continue to think that there has been a big error of judgement in printing such a complex synopsis and character list - it takes away from the essence of the ballet.

My point , with due respect to the very talented Cathy Marston, is that one shouldn't have to let the details 'wash over' one, or just accept that they are all spouses, children or indeed cardinals. A little ( or a hefty dose of ) editing would have brought greater clarity without over simplification of the biography. I'm sure, having read the programme( £5) afterwards, that a lot of culling was done by Cathy Marston and her dramaturge. But I hadn't read up on my history beforehand or watched the TV programme 'The Young Victoria' and I was rather lost which I found detracted from my enjoyment.

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I've come latish to watching ballet and if it wasn't for an aspiring ballerina daughter would probably have never come to it at all. But through her I've spent the last few years watching the RB, BRB, ENB, New Adventures and NB live and on screen. I'm very uncritical, mostly due to ignorance, and, as a writer not a dancer, much much prefer a clear narrative structure and like to know who everything or everyone is, why they are there and how they contribute to the plot. So when I read the first reviews of Victoria I was nervous about whether it was for me or not. I didn't need to worry, I was absolutely blown away by the dancing - the trio with young and old Beatrice had me close to tears - and with a quick read of the programme and this forum found it easy to follow, although I did take Jan's advice and not worry too much about which child was which. The childbirth scene felt comical at first, then increasingly grim as the reality of the impact of constant birth had on her hit home. I would love to watch it again - and so would my 15 year old daughter who came out glowing and who enjoyed both the story and the dancing.

 

As someone who lives in the north and whose schedule - and more restrictively child's schedule - means getting to London to see the RB is achievable once a year a most, I am so grateful for innovative and accessible regional dance and to see it discussed here with such passion.

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Like others, was a little confused during some episodes as to who was who and what they were doing, but when this happened I just let myself enjoy the dancing. I got most out of the episodes where there were just a handful of dancers (except for the corps episodes of the ‘archivists’ which were splendidly clever I thought) - and indeed, the final scene was very moving. The choreography for these less populous scenes was often striking in my reckoning.

as an aside, I found the ‘baby factory’ scene, with the offspring assembling in front of the map of Europe, carving it up for themselves, typically effective Marston

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2 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

I so hope that this ballet is taken up by major ballet companies much as Jane Eyre has rightly been (Think ABT, think the Joffrey -and think that for but next season alone).

 

 

 

 

As it is a coproduction with the National Ballet of Canada, I expect NBOC has exclusive N American rights to it for the next five years. That seems to be how the copros work (eg Ratmansky  R&J and Wheeldon Alice and Winter's Tale.)

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There was an interview with Cathy Marston and Dramaturg Uzma Hameed on BBC4 Woman's Hour this morning.  It's available on podcast here, running from 8:38 to 19:38.

 

 

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11 hours ago, toursenlair said:

 

As it is a coproduction with the National Ballet of Canada, I expect NBOC has exclusive N American rights to it for the next five years. That seems to be how the copros work (eg Ratmansky  R&J and Wheeldon Alice and Winter's Tale.)

 

Well, then ballet companies outside of the North American agreements .... Why not?  There are a goodly few methinks ... 

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I saw this tonight, and thought it very effective.  It's not a "traditional" ballet - I don't think any of Marston's are, from what I've seen - but if you're prepared for that I think you'll be fine.  I thought the cast sheet was useful insofar as it told me there were an awful lot of characters, who the main ones were, and prepared me for the fact that there were a lot of overlapping roles, so that I wasn't totally confused to see physically very distinctive dancers who'd been playing specific characters earlier on suddenly reappearing e.g. as members of the corps.  I decided I didn't really need to know which prince or princess was which, or who they were married to.  The synopsis is a bit complicated, but did at least serve to put everything into context for me (unfortunately, Bruce, my history education saw fit to omit the Victorian era entirely - I've started finding that the TV series is quite useful for filling in parts of what I missed out on!) - although I must admit that I still missed spotting Lord Melbourne smoking opium, and a few other things.  There were some things that weren't 100% clear - for example, I found myself considering whether it was at all possible (since there hadn't been any attempt to achieve a historical likeness with any of the politicians) that the character who appeared early in Act II might be Prince Albert rather than Lord Melbourne.  Several of the pas de deux were very effective, if unconventional, and in fact one of the sections I liked most was the one showing the conflict between the married couple, with Albert wanting to become involved in matters of state, and Victoria resolute that she was the Sovereign and that they were for her and her Prime Minister alone.  If you'd told me that could be expressed in dance terms, I'm not sure I'd have believed it before I saw this. 

 

I'd like to see it again sometime, and indeed was very pleased to hear that this evening's performance was being recorded for the cinema broadcast: I think the cinema audience will really be able to benefit by seeing closeups of the characters, Beatrice especially, which I rather found myself missing from the farther reaches of the auditorium.

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I have just seen the matinee performance and thought it was stunning. I don’t know the company dancers that well and the leads this afternoon were more junior but outstanding. Minju Jang (Victoria), Ayomi Miyata ( Young Beatrice) and Nina Queiros da Silva (Older Beatrice). da Silva was always in my eye and I thought the scene where she was reading her mother’s diary re the wedding night was superb. Wonderful acting.

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I've come to the conclusion that being close enough to see Older Beatrice's expressions is vital - another reason why I think this will come over very well on-screen.

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I'd say that Tony was right to keep the Older Beatrice 'always in his eye' - this is her story and, whatever else is happening, she is always in some way part of it.  And as that will be Saturday night's cast, when I hope to see it again, I'm delighted to hear that they work well together.

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7 hours ago, Ian Macmillan said:

I'd say that Tony was right to keep the Older Beatrice 'always in his eye' - this is her story and, whatever else is happening, she is always in some way part of it.  And as that will be Saturday night's cast, when I hope to see it again, I'm delighted to hear that they work well together.

 

Hope to bump into you again Ian!

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As Northern Ballet continue touring Cathy Marston's Victoria, just a few words from me after seeing the final London performance on Saturday evening.  I am entirely persuaded by it as a piece of narrative dance theatre.  There is a good deal to take in, but the basic premises are clear.   Victoria's relationship with John Brown and Beatrice's with Liko, her husband, dominate Act 1, as does Victoria's relationship with Prince Albert in Act 2 - and throughout, the Older Beatrice narrates, comments, and participates.  There is also a good deal of supporting incident, giving some idea of what was happening during that lengthy reign, most of which I think I have now interpreted.  I seem still to have missed Lord M smoking opium, remarked upon by others; and I rather wonder about the pistol shot that appears to end John Brown's life.  That, I believe, is factually wrong but does it refer in some way to the attempt on the Queen's life shown in Mrs Brown, when Brown intercepted the attacker?  In any event, it's of no great consequence to the main thrust.  

 

My impression was that, some 3 weeks after opening in Leeds, the company now has the piece pretty much in its bones, and I was pleased to see that most critical reaction of the London run was favourable.  I'll happily see it again when screened in cinemas on 25 June and, I hope, in future runs.

 

 

 

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Now that's a fairly perceptive review from TTP.  I'll know where to look for the opium smokers next time - and she has served to make the point that Cathy Marston's work often has detail happening in corners that add depth to the main story but, should you miss them, you will not lose the main thread. 

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I was at Milton Keynes for both performances on Saturday.  We were treated to two outstanding performances by the company.

 

The Company has really grown with this ballet and I found both performances the most moving yet.  From the premiere the "Red People" have been retitled "Archivists" and that single word difference makes much more sense of their role as chorus on the stage.  I still loathe the red chiffon skirts they wear and the 3/4 length sleeves of some of the male characters but I do like the rest of the costumes.  Both sets of leading dancers have really added depth to their characterisations and made the production even more satisfying.

 

In the afternoon we saw Minju Kang as Victoria with Nina Queiroz da Silva as mature Beatrice and Ayami Miyata as young Beatrice.

 

In the evening we saw Antionette Brooks Daw as Victoria, Mariana Rodrigues as mature Beatrice and Rachael Gillespie as young Beatrice.

 

The audience was very enthusiastic at both performances.  I gather, from talking to friends, that Abigail Prudames' cast on Friday night was stupendous.

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Janet:  I never did see a Cast List at the premiere in Leeds so was blissfully unaware of the Corps being "Red People," but thought it pretty clear that they were varyingly archivists, courtiers and even items at The Great Exhibition.  

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I had a wonderful time seeing the Antoinette Brooks-Daw cast in Cardiff last night. Such an innovative and effective way to tell the story. Great drama and stifling sadness in the first act, which I enjoyed but was glad of the beautiful romance of young Beatrice to break it up - highlighted by the incredible trio dance with both Beatrices and Liko.

 

I did find it a very dark and intense first act though, reflecting Victoria's mourning. Which is why I think the order of storytelling was so clever - with much more joyful and beautifully danced episodes in the second act, until the death of Albert which gave such clear context to act 1 and finally the incredibly touching resolution between Beatrice and Victoria.

 

Wonderful dancing and choreography throughout. Very impressed with Rachael Gillespie's young Beatrice in act one and the lead couple (Antoinette Brooks-Daw and Sean Bates) in act two. And I felt that by the end the story was actually very clear (although some finer details were maybe helped by familiarity from the television series!). Enjoyed it so much I just bought a ticket for Friday night!

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Just come back from Northern ballet's Victoria at the cinema and not really sure what to make of it. Some very good choreography, excellently danced, but I would have liked not to spend so much time wondering who everyone was! For example in the first act I wasn't sure for a while if the young girl was the young Beatrice (turned out she was). Also who were all those people dressed in red skirts who were flitting about throughout the ballet? I was quite mystified. They seemed to be to do with the archives but (speaking as a librarian for 40 years) they didn't look like anyone I'd ever seen in a library! Also the men in the second act; as none of them had moustaches I wasn't sure which was Albert until she was getting married. I preferred the second act to the first as the choreography seemed more inventive; I suppose there was more scope for a young Victoria. The Victoria/Albert pas de deux was stunning in it's explicit and implicit sexuality even though Beatrice showed her disapproval by ripping several pages of the journal out after seeing it! Congratulations especially to Pippa Moore as Beatrice and Abigail Prudames as Victoria who were both excellent.

 

One thing that really put me off at the start was the fact it seemed to be treated as a film rather than a live broadcast. Consequently, the 'trailers' just advertising the Company and sponsors were mega loud and made me remember why I'd stopped seeing films at the cinema. I only go and see the RB broadcasts, and speech, music and ROH trailers are at normal levels. I am mystified as to why cinema broadcasters assume their audience are deaf (if you're not when you go in you might be when you come out!) and watching in somewhere about the size of the Albert Hall, hence the need for massive sound amplification. The reality is most screens are very small these days compared to the large ones in the 50s and 60s and there is no need for massive amplification at all.

 

Perhaps I need to see Victoria again. I see at the end there was an advert for a dvd/Blu Ray (date unspecified). I will go and see Dracula on 31st October (make a welcome respite from the doom and gloom of Brexit!) though I wish it was the Christopher Gable production.

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I saw this in Worthing & I have to say that I was very disappointed! I had been looking forward to seeing it so much. Firstly, myself & others sitting near me, were totally confused as to who was who, apart from John Brown & we only recognised him because of the kilt.... Surely it wouldn't have been difficult to show the dancers & the roles they were dancing at the beginning of the film? I found the choreography to be very unattractive. What is it with modern choreographers that they can make beautiful bodies look so ugly? Kenneth MacMillan managed to choreograph beautiful pas de deux  & one could feel the emotion but Cathy Marston had to show Victoria & Albert in a very explicit pas de deux, which I found very embarrassing! In the interval C Marston, when describing the choreography, said that the V shape was very powerful & sexy!!!! Does she really believe all that rubbish she was spouting?

Sorry if I have offended anyone. I admire the dancers very much but that ballet is pants.

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23 minutes ago, SusanR said:

What is it with modern choreographers that they can make beautiful bodies look so ugly?

 

Now that's a very good and pithy question...

 

I haven't seen Victoria, for various reasons, but have been reading the reviews and discussions with interest.

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I really enjoyed the live stream last night.  There were no cast sheets/synopsis available which was disappointing as I don’t know the company.  I recognised the marvellous Pippa Moore and Abigail Prudames but had to wait until the end to find out who danced everyone else.  

 

I found the “Red people” rather confusing and thought that trousers would have worked better than chiffon skirts because when the corps was representing politicians and courtiers they looked frankly bizarre wearing waistcoats and frock coats over skirts.  I guessed Melbourne, Victoria’s Mother, Disraeli but not Gladstone (?), wondered why Albert had no moustache and had no clue what was going on in the scene where Victoria’s children try to persuade her into rejoining public life. 

 

When I “got my eye in” I was able to really enjoy Marston’s choreography and it flowed beautifully.  There were some truly beautiful touches; the pas de troix between Old Beatrice, Young Beatrice and Liko was gorgeous and really moved me.  Likewise Young Beatrice being dressed in her mourning garments by Victoria; a reversal of Beatrice disrobing her Mother to reveal the young Victoria.  

 

The evening flew by and after the first 15 minutes of slight confusion I was completely absorbed; jolted back to my surroundings only when the cinema lights came up 5 minutes too early which spoilt the ending slightly.

 

Now I know what’s what and who’s who I think I’ll buy the blu ray as I’d like to see it again.  Another vote for Cathy Marston to get a main stage commission at the ROH. 

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21 minutes ago, Anna C said:

I found the “Red people” rather confusing and thought that trousers would have worked better than chiffon skirts because when the corps was representing politicians and courtiers they looked frankly bizarre wearing waistcoats and frock coats over skirts.  I guessed Melbourne, Victoria’s Mother, Disraeli but not Gladstone (?), wondered why Albert had no moustache and had no clue what was going on in the scene where Victoria’s children try to persuade her into rejoining public life. 

 

 

On the cast sheets for the first few performances they were described as "Red People" but by the end of the run they were described as "Archivists", which made much more sense to me.  I didn't like those costumes at the start and by the end of the run I absolutely loathed them!  I agree, black trousers would have been much better.

 

I wasn't able to get to the cinema last night and was disappointed that there don't seem to be any encore showings.  Needless to say I'll be buying the DVD.  How wonderful for Pippa Moore that her final and great creation has been filmed for posterity.

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People who were asking about casting: it's very difficult, simply because of the fact that so many dancers swap in and out of parts.  I think I was there for the performance which was filmed, and trying to reproduce the cast sheet would have been something of a nightmare (incidentally, I could wish they hadn't run the credits centrally, as they obscured the dancers who were taking their bows).  I was a little late to the cinema, so if there was any preliminary introduction I missed it.  I think someone provided a link to the synopsis in this thread, didn't they?  I know I certainly needed it.

 

10 hours ago, SusanR said:

but Cathy Marston had to show Victoria & Albert in a very explicit pas de deux, which I found very embarrassing!

 

I wondered if that was actually the point?  From everything I've gathered, I believe Victoria was quite explicit (for Victorian times, at least!) in her diaries about sex, so I wonder if we were supposed to be experiencing something of what Beatrice felt which caused her to tear those pages out of the diary?

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Absolutely; Moore was marvellous.  I agree about the 3/4 length sleeves for the men, by the way.  A proper military jacket with a long sleeved shirt underneath would have looked much better for Liko.

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Posted (edited)

I'm looking forward to seeing this later on today at the local Curzon. They didn't show the live screening "live".

 

Is there a link anywhere to the cast list for the screening?

Edited by FrankH

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I have always enjoyed Cathy Marsden's ballets, I love her narrative approach and I find her choreography highly inventive and individual. This was displayed especially in the Victoria/Albert pdd and the pas de trois in act 1. Some of the lifts were amazing. Someone wrote that they found the pdd embarrassing??  I found it to be 'real'. But that comment made me laugh -remembering the outraged audience in Paris when they saw Nijinsky's  Faune humping the nymphs shawl. 1912 -2019, some things never change.😂

The alarm went off during the film and the lights came on, before any of us had the chance to moan, a woman announced that we had Beatrice in the audience. Then Pippa Moore introduced herself, explaining since she was from Liverpool she had decided to watch the film -for the first time, here with us. We then had a spontaneous question/answer session with her. As usual she was delightful and answered all questions and even explained the storyline to those who were confused. I was greatly relieved when she told us she is in fact remaining with the company to coach and pass on her roles to the younger company members. If that's what happens when the film is interrupted - I'm ok with that! Thank you Pippa.

Was this the best ballet I've ever seen by Cathy Marsden? No. I've enjoyed her others more. But there were undeniable moments of pure brilliance and creative ability that is astounding. Which is why I will always go to see any/all of her ballet's and I eagerly await the next one!

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, FrankH said:

I'm looking forward to seeing this later on today at the local Curzon. They didn't show the live screening "live".

 

Is there a link anywhere to the cast list for the screening?

It wasn't shown 'live' anywhere - Pippa Moore told us it was filmed when they were at Sadlers Wells...

Edited by Sharon
Typo

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3 hours ago, alison said:

People who were asking about casting: it's very difficult, simply because of the fact that so many dancers swap in and out of parts.  I think I was there for the performance which was filmed, and trying to reproduce the cast sheet would have been something of a nightmare (incidentally, I could wish they hadn't run the credits centrally, as they obscured the dancers who were taking their bows).  I was a little late to the cinema, so if there was any preliminary introduction I missed it.  I think someone provided a link to the synopsis in this thread, didn't they?  I know I certainly needed it.

 

 

I wondered if that was actually the point?  From everything I've gathered, I believe Victoria was quite explicit (for Victorian times, at least!) in her diaries about sex, so I wonder if we were supposed to be experiencing something of what Beatrice felt which caused her to tear those pages out of the diary?

I was also late - having to jump up quickly and escape when Toy Story 2 started!

And yes I agree with your point about the 'explicit' 😁 pdd Alison.

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The performances on 27th and 29th March 2019 at Sadler's Wells were the ones that were filmed.

 

I was there on the Friday evening, here is the cast sheet from that night.

 

IMG_9853.thumb.jpeg.2fa70eaef69cdd70124e07b3d573952a.jpeg

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6 hours ago, FrankH said:

I'm looking forward to seeing this later on today at the local Curzon. They didn't show the live screening "live".

 

Is there a link anywhere to the cast list for the screening?

 

I found the following cast sheet and synopsis on the Empire Cinemas website. It was obviously supplied for the screening so why the cinemas could’t have printed them off I don’t know.

 

https://www.empirecinemas.co.uk/_uploads/media/1862_The Northern Ballet - Victoria Handout.pdf

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