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  • alison changed the title to ENB "She Persisted" Triple Bill at Sadlers Wells - April 2019

For me, this is an unmissable programme if only because of Pina Bausch's Rite.  Francesca Velicu was the Chosen one last night and was great in the role.  James Streeter was also superb but of course, like all Bausch works, it is about the company as a whole.  There are a few moments where ENB are slightly more "balletic" than is ideal but they throw in themselves into the music (and the dirt) wholeheartedly and it's an incredibly powerful experience.

 

I was also very impressed with Stina Quagebur's new work, Nora, based on a Doll's House, danced to Philip Glass.  I really liked her concept with a very spare set representing the house (almost cage like) and how she kept the characters from the play very simple - just Nora, her husband and the blackmailing banker - and used 5 other dancers to represent Nora's "Voices". Crystal Costa was very clear as Nora and Jeffrey Cirio really outstanding as the husband.  But for me, the thing that was most interesting and promising about Stina's work is her choreography for the "Voices" - particularly near the end as Nora decides whether she will stay or go.  It feels like the work of someone intelligent who understands how to get to the essence of a piece/story/idea when translating it into dance - a crucial skill which is sadly lacking in the recent work of several more experienced/'prestigious' choreographers....

 

Broken Wings is a another well conceived piece, a theatrical coup rather than a choreographic masterpiece, but very enjoyable and moving and well danced once again - Katja Khaniukova has a very strong stage presence and it is always great to see Irek Mukhamedov in action. 

 

A very impressive triple bill all around - the emphasis being thoroughly on creative thought rather than expensive sets/projections/special effects.   

 

 

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I agree with LIndsay that SHE PERSISTED is an thoroughly engaging evening.  I actually think Broken Wings is a major balletic work and - as with Cathy Marston's illuminating VICTORIA the week before in the same venue by Northern Ballet - Lopez Ochoa is a choreographer - irregardless of her sex - whose choreographic voice can distinctly be heard through the dance she creates - much as we delighted in when she spoke to us in/through Scottish Ballet's Streetcar.  Visually Broken Wings is a treat and the whole always serves all of its parts - much as does the searing Rite of Pina Bausch.  Julia Conway deserves mention in the latter for the intrinsic truth of her interjections.  There too it was glorious to see Francesca Velicu as The Chosen One in this again (well she deserved that Olivier Award she received for her performance) much as it was a thrill to again see Mukhamedov animate Diego in the Ochoa again so, so very vividly.  The life in his eyes and fingers was every bit as vivid as any of the stunning suggestions of Kahlo's life affirming and gleeful treatises.  I so look forward to seeing Broken Wings expanded into a two act ballet by the DNB next season.  Broken wings is so ripe - and so true to its overall intent - that I think the expansion should be no problem.  Indeed, this is one case where it really is deserved.  

 

I agree with LIndsay that Stina Quagebeur's enriching and humane intelligence was often to the fore in Nora - but felt - as a response to the Ibsen - that this was, perhaps, more in part rather than sum.  As ever with this company the dancers were fine - Cirio as Torvald particularly so, being illuminatingly clear in both his bullet proof placement and characterful intent.  I also thought the selection of the Glass Concerto inspired - especially as vividly played (as was all music) by the ENB Phil and masterminded by that genius, Gavin Sutherland.  Still - in Nora - that slam of the door - one which reportedly echoed throughout the world in its day - much as it often does even now - was here - at least for me, choreographically speaking - rather muted.  I think that Stina might have benefited from the addition of a dramaturg - much as the ever wonderful Nancy Meckler served with Broken Wings - rather than - or perhaps in addition to - Kerry Nicholls who served as - as noted on the cast list - a 'choreographic mentor'.  Speaking with a patron who did not have an intimate knowledge of the play during the interval that followed he was confused as to the central relationships.  He had thought Krogstad was the husband figure being served with divorce papers and Torvald the intervening lover.  Perhaps if Krogstad had given Nora money during that opening cross in return for her promisory note ... and if a letter box - only controlled by Torvald's key as in the play - had somehow - somewhere - featured it would have made the acuity of Nora's own moral dilemma more present.  I would have loved to have had some depiction of/reference to the children - (not necessarily with children dancing) - because they do play such a key role in the lives of the central characters.  That said I was thrilled to see Stina's work again.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Lindsay echoes my thoughts exactly.  A thoroughly enjoyable evening;  a treat to see Francesca Velicu reprise her Olivier-winning performance as the Chosen Maiden,  and a treat to see Pina Bausch's Rite again.  It's my favourite version of the ballet.....it really feels and interprets the music, and conveys a sense of fear and foreboding all the way through.  Feral, earthy and wonderful.

 

It is so heartening that ENB has within its ranks such a talented choreographer as Stina Quagebour.  I really liked her new piece, Nora, and the clarity with which the narrative was told.  It was beautifully danced and interpreted by Crystal Costa and Jeffrey Cirio.....a partnership in the making?

 

Broken Wings was very moving;  since the last time I saw it, I have seen the Kahlo exhibition at the V&A and last night I derived much more from the ballet as a result.  I understood her pain much more, as well as her relationship with Diego Rivera, and other aspects of her life and art.  Tamara Rojo is a hard act to follow, but Katja Khaniukova did a great job and is definitely worth seeing in the role.

 

A really enjoyable evening and a great showcase of where the company is now...and that's to say in a very good place indeed.

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I'm afraid I was very disappointed with Nora. I think that if you didn't know the play (and hadn't read the programme, presumably - I didn't get one), you would have little idea of what was happening and why (as evidenced by the confusion of a young man behind me, who didn't know what the 'letter' was about and thought the 'voices' were the couple's children). I do have some knowledge of the play, and I found the ballet a very inadequate depiction of it. It's not clear what is happening in the opening scene, except that some document is being signed. It's therefore not clear why the husband should be so angry when he sees it. The early relationship between Nora and Torvald doesn't seem to me to give any indication that he is treating her as a child or inferior - it just seems happy and carefree. It's unclear as to why Krogstad suddenly tears up the document. It's unclear as to why Nora won't accept her husband's renewed love once his anger has subsided. And when she walks out, that momentous moment passes for absolutely nothing - she just walks off stage, and Torvald is left apparently confused (as I would have been in his shoes in this ballet). I thought the best part was when Torvald expressed his anger - very fast, expressive dancing, brilliantly performed by Jeffrey Cirio. Apart from that I thought the choreography for the leads was fine but uninspiring (though always beautifully danced); the 'voices' I'm afraid I found a really clichéd and dated concept in terms of externalising internal feelings/influences, with choreography I found hard to take seriously. I had really hoped to like this work, but (as you can maybe tell) I really didn't.

 

Broken Wings: I still think this is visually spectacular, but unless already familiar with the life of Frida Kahlo not very involving. (Again, the young man behind me - who became my litmus test for the evening! - was bemused; his clearly experienced neighbour was explaining aspects of it to him afterwards, and he said 'so was I supposed to know that from what I saw?'.) I thought Katja Khaniukova was excellent and very expressive as Frida.

 

The evening was fully redeemed for me by Bausch's Rite - absolutely thrilling, with a sensational performance by Francesca Velicu as the chosen one. Exhausting and gripping to watch. I agree with Lindsay that the ENB dancers were sometimes a bit too balletic; but I didn't in the end think that that mattered, because of the sheer blazing commitment they brought to it. I feel as if this is/should become a signature work for the company.

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Thanks bridiem - I find it very interesting the different ways in which people (thinking more about the young man behind you rather than someone like yourself who has clearly seen huge amounts of dance) perceive the importance of narrative in ballet.  I can absolutely see how all the fiddling with the piece of paper would be incomprehensible to those who don't know the play and I suppose that could take us back to a topic discussed here before, being whether a ballet should be able to 'stand alone' without recourse to a synopsis/programme notes. 

 

However, what I think is more interesting is whether one can still get enjoyment from a ballet even if it is not entirely clear who the characters are, their relationship to each other, or the nature of the events being portrayed?  I am often happy just to 'go with it' and follow the moods/expressions indicated to me by the choreography without worrying too much about grasping every piece of the "story" and I tend to be frustrated where a story is spelled out in too literal terms, often meaning that the themes and ideas behind it are never properly explored.  So I enjoyed the section where Torvald "forgave" Nora and her reaction to it even though I agree with you that it wasn't clear from the choreography alone why that might be the case.  Like you I thought that their marriage in the earlier sections seemed happier than I might have expected, although Torvald did spend a lot of time sitting at his desk ignoring Nora completely and only coming to her as a plaything rather than to share his work or world, so I could accept it on that basis.  

 

I absolutely agree that this was by no means a perfect work but I suppose I would rather see more work from a a choreographer who errs on the side of too little 'exposition' rather than one who tends towards too much.  I found this a very promising start and hope that Stina Quagebur gets more opportunities in future to develop her thinking.  

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LIndsay, did you see any of Stina's work for ENB's Choreographics??  They were FANTASTIC - or so I thought.

 

As I said in my notation above - even though Nora may have been - as you suggest - a work in progress - I did very much enjoy hearing her voice again. As with most of these things, they are - courageously - fluid.  I hugely applaud Tamara Rojo for offering such a vital opportunity. I'm sure the new facility will offer the prospect of many more new springboards ... and more opportunities for meaningful experiment - before any work reaches the actual 'main stage'.  Can't wait.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the photocall for Broken Wings and Nora...


47544271531_c2e341668b_z.jpg
English National Ballet in Stina Quagebeur's Nora
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

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Katja Khaniukova in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Broken Wings
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

See more...
Foteini Christofilopoulou: English National Ballet in Broken Wings and Nora
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

Edited by Bruce
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Nora is Stina Quagebeur's first piece on the main stage and having seen some of rehearsal process I was nervous about how the Wells stage would be filled with only 3 characters and 5 "voices" floating in and out expressing Nora's inner thoughts and conflicts. It must be difficult to work in a small studio at close quarters and yet create something that can engage in a large space where most of the audience see it from above in varying degrees. My doubts were of course entirely unfounded and I thought the compressed drama and story telling worked extremely well from all angles. Part of this is down to a triangular floor covering and the minimal but effective use of 3 frames to suggest the house but also create some perspective and diagonal. Also the choice of the Glass Tirol concerto was inspired. 

Stina has said that she is trying to steer a course between classical and contemporary - pointe shoes but not perfect arabesques etc - to make it more approachable. I think she has been influenced enormously by Akram Khan from helping create his Giselle. Credit also ought to go to Crystal Costa who seems to understand what Stina is looking for and works incredibly hard to achieve it. One advantages of choreography by a company member and they have worked together before.

I can see why some of the audience might have thought it was a love triangle but I agree with other comments that sometimes less is more. When I first saw Romeo and Juliet I couldn't work out why Juliet woke up after taking her drug but didn't hang around to see if Romeo would do the same! Why did the prince fall in love with a white swan and then turn up with a black swan in tow? More research needed...

For me Stina is a huge talent as choreographer, character artist and dancer and deserves more chances. She embodies the Belgian qualities of the thought of Hercule Poirot, the adventure of Tintin and the musicality of Jacques Brel.

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1 hour ago, Lizbie1 said:

Has anyone noticed the timings please? The Sadler's Wells website says 2h 30 - is that reasonably accurate?

 

It finished at 10.15 tonight (Sat). It started 5 mins late and the second interval is longer because of the peat being put down. I think 2hrs45mins is where it has settled.

 

The Chosen One tonight was Emily Suzuki. Completely different from Francesca Velicu but absolutely terrific.

Begona Cao was a stunning Frida.

Edited by capybara
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I was very pleased that I was able to see Thursday’s performance and then Friday’s so that I could consolidate my thoughts and marvel at even more details in the first two pieces.  I loved Ochoa’s “Broken Wings” when I first saw it in 2016.  Spending most of my school years in Canada, I was extremely fortunate to have had a Spanish teacher who immersed us in Mexican and South American culture and history, as well as teaching us the language.  And then there were the wonderful, vibrant performances of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico on tour.  Ochoa’s choreography and the colourful costumes brought back such vivid memories, along with the life-affirming music!  I particularly like the set design by Dieuweke van Reij.  The simple black box is such a potent image as it becomes the bed to which Frida was confined for so many months, with the mirrored sides representing the mirror her parents installed above her bed so that Frida became her own model for her portraits, then her refuge following her miscarriage and finally her tomb.  The skeletons commenting on and driving the action forward are also highly evocative of Latin American culture with its Day of the Dead celebrations.  Ochoa’s witty choreography for the male skeletons allows them to develop personalities through their very entertaining body language, despite being masked until the curtain calls.  As they remained anonymous on the cast list, I will give their names here for the first two performances:  James Forbat, Junor Souza, Daniel McCormick and Ken Saruhashi.  The female skeletons, who first taunt Frida by dancing with her faithless husband and then console her after her miscarriage, were Tiffany Hedman, Jia Zhang, Isabelle Brouwers and Maria Jose Sales.  The birds were Rina Kanehara, Adriana Lizardi and Anjuli Hudson.  The stag was Rebecca Blenkinsop.  It was impossible to identify all the male Fridas under their heavy make-up and I do feel it is a shame they are not credited on the cast sheet, especially as the entire cast for ‘Sacre’ is listed.  It helps to have some knowledge of Frida Kahlo’s extraordinary life when watching this ballet but I feel Ochoa and her dramaturg, Nancy Meckler, have captured its essence through the key episodes they have chosen to portray.  Katja Khaniukova, making her debut as Frida on opening night, was a triumph.  She is far too pretty to physically resemble her, apart from being petite and copying her distinctive hairstyle, but she captured her spirit from the first enchanting pas de deux with Barry Drummond’s Young Boy, in which she was fun-loving, vivacious and headstrong.  This is brought to an abrupt end by her horrific traffic accident, symbolised by the skeletons ‘punching’ her abdomen and then manipulating her in slow motion.  Here, the anguish expressed by Khaniukova’s body language as her body is literally broken was heartrending, as was her terror, frustration and, finally, acceptance as she is confined to her bed in the body brace. I love the idea of her self-portraits coming to life, as the ‘male Fridas’ parade in with their elegant, mesmerising movements, all sporting headdresses and accessories from her paintings, and this is where the graceful use of skirts reminded me of the ballet folklorico.  When Frida is liberated from her bed, she joins them so that they become the many facets of her personality, joining in her brazen seduction of Diego Rivera, performed by the legendary Irek Mukhamedov, charismatic as ever, despite his fat-suit and dishevelled appearance.  What a masterstroke to set their extended pas de deux to the Mexican folksong “La Llorona” (the weeping woman) sung by Frida’s friend, Chavela Vargas, in which the volatility and passion of the ups and downs of their relationship is portrayed by Ochoa’s fascinating, liberating choreography and the palpable chemistry between Mukhamedov and Khaniukova.  I have long admired the quality of Khaniukova’s dancing, mainly seen in purely classical roles but, having seen her extraordinary Novice in “The Cage” last year, it is clear she revels in challenges to her classical persona, especially portraying this earthy, sexy, passionate woman whose incredible strength in overcoming the astounding adversities life threw at her is so remarkably illustrated in this work.  The pas de deux with Diego culminates in Frida’s miscarriage and here I found Khaniukova’s throes of agony as she desperately tries to hold on to her child (symbolised by the red ribbon being pulled away from her by the skeletons) overwhelming.  As she retreats into her paintings of nature, with the female skeletons representing trees, I was very impressed and moved by the way Khaniukova portrayed her struggle with her increasingly useless leg.  The ending, where at first she hardly recognises Diego and then makes one desperate, last attempt to ‘fly’ before collapsing in his arms, was so gentle that it was intensely moving, especially as he ‘pins’ her to the butterfly as if in an attempt to keep her with him forever.  The last moments, with the little bird (the lovely Adriana Lizardi) fluttering atop her tomb, were like a danced epitaph to the spirit of this extraordinary woman.

 

Just as it is helpful to know something of Kahlo’s life when watching the first piece, it helps to know the scenario of “A Doll’s House” (helpfully given in detail in the programme) when watching Stina Quagebeur’s first major work for the company, “Nora”.  Quagebeur has distilled the story to portray the relationships between the three main characters and the consequences of Nora, the ‘doll’, having forged a signature on a loan document to help her husband without his knowledge, then being blackmailed by her creditor, Krogstad, and finally the fall-out when her husband, Torvald, discovers what she has done even though Krogstad has had a crisis of conscience and torn up the incriminating document.  At the first performance, I was so involved in watching Quagebeur’s seamless, inventive choreography performed by her quality cast that I did not pay in-depth attention to the story.  On the second viewing, I was much more aware of the choreographic details which tell the story.  Quagebeur has chosen an exceptional cast of dancer-actors, especially Crystal Costa as Nora, who gives a beautifully nuanced performance and whose expressive eyes and body indicate with the subtlest of movements her thoughts, which are echoed by the five Voices (Adela Ramirez, Angela Wood, James Forbat, Francisco Bosch and Henry Dowden, all fine dance-actors themselves) who at times spur on her actions and at other times comment on them or represent her conscience.  When Nora is in turmoil about telling her husband what she has done, the Voices appear to externalise this turmoil with their jerky, individualistic movements.  Junor Souza makes much of the relatively small role of Krogstag, dominating the stage with his virile dancing, which Quagebeur exploits to wonderful effect in her choreography for him, which makes his crumbling at the end all the more moving.  Jeffrey Cirio’s fabulous technique is also fully exploited and is given full rein in his solo of anger on discovering Nora’s deception.  Torvald’s emotional abuse of Nora is subtly done with the smallest of gestures, showing that life is happy provided Nora does what he wants and remains childlike.  After his angry outburst at her (and is it because she forged a signature or because she did not ask his permission first?), it slowly dawns on Nora how shallow the marriage is and how she will never be allowed to have a mind of her own if she stays with him, prompting her to walk out on her life with him. This provoked my only criticism about the piece as I would like Nora’s movements to have more strength of purpose as she walks out of the door for the last time but I do like the way the structure of the house breaks up as Torvald is left alone. This is a complex plot tackled with confidence and imagination by Quagebeur and her team, and deserving of further viewings so I will be delighted to revisit it next week.

 

I have always had a problem with danced versions of “The Rite of Spring” since I had my first experience of them in the mid-1970s with Bejart’s frenzy of copulating couples right up to the last version I saw when the Australian Ballet brought their aboriginal-inspired version here a few years ago as I feel they never live up to the complexity or genius of the music.  I long for a choreographer to explore the complex rhythms in the music and, apart from Millicent Hodson’s imagining of what Nijinsky’s choreography might have looked like, to explore the scenario as worked out by Stravinsky and Roerich which possibly had a huge input from Nijinsky himself, so that there is variation in the action, rather than almost forty minutes of gloom while everyone wonders who will be the chosen one before the sacrificial dance.  I first saw Bausch’s version (about the fourth version I had seen by then) by Wuppertal Tanztheatre a few years after it was created and my abiding memory was of a lot of running around and rolling around in the earth.  Despite the magnificent performances by ENB’s exceptional dancers, my opinion has not really changed.  For me, too much of it is a cop-out, with dancers running frantically around the stage far too often, and Bausch has gone for the obvious in the music for her movements, rather than exploring the more difficult rhythms.   However, with the dancers’ beautifully honed bodies and precision of movement plus their extraordinary commitment to everything they do, the piece looks far better than I remember when it was danced by Bausch’s company.  My abiding memory of these performances will be the ‘signature’ step performed by both males and females at various times throughout the piece, when they step into an off-balance position with the working leg in retire, and a slight body bend towards the supporting leg with the arm raised above.  This was ravishing, as were the beautifully stretched legs and feet of the men as they jumped en masse (and the astonishing height of Eric Woolhouse’s split jeté). Since the Bausch Foundation will not allow the name of the chosen maiden to be printed on the cast sheet, and I understand the dancer herself does not know until the day of the performance, for anyone unfamiliar with ENB, the chosen one at both performances was Francesca Velicu.  What impressed me most was watching her reaction after she has been chosen, when James Streeter (presumably the leader of the community) pushes her around, as her tiny body is too petrified with fear to walk, and she contemplates her fate.  After this remarkably moving interlude, the sacrificial dance itself seems to me like an anti-climax, full of self-flagellation and convulsions, and I do find it bizarre that the leader indicates her collapse with an arm movement, rather than it coming from any movement she makes.  Speaking of a tiny body racked with fear, when all the females succumb to mass hysteria in the form of body tremors, I noticed with awe the tiny Carolyne Galvao’s extraordinarily violent and realistic trembling. The dancers certainly deserved the huge ovation they received at both performances but, as always with this piece, it was the music which had the greatest impact on me, superbly played by the orchestra with great passion, energy and precision under the baton of Maestro Gavin Sutherland.

 

Thursday evening's performance began with a moving tribute from Tamara Rojo about Kevin Richmond, who was such an integral part of the company for so many years, coming back to guest in character roles long after he had 'retired'.  For those of us who knew him (about forty years in my case!), it was lovely that the company to which he devoted so much of his life dedicated this run of performances to him.

 

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Thank you, Irmgard.  That would be a great article to point people towards if they wanted a brief idea of what the first two ballets are about.

 

BTW, was it my imagination, or is Broken Wings longer than it used to be?

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7 hours ago, alison said:

Thank you, Irmgard.  That would be a great article to point people towards if they wanted a brief idea of what the first two ballets are about.

 

BTW, was it my imagination, or is Broken Wings longer than it used to be?

Yes, there is a bit of music added but I can't remember exactly where at the moment - I'll make a note when I see it again this week!

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I was back at the Wells last night (Monday) to see some major cast changes in all three ballets.  It was Begoña Cao’s visceral, no-holds-barred Frida which completely sold me on “Broken Wings” in 2016 and last night she proved yet again what an exceptional artist she is. Long, lean and beautiful, she bears no physical resemblance to the Frida we have come to know through photographs and paintings but she has the ability to get under her skin completely and show us the multi-faceted personality and strength of character of this amazing woman through all her trials and tribulations.  From her first appearance on top of the box as a young girl, there is Frida’s confidence and love of life in her interplay with the skeletons and then the youthful abandon of the pas de deux with the Young Boy, in which she was securely and sympathetically partnered by William Beagley, with her gloriously long legs and arms making the most beautiful shapes.  As in the final scenes of her Manon, following Frida’s accident, Cao made her whole body look fragile and vulnerable, especially when she is first confined to the bed, giving all the angular movements as she tries to come to terms with her injuries a real poignancy, culminating in the moment when she curls herself up, facing the back of the box, her beautifully expressive neck taking on a particularly dejected quality.  It was interesting to note that, with Cao being the same height as most of the male Fridas, when she was dancing with them, she became completely integrated with her many alter-egos and, along with the men, the way she moved her skirt to create beautiful images was mesmerising.  Her first encounter with Diego Rivera (James Streeter) was particularly seductive as she very provocatively bent forward and lifted up her skirt and, of course, with her Spanish heritage, the nod to flamenco hand movements seems second nature to her.  Again, during the pas de deux, there was such beauty of movement, peppered with the wonderfully quirky gestures Ochoa has created to show the volatile, playful and passionate relationship between the two.  At this stage, Streeter’s Diego is rather tame compared to the blazing light of Cao’s Frida, but I am sure it must be almost impossible to fill the shoes of the charismatic Mukhamedov in this role (or in any other, for that matter!).  The miscarriage scene was intensely moving, with Cao’s fragility again visible in her throes of agony and then desperately trying to keep hold of the red ribbon.  There was a nice little cameo from Adela Ramirez, again adding an authentic Spanish flavour to her movements, as Diego’s mistress, provoking a visible bubbling up of anger in Cao and lashing out at Diego.  As previously, I found Cao’s anguish as her leg fails her almost unbearable in its emotional intensity and it seems her anger is given full vent in the almost violent pas de deux with the skeleton in the green skirt who seems to taunt her.  As she is surrounded by all the images from her paintings and kills the stag, which I take to be symbolic of realising her own life is ending, Cao presents us with all the anger and frustration of one whose life is ending far too soon. I find the moment when Diego places her in the box and she becomes the butterfly preserved forever such a beautiful, calming moment, as uplifting as the bird fluttering above her which closes the ballet.  Cao’s total artistry in this role, as with everything else she does, is a joy and a privilege to behold.

 

There was a complete change of principals in “Nora”, with Erina Takahashi making a triumphant debut in the title role.  She has such a childlike appearance that it makes her treatment by Torvald and Krogstad exceptionally poignant.  Her glorious, understated technique is showcased by Quagebeur’s fluid choreography in which Nora is dancing for almost the entire twenty-five minutes of the piece.  Joseph Caley as Torvald and Henry Dowden as Krogstad make less of an impact in their roles than Jeffrey Cirio and Junor Souza but Takahashi more than makes up for this in the way she responds to the unfortunate chain of events.  After her husband’s angry outburst, her face so perfectly demonstrates her hurt, incomprehension and final realisation of what his controlling has done to her.  I particularly liked the way she refused to play the little hand game with him that seems to symbolise how he controls her to remain a child he can manipulate.  Another wonderful interpretation from one of ENB’s most cherished dancers who, like Cao, does not always seem to get the recognition she so richly deserves.

 

In ‘Sacre’, I was quite simply blown away by Emily Suzuki as the chosen one.  All through the autumn, I was impressed by the beauty of her classical dancing and now she has shown a completely different side. I was mesmerised by the intelligence and maturity of her artistry in this role, especially in one so young!  Whereas with Velicu I felt the sacrificial dance was an anti-climax after her intensely moving reaction before it, with Suzuki the dance suddenly came alive for me with the power of her movement and her musicality.  She has such very strong legs and she used these to create sharp pauses in the action, perfectly complementing the music, holding a leg in the air in a tip-tilted ā la seconde position for just long enough to create a breath-taking image full of anguish before collapsing.  Likewise the timing of her self-flagellations – there was a jagged rhythm to these which again reflected the music.  Each time she collapsed onto the ground, it seemed totally spontaneous and real, as did her final death throe.  I do hope I will see this remarkable interpretation again during the week.  As always, Gavin Sutherland brought out the best in the fabulous ENB Phiharmonic.  It just goes to show what tricks the brain can play – in my previous report I said that, in the signature step I liked so much, the body bend was towards the supporting leg.  It is, of course towards the leg in retiré!

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I bought a ticket for last night's performance purely because of the rave reviews on this forum. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

I loved Broken Wings, and I thought the choreographer was very clever in the way she depicted the major events in Kahlo's life.  Personally, I thought it went on just a little bit too long, but that could just be it was because it was my first viewing.  I would certainly be very happy to see it again.  

 

I also liked Nora very much.  I am glad I read this thread before I went, because it gave me the opportunity to refresh my memory regarding the play.  Otherwise, I might have been a bit bemused by what was going on.  I never buy a full programme any more; I simply don't have room for them.  I think the free cast sheet should have had a very brief synopsis of the story line, for those who might not have realised what the ballet was based on.  Otherwise, I am not sure anyone could work out what the letter was about, or who the 5 people following Nora around were supposed to be.  I thought this was a very clever device to suggest Nora's inner turmoil, and the whole piece had a clarity and simplicity about it that makes me want to see more work by the creator.  

 

I've never seen Bausch's Rite of Spring before.  To sum it up in one word: Wow!  What a powerful piece of dance drama.  A fantastic end to a wonderful triple bill.  .  

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Traditions notwithstanding, this is so why I hate not having the dancers announced in advance.  I would have loved to have seen that :(

 

And the rest of the run is now sold out, of course :( 

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28 minutes ago, alison said:

Traditions notwithstanding, this is so why I hate not having the dancers announced in advance.  I would have loved to have seen that :(

 

And the rest of the run is now sold out, of course :( 

Try calling the box office.  I managed to buy one for a friend for tomorrow evening when I was there this afternoon.  It was the only return at that stage for tomorrow but there might be others by tomorrow and perhaps for other nights.

 

In answer to your previous question about "Broken Wings" being longer than before, the dance for the ten male Fridas has been extended, purely for the practical reason of giving Frida more time to sort out her hair etc. before she appears in the long orange skirt for the first time.  In the Q&A session before tonight's show, the dramaturg said that the skeletons' dance had also been extended but I'm not sure where and she didn't elaborate.

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8 hours ago, alison said:

Traditions notwithstanding, this is so why I hate not having the dancers announced in advance.  I would have loved to have seen that :(

 

And the rest of the run is now sold out, of course :( 

 

Please see my ad. on the Tickets thread.

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I made another trip to the Wells last night for what I believe will be the final debuts in the programme.  Fabian Reimair gave his one and only performance as Diego Rivera in “Broken Wings”.  Barely recognisable in the obligatory fat-suit, he gave us a completely believable human being, flawed but thoroughly likeable, even when tempted away from Frida by the beguiling Adela Ramirez as the mistress.  I hope Reimair will take it as a compliment that, although he did not have quite the charisma of Mukhamedov in the role, he came a very close second!  His very secure partnering made all the quirky lifts in his first encounter with Frida look effortless and there was a palpable chemistry between the two of them.  Khaniukova goes from strength to strength in her increasingly confident and captivating   portrayal of Frida.  For me, she has always been a most soulful dancer, witnessed in her only performance in ENB’s “Giselle” (Skeaping version) in Belfast in 2017, repeating the entire role again in Ukrainian National Ballet’s production just ten days before her debut as Frida.  She is also capable of great technical brilliance and brio, as seen in her show-stopping performances in Ivan Putrov’s gala last Sunday.  (With another gala in Kiev this coming Sunday, life must seem like a whirlwind for her at the moment!)  She uses all of these facets of her dancing and personality to further enrich her remarkable interpretation of Frida.  There was even more passion in her dance with the skeleton in green, which to me represents her final struggle with life. I found the scene in which she kills the stag (a reference to Frida’s painting, “The Wounded Deer”) especially poignant, due in no small part to the beautiful interpretation by Jia Zhang.  However, it was her final encounter with Diego which I found the most moving, actually moving me to tears as he tenderly lifted her completely broken body (and, like Cao the night before, Khaniukova’s ability to make herself look utterly fragile is astonishing) and placed her lovingly against the butterfly painting, giving her the gentlest of kisses as he leaves her.  As always with Reimair, his emotions appear completely natural and, as the doors of the box close on Frida, his grief was palpable as he dropped to his knees and sobbed. 

 

“Nora” was given another searing performance by Crystal Costa, Jeffrey Cirio and Junor Souza, with company pianist Chris Swithinbank shining in Philip Glass’s “Tirol” Concerto.  Once again, I discovered new details in the choreography, particularly in Costa’s tour de force performance.

 

In ‘Sacre’, Precious Adams made her debut as the chosen one in a solo of almost primordial ferocity although, for me, I still find Emily Suzuki’s interpretation the most breath-taking.  For those not familiar with all of ENB’s dancers, I would like to pay tribute to Shiori Kase, the only one of the company’s principal dancers to appear in ‘Sacre’ as ‘one of the crowd’ in all these performances.

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12 hours ago, alison said:

Traditions notwithstanding, this is so why I hate not having the dancers announced in advance.  I would have loved to have seen that :(

 

And the rest of the run is now sold out, of course :( 

I would’ve begged, borrowed and sneaked aboard a London bound flight for that one... I had a sneaking suspicion that was in the works...

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