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The Royal Ballet - Swan Lake, October 2012


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The Royal Ballet start the new 2012-2013 season with a run of Swan Lake this October. There was a family/first timers show on Saturday afternoon, but the accepted 'opening night' is Monday 8th, with Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares in the leads. Here are some photos from their dress reherasal last week:

 

 

 

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Royal Ballet's Swan Lake - Odette and Prince Siegfried (Marianela Nunez & Thiago Soares)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Swan Lake - Emma-Jane Maguire as a Cygnet

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Swan Lake - Odette (Marianela Nunez) and lead Swans

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Set on Flickr - Royal Ballet's Swan Lake

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House

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Thanks for the lovely pics Dave! Am looking forward to Osipova/Acosta at the weekend, (sadly I could not get in the restaurant for the Swan Lake menu and Swan Meringue dessert if anyone does partake please let me know about that as well as the ballet!!)

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Posted on twitter earlier (so short-ish).

 

My thoughts on last night's Swan Lake. Nela Nuñez steals the show – soft & vulnerable in act 2, lithe & Machiavellian in act 3, defiant & broken in act 4, all with great technique & aplomb. Soares is a strong partner & foil for her. Very pleasing pd3 from Choe, Crawford and Campbell – beautifully balanced. Kobayashi & Mendizabal made gorgeously silky big swans though not always together in act 2.

 

Special mentions for Gartside's great legwork in the Czardas and Morera & Cervera's sprightly Neapolitan Dance.

 

Corps-work excellent (barring one new joiner who over-danced in act 4 and stood out for all the wrong reasons), which suggests the correct decision was made in Sam Raine's appointment as ballet mistress.

 

Only downer on the evening is the abysmal conducting which disturbs both audience & dancers. Otherwise, this Swan Lake was a very strong & enjoyable treat to start the season; long may it continue.

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Anticipating to see the tomorrow's performance I looked at the review in today's Evening Standard. While praising the performance in general the reviewer Lyndsey Winship made a remark:

"Swan Lake has come to represent a few things that are frustrating about ballet: the outdated image that it's all fairytales and music-box ballerinas; the reliance on old masters preserved in aspic to keep the box office happy."

God save our dear classical ballet from 'critics' with such views.

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Anticipating to see the tomorrow's performance I looked at the review in today's Evening Standard. While praising the performance in general the reviewer Lyndsey Winship made a remark:

"Swan Lake has come to represent a few things that are frustrating about ballet: the outdated image that it's all fairytales and music-box ballerinas; the reliance on old masters preserved in aspic to keep the box office happy."

God save our dear classical ballet from 'critics' with such views.

 

Perhaps the critics would themselves care to fund the ballet companies. Thought not...

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Well, I'm not ashamed to say that I love Swan Lake. For me, it has the best story, the best setting, the best music, the best corps and generally the best costumes (although I'm not over keen on the swans' dresses in the RB's production). IMO, there's a reason that it's so popular and will almost always fill a theatre: it's the quintessential classical ballet and it's head and shoulders above most other full-length ballets. For me, the only other ballet which comes close is Giselle. Whenever you see Swan Lake there's invariably a palpable sense of excitement in the theatre and a murmer of approval from the audience whenever the swans appear. The misty lakeside scene is always so atmospheric. In Twitterland some people were discussing whether it is time for the RB's production to be updated. Personally, I would not want to see it 'modernised' or set in another era or re-choreographed to suit some re-interpretation of the story. Peter Schaufuss did that recently and the end result sounded most peculiar.

 

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I can't type much as my left wrist is in a sling, but my reaction when I got home from Swan Lake last night was as below....and I agree with bangorballetboy's comments above. At some points the conducting was so slow that I thought it was going to grind to a halt. I also love SL....I've been watching it for almost 50 years from when I was a little girl, and if it's done properly it still moves me. My main gripe with the RB's production is that I like to see a lake in my Swan Lakes....

 

"A divine start to the Royal Ballet season with the divine Marianela Nunez giving a beautiful, meaningful performance as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. We are so lucky to be able to see her dance on a regular basis. The rest of the cast did very well too; a special plaudit for the corps de ballet, on lovely, fresh-legged form! Bring on the next 7 performances.....and best wishes to the whole Company for a wonderful season."

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In Twitterland some people were discussing whether it is time for the RB's production to be updated.

 

Not updated, no, but it's high time they had a new production of it, preferably one that gets rid of the ghastly accretions without adding any new ones. And set it in the correct time period: late 19th century makes no sense when you're talking about mythical subjects. I'm going to see precisely two performances - far fewer than I would go to for either ENB or BRB's production - and those two would only have been one except that I decided it would be interesting to see Osipova as well. That's how fed up with it I am.

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I haven't seen the RB's Swan Lake for a few years. I had assumed that the RB's, BRB's and ENB's productions were essentially the same. Is it the RB's costumes and sets that you're not keen on, Alison? Isn't most of the choreography pretty much the same in all three productions? I too am going to see Osipova. I'll probably see the Mikhailovsky's Swan Lake as well when it comes to the Coliseum in the Spring, perhaps with Osipova in it, and it will be interesting to see what they have done with it.

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I know I'm not Alison and I may be completely wrong!

 

I believe that the only choreography that is "more or less" standard in a traditional production of Swan Lake is Act 2 and the Black Swan pdd, plus the Czardas and Mazurkas also seem to be pretty standard across all the traditional versions I have seen. Therefore producers who want to use the tag "After Petipa/Ivanov" have to try and produce the rest of the ballet as they think it would have looked. Obviously there are photographs and written reports from the original but they are still open to interpretation.

 

I haven't seen the RB Swan Lake since 15th April 1989 and it's several years since I saw Derek Deane's production for ENB but there is some common choreography between them as I believe both still use Sir Frederick Ashton's seriously sublime Neapolitan and Pas de Quatre. Derek Deane's also uses a lot of Ashton's Act 4 but I am not sure about the RBs in this respect.

 

In 1995 Gianandrea Poesio wrote a couple of fantastic articles about the history of Swan Lake so I learned from that article that even if the producer doesn't know the choreography, there may be a dance for the Prince's courtiers in Act 1 that uses drinking cups. There is one of these in Sir Peter Wright's wonderful production for BRB. Apparently in 1895 audiences expected to see dances with drinking cups (and also with cushions/footstools that seem to have been happily dropped) because that was the fashion at the time.

 

As the producers of the versions currently shown at RB, ENB and BRB have a measure of shared history you would expect some overlaps.

 

I never saw the Ashton production but I have read which of his sections are still in use.

 

What would a "new traditional" production mean to me: new sets and costumes and perhaps the odd tweak with Acts 1, 3 and 4. When the RB production was first updated in the late 1980s I can remember the uproar about losing the Ashton elements mentioned above. They were soon reintroduced.

 

Somebody please correct me if I am wildly wrong.

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The RB's Swan Lake is heavily based on Nicholas Sergeyev's notation, the notable exceptions being Ashton's Neapolitan Dance, the absence of the pas de quatre and Odile's diagonal in the "black swan" pd2 coda (in place of echappés sautés, although some dancers (like Zen) do that "correct" choregography). Whilst that notation can't really be called the original Petipa/Ivanov, it is as close as we are likely to get.

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I fear to write any sort of review on here as I know very little about ballet, so I am writing this as a complete novice and parent of a young, aspiring ballet dancer... we went to see the Welcome family performance on Saturday and absolutely loved it. We saw Steven McRae and Roberta Sanchez (hope I have that right) and they were wonderful, especially Steven with his fantastic but graceful leaps!!! There were, as expected, lots of little ones in the audience and whenever the swans (corps) came on all those little girls and boys sighed around me so yes our next generation does love to see these classical ballets.

 

As part of the welcome performance we had a talk at the beginning and then during the long interval they left the safety curtain up and allowed us to view the set change. They also opened up the back of the stage so we could see some of the other sets being put together and 1 of the RB principal dancers explained everything very well about the set changes!!! Very exciting and front stall tickets were only £20.. my DD stroked and thanked the seat as we left as she knew she would never be sitting in those seats again :D

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I fear to write any sort of review on here as I know very little about ballet, so I am writing this as a complete novice and parent of a young, aspiring ballet dancer... we went to see the Welcome family performance on Saturday and absolutely loved it. We saw Steven McRae and Roberta Sanchez (hope I have that right) and they were wonderful, especially Steven with his fantastic but graceful leaps!!! There were, as expected, lots of little ones in the audience and whenever the swans (corps) came on all those little girls and boys sighed around me so yes our next generation does love to see these classical ballets.

 

As part of the welcome performance we had a talk at the beginning and then during the long interval they left the safety curtain up and allowed us to view the set change. They also opened up the back of the stage so we could see some of the other sets being put together and 1 of the RB principal dancers explained everything very well about the set changes!!! Very exciting and front stall tickets were only £20.. my DD stroked and thanked the seat as we left as she knew she would never be sitting in those seats again :D

 

Sounds like the Welcome Performance was a joy! Hopefully it will encourage those who attended to come to more ballet performances, inlcuding some of the more moderm pieces (which are often cheaper!).

 

The Odette/Odile was Roberta Marquez.

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Interested Parent, thanks so much for posting your comments.

 

No-one should ever fear posting their thoughts on this forum (within the acceptable use policy of course). I think we are all interested to hear what other people think.

 

Just to point out that I know absolutely nothing technical about ballet or dance - I watch something and I like it or I don't like it - it hasnt stopped me wanting to tell people about it!

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I was surprised not to find a single broadsheet or Arts Desk review for this morning's Links. Everyone waiting for Miss Osipova tonight, I presume?

 

BBB: I'm delighted, but not surprised, that Miss Yanowsky gets the choreography 'right,' and I look forward to seeing it thus performed from the comfort of my Cambridge cinema seat on the 23rd .... and will even miss a choir rehearsal to do so, a sure measure of my admiration!

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I haven't seen the RB's Swan Lake for a few years. I had assumed that the RB's, BRB's and ENB's productions were essentially the same. Is it the RB's costumes and sets that you're not keen on, Alison? Isn't most of the choreography pretty much the same in all three productions? I too am going to see Osipova. I'll probably see the Mikhailovsky's Swan Lake as well when it comes to the Coliseum in the Spring, perhaps with Osipova in it, and it will be interesting to see what they have done with it.

 

Hi Aileen. No, there's a lot of difference between the 3 productions, but as BBB says the RB's version is deemed to be the most authentic (BRB's, I noticed the other day, has 3 solos for the Princesses in Act III, all of which I think are taken from the pas de quatre music). My reference to the accretions (we probably have this discussion at least every other revival, so look away folks if you've read this before) is more a) the inappropriateness of the late-19th century setting for something which is so mythological, and b ) some of the totally inappropriate stage business for a Classical ballet - cadets getting (sometimes excessively) drunk, goblets being dropped, and worst of all Siegfried and Benno's behaviour at the start of the ball: it's all far too close to Mayerling for Swan Lake. And yes, I do have an intense dislike of some of the designs, particularly the set for Act III.

 

BTW, the Mikhailovsky had one of the campest and least believable princes I've ever seen in a "top" ballet company last time I saw them: I'm hoping things will have improved by next year.

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The first RB production I saw was Helpmann's with the prologue and it was very handsome indeed. Eventually the company reverted to the production with the Leslie Hurry designs, a nice nod to the Co's heritage and I'm sorry they dropped it, but there is nothing I like about the current production and it should be replaced as a matter of priority.

 

Alison, I know exactly what you mean about that Mikhailovsky Prince, the kindest thing one can say about him was that he was aping a performance style that is know (thankfully) out of fashion.

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I've only ever seen the RB version on DVD (soon to be rectified by seeing three different casts this season) but one thing that really bugs me is Act III: I find the whole set and costume design so dark and gloomy! In particular it really bugs me that Siegfried is in black tights against such a dark (and kind of cluttered) backdrop - throughout the Act III PdD on the DVD I found it difficult to distinguish Soares' legs which, as a dancer watching one of my idols, kind of annoys me. For example, at the start of the Act III variation you can't see Soares' legs at all in his double cabrioles! I just hope this is due to the filming and it's different live, and if they update the production they might consider this...

 

The only Swan Lakes I've seen live are ABT and NYCB. I thought the overall design of ABT's Swan Lake was great (minus the stuffed swan in the prologue!) but hated NYCB's designs (minimal backdrop, lots of plain coloured costumes with random slashes cut out of them...).

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I'm probably in the minority on ths one, but I love the swans' costumes. As they dance, they become very 'swan-like', much more so than with saucer's around their middles. So I'd keep those for acts 2&4, and most of the setup in Act 1 too. Act 3 though.... black costumes with black background - not nice. The 'national' dances need de-frilling (a lot) - the 6 Princesses would need differing costumes (imagine 6 women of any description turning up to a party in the same frock - there'd be WAR!)

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I've only ever seen the RB version on DVD (soon to be rectified by seeing three different casts this season) but one thing that really bugs me is Act III: I find the whole set and costume design so dark and gloomy! In particular it really bugs me that Siegfried is in black tights against such a dark (and kind of cluttered) backdrop - throughout the Act III PdD on the DVD I found it difficult to distinguish Soares' legs which, as a dancer watching one of my idols, kind of annoys me. For example, at the start of the Act III variation you can't see Soares' legs at all in his double cabrioles! I just hope this is due to the filming and it's different live, and if they update the production they might consider this...

 

Not sure whether it's just due to the filming, or to where you happen to be seated in the amphitheatre, David, but I have to say that some years ago when they did a big-screen relay of Rojo and Acosta it was incredibly difficult to pick Acosta out when he was towards the back of the stage.

 

Dave: it's a minority of at least two ...

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Another vote for the RB's swan costumes! Love the way they move and their 'featheriness'. Was lucky enough to see the pre-general last Friday and found it incredibly powerful despite it being a rehearsal and not fully costumed. Interested Parent - so glad you enjoyed the Welcome performance, youngest dd was dancing in this and was hoping that the audience was really enjoying it! I know what you mean about the seats - at the pre general we got to sit in the stalls - certainly a first for us as we normally peer down from the upper amphitheatre.

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Wow Lisadebs, what a proud Mum you must be! My DD knew one of the girls as a friend she had made at YBSS; may be your DD? To my untrained eye the young ones all performed beautifully and as well as the main dancers. Wishing her lots of luck with the rest of the performances. BTW I also loved the feathery swan costumes.

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Noting remarks thus far about conductor's tempi on Monday, it may be worth my including here Clement Crisp's review for the FT, in advance of tomorrow's Links. He appears to put these down to Marienela Nuñez' "belief that the dance (and hence the score) can have elastic qualities," with this leading to "freeze-frame dramatics and musical insensitivity. Dance as stasis."

 

http://www.ft.com/cm...l#axzz28v5dVyoq

 

So Mr Crisp and some of you might appear to be in agreement - but if so, who is responsible? Maestro Gruzin, a seasoned conductor, or Miss Nuñez, a seasoned Principal?

 

And are things moving more quickly with Miss Osipova as I write?

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