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BRB Autumn Celebration Programme - Autumn 2012


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I am not sure that this is the correct place to post this but it does tie up with the above casting information. I was in Plymouth last evening for the first night of the Autumn Celebration programme. I don't know if any other Balletcoers were there

 

I am not a great fan of triple bills but this one really appealed to me and I happily agreed to go with a friend. It was not a full house but it was the most awful day/evening weatherwise, heavy rain on the way there and dense patches of fog on the way back, which may have put some people off. Good appreciative audience, well turned out and, to my knowledge, no bad behaviour. I thought I would mention that in view of the recent posts about this on the forum

 

I thought the programme very well balanced. Three completely different styles, music and costumes. I think it must have been very tiring for the cast. Some of them were in all three items and 'Faster' in particular was very energetic. This was actually my favourite although I did not expect this to be so. What a clever man David Bintley is! This was an Olympic Games inspired piece, bursting with energy, wonderful ideas and humour

 

I have never seen The Dream before and was looking forward to it very much particularly when I learnt that Momoko was dancing Titania and Cesar Oberon. They were delighful together. Momoko is just like a piece of thistledown with neat very precise feet and is a joy to watch, as was the whole cast. The only downside was that the stage was very noisy, way beyond the usual pitter patter of the pointe shoes and there some very heavy, noisy landings from a few of the men

 

I have no techinical knowledge so I can only say that I enjoy watching ballet and this was a most watchable evening

 

I look forward to hearing the views of those with more knowledge of ballet and who may have seen The Dream, in particular, before

 

 

 

 

Edit: thanks, Pat. I've just realised that this is in fact the same bill as the "Summer Celebration" which BRB were touring earlier in the year, so have broken into your post to add the link to that one: http://www.balletcof...hl__celebration

I

Edited by alison
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Pat, from attending Friends events in Plymouth, I understand that the stage at the Theatre Royal has a steel frame understructure (not the technical term but I hope you get the gist!) and that makes it noisier in some parts than others. Isn't the safety curtain there amazing? I've never seen anything like it anywhere else.

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Thank you everyone for responding to my thoughts/comments on the triple bill at Plymouth

 

First of all, yes, the third piece was The Grand Tour. I am not sure why I didn't mention it Alison. You are not being thick. It was the first piece to be performed and perhaps rather overshadowed by Faster and The Dream. It was still enjoyable with very clearly defined character roles particularly by Elisha Willis as Gertrude Lawrence and Rory Mackay as Noel Coward

 

Thank you for the infomation about the stage Janet. My comment was in no way a reflection on the BRB dancers by the way but the noise was a shame and not suited to a ballet about fairies!

 

Yes, the safety curtain is something really special and unique I believe. I don't know what it is made of but it seems to roll down rather like a garage door and is shiny silvery and mirror like. I think 'glamorous' might be an appropriate description, not normally associated with a safety curtain. I must remember to ask about it next time I go to Plymouth

 

I do hope that some of you will also have the pleasure of seeing Momoko in The Dream. I have been a fan ever since I saw her Aurora, also in Plymouth, two. maybe three years ago, and was delighted to see her back with BRB. I am only sorry that I shall not be able to see her in Swan Lake this time

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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw it last night....the first piece, Grand Tour, although nice to look at, was even more anodyne than Take Five (although that was also nice to look at and had some very good moments). With the 30s costumes and lovely set (the promenade deck of an ocean liner) it was visually pleasant, and Noel Coward's music played very well by the RB Sinfonia, but so much more could have been made choreographically with all the famous characters populating the ballet. There was an attempt at a story, which was sweet, but this moving tableau didn't float my boat. It is interesting to note that Grand Tour was made in 1971, the same year as Hans van Manen's wonderful and ritualistic Grosse Fuge, so well danced by the company on Tuesday night. One of the joys of dance is this very thing: the huge difference in style, in depth, in plot and in subject matter that can all be interpreted wordlessly by talented young dancers.

 

 

The second of the three ballets, Faster, was David Bintley's homage to the skills and dedication of Olympic athletes, made in this Olympic year. My heart sank a bit when it started, but it got better as it went on, really capturing the energy, and humour, of sport. The highlights were a wonderfully gymnastic pas de trois danced by Jenna Roberts, Feargus Campbell and William Bracewell, and an incredibly athletic pas de deux forcefully danced by Tyrone Singleton and Celine Gittens. This is such a good partnership; as this pdd showed, they are well matched in strength and technique...although here, she won! The ensemble pieces were incredibly fast-paced and energetic, as track and field should be, and the company was in great form and having a good time of it....as did the audience.

 

And so to The Dream. I always really look forward to BRB's Ashton performances, and they never disappoint. Think Two Pigeons, for example. They are incredibly lucky to have Peter Wright with them, who was closely involved with Ashton for years and really understands the choreography and physical requirements needed to make his steps look right. Last night, we were truly blessed to have ex-RB ballerina Natasha Oughtred as Titania and the fabulous William Bracewell as Oberon. The very difficult role of Puck was assuredly danced by Tzu-Chao Chou, whose technique and stamina are very impressive. He was a delicously naughty sprite. Bracewell was an imperious fairy king on the one hand, but on the other a cheeky little boy having loads of fun observing the shenanigans caused by his revenge and Puck's mistakes. He's got a beautiful long line and an excellent sense of centre for his rapid spins. I look forward to seeing lots more of him. Oughtred again reminded us how London's loss is Birmingham's gain. She has matured so much as a dancer since her RB days (which is one of the reasons she left; she knew she would have more opportunity to grow as an artist up north), and indeed since I last saw her dance a couple of years ago. Being petite, she was visually very believable as a fairy, managing to exude 'queenliness' at the same time. Her fluttering arms, her light jump, her lovely back all told a story, and in the final pdd I could totally understand why each would forgive the other. It is so gratifying to see someone not only dance Ashton, but interpret his choreography as it was meant to be. The corps de ballet fairies were gorgeous; in time with each other throughout and really taking care of their wayward queen. This was a joy to behold, and my frustration at yet another over-long interval dissipated as soon as the curtain rose on that misty woodland glade.

 

Disappointingly, on the two nights I went to Sadlers Wells there were lots of empty seats. This company deserves full houses, and I'm not sure why they didn't get them. It is probably the fact that they presented two triple bills; of the six pieces offered to London this time, most audiences would probably have only heard of The Dream, if that, and perhaps in these economically straitened times people will only spend money on what they know they will like. Having said this, a big round of applause for BRB for being daring and bringing us something so varied and different. We have any number of Beauties, Lakes and Nuts to choose from here in London, so being able to see six different pieces by a visiting company is very much appreciated.

 

I have so enjoyed seeing BRB's two programmes. As I mentioned in my other posting, they are a very talented young company, with many to watch. Young Brandon Lawrence caught my eye in everything he danced; he really uses the space onstage, he's got great long limbs, a high jump, beautifully centred spins and even a good touch of comic ability as his Lysander showed last night. He has a very good career ahead of him. I was also very impressed by Joseph Caley and William Bracewell. I do feel a bit guilty singling out these dancers as the whole company is at a high standard, but one can't help noticing certain dancers at certain times.

 

My advance New Year's resolution is to try to get up to Brum to see the company at home; I would rather not wait until they come to London again, and as anyone who knows me is aware, it takes a pretty special prospect to get me to leave London of my own volition!!

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I saw this excellent if overlong programme on Thursday, although I enjoyed The Grand Tour years ago it felt wrong this time round, just my own response, lots of good character dancing though. Faster on the other hand felt exactly right after all the excitement of the Olympics, really enjoyed this, especially the difficult pas de trois with Ambra Vallo, William Bracewell and Feargus Campbell, the men were new to me and very impressive. BRB have the most perfect Titania and Oberon in Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales, the pdd was exquisite, the highlight of the whole evening, Mathias Dingman was also excellent as Puck, in fact the whole company seemed to dance this ballet as well as I have ever seen it!

 

I wanted to see last night's cast too but the late finish at 10.45pm on Thursday with subsequent travel irritations, put me off repeating the experience!

 

 

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My friend & I had never seen BRB before and we both thoroughly enjoyed the varied programme last night (Friday).

 

The Grand Tour was delightful and amusing, the set was attractive and, whilst I agree that some of the characterisation might have been stronger, overall it was very pleasing. Faster was an amazing piece, a real triumph. Sim has captured the spirit of it well. The Dream was magnificent, a total contrast to Faster, of course, but none the less successful and enjoyable Tzu-Chao Chou as Puck had impressive technique, boundless energy and mischief as Puck, whilst Natasha Oughtred as Titania & William Bracewell as Oberon were a joy to behold, as indeed was the whole ballet. What a company!

 

BerylH, you missed a wonderful evening, but the performance finished at 10.45 again, so you probably made a wise decision. The audience was seated for The Dream on time, but had to wait a further15 minutes for it to start. Even without this wait I would not have reached home before midnight – theatres do not seem to realise that some patrons do not live in London. Why not cut the intervals to 20 minutes and/or make an earlier start?

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Along with at least a dozen other people I arrived late and had to miss The Grand Tour. We were able to watch it on a monitor but the dancers were very small and it was hard to get a real feel for what it was like. The orchestra sounded good, though.

 

I thought that Faster was really good. It had a great score and clever lighting. The choreography was varied. The long pdd (performed, I think, by Iain Mackay and Jenna Roberts) was mesmerising. Iain is such an asset to BRB. He is tall and strong and has a powerful physical presence on the stage. It was interesting to compare Faster to Christopher Bruce's piece for Dance Company of Wales (commissioned for the Dance GB programme). It too had clear sporting references (unlike ENB's and Scottish Ballet's) but the end result was very different. Both were equally good.

 

The only time that I have seen The Dream before was at the ROH in February with Alina Cojacaru and Marcelo Gomes in the main roles. Momoko and Cesar compared well. Although Marcelo had a terrific stage presence (and Alina was so obviously thrilled to be dancing with him, which added a certain frisson to the performance) he looked a bit too "macho" for the role and, at the time, some commentators said that he had simplified some of his steps. I thought that both Momoko and Cesar were physically very suited to the roles and danced very well. Mathias Dingman was also very good as Puck. Both men could really turn (I'm not sure if that's the right term) and jump so well. The only slight quibble which I had was that Mathias was as tall as, if not taller than, Cesar and I felt that Puck should be smaller than Oberon.

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I was another of the late arrivals - there were a lot, for various reasons, I believe - and so missed The Grand Tour this afternoon, but since I'd already seen it the previous evening I can't say I was really bothered, since once was quite enough for me. I just didn't feel particularly engaged by it, or the characters - and I think the programme note probably missed a trick by not telling us who these people all were: what may have been still familiar back in 1971 is now ancient history, especially for those audience members somewhat younger than myself.

 

I enjoyed much of Faster, but found the last section rather repetitive, as it was virtually nothing but running. "Shorter" is another comparative I would have liked to see applied, I think.

 

The Dream last night seemed to me to be rather unfocussed - and I'm not just talking about the audience being forced to view it through a scrim, the point of which I have never been able to see - it lacked any sense of mysteriousness or strangeness, and the communication between the characters, and between them and the audience, didn't seem to work particularly well - I don't think I heard Shakespeare's words once during the performance, which must be a first for me. At today's matinee, I noticed that Brandon Lawrence was dancing Lysander (and very well, too) for the second time in 24 hours, and wondered whether this indicated a late change in the make-up of the lovers which might have led to the comic timing not being quite as sharp as it could have been. William Bracewell, after only 2 years with the company, was Oberon, and danced well, but doesn't as yet show the stage authority to make us really believe that he is king of this realm and has the power to call up "contagious fogs" at will. That said, even back in his RBS days I was aware of his potential as an actor, so I am sure that the rest will come as he becomes more experienced in the role. Natasha Oughtred was Titania, and very good I thought her too - she certainly bends in a very Ashtonian fashion.

 

This afternoon's cast had Momoko Hirata - rather more upright than Oughtred, I thought - and Cesar Morales in the leads, and I think I found this the most convincing Dream out of the half-dozen I'd seen this year in terms of the leading partnership (it certainly won by a head in terms of the lack of simplified steps). I was highly impressed by Morales: very nice line, good balances in those horrible penchées which I've even see Dowell struggle with a bit at times, good speed, and most of all, he really communicated everything that needed to be communicated. The lovers' timing seemed a lot better, and I actually felt moved by their plight, which doesn't always happen. Shakespeare's "voice" was definitely back in my head for this performance, from "I am invisible, and I will overhear their conference" onwards.

 

There are a couple of production details I do feel could be improved upon, though. The design of Titania's bower is such that when she awakes and finds herself sharing it with Bottom her reaction really can't be seen from the upper reaches of the theatre because she's too far inside, which is a shame, as it's quite an important point: her shame and embarassment at being caught in flagrante by Oberon is what results in her handing over the Indian boy to him. But most importantly, more care needs to be taken with the Rustics: I noticed earlier this year with the Royal Ballet that when dancing they were coming too far downstage and leaving Bottom exposed as he's changing into his head and hooves, and the same thing was happening here, but in addition the men here at both performances also moved too far to the side, so that the whole change was visible. There's no magic in that.

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BerylH, you missed a wonderful evening, but the performance finished at 10.45 again, so you probably made a wise decision. The audience was seated for The Dream on time, but had to wait a further15 minutes for it to start. Even without this wait I would not have reached home before midnight – theatres do not seem to realise that some patrons do not live in London. Why not cut the intervals to 20 minutes and/or make an earlier start?

 

Given the complexity of the set for The Dream, I suspect changing over from the one for Faster would take all of 25 minutes and perhaps more. Mind you, they managed it within the time this afternoon. I quite agree with your comments: I missed my last train home on Friday, and ended up having to take a cab from a different station, rather further away, which I could well have done without. We had the same problem a few years ago with a very long programme which finished with The Firebird. I think I actually slipped out early from that one.

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The final performance last night finished, as advertised, at 1025 pm, in front of a disappointingly small audience. I don't know what figure a full house at the Wells commands, but I was given to understand via a staff member that there had been 1000 at the matinee and only 700 yesterday evening. I certainly can't recall seeing empty rows in the Stalls during any other BRB visit to London. Half-term was advanced as one possible reason, but I somehow think there must have been more to it.

 

"The Grand Tour" was politely received. I found it pleasant and occasionally amusing, with the interplay of the American Lady and Chief Steward nicely handled. Other interaction between the various characters was fairly obvious, but I suspect the overall impact was affected by many present knowing little or nothing about who these folk were. Indeed, I've just googled the name Theda Bara, clearly a movie vamp but, despite my years, her name seems to have passed me by.

 

"Faster" went down well. It struck me that, given its avowedly Olympic inspiration, it had been very cleverly put together - and had anyone from the IOC seen it, I cannot think they would have pressed for that name change back in the summer. The 'injury' pdd (Gittens/Singleton last night, I believe) was powerful, if marginally overlong. My professional adviser was very impressed by the whole thing, highlighting particularly the inherent difficulty of a number of the lifts used. Well done, David Bintley - I'd happily see this again.

 

"The Dream" was also very well received, and may well have attracted a substantial proportion of the audience. Honours last night go mainly to James Barton's Puck, but all concerned worked to put across this much-loved piece.

 

And Bravos also to the RB Sinfonia under Dominic Grier for doing well in such a contrasting musical programme.

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According to its own website Sadler's Wells' main auditorium seats 1500. I actually think that 1000 was pretty good for the matinee yesterday. It was a triple bill, with only one relatively well-known ballet, performed away from its "home" theatre. There is just so much competition for audiences in London and, with very few exceptions, only the RB seems to be able to fill a theatre for mixed bills. I recollect that the theatre was fairly full for Opposites Attract on Tuesday evening. I'd be interested to know how well the other performances were attended. What was the attendance like at the other venues? Actually, in London only the private schools had their half term last week (they have two weeks). I've often wondered about the Sadler's Wells audience. How many of the people who go to see, say, Akram Khan went to see BRB this week? Who made up the audience for San Francisco Ballet? Their performances did not sell out but must have beem 95% full.

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I see from one of today's Links that, at the Millennium Centre, BRB ran this bill in reverse order to that used in London - ie starting with The Dream and finishing with The Grand Tour:

 

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/arts-in-wales/2012/11/01/review-autumn-celebration-the-birmingham-royal-ballet-at-wales-millennium-centre-91466-32139925/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

 

That strikes me as an interesting decision. If we can agree The Dream is the sure audience puller, was it run first to get the audience substantially onside, but at the risk of leaving them feeling a bit flat after Grand Tour? Whatever the reason, I'd have thought that advice to "always leave them cheering" had much to commend it.

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Interesting, indeed. As long as that was the running order when tickets went on sale, because if I'd booked and decided to stay a bit longer in the restaurant/bar, thinking I'd be missing The Grand Tour, and then found I'd missed The Dream, I'd have been highly annoyed. It might have made it easier for people with a long journey home if they wanted to sneak off early, though. It does feel a bit like reversing the order of a classical concert and having the symphony followed by the overture!

 

Given the overruns we experienced at Sadler's Wells, I wonder if set construction and striking times had anything to do with it?

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  • 8 months later...

Hi!

 

Old thread, I know, but I thought I'd answer Alison's question just for interest. I saw the triple bill at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, and was lucky enough to be given a backstage tour by a friend who works at the theatre. He told us that the change in running order was indeed to try and speed up the set changes in the intervals. I'm not sure it helped much because both intervals felt very long indeed!

 

As an aside, I saw this triple bill and then BRB's Swan Lake the following day. What a great couple of evenings! :D

 

I enjoyed The Grand Tour more than most people, but that was probably because, as a relatively new ballet-goer, I'd never seen anything like it so it was a real novelty for me. That, plus the fact that Samara Downs dances with such infectious joy, it was hard not to be swept along with her. :)

 

While I'm on mini-review mode, Elisha Willis in The Dream was terrific too - so feather light! The way she flits around the stage is like an autumn leaf on the breeze. I'll also echo Ian (and others') enjoyment of Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton's PDD in Faster. I'd seen Celine and Tyrone in Take Five earlier in the year and adored her (well, them both), and the duo were an exceptional pairing again in Faster. Celine's already a gem in BRB's company, and I'm sure she'll go from strength to strength. 

Edited by BristolBillyBob
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