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5 minutes ago, Rob S said:

How many Lilac Fairies were there this time? The ones I saw were Claire Calvert, Ginna Storm Jensen, Fumi Kaneko and Mayara Magri.

Itziar Mendizhabal (apologies for spelling)

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I was at the ROH last night for the final performance. After a horrific day at work, it was such a wonderful way to unwind!

 

Sad not to see Lauren Cuthbertson, but my friend and I were thrilled that if she needed replacing, Fumi was definitely one of our preferred choices. Her rose adage was solid and assured and I actually got quite emotional (for her!) as she received rapturous applause for such a high profile performance. What a career making moment! Speaking of assured and solid performances, lovely to see her looked after by Gary Avis as her English prince. 
Bonelli was the perfect prince for a last minute switch- he is such a generous partner and a gentleman as well as a beautiful dancer. It was sweet to see them exchanging words as they took their post pdd applause. 
 

Contrary to general opinion, I actually really liked Gina Storm Jensen in the role of the lilac fairy. I am not, on the whole, her biggest fan, but I do think this role really suits her. Yes there were some iffy moments, but there were equally a few iffy moments from the wider cast, despite this being the end of the run. For example, at one point during the cavaliers’ allegro in act 1, it did seem as though not everyone was completely on time with each other/the music. 

 

Glorious prologue-  great cast of fairies and their cavaliers- too many to name individually. Absolutely adore Kristen McNally as Carabosse, one of my favourite roles for her, such strong acting ability. 
 

Act 3 bluebird pdd was very special with my favorite pairing- Naghdi/Ball. Ball’s second solo with all of those brisées (please correct me if needed) was incredible and he such authority on the stage. Romany Padjack was a lovely Red Riding Hood and Florestan and sisters dances beautifully by Hay, O’Sullivan and Magri.

 

Despite all of the stars and rising stars in Act 3, the grand pas de deux shone the most brightly.

 

As a final comment, the audience was quite electric last night which I hope came across in the cinema!

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For the record, no streaming problems into Saffron Screen - where there was the customary full house of relatively older citizens.  The show went down well and my wife,  with lots of prior experience of the production in days gone by, was highly complimentary and with only very minor observations to make.  The very late substitution must have made it a very special night for Fumi Kaneko and she reacted magnificently.  And I'd agree with others who seem to feel, like me, that Gary Avis watched over her with more than customary attention during the Rose Adagio.  (And on something else already mentioned - has the RB ever promoted someone on stage after a show?  As the end approached, I was wondering if it might happen.  Oh, and a bit of pre-emptive applause suggested that a number of folk seemed not to know that the show isn't over till we get Vive Henri Quatre for a big final tableau to rival that in Firebird.)

 

And a real extra for me was to see Cathy Marston in the second Interval, with jazzy hairdo, talking about creating The Cellist with Darcey and Anita Rani, who was not at all in her Countryfile rig.  Roll on 17 February!

 

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Oh, it did, Blossom! We could feel Gary Avis’ tenderness for his partner, Bonelli, whom I adore, was on fire and as for Fumi Kaneko herself, I am lost for words. She was a brilliant star last night and I was in tears in several places. I love Kristen McNally  too and the scene with her and her rat accomplices was so much wicked pleasure. As for the final act, the cinema audience broke into spontaneous applause the whole way through it, a thing I have never experienced here before. Bravo, Royal Ballet! You’ve done it again!

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Great appreciation in our Cinema....spontaneous applause (which is rare) and one gentleman nearby was chuckling in pure delight at some of the variations. Sorry for Lauren, but well done Kumi, and lovely to see Bonelli again. Also loved James Hay with his "sisters".

 

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15 minutes ago, Ian Macmillan said:

And on something else already mentioned - has the RB ever promoted someone on stage after a show? 

 

Yes, although I'm not sure they'd do it publicly as with the famous Paris Opera Ballet on-screen promotion of Ludmila Pagliero (hope I've spelled that properly) after La Baydère: Sarah Wildor, Edward Watson, Lauren Cuthbertson and Rupert Pennefather spring to mind - they were all post-show promotions, so I assume they were on-stage ones.  Alina Cojocaru was a mid-season promotion, but I'm not sure whether it was on-stage or not.

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I'm probably in the minority here (again!) but I'm not sure about on-stage public promotions unless they are the custom: I feel it devalues the rest of them.

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For the record, my best guess at casting. Debuts with asterisk. Missing dancers, or dancers I was expecting to appear but didn’t, are in brackets. Florestan is a mess. Not comprehensive. Did you see them all? I didn’t, lost 4 shows to the train strike. The one I did see was the most important one though. O’Sullivan’s debut will live long in the memory.

 

Lilac (5) - Kaneko, Magri*, Calvert, Mendizabal, Storm-Jensen (Stix-Brunell, Heap)

Carabosse (5) - McNally, Mendizabal*, Forskitt (guest), Arestis, McGorian (Cowley)

 

Crystal Fountain (4) - Stix-Brunell, Turk, Pajdak, Choe (Cowley, Stock)

Enchanted Garden (3) - Magri, Hinkis*, Stix-Brunell (Heap)

Woodland Glades (4) - Calvert, Hang*, Kaneko, Hamilton

Songbird (4) - O'Sullivan, Maeda*, Hinks, Gasparini (Stock)

Golden Vine (4) - Choe, Dias*, Hamilton*, O'Sullivan

 

Florestan (9,6,6) - Hay, Magri, O'Sullivan; Richardson*, Buvoli*, Pajdak*; Acri, Hinkis, Stix-Brunell; Ella/Donnelly*, Gasparini, Sasaki; Edmonds with Pajdak, Hamilton and Dias*, Calvert; also Dubreuil*; Zucchetti; Clarke

White Cat (4) - Stock, Kay; Bradbury*, Emerton*; Ella, Allnatt*; Dean, Dixon*

Bluebird (7+1) - Hayward, Sambe; O'Sullivan, Sissens*; Hamilton*, Corrales*; Hinkis, Hay; Choe, Acri; Naghdi, Ball; Mendizabal, Zucchetti; Magri (with Corrales, Ball, and Zucchetti)

Red Riding Hood (4) - Pajdak, Edmonds; Dean*, Donnelly; Gasparini, Mock; Allnatt*, Emerton

 

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On stage promotions do happen but I think that if it were to happen this season KOH would leave it for Swan Lake. But since only 2 out of the 3 ballerinas that I think are being watched over for that promotion will be debuting on the O/O role, I think they will leave the news to be delivered off stage.

 

I was just thinking that I can’t remember a dancer from the Royal Ballet that has danced O/O and didn’t received a promotion to principal eventually so that says a lot about the role.

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47 minutes ago, Ingrid said:

 

 

I was just thinking that I can’t remember a dancer from the Royal Ballet that has danced O/O and didn’t received a promotion to principal eventually so that says a lot about the role.

Deirdre Eyden, Christina McDermott, Muriel Valtat, Pippa Wylde...

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Did Belinda Hatley dance it?  I know she did Aurora, just wondered if she did O/O as well.

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1 minute ago, Fonty said:

Did Belinda Hatley dance it?  I know she did Aurora, just wondered if she did O/O as well.

 

She didn’t...

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1 minute ago, Jamesrhblack said:

 

She didn’t...

More’s the pity.  

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Lilac Fairy in Maina Gielgud’s production of Aurora’s Wedding for Ballet Academy East New York City, May 2019

 

Edited by betterankles
ADDING TEXT
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Ah well, if we are going to post up film from Youtube, here are the following.  I am going to make no comment at all about this, I shall wait for others to draw their own conclusions!

Here is a clip of Claire Calvert which must be fairly recent:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0eqzWD1HH8

Compare and contrast with one of Marguerite Porter in the same role.  She comes on at 5.46:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8kj260hvCk

 

 

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Claire Calvert of the calm

and sunny disposition was our first Lilac Fairy and I remember it fondly.

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1 hour ago, Jamesrhblack said:

Deirdre Eyden, Christina McDermott, Muriel Valtat, Pippa Wylde...


I should’ve added recently. I was referring more to the current cast of principals and from the 2000’s till now. Differently from other famous ( and difficult) roles like Nikya, Juliet, Manon or Aurora where we have many first soloist who have danced those roles but didn’t necessarily receive a promotion. 

Edited by Ingrid
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2 hours ago, Fonty said:

Ah well, if we are going to post up film from Youtube, here are the following.  I am going to make no comment at all about this, I shall wait for others to draw their own conclusions!

Here is a clip of Claire Calvert which must be fairly recent:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0eqzWD1HH8

Compare and contrast with one of Marguerite Porter in the same role.  She comes on at 5.46:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8kj260hvCk

 

Thank you Fonty. As has been said before, if only someone would find where the (previously easily available) clip is hiding of the great Beryl Grey dancing this variation in the 1950s. 

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I saw the cinemacast. I loved Fumi as Aurora and Bonelli as the Prince. I thought Kaneko was lovely in the Rose Adagio and Vision Scene. I did notice that in the fishdives of the Wedding pas de deux the timing was not as snappy as it's been in the past. The working leg free leg didn't go up at the same time as the free leg. For an example of impeccable fishdive timing here's Cojocaru and Kobborg:

 

 

I agree about Gina Storm-Jensen as Lilac Fairy. It wasn't that her variation had some bobbles (I've actually never seen anyone do this variation without some gear-shifting). It was that she didn't exude any graciousness or charm. She looked rather stern and businesslike. 

 

I loved Naghdi and Ball as Florine and Bluebird and thought that the production remains the crown jewel of Sleeping Beauty productions.

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Somewhat late with my impressions of the cinema broadcast, but here goes.

 

Well, Fumi was a triumph. It’s a big ask to take on a nerve-racking cinema relay in that particular punishing role at short notice (although I’m sure she must have known she was on standby since Lauren’s injury). But she rose to the occasion magnificently and her Rose Adage almost brought me to tears. I felt ridiculously nervous for her (I don’t know why as she always has such reliably good technique!) and I couldn’t stop myself from uttering “YES!!” as she finished! It was also lovely to see the faces of the dancers behind willing her on - Annette Buvoli with a huge smile on her face as she finished (now there’s a future Lilac Fairy, on the strength of her recent solo offerings? She has a lovely serenity and grace which would suit the role). And I’m sure I saw Hannah Grennell fighting back tears!

 

Bonelli always looks the part as the Prince and I have always liked him very much as a dancer but I was a little disappointed in his solos - he has lost something of his control and ballon - but then I had only seen Muntagirov a week before and it doesn’t do to compare....! 🙂 He acted the role extremely well and Fumi must have appreciated his excellent and reliable partnering - his care and attention for her was palpable and it was lovely to see.

 

My other highlights were Magri, O’Sullivan and Pajdak (she is so expressive) each time they appeared onstage in their various roles. I’m not normally a fan of Matthew Ball in classical roles and couldn’t really see him as the Bluebird, but I was very happy that I was proved wrong - he was excellent, and with Naghdi as a wonderful Florine it made for compelling and enjoyable watching.

 

I was nervous to hear that Storm-Jensen was to be the Lilac Fairy in the livestream, having read comments about her on here. However, I’m going to cut her some slack and say that there was lots to enjoy in her performance. She wasn’t perhaps the most compelling Lilac Fairy I’ve seen, but I don’t think most audiences would  find too much cause for complaint. She has a lovely smiling face that made for a very benign Lilac Fairy. Lovely long legs and feet and a very graceful and elegant way of moving, and clear mime. Her variation wasn’t perfect but then it’s horribly difficult and even with lots of practice I’m sure it’s one of those solos that dancers probably dread as there is so much that could go wrong in it! I think at present she doesn’t quite have the technique or the stage presence to carry off the role fully, but that may come later - she managed very creditably, and judging by comments on social media, the wider public enjoyed her performance and didn’t see anything amiss with her.

 

Of course McNally was just sooooo good as Carabosse! Although I confess I was hoping to see Mendizabal do it (yes, I know she would have been tied up in Onegin rehearsals!), but that’s a pleasure for another time!

 

The production itself really lends itself to the big screen - it looked sumptuous. The cinema audiences in Plymouth aren’t ones for applauding but lots of admiring comments and enthusiasm picked up in intervals.

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Saw the live screening and loved it so much had to go to an encore as well. Agree with all previous comments about Fumi Kaneko  - Monica Mason at an Insight session in November said that Aurora could be interpreted in different ways but must be radiant. Fumi had radiance in spades. I thought she got better and better through the performance - and what made her special for me was the way she used her beautiful neck, arms and eyes,  her interaction with other characters and the audience and her gorgeous smile. The vision scene had me in tears - and I too was muttering YES - well done, Fumi, at various points.

 

Always love Federico Bonelli and thought he was a gorgeous prince and a very good partner. Yasmin Naghdi and Matthew Ball were outstanding as the bluebirds and thought James Hay, Anna Rose O'Sullivan and Mayara Magri were excellent as Florestan and his sisters. 

 

I agree with Balletfanp, Gina Storm-Jensen wasn't quite on top of the LF variation, but her mime, her warmth and her lovely smile made her a benign Lilac Fairy. Kevin O' Hare could have made safer choices - but I like the fact he is prepared to give less experienced dancers a chance. As others have said - a wonderful end to the run.

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I am rather late to the party with this, and everyone is now moving on to the latest Onegin performances.  However, having finally seen it yesterday at one of the Encore cinema performances, I am going to post a few thoughts.  

 

Overall I enjoyed it and I agree with all the comments regarding Kaneko.  I thought she made a lovely Aurora.  The fairy variations were much better than they were the last time I saw it, (about 10 years ago) which was a relief.  I also enjoyed the 3rd Act.  Normally, I find the White Cat and Red Riding Hood stuff tedious.  I think this is one advantage of seeing it at the cinema.  The close ups make them much more interesting.  I do find it strange that Red Riding Hood comes on after Florine and the Blue Bird, I've never liked the fact that a comic piece comes on after some lovely classical dancing; it spoils the atmosphere for me somehow.  Naghdi and Ball were very accomplished in their roles, but I wouldn't have expected anything else from them. .

 

Here comes the But.  Everyone has commented on the Lilac Fairy of Storm-Jensen.  This is a tricky role, because for the majority of time it is a non dancing one.  She is a very attractive lady, and she looked wonderful in the close ups when she was simply standing and wafting her wand around.  However, as everyone has pointed out, there is one very tricky bit of dancing which she simply didn't pull off.  It wasn't just her dancing, it was the overall style. 

 

I am slightly disappointed that nobody else commented on this when I posted the two different clips of an LF from a previous generation, and one from the current batch.  Porter looked so light and ethereal; she looks as if she is about  to fly away.  I didn't time it, but it felt as though the tempo for Calvert was slightly slower..  Or it could just be the different style of dancing.  Calvert  performs the steps capably, and manages to exude a calm authority, but she seems so solid and grounded in comparison.  And this is the problem I had with Storm-Jensen.  Not only did she not manage the solo steps, which could happen to anybody, but she just looked too big and strong.  She never convinced me that she was a fairy.  

My point will probably vanish without trace now the SB run has finished, only to be resurrected  next time the RB performs it!

 

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13 minutes ago, Fonty said:

Here comes the But.  Everyone has commented on the Lilac Fairy of Storm-Jensen.  This is a tricky role, because for the majority of time it is a non dancing one.  She is a very attractive lady, and she looked wonderful in the close ups when she was simply standing and wafting her wand around.  However, as everyone has pointed out, there is one very tricky bit of dancing which she simply didn't pull off.  It wasn't just her dancing, it was the overall style. 

 

I am slightly disappointed that nobody else commented on this when I posted the two different clips of an LF from a previous generation, and one from the current batch.  Porter looked so light and ethereal; she looks as if she is about  to fly away.  I didn't time it, but it felt as though the tempo for Calvert was slightly slower..  Or it could just be the different style of dancing.  Calvert  performs the steps capably, and manages to exude a calm authority, but she seems so solid and grounded in comparison.  And this is the problem I had with Storm-Jensen.  Not only did she not manage the solo steps, which could happen to anybody, but she just looked too big and strong.  She never convinced me that she was a fairy. 

 

I didn't have time to watch the Calvert/Porter clips when you posted them, Fonty, but I have now done so (in fact I've watched all the 1978 fairy variations, with great pleasure). The difference between  Porter and Calvert, and between all the fairies then and now, is enormous. My eye has of course adjusted over the years, and I am full of admiration for the skill, strength and artistry of today's dancers. But they train differently, and so they look different and dance differently. It's difficult to be as physically strong as dancers are nowadays and also look ethereal. But my problem with Storm-Jensen wasn't her physique, which could have been used to great effect; it was her lack of dramatic skills.

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Looking at those Fairy clips I would be interested to know who did the other variations ...was it Lesley Collier in the songbird variation and the first one looked a bit like Vergie Derman who quite often did the Lilac Fairy variation back then.

I may have this wrong but I thought they always seemed to pick the taller dancers for the Lilac Fairy role ...as a general rule. So slightly more of a challenge to be fairy like. Marguerite Porter is not quite so tall ( I know I’m taller than her from seeing her around YBSS classes) A couple of years ago when I was at YBSS she and I think Ricardo Cervera ( not sure of that spelling) went into an impromptu pas de deux practice in the corridor for something they were taking part in and she still looks pretty good ...must be in 60’s by now!! 
I wonder if the variation looked more secure in Porters hands because of the quicker body positioning especially in those fouette turn thingys ...perhaps not having to worry about getting the leg higher than 90 etc? The slightly lower leg means you can do the movement faster and with more confidence.

I do think the Lilac Fairy has a couple of tricky solos to pull off but especially in that role they need to be done with confidence. 
I quite liked Gina Storm Gensen in the role she just needed a little more projection but had a nice air about her. Isn’t this her first really big role? 
Im sure was it Deanne Bergsma who used to do the Lilac Fairy .....I seem to remember her as being very radiant in this role. Don’t know if there is any film of her. 

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It wasn't Storm-Jensen's height, or indeed her physique that bothered me.  There have been plenty of tall Lilac Fairies in the past. Geoff mentioned Beryl Grey, and I know there used to be a wonderful snippet of her on Youtube, showing exactly how this variation should be danced.  I think she was considered to be a bit of a whopper in her day, wasn't she?  

 

It was the way in which Storm-Jensen danced, which I think also shows in the Calvert clip.  The steps don't flow, somehow. 

 

 

Edited by Fonty

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I saw a clip of Beryl Grey dancing that variation some time ago, and it struck me how much faster the tempo was when she danced it. It makes it much harder to do those very difficult steps at a slow tempo - and, I imagine, more difficult to make it flow or look light.

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