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Highlights and lowlights of the decade

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Inspired by all the weekend supplements I thought it would be interesting to have a post about this. Not limited to performances- eg could be Ms Rojo taking over at ENB, or new productions.

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Highlights for me were:

 

  • A wonderful trip to Hong Kong in 2011 to see Birmingham Royal Ballet performing Hobson's Choice.
  • The opening night in 2011 of Northern Ballet's Cleopatra in Leeds ... such a special night.
  • The best performance I have ever seen of The Dream (Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma) in April 2012 in Munich.
  • A Saturday night in Norwich in 2012 when Northern Ballet's lovely dancers set my friend and I up during the encore of I Got Rhythm and most of them came down from the stage to hug us (and everyone else they could reach).  David Nixon told us later that they had asked permission to set us up.
  • The experience of Northern Ballet's "Sponsor A Dancer" scheme and the superb events we were invited to as sponsors.
  • Seeing a performance of Northern Ballet's Madame Butterfly in Blackpool when I celebrated a significant birthday and so many of my friends came to celebrate with me ... and then the company being in Liverpool the same week ... bliss.
  • The first preview night of Akram Khan's Giselle in Manchester - Tamara Rojo and James Streeter - absolutely unforgettable. (As has been all the other performances I have seen since.)
  • Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence in Giselle in Birmingham Autumn 2019.
  • All the friends I have made over the past 8 years through the BalletCo Forum.

 

Lowlights:

 

  • The fact that Friends and regular supporters of companies no longer seem valued unless they are rich.
  • The apparent demise of Birmingham Royal Ballet's midscale tours (I live in hopes that they will be revived in the future).
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Highlights for me were the following

 

Performances - all with The Royal Ballet
. Mayerling with Edward Watson and Mara Galeazzi in 2013
. The double debut by Francesca Hayward and James Hay in Rhapsody in 2014

.  The double debut by Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball in Romeo & Juliet in 2015
 

New productions - both with The Royal Ballet
. Wayne McGregor. Woolf Works
. Crystal Pite. Flight Pattern

Other
. The annual World Ballet Day
. Juergen Rose's designs for Mayerling for Stuttgart Ballett in 2019
. The biannual Colours International Dance Festival at the Theaterhaus in Stuttgart

. Discovering this forum

 

Edited by alison
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I struggle enough every year to work out what my highlights and lowlights are - if asked for a whole decade's worth I may never manage it :) 

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Thanks so much, Alison, for adjusting the font size in my post above ☺   I am on phone only at the moment and anything that I write comes up as either too small or too large (eg this post) in font size, even if I change to another font type.

 

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7 hours ago, alison said:

I struggle enough every year to work out what my highlights and lowlights are - if asked for a whole decade's worth I may never manage it :) 

 

ditto!

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I'll start with the Lowlights to get them out of the way. Both my lists are in no particular order of priority or chronology.

 

Lowlights:

  • the continuing prominence of Wayne McGregor at the RB
  • the poor quality of most of the new RB works during the decade
  • Project Polunin at Sadler's Wells, 2017
  • the various issues with the ROH since Open Up (including the new Linbury sightlines)
  • the revival of the full-length Anastasia (RB) (though Act 3 still brilliant)
  • the ending of the new RB Swan Lake (which will deprive me of my essential SL catharsis at the RB for many years to come)

Highlights (only a few, when there have been SO MANY!):

  • Woolf Works, RB 2015 - thrilling, including the return of the sublime Alessandra Ferri
  • the 'previous generation' of RB dancers: Cojocaru, Kobborg, Rojo, Benjamin especially and the sadly short but wondrous period of Polunin as an RB dancer
  • the 'new generation' of RB dancers, including Osipova - especially Muntagirov, Hayward, Campbell, Sambé and so many others
  • someone who spans the two 'generations': Sarah Lamb, the most exquisite, beautiful, moving dancer
  • Akram Khan's Giselle, ENB
  • Akram Khan dancing anything
  • Lest We Forget, ENB 2015
  • BRB Giselle 2019
  • Rojo's directorship at ENB (though it also marked something of a lowlight given her loss to the RB repertoire and less frequent performances)
  • the live screenings of performances - brilliant initiative
  • Kevin O'Hare's directorship of the RB (with some reservations, but in general I think he does an excellent job)
  • Hofesh Shechter - Political Mother, 2010
  • the MacMillan Celebration at the ROH 2017 - the leading UK companies sharing the ROH stage, especially Northern Ballet in Gloria
  • David Bintley's knighthood
  • reaching my personal landmark of 1,000 live ballet/dance performances earlier this year
  • and last but definitely not least: joining this Forum in 2015 - it has completely re-booted my ballet-going (I went to 8 performances in 2010 compared to 38 (plus live screenings) in 2019 - almost back to the heights of my early years of ballet-going!) and the stimulation, learning and entertainment it gives me all the time. So a huge THANK YOU to all the members and moderators!
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Very London-centric...

 

New works

 

Dust

Woolf Works

 

Performances

 

Giselle - Osipova, Acosta

Manon - Yanowsky, Bolle, Acosta

Mayerling - Bonelli, Morera, Cowley

 

Dancers who really touched me in individual performances...

 

Galeazzi 

Hayward

Naghdi

Campbell

Hallberg

Streeter

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Long as it already is, I can't let my Highlights list above stand without adding two glaring omissions: Gary Avis and Zenaida Yanowsky. I'm sure there are others, but I will now withdraw quietly.

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1 hour ago, bridiem said:

I'll start with the Lowlights to get them out of the way. Both my lists are in no particular order of priority or chronology.

 

Lowlights:

  • the continuing prominence of Wayne McGregor at the RB
  • the poor quality of most of the new RB works during the decade
  • Project Polunin at Sadler's Wells, 2017
  • the various issues with the ROH since Open Up (including the new Linbury sightlines)
  • the revival of the full-length Anastasia (RB) (though Act 3 still brilliant)
  • the ending of the new RB Swan Lake (which will deprive me of my essential SL catharsis at the RB for many years to come)

Highlights (only a few, when there have been SO MANY!):

  • Woolf Works, RB 2015 - thrilling, including the return of the sublime Alessandra Ferri
  • the 'previous generation' of RB dancers: Cojocaru, Kobborg, Rojo, Benjamin especially and the sadly short but wondrous period of Polunin as an RB dancer
  • the 'new generation' of RB dancers, including Osipova - especially Muntagirov, Hayward, Campbell, Sambé and so many others
  • someone who spans the two 'generations': Sarah Lamb, the most exquisite, beautiful, moving dancer
  • Akram Khan's Giselle, ENB
  • Akram Khan dancing anything
  • Lest We Forget, ENB 2015
  • BRB Giselle 2019
  • Rojo's directorship at ENB (though it also marked something of a lowlight given her loss to the RB repertoire and less frequent performances)
  • the live screenings of performances - brilliant initiative
  • Kevin O'Hare's directorship of the RB (with some reservations, but in general I think he does an excellent job)
  • Hofesh Shechter - Political Mother, 2010
  • the MacMillan Celebration at the ROH 2017 - the leading UK companies sharing the ROH stage, especially Northern Ballet in Gloria
  • David Bintley's knighthood
  • reaching my personal landmark of 1,000 live ballet/dance performances earlier this year
  • and last but definitely not least: joining this Forum in 2015 - it has completely re-booted my ballet-going (I went to 8 performances in 2010 compared to 38 (plus live screenings) in 2019 - almost back to the heights of my early years of ballet-going!) and the stimulation, learning and entertainment it gives me all the time. So a huge THANK YOU to all the members and moderators!

 

Bridiem, I absolutely love your list, what a way to remember the decade! 

 

I'm a bit confused though about a lowlight being the prominence of Mcgregor when the first ballet you put as a decade highlight is Woolf Works? 

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13 minutes ago, Clara_f said:

 

Bridiem, I absolutely love your list, what a way to remember the decade! 

 

I'm a bit confused though about a lowlight being the prominence of Mcgregor when the first ballet you put as a decade highlight is Woolf Works? 

I can totally understand this.  Woolf Works is a diamond in the dust, as it were.  Whereas I would go to see this ballet over and over again, the only other ones of his that I would bother seeing again are Chroma (although even that has lost a bit of its lustre for me) and Infra.  Obsidian Tear is fine, but the rest...that dust would be kicked up as I ran! 

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19 minutes ago, Clara_f said:

Bridiem, I absolutely love your list, what a way to remember the decade! 

 

I'm a bit confused though about a lowlight being the prominence of Mcgregor when the first ballet you put as a decade highlight is Woolf Works? 

 

Exactly what Sim said! My general dislike of McGregor doesn't prevent me from loving this particular work (which is mostly very unlike most of his other work, I think).

Edited by bridiem
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Thanks Sim and Bridiem, that makes sense and I now understand your respective perspective about Mcgregor. 

 

I found Woolf Works to be the absolute highlight of the decade, in terms of new work seen on the RB stage, and completely agree with Bridiem that it was utterly thrilling. 

 

I understand why some audience members find some of Mcgregor's dance vocabulary challenging or unappealing, and some of his works haven't been my cup of tea at all which definitely made me want to up and leave (eg. Live Fire) but I wonder if Mcgregor hadn't been given such prominence, whether WW would have seen the light of the day? I'm glad it did in any event, and I'll take the dust to get to this particular diamond which has moved me as much as the RJs/Manons/SLs etc.

 

The fact that he has been capable of a diverse dance vocabulary is also interesting, and hopefully means he can produce more work in the future that is as breathtaking as WW. Who knows unless he is given a chance? Bring on the next decade to see what he and other choreographers have in store! 

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Highlights:

- The Giselle performances of Alina Cojocaru, Natalia Osipova, and Diana Vishneva were all very different but set a standard of excellence that I'll always hold as a benchmark

- The Superjewels with the Bolshoi, Paris Opera Ballet, and NYCB was a very special once-in-a-lifetime event

- The Merce centennial -- all the performances got me into this rather difficult choreographer's work for the first time

- La Bayadere at the Mariinsky with Viktoria Tereshkina and Kimin Kim was fantastic

- So blessed to have seen Uliana Lopatkina dance Swan Lake. Mesmerizing.

- Wendy Whelan's Farewell at NYCB.

- So many performances at NYCB. Highlights include: Sara Mearns in the Gypsy Rondo of Brahms-Schoenberg, Sterling Hyltin in Mozartiana, Teresa Reichlen as Tall Girl and Reichlen/Russell Janzen in Diamonds, Tiler Peck in Allegro Brillante, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Apollo

- the final farewell performance of many Paul Taylor veterans this past November

- Ratmansky's reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty and Harlequinade made me see these works very differently

 

Lowlights:

- Jane Eyre. An awful ballet. Can't believe I sat through it.

- The sexting scandal at NYCB 

- The racism in many ballet fans I respected. I was shocked to see so many defending blackface in ballet and also saying that they didn't think the lack of diversity was a problem.

- Benjamin Millepied's ballets. Every time I see one, I sleep. Have no idea why he still gets so many commissions.

 

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1 hour ago, Ivy Lin said:

 

Lowlights:

- Jane Eyre. An awful ballet. Can't believe I sat through it.

- Benjamin Millepied's ballets. Every time I see one, I sleep. Have no idea why he still gets so many commissions.

 

 

Millipied's ballets - I remember doing a photo call for one of his back in the day (at Sadlers Wells), and being utterly unimpressed during the rehearsal - yet got some rather good photos of the dancers from it. Sum of parts vs the whole, I reckon. So perhaps people commissioning in the hope one day the sum of parts will finally exceed, etc

Have to say I really enjoyed Jane Eyre though (if its the Cathy Marston one). Which just goes to show how subjective choreographic work can be, in both these examples, when looked at by others.

 

 

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Highlights 

 

Returning to the Royal Ballet in 2014 after some years and being astonished by Francesca Hayward’s Clara and then seeing her career blossom, along with those of Yasmine Naghdi and Anna-Rose O’Sullivan.  Keven O’Hare’s nurturing of so many talented ex Royal Ballet School pupils has been wonderful.

 

Seeing Alina Cojocaru still dancing Aurora - she was our favourite when working in London and able to get to performances.

 

Natalia Osipova’s Giselle.

 

Being privileged to see Laura Morera in so many fabulous performances - Manon, Mary Vetsera, Anastasia (and a shout for all 3 Acts please), Tatiana, Fille, Song of the Earth, Masha, Lady Elgar to name a few.  

 

The Insight Programme and how it is often broadcast.

 

Seeing more of the Royal Ballet School in class and in their annual performances.

 

World Ballet Day

 

The Live Relay programme.

 

The Ballet Forum - massively enhancing my appreciation of Ballet, entertaining, if occasionally exasperating.

 

Lowlights

 

A few ballet ‘duds’ for me - Carmen, Strapless, Unknown Soldier, The Wind.

 

Too many designer costumes that don’t work and look naff (Corybantic Games).

 

Allowing excessive volume levels (Multiverse, Carbon Life) - don’t the production team listen critically to what’s being proposed?

 

Not providing decent synopses - they really need improvement and should have been tackled as part of Open Up.  Choreographers/dramaturges need to be properly managed. 

 

Being too centre stalls/grand tier focused when designing productions - production teams need to see what the production looks like from restricted view seats and make compromises so that more of the audience can see what’s happening on stage.

 

ROH Senior Management’s ability to score own goals, particularly the handling of the Baker Richards consultancy, not restricting tickets when there is huge demand, and not being prepared to answer questions.

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I don't see much these days so my memories - performances only -  mostly come from the earlier years of the decade.

 

Highlights:

 

- the rise of a wonderful new generation of dancers - Alban Lendorf, Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé head my list

 

- the golden days of older favourites - Gudrun Bojesen, Thomas Lund, Laura Morera

 

- some unforgettable individual performances:

  * Polunin and Morera In Rhapsody

  * Alexandra lo Sardo (RDB) in  the 2nd movement of Symphony in C - phrasing to die for

  * Lendorf in Donizetti Variations - a perfect match of dancer and role

  * Nunez in the Diamonds pas de deux (twice)

  * Nunez and Soares in the last scene of Onegin

  * Rojo and Polunin in Marguerite and Armand

  * Bennet Gartside in Firebird and Nutcracker and Enigma

  * Morera in Sweet Violets

  * Lauren Cuthberson in Serenade

  * Jonathan Goddard in anything

   

- some enchanted evenings:

  * Scottish Ballet in Song of the Earth at Sadler's Wells

  * the Paul Taylor company in Paris

  * Thomas Lund's farewell performance

  * Richard Alston's beautiful Illuminations

  * Cathy Marston's Witch-Hunt, especially the last pas de deux

 

-  sweetest and funniest performance of the decade

  * Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion in The Cow Piece (the one where they sang Your Baby has gone down the Plughole)

 

- the nights the lightning struck:

  * Hayward in Act 2 of Giselle

  * Lund in the Brown/Pink duet in Dances at a Gathering

 

Lowlights/never again

 

- Peter Schaufuss's Swan Lake at the Coliseum

- a piece whose name I've forgotten by the usually reliable Henri Oguike, which everybody loved except me and Clement Crisp

- (sorry about this) the third part of Woolf Works

 

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Posted (edited)

General best-trends observed during a decade of traveling for ballet, including performances on all continents minus Antarctica, eg, the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia. No worries, as I’ll stick to generalities.

 

* Historical Petipa-era reconstructions galore! - from the Berlin Ratmansky Bayadere, to his Zurich Swan Lake, to his Beauty & Harlequinade In NY. Even his very own The Seasons for ABT continued the evocation of Tsarist aesthetics (in steps). I also attended the latter Vikharev premieres, most notably Raymonda in Milan.

 

* Sarasota & Ashton. Need we say more? The 2014 Ashton Festival, for starters. Dante Sonata & R&J coming soon...but that’s the next decade.

 

* The ever-turning kaleidoscope of invention at NYCB, particularly the emergence of Justin Peck (Principia, Belles Lettres, etc), plus Ratmansky’s spot-on creations for the troupe (Odessa, Namouna).

 

* Artists? Natalia Osipova my ballerina of the decade. Aplomb and versatility. ‘Nuff said.

 

* Stanton Welch’s creativity-within-classics. Bayadere in Sydney 2014 comes to mind.

 

* AD Marcia Haydee’s stewardship of the Cranko oeuvre in Chile’s Teatro Municipal Santiago.

Kudos too to Paloma Herrera’s newish directorship of the Colon in Buenos Aires...and a special honor to Mme Tatiana Leskova’s guidance of recent revival of Les Sylphides in Rio’s Teatro Municipal. (May they survive current challenges.)

 

* Witnessing first-hand Asia’s love for ballet. The Korean Natl Ballet and Universal Ballet’s - both seen in Seoul - spotlight the nation’s commitment to classical excellence. Also loved witnessing the passion of Japanese ballet fans at the last Tokyo Quadrennial Ballet Festival!

 

* Last but not least: Ballets in Cinemas!

 

Thanks for the memories. Vive le Ballet!

 

 

I’ll ignore the few lowlights. :)

Edited by Jeannette
Adding Asian highlights
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Just one more, very dear to my heart, in my Puerto Rico: 🇵🇷 

 

April 2018. Attending the first ballet evening produced in the wake of Hurricane Maria (which ravaged our island in Sept 2017), at the Centro Bellas  Artes. San Juan: Ballets de San Juan in three new classical works, including a fascinating Carmen set in a sugar mill.

 

Sobrevivimos, senores! 

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This is a difficult one because memory plays tricks. But, off the top of my head..............

 

BEST includes (In no particular order):

  • many exceptional performances which I could never forget (e.g. Hayward's Manon; Ball's Rudolf; Cojocaru's Aurora; Krysanova's Flames of Paris and Shrew; Glurjidze's Coppelia; Klimentova's Clara/SPF; Muntagirov's Winter Dreams; Yonah Acosta's Jeunne Homme; Corrales' Birbanto (Le Corsaire); Naghdi's Elite Syncopations (her first show as a Principal making that extra-special)
  • the nurturing and flowering of young talent at both the RB and ENB - what an absolute joy this has been
  • the emergence of Anna Rose O'Sullivan who I have followed before and throughout the decade (she was the Young British Dancer of the Year in 2010)
  • ENB's Lest We Forget programme in 2014 and 2018
  • the return of Anastasia to the RB's rep.
  • the growth of Cinema Relays and the introduction of World Ballet Day and other Live Relays such as Insights and Rehearsals
  • ENB's new HQ - achieved from conception to reality in 5 years and absolutely amazing
  • watching the RB and ENB dance abroad (a very personal thing but it's great to see how different audiences react to companies and dancers one knows so well)
  • the increased use of social media to render the ballet world more accessible to its interested audience and beyond
  • Vadim Muntagirov in 2010, 2011, 2012,2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 - a decade of dancing which has been extraordinarily special; I feel very privileged to have been around to watch Vadim's development and experience his supreme artistry.

WORST aspects:

  • too much over-hyped modern work with 'vanity-project'/unnecessarily extravagant designs and costumes
  • the ROH website which is still not meeting the needs of the audience or would-be audience
  • the apparent need of the ROH to hike its prices beyond the means of many avid ballet fans
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A decade ago I had only ever seen one ballet - a Nutcracker, in Nottingham, when I was about ten. I'd have been completely happy never to have never ever seen another ballet as long as I lived. And then my daughter started dancing and so, in summer 2014, I took her to see ENB Romeo and Juliet in the round and it changed everything. I can't remember who danced that Saturday matinee but I was in floods by the end (to her embarrassment). 

Five and a half years later we've been to the ROH as much as money, distance and her schedule allows (booked for five times this season) attended most live screenings, seen a variety of mixed bills, galas and full length ballets both classical and modern. This Christmas we saw Anna Rose O Sullivan debut in Coppelia, Northern Ballet's fabulous Cinderella and will be at their gala on Sat - and I've watched her twice at National Youth Ballet.

Maybe her dedication and love for ballet would have won me round eventually, but the beauty, spectacle and emotion of that first Romeo and Juliet changed my view of ballet for ever, and that makes it the highlight of the decade for me. 

I'm far too uncritical a viewer to have a lowlight!

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My first highlights were in 2011 - a Cuban National Ballet Nutcracker and  a mixed programme from BRB of Checkmate, Symphonic Variations and Pineapple Poll at Sadlers Wells. I also appreciated their revivals of Daphnis and Chloe and of Miracle in the Gorbals this decade.

2013 was a big year for great performances for me. I was entranced by an ENB Swan Lake - the leads were  Klimentova and Muntagirov. Then in the autumn I bought a ticket on a whim for Acosta’s new Don Q and suddenly I was back into going to the ROH after a gap of about 10 years! I haven’t stopped since.   Acosta’s  farewell La Fille was a great evening which lingers in my memory. 

Recent revivals that have brought me great pleasure include The Firebird (Magri), Enigma Variations, Les Patineurs. 

Best new ballet for me was Broken Wings (ENB). In fact their whole programme of women choreographers last Spring was good.

 I am not the greatest Macmillan fan, but the Sambe/O’Sullivan Romeo and Juliet was great and I have enjoyed Manon performed by Nunez and Bolle. I recently enjoyed Concerto and also liked the ENB Song of the Earth a few years back. BUT....

This brings me to my lowlight - I know this is controversial - because it’s Mayerling! I first saw it in the late seventies and hated it, but decided to give it another go in 2018. It turned out my opinion hadn’t altered! 

Overall, I am very grateful to all the great dancers I have seen, and my daughters for keeping me company on many but not all these occasions. It has been a fun decade of dance watching. 

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1 minute ago, AnneL said:

a mixed programme from BRB of Checkmate, Symphonic Variations and Pineapple Poll at Sadlers Wells. I also appreciated their revivals of Daphnis and Chloe and of Miracle in the Gorbals this decade.

 

I am so so cross with myself for being off ballet back then - what I missed!

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Tonight's news that Cathy Marston has a second premiere with San Francisco Ballet in March this year serves to remind me that watching her reputation grow as an internationally-acclaimed choreographer has been a highlight of this past decade for me.  At its start she was still Director of the small company in Bern that I was delighted to see twice out there and in each of its visits to the Linbury in the ROH.  Her tenure there ended in 2013, after which she went on to develop a growing reputation within Europe in Germany and Denmark, and later in North America, starting with San Francisco Ballet.  In the UK, within the decade, she created Jane Eyre and Victoria for Northern Ballet and the award-winning The Suit for Ballet Black.  Next month will see a long-awaited main stage premiere on the ROH main stage - The Cellist, based on Jacqueline Du Pre, followed a month later by Mrs Robinson  in San Francisco.  I could bang on indefinitely about her, but will leave things there and allow her achievements to speak for themselves.

 

On the downside, but with some inevitability, I note with regret the end of the stage careers of Zenaida Yanowsky and Begoña Cao - in my eyes, two remarkable dance actresses.  

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Not necessarily in date order - here goes: 

 

Highlights

RB The Winter's Tale - the first ballet I ever saw being created behind the scenes - and that includes the tree in Act 2

Vadim Muntagirov's debut in Swan Lake with the ENB

Daria Klimentova's final performance with the ENB - Romeo and Juliet with Vadim

Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell in the Sleeping Beauty

Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell in the Nutcracker (Clara and Peter), and Manon

Zenaida Yanowsky's final Manon with Roberto Bolle

Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov in RB Swan Lake and Don Quixote

Marianela Nunez and Roberto Bolle in Manon

RB Hayward/ Corrales / Sambe / Hay / Ball - Romeo and Juliet cast  

Thiago Soares in Mayerling

Matthew Ball debut as Rudolf in Mayerling 

Thiago Soares and Marianela Nunez in Onegin

Following the RB tours in Madrid and Tokyo and getting to know the dancers

William Bracewell as Siegfried in RB Swan Lake in Madrid - first time I ever saw him dance a lead role

Gary Avis - in anything. A sheer delight to see his characterisations.  

Anna-Rose O'Sullivan's debut as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty

William Bracewell as Franz in Coppelia

The overall rise in standard of the RB company.  Fantastic depth of talent now.  I've changed my mind about some ballets which I used to find a little dull because of the astonishing strength in depth of the company - there's always someone to watch

 

Lowlights

Wayne McGregor - everything except Woolf Works

The RB's "modern" Triple Bills - special shout out for Corybantic Games in this category as well as all WMcG

Booking to see Matthew Ball 3 times in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and his being injured on every occasion 

Every increasing prices at the Royal Opera House 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rojo and Polunin in Marguerite and Armand 

Falling under the spell of Shylrakov - wish he would guest more

Ed Watson dancing as the Indian for Arthur Pita

First seeing Francesca Hayward in Rhapsody and thinking ‘oh  my goodness’ or words to that effect

Ditto Corrales as an officer in Mayerling - wow

The pas de deux between Ed Watson and Matthew Ball in Woof Works - incredibly moving

Hayward/Corrales/Ball in a transformational Romeo andJuliet

Hayward IS Manon

 

Low Points:

Too many flops - Strapless, Anastasia,  Frankenstein, the World War 1 thing.  All for new work but KOH needs to keep a closer eye

and intervene more

Twyla Tharp - like sliced bread she was probably ground breaking once but things have moved on

The over-hyped, over priced new build programme to Open Up ROH to something unidentifiable, coupled with hypocrisy of senior management as they hike ticket prices and restrict availability

The furniture in the Vilar/Floral/Champagne Hall. Hideous and inappropriate

The loss of Cojocaru and Kobborg - shouldn’t have happened

The way the loss of Cojocaru and Kobborg was handled.  Management should have been big enough to give the the sort of departure that they and their fans merited

The casual way Ed Watson has seemingly gone from being a busy Principal to invisible.  And the fact that nobody mentions it

And lastly - the price of a glass of champagne!  Where are they going with this?

 

 

 

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Didn’t mean to post and run so:

 

highlights:

 

Bolshoi - tour 2010 crowned by the Vasiliev/Osipova Don Q. I will always be grateful to them for reviving my interest in ballet.

highlights:

Royal Ballet - Natalia Osipova joins for 2013/14 season. Selfish I know but I was so happy that I could see her RB in London instead of having to wait for the intermittent Bolshoi tours and then not being certain about casting until the last minute. RB are to be commended for their advance casting. I have been to so many performances now and seen many productions that I had not seen before. It’s been a fantastic journey. Apart from Osipova’s Giselles, I will remember the great Mayerling with Watson, Osipova, Haywood, zanowksy etc a once in a lifetime performance I am sure. Also I have been able to follow the development of so many talented young RB dancers over this time - how fortunate the RB is and due to KOH careful management. I Look forward to many more exciting developments.

 

Mikhailovsky - tour 2013 wonderful Giselles, Don Q and the rarely/never seen in the UK Laurencia. An opportunity to see some great dancers.

 

Boston Ballet - tour 2013 Faun and Serenade

 

Mariinsky Ballet - 2014 (50th UK season) lots of interesting programming some great triple bills, including Ratmansky’s DSCH and R & J with Vishneva and Shklyarov. Also Lopatkina in anything.

 

ENB - Corsair, Khan’s Giselle, cojocaru performances in swan lake, Giselle. 
Cinema transmissions - great development thanks RB and Bolshoi

 

Lowlights

death of Sergei Vikharev but some of his reconstructions remain - love the Bolshoi Coppélia.

attack on Sergei Filin in jan 2013 - a criminal act resulting in a lifetime loss of good sight
The film Black Swan in 2011 

dancers being injured - especially on stage eg Alexandrova, McCrea, Hallberg etc 

ROH own goals - apparent contempt for its core audience, pricing strategy, poorly judged decisions on new productions and marketing etc

Ending of the new swan lake - generally happy with the other changes though 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My absolute highlight of the last decade was Fernanda Oliveira repeating her incomparable Giselle in the Mary Skeaping production (ENB) in 2010, having completely blown me away when I first saw her rehearsing and performing the role in 2005.  It was hugely disappointing that she was injured in 2017 and therefore unable to perform the role that year.  However, it did lead to my other main highlight of the decade which was the sublime guest performances of Jurgita Dronina in the role, leading to her becoming a permanent member of English National Ballet.  Since then, everything she has performed with the company has been a highlight for me, most especially her incandescent Juliet in 2017 and her heartbreaking Manon in 2019.

 

My other highlights are in chronological order:

 

Yurie Shimomura and Dai Sasaki in the Mary Skeaping production of “Giselle” for Japan Ballet Association in 2012.  Two wonderful dancers completely immersing themselves in a production new to them and giving a magical performance of it.

 

The glorious dancing of the ladies of English National Ballet in Act IV of “Swan Lake” at the London Coliseum during the wonderful Olympic summer of 2012, a fitting tribute to the outgoing artistic team.

 

Elena Glurdjidze’s stunning performances as Raymonda in Act III, as part of the Nureyev Tribute by ENB in 2013.

 

Daria Klimentova’s farewell performance as Juliet in 2014 with Vadim Muntagirov as Romeo.  Anything Muntagirov does is always a highlight but this was especially so.  It has been such a privilege to watch him develop over the decade from the shy 18-year-old in the studio (with the formidable technique!) to the international superstar and I always remember with affection his filmed interview for the Emerging Dancer competition in which he stated that the most important thing for him was to be a nice person – which he genuinely is!

 

Fernanda Oliveira, Ken Saruhashi and Aitor Arrieta in MacMillan’s “Song of the Earth” (ENB) in 2017.  Their hauntingly beautiful performances will stay with me forever.

 

Cesar Corrales and Jia Zhang in Petit’s “Le jeune homme et la Mort” in 2018, which turned out to be Corrales’s last performances with ENB – electrifying!

 

Katja Khaniukova and Irek Mukhamedov in “Broken Wings” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, performed with ENB in 2019.  This is a ballet I could watch forever, especially with the charismatic performances of these two wonderful artists.

 

Cesar Corrales and Francesca Hayward as Romeo and Juliet with the Royal Ballet in 2019.  Possibly the most heartbreaking performance I have seen of MacMillan’s ballet in the forty+ years I have been watching it!

 

My lowest lowlight:  “McGregor + Mugler” at the Coliseum in 2019 – what a complete waste of the dancers’ formidable talents!!!

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After a gap of many years I returned to ballet at the ROH just in time to see Cojocaru/Kobborg in,Sylphide- - and Mayerling - definitely highlights. Ferri/Bonelli in Marguerite,and Armand. The Winters Tale,with Watson, thankfully on DVD. The superb triple bill of Firebird, Month in the Country, Symphony in C, also the triple with Patineurs. Seeing all four casts of Mayerling during the previous,run and being fascinated that each Watson, Bonelli, McCrae and Soares bought something different and personal,to the,role. James Hay as Lescaut. The MacMillan celebrations with RB, BRB Scottish ballet etc.

 

 

 

Lows are Twyla Tharp, McGregor ( WW excluded), Bernstein triple, any ballet that employs extravagant sets, lighting, projections,etc that I find distract me from the dance, which is what I pay to see. (Already getting nervous about the Dante Project)  

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