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Wish list for 2021/22 UK Ballet season (?)


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I normally start this thread on New Years Day and we have a pleasant few months wondering what the upcoming season will bring and what we personally would like to feature in it, before the new season itself is released, usually sometime in April. This year it didn't seem appropriate, and obviously the season itself (at least autumn) may well be in doubt and any possible announcement will be way past April. However, I've been thinking about it and I thought why not. This year has been depressing enough already and just the tiniest possibility that something better may be on the horizon, something to think and fantasise about other than the virus, and when you might be getting your covid jab must be a Good Thing (as Monty Python used to say). However, if mods feel it is in any way inappropriate please feel free to remove it. Personally, I usually concentrate on the Royal Ballet as that is the Company I see most and has the most varied repertoire to choose from but anyone feel free to add their own suggestions for other companies. At the moment of course it is all fantasy but just possibly, because of the vaccine, it might become a reality sometime in the next six months.

 

I'm sure RB (like most companies) would prefer to start with a sure favourite like Swan lake for various reasons.

1. To enable all those wonderful debuts to take place at last.

2. To enable them to get maximum ticket sales money at a time when theatres may still not be able to be filled.

3. To start paying off the Govt. grant.

However, with the theatre re-opening after a closure of several (many?) months they may well have to start small again and return to short pieces and dancers bubbles. So it's just a question of whether it's a series of solos/pas de deux and perhaps a short ballet in full like the previous concerts, or a double or triple bill. I would love anything by Ashton, especially A Month in the Country which doesn't have a lot of corps work. Also, some not seen for a while, such as Birthday Offering. That would be a good celebratory opening piece and isn't it for 4 or 5 couples which the RB could probably support. Les Biches or Facade would be good though I don't remember much about either of them but I'd love to see them. Also Rhapsody and Macmillan's Concerto. The clip in November made me remember just how good it was.

 

My favourite full length ballet is Onegin but it's unfortunately too close to it's last staging, only a year ago but seems to have been in another life. Kevin O'Hare did say he wouldn't leave it so long again before staging it and all the dancers I spoke to at the stage door (especially the ladies) affirmed how much they loved it and how it is one of their favourite ballets. Think of the debuts here too; Matthew Ball and hopefully Vadim this time as Onegin for starters. Francesca Hayward as Tatiana and Yasmine developing her interpretation of this wonderful role. Would Anna Rose be given a chance as Tatiana or would she continue to sparkle as Olga? Alina is the only dancer I know who has played both roles in the same season and I suppose Kevin has too much choice of dancers these days for one person to take two plum roles.

 

However, to move on, the success of Marcellino Sambe and Anna Rose O'Sullivan in La Fille in the Oct concert makes them a first night natural pairing and it's such a joyful, optimistic ballet it would be wonderful to have it somewhere in the first season. The only query would be whether or not they could have a pony backstage in the current health conscious climate. Not that I think ponies can catch or transmit the disease, it's just an extra health risk that may be too much, initially at least. I suppose the same thing might be said for Two Pigeons much as I love this ballet too.

 

Another option would be Coppelia; another sunny, happy ballet. I didn't used to be keen on it but seeing the debuts just over a year ago and seeing Vadim and Marianela at the cinema made it more of a favourite, though I still don't like the second act that much.

 

Nutcracker is an obvious choice for Christmas and a great favourite with the public for much the same reasons as Swan Lake, with the added attraction of attracting family groups so not so many singles or twos for filling the theatre. Also they've already pioneered a pared down version so it will be good to go again.

 

Giselle would be great to see again, and think of younger debuts. Whether or not there will be too many corps on stage I don't know. May be Ok for after Christmas. Possibly the same could be said for Manon, much as I'd like to see that also.

 

Anyway, here is my fantasy new season choice. I'll probably think of many more after I sign off but basically I just want the RB (and everyone working at the ROH ) and everyone else, to stay healthy until theatres can open again and we can all enjoy our favourite pastime, and this last year will recede like a nightmare (though like many nightmares I suspect it will have a habit of recurring when you least want it). But don't lets think about that now.

 

 

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I haven't really dared think about it yet - it still seems such a long way off.  That said, I would like Ed Watson to get the retirement send-off he deserves, so I guess that means The Dante Project will have to be in there somewhere.

 

However, something has just popped into my mind: Ashton's Scènes de Ballet.  My recollection of it is that the corps and the male soloists tend to be well spaced apart, which is why I wondered if it might be a good one to work on in the current situation.  Month in the Country would be a given, although given that there is a lot of changing between dance partners I'm not sure how easy it would be to work on it in a bubble.  What about the whole of Concerto?  I think the dancers in that too are fairly well spaced apart. 

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Me too, although I suspect that will have to be a way down the list, since he's going to rework it, and it might be a bit difficult via Zoom.  Mind you, who knows what choreographer availability is going to be like?

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I do wonder whether this would be an opportunity to look at some of the very early works by British choreographers, or those who mounted ballets here, e.g. Massine.  Are there still people around to recreate/rehearse them?  Lots of those works from the first half or middle of the 20th century were made for smaller casts and smaller theatres, which might make mounting them with today's restrictions easier than works with large casts.

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Good point, PdQ.  Although, in the case of the Royal Opera House, the stage is now so much larger that smaller ballets can get a bit swallowed-up on it.  This might work better on a stage the size of Sadler's Wells, I would think.

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Top of my Wishlist is to see light at the end of the pandemic so that we can actually see live ballet again in 2021!

 

For Birmingham Royal Ballet:

 

 I hope we get to see SDB's gorgeous Cinderella and Carlos' Don Q.  I've been thinking of casting I would like to see for Kitri and Basilio for ages now.

 

Not that they have in any way been signalled but I would love to see Ashton's Scenes de Ballet, Symphonic Variations, The Dream, Two Pigeons and Fille.

 

I would also like to see SDB's Cyrano, Edward ll, Madding Crowd and Hobson's back in the rep.  Of his shorter works I would like to see Galantries, Tombeaux, Take 5, Orpheus Suite and Shakespeare Suite.

 

Of the Macmillan rep I would especially like to see R&J and Concerto again.

 

For Northern Ballet:

 

I can't wait to see David Nixon's Swan Lake and Great Gatsby again.  I would also love to see his I Got Rhythm and Midsummer Night's Dream too.  

 

I am desperate to see more performances of Kenny Tindall's Geisha (having been bowled over at the world premiere - it's only performance so far).  I would like to see Casanova revived too.  Of Kenny's shorter works I would love to see Children of the Mantic Stain, The Architect and The Shape of Sound again.

 

I also think, after the success of Jane Eyre and Victoria, the time is right for a revival of Cathy Marston's Tale of 2 Cities.

 

I would like to see more mixed programmes in the company's home theatre at Quarry Hill and I would love to see the company take on more MacMillan pieces as well as reviving Gloria.

 

I would love to see Sarasota Ballet perform in the UK too.

 

 

 

 

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Some great suggestions of ballets I'd almost forgotten about. Heard the music for Spectre de la Rose on the radio and immediately began to visualise Vadim in the male role! Ballets like this and those by Massine and Ninette de Valois (apart from her Coppelia) don't seem to be performed much. I've never seen Train Bleu live and it looks really fun. It would be great to see more unusual ballets but probably asking a lot just at the start of things. Not even sure if the dancers are currently allowed back in the ROH given the number of London infections. They may be confined to their homes for practice again.

 

I too would LOVE to see Sarasota Ballet in the UK though that would probably have to be in the more distant future, alas!

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1 hour ago, jmhopton said:

Some great suggestions of ballets I'd almost forgotten about. Heard the music for Spectre de la Rose on the radio and immediately began to visualise Vadim in the male role! Ballets like this and those by Massine and Ninette de Valois (apart from her Coppelia) don't seem to be performed much.

 

The only time I've seen Spectre de la Rose I was about seven so I don't really remember it well enough to visualise it but I'd like to see it again. It does seem to have really declined in popularity compared to in the middle of the 20th century. It would also be a good one to do as there are only 2 characters. The de Valois ballets I'd most like to see are Checkmate & Job. I'm not sure exactly when the RB last did either of them (tried Googling but "Job Royal Ballet" is just giving links to vacancies!) but not that recently.

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14 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

BRB last did Checkmate in 2012 IIRC.

 

It is a long time since they did Job.

 

According to the ROH Collections database (which I know isn't always correct) Job was last done in 1948 by the Sadler's Wells Ballet 

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1 hour ago, oncnp said:

 

To aid your visualization....(if you haven't already seen it)

 

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

 

 

Wow thanks oncnp. I haven't seen it, despite trawling YouTube every now and again for possible new clips of Vadim. Just confirmed my opinion he would be terrific. His portes de bras are to die for and he manages to look elegant and graceful even in that rather hideous pink 'onesie'. Definitely on my wish list and a wonderful, unexpected treat to see it. Thanks again.

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28 minutes ago, oncnp said:

 

According to the ROH Collections database (which I know isn't always correct) Job was last done in 1948 by the Sadler's Wells Ballet 

 

Oh dear, that's really bad.  It was done at the ROH by BRB, I'd guess sometime in the mid-90s.  I think Kevin O'Hare was one of the leads: if it wasn't him, it was his brother Michael.

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10 hours ago, alison said:

 

Oh dear, that's really bad.  It was done at the ROH by BRB, I'd guess sometime in the mid-90s.  I think Kevin O'Hare was one of the leads: if it wasn't him, it was his brother Michael.

 

Michael O'Hare was quite remarkable as Satan.  The other Satan I remember (hopefully correctly) was David Yow.

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10 hours ago, oncnp said:

 

According to the ROH Collections database (which I know isn't always correct) Job was last done in 1948 by the Sadler's Wells Ballet 

 

But I was talking about BRB and having seen Job I know it has been performed after 1948 because I wasn't even born then!  I suspect the performances were somewhere between 1990 and 1995.

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1 minute ago, Jane S said:

BRB did it in July 1993 at  the ROH

 

Plum in the middle of my guesstimate!  Thanks Jane.  I saw it in Birmingham but I'm not sure if they toured it more widely.

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57 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

Plum in the middle of my guesstimate!  Thanks Jane.  I saw it in Birmingham but I'm not sure if they toured it more widely.


I saw it in Birmingham around then too and agree that Michael O’Hare’s performance was extraordinary. But, otherwise, the merits of Job as a ballet passed me by.

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Perhaps Kevin was dancing Eliahu, or whatever the other role is?  And it definitely toured to the ROH.  Plus Coventry cathedral, I think, sometime?

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You're right, Alison - KO'H did Elihu.

 

The 1993 revival was in honour of de Valois' 95th birthday and on that tour it was only shown in Birmingham and at the ROH, in a programme which opened with MacMIllan's Concerto and closed with Massine's Choreartium. (Job was replaced by several shorter pieces for the rest ot the tour, and by the way, in another programme on the same tour they were also doing The Green Table.)

 

One of the ROH performances is actually on the ROH database but you have to search for BIrmingham Royal Ballet performances to find it. And if you just look at RB performances, the 1948 date is when it was first given at Covent Garden and if you click on that there are various performances through the years listed, with the last RB one being in 1972. The Touring Company also did it at the ROH in 1970 but that doesn't seem to get a mention.

 

I think I only saw the 1993 revival and enjoyed the score rather more than the piece itself.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jane S said:

One of the ROH performances is actually on the ROH database but you have to search for BIrmingham Royal Ballet performances to find it. And if you just look at RB performances, the 1948 date is when it was first given at Covent Garden and if you click on that there are various performances through the years listed, with the last RB one being in 1972. The Touring Company also did it at the ROH in 1970 but that doesn't seem to get a mention.

 

Thank you. 'Thought that 1948 date looked wrong.

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9 hours ago, Peony said:

I’d love BRB to visit more regional theatres, they stopped coming to my nearest a few years ago. I’m not totally sure why as it appeared to be well attended

 

The Arts Council of England!!

 

I don't know which your nearest theatre is Peony but ACE "persuaded" BRB and Rambert to perform at The Lowry in 2000 so they dropped the centres of Liverpool and Manchester.

 

There was an Arts Council review - I can't quite remember when - but companies (not just BRB) were given target areas.  Anywhere else they choose to or are able to go to are done "at risk" as they are not covered by ACE grants.  This became particularly difficult when cross-border funding stopped.

 

With BRB I especially loved the mid-scale tours but I gather that they stopped being funded and became financially unviable a couple of years ago because of this.

 

NB got funding for 3 years for something similar but that funding also expired. 

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Thanks for the info Jan. it’s Nottingham, so we only got them once a year. Perhaps it’s just not financially viable but it’s a great shame because as a region we get very little dance!

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Hello Peony, the company had been due to go in Spring 2020 with a double bill but that was cancelled due to the pandemic.  I spent a most glorious afternoon there a few years ago watching a truly scintillating of Fille featuring Maureya Lebowitz and Chi Cao.  I had seen them performing it together in Birmingham a couple of weeks earlier and was so bowled over I immediately booked to see them in Nottingham when I got home!!  I've also seen Northern Ballet in Nottingham.

 

I gather that what we knew and loved as midscale was going to be reworked as a smaller scale tour going to Midlands-ish theatres such as Cheltenham, Shrewsbury and Nottingham but goodness only knows what will be happening in the future...

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That's a shame, but does explain things. Thanks for the info Jan. I remember being disappointed that they weren't due to visit Bristol last season. Not sure how often they used to come to Cardiff, but seeing their Sleeping Beauty at the Millennium Centre was a particularly enjoyable early ballet going memory.

 

Having said that, one of my post Covid resolutions is to make the effort to see them in Birmingham more often than my annual Nutcracker trip 🙂

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