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Across the three programmes I think there's a good balance of modern, 20th Century and a bit of 19th Century ballet. With heritage works perhaps being represented in the divertissements. Seems like there should be something there for most tastes? Not a bad outcome given the current restrictions. And we know that next season is stacked full of classics. 

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37 minutes ago, Fonty said:


.....  People in office outfits, or leading ladies with bare legs (a particular dislike of mine) just don't do it for me.  

 

Here, here! I wouldn’t be so upset if I wouldn’t also see where the winds are blowing closer to home in the USA.

 

For ex, the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago opens in October with a quad bill that includes three COVID ballets (created for the digital season, now transferred for the stage)...but at least also with one classical archival piece by Arpino.

 

The Kennedy Center season of visiting dance companies won’t see a single pointe shoe on stage until late November (Miami in Nutcracker).

 

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18 hours ago, Rob S said:

I'm happy to go on the record and say I loved The Statement. Solo Echo was like a lightweight postscript for Flight Pattern


I saw the similarities too. In fact Solo Echo (2012) preceded Flight Pattern (2017) so perhaps Pite developed her themes from the earlier into the later piece. 

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32 minutes ago, Sim said:

Someone said to me the other day that the RB “is becoming a contemporary dance company.”   That set alarm bells ringing.  Even if it isn’t true (yet), if that’s what the perception is that is a bit worrying to me.  This is not the first time I have heard this.  

 

It seems to me that contemporary dance is somehow deemed to be more serious (hence the fact that it's generally not done to smile at curtain calls), relevant (even when incomprehensible) and intellectually demanding (i.e. hard work). Whereas ballet is deemed to be elitist, escapist and faintly embarrassing. And don't even get me started on tutus... 

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I don't think that the dancers in Within the Golden Hour have quite decided whether or not to smile.

 

I have a sense of a company (the RB) which is trying to show that it is modern and accessible. That's OK as long as there is balance AND, importantly, that the younger dancers in particular are able to maintain and develop the technique and artistry they need for the classics/signature works.

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Hmm no need to panic I think ... on the traditional narrative ballet side we’ve Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, Nutcracker and Swan Lake all to come in 2021/22 plus shorter classics .... along with full length new contemporary ballet Dante Project (McGregor).  I am not sure what category the new Wheeldon full length ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ falls into ... but it could be in similar vein and style to his Winters Tale, Alice and Cinderella ... all narrative ballets to me, that have since been widely taken up by other companies globally.
 

When Wayne McGregor was announced as the company’s primary resident choreographer back in 2006 (fifteen years ago!) there was widespread concern about a change in direction.  Did that actually happen?  Certainly the repertoire is broader now.  But the classics still underpin this company.
 

Since the pandemic many companies seem to be embracing new works ... shorter ones everywhere which has been necessary due to social distancing needed in rehearsal and performance.  I’ve also noticed the fabulous new full length Orlando by Christian Spuck for the Bolshoi.  That’s a new narrative ballet.  I’m personally excited about all this new work and the challenges it brings to dancers, creatives and (!) the audience.  

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1 hour ago, FionaE said:

Hmm no need to panic I think ... on the traditional narrative ballet side we’ve Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, Nutcracker and Swan Lake all to come in 2021/22 plus shorter classics .... along with full length new contemporary ballet Dante Project (McGregor).  I am not sure what category the new Wheeldon full length ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ falls into ... but it could be in similar vein and style to his Winters Tale, Alice and Cinderella ... all narrative ballets to me, that have since been widely taken up by other companies globally.
 

When Wayne McGregor was announced as the company’s primary resident choreographer back in 2006 (fifteen years ago!) there was widespread concern about a change in direction.  Did that actually happen?  Certainly the repertoire is broader now.  But the classics still underpin this company.
 

Since the pandemic many companies seem to be embracing new works ... shorter ones everywhere which has been necessary due to social distancing needed in rehearsal and performance.  I’ve also noticed the fabulous new full length Orlando by Christian Spuck for the Bolshoi.  That’s a new narrative ballet.  I’m personally excited about all this new work and the challenges it brings to dancers, creatives and (!) the audience.  

 

No, I don't think there's need to panic. But I am concerned, about the perception of classical ballet (whether narrative or abstract, full-length or one-act) as opposed to the perception of contemporary dance, both within the company and more widely. Because perceptions matter and have consequences. And I think the appointment of Wayne McGregor was part of that shift in perception - that the RB had to embrace contemporary dance in order to remain relevant. 

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Watching the current mixed bill did nothing to dispel the general sense of gloom generated by the rain and cold we are currently enduring. Perhaps if the weather were a little more like what is usual for late late May I might feel a bit more positive about the first dance programme of this truncated season but I somehow doubt it. As far as I am concerned Within the Golden Hour is badly overexposed. It is a bit like Wright's Summertide in that it gets a reasonable number of company members on stage and then fails to much of interest with them. I accept that it is completely inoffensive and quite useful when putting together a mixed bill of recently created works but what it fails to do, however fine the cast, is to capture my imagination or reveal greater depths with repeat viewing. The Abrahams work is an attempt to capture the dynamics of a dysfunctional family in dance and all I can say of it is he is no Tudor when it comes to establishing and communicating emotional states in dance form.

 

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the two works by Crystal Pite as I really liked her Flight Patterns but for me The Statement  seems little more than an expressionist cartoon while the final work seems to involve  a great deal of rolling around on the floor for no apparent reason. The fact that there seemed to be little connection between the movement and the music to which it was set did not help. Now I don't want to sound too negative about this mixed bill but the  thought that this programme might indeed represent the future that Kevin plans for the company may please critics like Lyndsay Winship  but it does not do a lot for me. In fact it makes me feel more than a little despondent. It is almost as if Kevin has decided to reverse the company's direction of travel established by Ashton immediately after the war when he wrenched the company away from the Helpmannesque expressionist works it had been performing and forced it to convert to classicism and embrace classically based dance as its route to the future. I had thought that Wheeldon and Scarlett had  managed to establish the idea that classically based dance far from being redundant was alive and well if only you had choreographers who were imaginative, musical and were capable of expressing themselves fluently using a classically based vocabulary.

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

It is almost as if Kevin has decided to reverse the company's direction of travel established by Ashton immediately after the war when he wrenched the company away from the Helpmannesque expressionist works it had been performing and forced it to convert to classicism and embrace classically based dance as its route to the future. I had thought that Wheeldon and Scarlett had  managed to establish the idea that classically based dance far from being redundant was alive and well if only you had choreographers who were imaginative, musical and were capable of expressing themselves fluently using a classically based vocabulary.

 

I think Monica Mason started the trend by employed McGregor as the resident choreographer.  A completely crackpot idea in my opinion, totally wrong for a classical ballet company.  I know nothing about opera, so I can't think of a suitable analogy.  However, I would imagine appointing, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber, to write one new piece for the Royal Opera every year might not be too well received by those preferring more traditional fare? Having said that, as I enjoy Lloyd Webber's musicals, I rather fancy the idea of him having a go! 

Edited by Fonty
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7 hours ago, Sim said:

Someone said to me the other day that the RB “is becoming a contemporary dance company.”   That set alarm bells ringing.  Even if it isn’t true (yet), if that’s what the perception is that is a bit worrying to me.  This is not the first time I have heard this.  

 

It probably has something to do with the number of choreographers "acquired" via Sadler's Wells?

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I think that the Royal Ballet is and always will remain a largely classical company. Wanting to reach a wider audience with a wider repertoire is frankly their prerogative, but the classics will always bring the big crowds and even the most radical of directors will recognise that.

 

While I agree there should be a place for the 20th century heritage works (particularly Ashton) rather than just rehashing Tchaikovsky ballets, bringing in living contemporary choreographers won’t negate or erase the company’s classical side. 

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Well everyone has their own tastes and preferences, but I absolutely loved it this evening! Great performances and such a treat to see the dancers again. 

 

My first time seeing Within the golden hour in person and I was bowled over by the beauty of this ballet - so much movement going on that I hadn't appreciated from the filmed versions. I also thought the lighting was magical. 

 

Optional family was fairly short but full of intensity, both the music and the dancing. Really enjoyed this, but perhaps less depth than the other pieces. Not that everything needs emotional depth, it worked as a high octane, virtuosic divertissement.

 

I didn't have the highest hopes for the Crystal Pite pieces after today's reviews in this thread, but in the end they may even have been my highlights! Possibly helped by them being completely new to me in comparison to the more familiar Within the golden hour. The Statement was highly entertaining from start to finish, with wonderful movement. Not based on classical dance maybe, but surely possible to trace some lineage from the mime tradition in ballet.

 

And finally Solo echo - absolutely beautiful music, wonderfully played and reflected incredibly in the choreography. Obviously stylistically similar to Flight pattern, but a very different theme and feel, which I thought drew clearly and emotively on the poem that inspired it.

 

I'll add as a final thought that for me, one key ingredient in my favourite ballets is enjoyment of the music and successful (and emotional) reflection of this in the dancing. All of the music tonight, varied as it was, was to my taste - but I do understand that it might not be to everyone's.

 

Can't wait now for the live stream followed by a different cast on Sunday 🙂

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I attended last night's performance.  Under normal circumstances, I would probably have given this Bill as complete miss, but the draw of seeing live ballet was too tempting.

First of all, I'd like to ask (yet again) - is it too much to ask that the dancers on stage are given sufficient lighting that the audience can actually see them?  I would ask this question for all 4 ballets on the Bill. SO frustrating. 

Much to my surprise, I was blown away by The Statement. Absolutely fascinating to see the dancers mimic the verbal accompaniment - and what body movement!  I was pleased too, to realise that perhaps I am not quite so set in my ways as I thought I was. I've never seen anything like this before and was fascinated and beguiled. 

There was a wide array of superb dancers on stage and the strength and depth of the Royal Ballet was visibly underlined. 

The evening did not reach the emotional highs which a performance by the Royal Ballet can engender for me, but I definitely found a feel good factor in seeing many of my favourite dancers, hearing and seeing a live orchestra (at last!) and by just being in that beautiful building. 

All very COVID safe BTW.  I'm still driving up rather than taking the train though. 

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1 hour ago, JennyTaylor said:

First of all, I'd like to ask (yet again) - is it too much to ask that the dancers on stage are given sufficient lighting that the audience can actually see them?  I would ask this question for all 4 ballets on the Bill. SO frustrating.

 

My thoughts exactly: a very "Sadler's Wells" evening, complete with "Sadler's Wells" lighting.  Trying to navigate a PDF on a phone was, as usual, frustrating, so I had no idea really who was dancing, especially since the website casting didn't tally with what we actually saw.

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I have nothing against new works if they are good. It is, I think, a given that they will be well performed and have no doubt that the dancers enjoy doing something different but how many of the RB’s new works can be said to be enjoyable (I use this word in its wider sense; it is not intended to be restricted to lightweight works) and how many will stand the test of time?

It seems to me that the focus on quality is becoming lost in an unseemly scramble to attract the young, or what it is thought will appeal to the young, and certainly the young that I know are more discerning in what appeals to them and will not tick the “more, please” box purely on the basis that a work has a contemporary flavour. 
The entire, somewhat frenzied rush to engage the young has somewhat alarming parallels with the hugely unsuccessful “yoof” drive adopted by the BBC in both its TV and radio output and, I would suggest, more than a whiff of the emperor’s new clothes.

New works can be both exhilarating and enjoyable and here I would contrast the recent contemporary output of ENB (uplifting, varied and exciting whether the underlying mood is dynamic, comic or melancholic) with that of the RB, which has the tendency to make me, along with people that I know of all ages, feel increasingly suicidal. And, for the record (and I know that this is personal), I do not enjoy a spoken narrative in ballet. The movement and the music should convey the message without the irritating intrusion of someone’s voice.

I have enjoyed many contemporary works performed by Rambert, Ballet Black, the Richard Alston and Alvin Ailey Companies to name but a few but what each of them brings to the party, whether the works are serious or lighthearted, is a sense of unforced spontaneity, of truly felt emotion, of shared enjoyment with the audience. And the use of music and costumes that illuminate the works and linger in the mind.
By way of contrast, and mirroring that now notorious Kasper Holten observation that if the audience didn’t enjoy the regietheater style increasingly being adopted in the recent opera productions they would need re-educating, there is something of the hectoring “teacher knows best; this is good for you even if you don’t know it” tone, designed to alienate rather than engage the audience, in many of the RB’s new works. The costumes are unpleasant, unflattering or both, the music is as unmemorable as most of the works themselves and the talents of such exceptional dancers are completely wasted in an uninspiring depression-fest of self-indulgent and instantly forgettable output that is too try-hard by far and suffers massively as a result. 
So by all means celebrate the new - at its best it can be extraordinary- but not at any cost. 

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In terms of audience enjoyment, I forgot to point out that at least on the performance of 25th May, the most enthusiastic audience reaction was quite clearly for The Statement. 

 

Going back to the comments on the lighting, this was an interesting one for me. It's true that the lighting did occasionally make it harder to see who was dancing. But at the same time, I thought the lighting was excellent throughout in heightening the atmosphere. This was especially true in the incredible ensemble parts of Within the golden hour - where instead of seeing individual dancers I felt it drew greater attention to the wonderful patterns in the choreography. 

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Thanks for the great photos, Rob S; just a shame about the costumes. I haven't seen this bill but although the dancers have clearly acquitted themselves brilliantly it pains me to see them costumed like this. Ballet/dance is theatre, and by its nature it can't be wholly realistic (any more than opera can). You'd never know that from looking at most of these costumes.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, bridiem said:

Thanks for the great photos, Rob S; just a shame about the costumes. I haven't seen this bill but although the dancers have clearly acquitted themselves brilliantly it pains me to see them costumed like this. Ballet/dance is theatre, and by its nature it can't be wholly realistic (any more than opera can). You'd never know that from looking at most of these costumes.

 

I can't really think how you'd dress anyone for The Statement other than the clothing pictured....an Elite Syncopation style spray on shirt and trousers would detract from the performance, I feel 😆

 

I think the main improvement would have been to finish with something more uplifting than Solo Echo. I coped well enough with WTGH/Medusa/Flight Pattern but that was put in the middle of a R&J run, not the first thing I'd seen in 6 months.

 

Regarding Jenny's comment about it all being very Covid safe.....the temperature telly in the foyer had gone since my visit on Saturday and despite an usher coming to us and telling us masks needed to be worn the two women sat to the left of me on my Stalls Circle padded bench didn't wear masks at all except when coming back from the interval, the woman sat nearest to me on my right on the next padded bench had her mask dangling from her ear for most of the performance and the couple in front of me didn't wear masks because he had a lanyard for my protection.

Edited by Rob S
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57 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

the couple in front of me didn't wear masks because he had a lanyard for my protection.


😀

It has been so long since I have seen any dancers, I am struggling to put names to faces.  Who were they in the photos, Rob?  (Just the main dancers will do.)

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2 minutes ago, Fonty said:


😀

It has been so long since I have seen any dancers, I am struggling to put names to faces.  Who were they in the photos, Rob?  (Just the main dancers will do.)

Hinkis & Hay

Aumeer, Calvert, Gallucci

Junker,Townsend,Ball,McNally

Dixon,Mullova-Barley,Serrano,Magri,Acri,Bailey, Ella's fingers

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Posted (edited)
On 25/05/2021 at 14:14, FLOSS said:

As far as I am concerned Within the Golden Hour is badly overexposed. It is a bit like Wright's Summertide in that it gets a reasonable number of company members on stage and then fails to much of interest with them. I accept that it is completely inoffensive and quite useful when putting together a mixed bill of recently created works but what it fails to do, however fine the cast, is to capture my imagination or reveal greater depths with repeat viewing.

Ouch !

I can't agree at all with this, Floss - I thought it was great to see it again; the great music, the beautiful repetitive, intricate and  innovative patterns created in the ensemble pieces, the playful, and  tender, interaction of the couples in the three PDDs, the power and excitement of the section with the two gentlemen - Sissens, and (I think) Junker were outstanding in this- , the  silhouetted section with the 4 ladies, and the drama of the ending - all brilliant! The lighting is fine in principle  but could have been improved by turning up a few notches......and of course it seemed well lit compared to each of the three following pieces! (about which I do generally agree with you).  

Edited by Richard LH
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10 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

I have nothing against new works if they are good. It is, I think, a given that they will be well performed and have no doubt that the dancers enjoy doing something different but how many of the RB’s new works can be said to be enjoyable (I use this word in its wider sense; it is not intended to be restricted to lightweight works) and how many will stand the test of time?

It seems to me that the focus on quality is becoming lost in an unseemly scramble to attract the young, or what it is thought will appeal to the young, and certainly the young that I know are more discerning in what appeals to them and will not tick the “more, please” box purely on the basis that a work has a contemporary flavour. 
The entire, somewhat frenzied rush to engage the young has somewhat alarming parallels with the hugely unsuccessful “yoof” drive adopted by the BBC in both its TV and radio output and, I would suggest, more than a whiff of the emperor’s new clothes.

New works can be both exhilarating and enjoyable and here I would contrast the recent contemporary output of ENB (uplifting, varied and exciting whether the underlying mood is dynamic, comic or melancholic) with that of the RB, which has the tendency to make me, along with people that I know of all ages, feel increasingly suicidal. And, for the record (and I know that this is personal), I do not enjoy a spoken narrative in ballet. The movement and the music should convey the message without the irritating intrusion of someone’s voice.

I have enjoyed many contemporary works performed by Rambert, Ballet Black, the Richard Alston and Alvin Ailey Companies to name but a few but what each of them brings to the party, whether the works are serious or lighthearted, is a sense of unforced spontaneity, of truly felt emotion, of shared enjoyment with the audience. And the use of music and costumes that illuminate the works and linger in the mind.
By way of contrast, and mirroring that now notorious Kasper Holten observation that if the audience didn’t enjoy the regietheater style increasingly being adopted in the recent opera productions they would need re-educating, there is something of the hectoring “teacher knows best; this is good for you even if you don’t know it” tone, designed to alienate rather than engage the audience, in many of the RB’s new works. The costumes are unpleasant, unflattering or both, the music is as unmemorable as most of the works themselves and the talents of such exceptional dancers are completely wasted in an uninspiring depression-fest of self-indulgent and instantly forgettable output that is too try-hard by far and suffers massively as a result. 
So by all means celebrate the new - at its best it can be extraordinary- but not at any cost. 

I agree with so much written here except that I have felt depressed by most of ENBs new work as well. Text, in certain ballets, can work well, although I wouldn't want it to become the norm. I haven't seen The Statement yet, but look forward to anything from Crystal Pite judging by Flight Pattern alone. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Rob S said:

 

I can't really think how you'd dress anyone for The Statement other than the clothing pictured....an Elite Syncopation style spray on shirt and trousers would detract from the performance, I feel 😆

 

I think the main improvement would have been to finish with something more uplifting than Solo Echo. I coped well enough with WTGH/Medusa/Flight Pattern but that was put in the middle of a R&J run, not the first thing I'd seen in 6 months.

 

Regarding Jenny's comment about it all being very Covid safe.....the temperature telly in the foyer had gone since my visit on Saturday and despite an usher coming to us and telling us masks needed to be worn the two women sat to the left of me on my Stalls Circle padded bench didn't wear masks at all except when coming back from the interval, the woman sat nearest to me on my right on the next padded bench had her mask dangling from her ear for most of the performance and the couple in front of me didn't wear masks because he had a lanyard for my protection.

 

I was in the Balcony for Wednesday's performance and a couple were asked to put their masks on (in his case it looked like his scarf) but  by the interval they had taken them off again!  Everyone else seemed masked-up from what I could see.

Edited by MJW
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The only good thing about those ghastly baggy trousers the dancers are wearing in two of the pieces is at least it spares the audience a view of the veins and sinews in their legs, which are so prominently on display in the other ballets. 😦

  

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