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The Royal Ballet in ten years' time?


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On 17/07/2021 at 18:57, Meetmeatthebarre said:

(Also I have a soft spot for Pineapple Poll, and the NB have been the only company staging it in recent memory...)

Me too. It was one of the first ballets I saw and I'm afraid to say, it was pretty new at the time. Wish it was done more often - seems as though Cranko is pretty much ignored in this country,apart from Onegin.

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8 hours ago, ninamargaret said:

Me too. It was one of the first ballets I saw and I'm afraid to say, it was pretty new at the time. Wish it was done more often - seems as though Cranko is pretty much ignored in this country,apart from Onegin.

 

BRB have also performed Brouillards and Card Game in the not too distant past and we were very fortunate to see some utterly glorious performances of Taming of the Shrew 4 or 5 years ago.

 

I believe it costs a lot of money to license a Cranko ballet for performance but please, someone, tell me if I am wrong.

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i quite agree with the apprehension expressed by Rina and many others...

On the other hand there is the effect of "survival bias", the phenomenon that things that survived a certain selection process are very different to those that did not. The classical repertory we so love today is really the creme de la creme, whereas the contemporary works have yet to be held against the harsh selection process of time.

Perhaps ultimately it depends on how confident we are in our collective (aesthetic) consciousness. I for one am inclined to believe that, if great pieces such as Bach, Handel, and Mozart were able to survive the many social changes and historical turbulence to remained canonical to this day, our dearly held classical and neoclassical ballets will similarly outlive us for centuries. 

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1 hour ago, KyleCheng said:

i quite agree with the apprehension expressed by Rina and many others...

On the other hand there is the effect of "survival bias", the phenomenon that things that survived a certain selection process are very different to those that did not. The classical repertory we so love today is really the creme de la creme, whereas the contemporary works have yet to be held against the harsh selection process of time.

Perhaps ultimately it depends on how confident we are in our collective (aesthetic) consciousness. I for one am inclined to believe that, if great pieces such as Bach, Handel, and Mozart were able to survive the many social changes and historical turbulence to remained canonical to this day, our dearly held classical and neoclassical ballets will similarly outlive us for centuries. 

I do so hope you are right Kyle - if I may call you that.

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On 17/07/2021 at 21:45, Jan McNulty said:


It’s BRB who perform Pineapple Poll.  It was a mainstay of their mid scale tours and saw the final performance of Robert Parker (at The Lowry).

I think you are right! Come to think of it, I've only ever seen full length Northern Ballet works - I got confused as I tend to see both them and the BRB at Sadlers. 

 

The ROH performance database suggests that it hasn't been performed since 1960!

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On 16/07/2021 at 16:09, MaddieRose said:

And as for electronic music, particularly a full-length ballet, that petrifies me. I think I'd get a headache. 
 

 

 

I get a headache when I see a performance of In The Upper Room.

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6 minutes ago, trog said:

 

I get a headache when I see a performance of In The Upper Room.

 

I seem to recall the volume level of the opening performances of McGregor's Multiverse at the ROH really bringing it on for me .... if memory reliably survives to serve that is :)  ...

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The 1960 date is true of the London company who only danced it in 1959 and 1960.  The Touring Company, for which it was created, had it in rep from 1951 to 1979.  Source: Appendices to "The Royal Ballet - the first 50 years"   .................... and my wife!  All of which might suggest why it is still mainly danced by BRB, lineal successor to the Touring Company.

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16 minutes ago, Ian Macmillan said:

The 1960 date is true of the London company who only danced it in 1959 and 1960.  The Touring Company, for which it was created, had it in rep from 1951 to 1979.  Source: Appendices to "The Royal Ballet - the first 50 years"   .................... and my wife!  All of which might suggest why it is still mainly danced by BRB, lineal successor to the Touring Company.

I truly appreciate the wealth of knowledge on this forum! Thank you!

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While I feel that there will be general rejoicing at the prospect of the company's centennial celebrations culminating in a sort of MacMillanfest I can't help wondering what part the first two directors will be permitted to play during the celebratory season and whether by 2031 the company will, in the absence of special  "Ashton classes" based on de Valois 1947 syllabus, be able to dance the sort of works they created.

 

I am pretty certain that the company will choose to emphasise MacMillan's dark challenging works rather than works which reveal his skill as a classical choreographer so I think it is safe to assume that there will be a series of mixed bills which include such dark and challenging "masterpieces" as Different Drummer, Valley of Shadows, Playground, My Brother My Sisters,The Judas Tree and possibly Rituals, which while tedious rather than challenging, brings the list of works up to an even number which may make it a little easier to construct the programmes which include them. There might even be a Marriott retrospective. The Linbury will host performances of dance works such as The Invitation, The Burrow and Checkpoint which work better in a smaller auditorium and of course the festival will culminate with the main stage revival of the full length Isadora. The publicity for the exciting MacMillan revival will probably go something like this :-

 

" The centennial year's MacMillan Festival will culminate with the long awaited revival of the original three act version of his unjustly neglected masterpiece Isadora which was created to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the company's foundation by its sole choreographer of genius".

 

If by 2031 Sir Wayne is in charge of the company then the season will include any number of mixed bills composed of his pretentiously titled one act works. Now while I have not fallen asleep during performances of any of his works I have seen I have to confess I find them , in general, remarkably unmemorable as far as their dance content is concerned. Perhaps I  am alone in this but I generally find that I remember more about his work's designs and lighting schemes than the individuality of the movements he has selected for each piece.  In fact I tend to find that as soon as I have left the auditorium I have forgotten everything about his choreography. If in 2031 the company is run by Sir Carlos then it is much more difficult to say what we might see during the celebrations except that the programme will almost certainly include his first main stage masterpiece Carmen.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

except that the programme will almost certainly include his first main stage masterpiece Carmen.

 

 

Oh no...please, no...

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29 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

 

 


You are definitely not alone, Floss 🤭


(Edited to say that the quote which has gone missing was where FLOSS  said she remembered more about the designs etc of McGregor’s works than the choreography.)

 

 

 

Edited by capybara
Lost quote!
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22 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

Perhaps I  am alone in this but I generally find that I remember more about his work's designs and lighting schemes than the individuality of the movements he has selected for each piece.  In fact I tend to find that as soon as I have left the auditorium I have forgotten everything about his choreography.

 

 

 

Interesting - perhaps this is why Winter's Tale, though much lauded, left me cold and whilst I loved finding the little homages to other choreographers in Alice, have not been in a rush to see again after a couple of viewings. I do enjoy much of Wheeldon's work though; I'd welcome a DGV revival for one!

 

I've just had a think about the works I do and don't enjoy, and it's almost directly correlated! I can picture tens of moments in many of the one-act and story ballets I love, but if it weren't for having actually danced a (much pared down) version of the Sugar Plum Fairy, I would remember literally nothing about the Nutcracker...

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2 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

I seem to recall the volume level of the opening performances of McGregor's Multiverse at the ROH really bringing it on for me .... if memory reliably survives to serve that is :)  ...

 

I wore ear plugs for Multiverse (multiworse...)

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2 hours ago, trog said:

 

I get a headache when I see a performance of In The Upper Room.

 

Wash your keyboard out with soap Trog!!

 

I love the music to Upper Room and most of the other Philip Glass music I have heard.

 

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1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

 

 

I am pretty certain that the company will choose to emphasise MacMillan's dark challenging works rather than works which reveal his skill as a classical choreographer so I think it is safe to assume that there will be a series of mixed bills which include such dark and challenging "masterpieces" as Different Drummer, Valley of Shadows, Playground, My Brother My Sisters,The Judas Tree and possibly Rituals,

 

The only one of those I have seen was The Judas Tree.  Thought it was an awful waste of Irek Mukhamedov and Leanne Benjamin (I think).  Never willingly seen it since.

 

1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

Now while I have not fallen asleep during performances of any of his works I have seen I have to confess I find them , in general, remarkably unmemorable as far as their dance content is concerned. Perhaps I  am alone in this but I generally find that I remember more about his work's designs and lighting schemes than the individuality of the movements he has selected for each piece.  

 

 

 

 You are not alone.  The only one I can remember anything about is Woolf Works, and that is mainly because of the voice over.  There was one other one with weird robotic figures going across a screen at the back, but I have no  idea what it was called.  Otherwise, just a blank as far as I am concerned.

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2 hours ago, FLOSS said:

 

I am pretty certain that the company will choose to emphasise MacMillan's dark challenging works rather than works which reveal his skill as a classical choreographer so I think it is safe to assume that there will be a series of mixed bills which include such dark and challenging "masterpieces" as Different Drummer, Valley of Shadows, Playground, My Brother My Sisters,The Judas Tree and possibly Rituals, which while tedious rather than challenging,

 

 

 

gach! - I'd much rather see Concerto, Gloria, Rite of Spring, and especially Requiem than that lot, I cannot deny

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8 minutes ago, Fonty said:

 

The only one of those I have seen was The Judas Tree.  Thought it was an awful waste of Irek Mukhamedov and Leanne Benjamin (I think).  Never willingly seen it since.

 

 

 You are not alone.  The only one I can remember anything about is Woolf Works, and that is mainly because of the voice over.  There was one other one with weird robotic figures going across a screen at the back, but I have no  idea what it was called.  Otherwise, just a blank as far as I am concerned.

 

Don't blame you on Judas Tree - I stopped seeing it when it was in the last mixed bill it was part of. If I never saw it again, I wouldn't be upset (even if one of my fave dancers featured)

Infra is the piece I think you mean. I liked that A LOT, I have to admit; loved the Max Richter score, and it went from there. Some of the position he got his dancers in were extrordinary (and some, not all, strikingly beautiful - those that weren't did tend to bend into ugliness)

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2 hours ago, Sim said:

Oh no...please, no...

Interesting that no plans have been announced for the BRB audiences to be inflicted with this work.  Maybe Don Q is/was enough for the time being.

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7 minutes ago, Two Pigeons said:

Interesting that no plans have been announced for the BRB audiences to be inflicted with this work.  Maybe Don Q is/was enough for the time being.

 

I hope you haven't spoken too soon TP!

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6 hours ago, FLOSS said:

If by 2031 Sir Wayne is in charge of the company then the season will include any number of mixed bills composed of his pretentiously titled one act works. Now while I have not fallen asleep during performances of any of his works I have seen I have to confess I find them , in general, remarkably unmemorable as far as their dance content is concerned.

 

I'd suggest two possible reasons for this. One is that his works lack what we generally understand by choreographic invention: steps, expressive use of hands and feet, the face communicating a range of emotions, musicality, lots of variety in terms of movements. Peter Wright makes these points towards the end of his autobiography. A second is that his movement lacks any real drama or emotion. Jennifer Homans argues this in her article in The New Republic "The crisis in contemporary ballet: how emotion left dance" (available online if you type her name and the title). Without dance or real emotion, what is there to remember in a deep sense?

An explanation of the conceptual basis of a piece doesn't go very far with me. The test is whether it moves me or not. Homans refers in a positive way to the tension and release in McGregor's work, but watching this leaves me feeling tired and edgy. I can't understand why he is so popular. Do others find nourishment in his work that I don't? The darkness seems necessary in order to make the light effects more striking, but these are spirit phenomena - bodiless, and going nowhere. His work is a dead end for ballet, but seems to fit in with the RB's current frantic experimentation with anything and everything.

Turning to the positive, if I could write a utopian version of a press conference in 2031, it would probably be led by Sir Iain Webb, as the RB's new director! Looking forward to seeing him tomorrow on Zoom at London Ballet Circle, along with National Treasure Margaret Barbieri!

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Oh purlease, everyone, what a depressing picture you all paint. Where are the glass-half-full forum members? Galloping up like the cavalry in a standard B western, I hope. Well do make it quick, I’m not sure I can stand any more of these gloomy predictions.  

 

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1 hour ago, Scheherezade said:

Oh purlease, everyone, what a depressing picture you all paint. Where are the glass-half-full forum members? Galloping up like the cavalry in a standard B western, I hope. Well do make it quick, I’m not sure I can stand any more of these gloomy predictions.  

 

probably not well enough versed on the various Repetories  or  have other  interests company / dancer / director  wise 

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12 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

Oh purlease, everyone, what a depressing picture you all paint. Where are the glass-half-full forum members? Galloping up like the cavalry in a standard B western, I hope. Well do make it quick, I’m not sure I can stand any more of these gloomy predictions.  

 

 

The trouble is, the glass-half-full members are galloping along on pure bred horses, a breed which is gradually fading away, while the Arts Council introduce a new hybrid mount - able to cover many more terrains that the pure bred, but much less attractive.  🙂

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Well I'm a big fan of a couple of McGregor's works (as well as various other modern pieces), most of which I specifically enjoy because of their emotional impact and great use of music, reflected perfectly in the movement. 

 

The first time I ever saw Royal Ballet was a performance of Woolf Works. I went as a fan of Virginia Woolf, but left completely affected and inspired by the incredible art form of ballet - I had no idea it was possible to convey emotion so effectively through dance and to reflect so accurately the spirit of some fairly complex novels. Whilst other ballets have surpassed Woolf Works in my affections to become my absolute favourites, this still must rank in my top five ballets. 

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14 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

Oh purlease, everyone, what a depressing picture you all paint. Where are the glass-half-full forum members? Galloping up like the cavalry in a standard B western, I hope. Well do make it quick, I’m not sure I can stand any more of these gloomy predictions.  

 

 

we still await your glowing contribution... 😉

 

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I'm with the half-full tendency.  Maybe the effect of Covid on theatres, economic activity and the nation at large will have a more lasting effect than any single choreographer.  I'll tell you in 10 years.

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On 16/07/2021 at 18:19, bangorballetboy said:

 

There are some very impressive/interesting commissioned scores (particularly some of those for Northern).  There are also some absolutely shocking ones!

I have to agree.  I loved their score for Three Musketeers and still listen to it.

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