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Readers' reviews of the year


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Well, in the closing hours of 2012, this seems like a good time to start the annual "what did you like/hate about dance and performances this year?" thread. Irrespective of how much or how little dance you saw this year, and/or whether it was live or on-screen, this is your chance to express your feelings.

 

In case you want some prompts, these were the categories in the late lamented Ballet.co poll of the year, although of course you don't have to stick to them:

 

Best Production Overall:

Best New Production:

Best Revival:

Best Staging:

Best Home Company:

Best Visiting Company:

Best Male Dancer:

Best Female Dancer:

Best Partnership:

Most Promising Male:

Most Promising Female:

Worst Production:

Special Mention (good or bad):

Eye-opener of the Year: (Who or what did you reevaluate?)

 

So, the more the merrier!. And views from outside the UK (and outside London, as well) would be particularly welcome.

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Best production overall: David Nixon's Ondine for Northern Ballet

 

Best new production: David Nixon's Ondine for Northern Ballet

 

Best revival: Sir Peter Wright's Swan Lake for Birmingham Royal Ballet

 

Best home company: A tie between Birmingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet

 

Best Male Dancer: Chi Cao (Birmingham Royal Ballet)

 

Best Female Dancer: Martha Leebolt (Northern Ballet)

 

Best Partnership: Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao (Birmingham Royal Ballet)

 

Most Promising Male: Kevin Peoung (Northern Ballet)

 

Most Promising Female: Antoinette Brookes Daw (Northern Ballet)

 

Worst Production: Do you know, I can't think of anything I have disliked this year!

 

I think 2012 has been one of my most enjoyable years of watching ballet in recent years. When I saw the touring programmes for the year, I was disappointed at the lack of mixed programmes on tour but, in the end, I loved seeing the old war horses again because of the wonderful performances we were treated to.

 

I very much enjoyed seeing RDB's new production of Napoli in Paris in January. It is always a pleasure to see the RDB dancing Bournonville and Alban Lendorf was spectacular!

 

Although I was bemoaning the dirth of mixed programmes on tour, I was thrilled that Northern Ballet gave us an entertaining mixed programme at their HQ in Leeds. The company looked on glorious form in Christopher Hampson's beautiful Perpetuum Mobile and it was good to see the work of emerging choreographer Kenneth Tindall in Project #1.

 

David Bintley's Hobson's Choice is one of my all-time favourites and how lucky Birmingham audiences were to have such a treat. Not only were we able to admire Robert Parker as Will Mossop but we also had an opportunity to see the wonderful Alexander Campbell (back on loan from RB) in the same role. Ambra Vallo was irridescent in the role of Maggie with him.

 

The double bill including Two Pigeons gave us some final opportunities to see Robert Parker as the Young Man. His performances with Nao Sakuma were some of my favourites of the year.

 

Northern Ballet gave us a revival of Madame Butterfly in Leeds and we were treated to some thrilling and very moving performances. It was lovely to see Keiko Amemori guesting in the leading role.

 

Northern Ballet then toured Beauty and the Beast in the Spring. It's a delightful production with much to enjoy.

 

I had a thrilling trip to Munich in April to see Birmingham Royal Ballet's mixed offering of Checkmate, Take Five and The Dream. I loved the theatre with its enormous stage and all 3 works looked absolutely wonderful. On the first night Chi Cao gave the best performance of Oberon I have ever seen

 

May was really busy for me with BRB's midscale and NB's revival of I Got Rhythm. Midscale is always a joy with an opportunity to see the company in close-up and with lots of the more junior members getting opportunities. Both James Barton and Oliver Till were enchanting as Will Mossop in the clog dance and 1st duet with Maggie. We had three great performances of the Don Q pdd in Buxton despite the steep and most peculiar rake of the stage. Truro gave us the bittersweet moment of Robert Parker's final performance for the company, and oh how he sparkled. In Take Five he thrilled us by dancing both the Duet and Flying Solo in the same performance!

 

We saw Northern Ballet dancing with enormous energy and panache in David Nixon's joyous I Got Rhythm with performances in both Leeds and Norwich.

 

BRB revived Far From the Madding Crowd and again we saw some truly memorable performances. Mathias Dingman was outstanding as Gabriel Oak and I was lost for words when I saw Iain Mackay as Troy!

 

I saw Ballet Clwyd performing The Tempest in Buxton in July. This company of 10 dancers, directed by Darius James, gave us an afternoon of Shakespearean delight.

 

Then came the ballet-watching famine I endured till September. I became hooked on watching the Olympics from the opening ceremony which I enjoyed greatly in parts and was bored by others to the closing ceremony where I wept when the flame was extinguished.

 

In September NB opened their now annual season at the brilliant West Yorkshire Playhouse with David Nixon's lustrous production of Ondine. I was completely blown away by the production. I would class the opening night with Hannah Bateman, Javier Torres and Dreda Blow as my performance of the year. Hannah Bateman is always a lovely dancer and I think that Ondine is her best role. The first night was a very special performance indeed.

 

More NB Madame Butterflys followed intermingled with BRB's Swan Lake. I was thrilled by Ayana Kanda's debut as Butterfly in Sheffield, possibly the most moving since the first night over 10 years ago. Her Pinkerton was Javier Torres who showed us what a wonderful actor he has become. I saw another particularly wonderful performance with Michela Paolacci and John Hull in Manchester.

 

BRB fans in Birmingham were treated to a cerebral mixed programme with the delightful Lyric Pieces, Take 5 and Grosse Fugue as well as Swan Lake. The opening night of Swan Lake in Birmingham was one of the best performances I have ever seen; Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao were on fire! There was such a buzz in the audience from the moment Mathias Dingman took to the stage as Benno.

 

In November I enjoyed Batsheva Ensemble for their energy and wit. I also enjoyed ENB's Sleeping Beauty, especially Ksenia Ovsyanick's debut as Aurora with Esteban Berlanga as her Prince. I also saw a couple more performances of NB's Beauty and the Beast, reminding me again how much fun this production is.

 

December belonged to BRB's Cinderella and NB's Nutcracker. Of the Cinderella's I saw, I thought Natasha Oughtred gave her best performance with both Alexander Campbell and Tyrone Singleton. Alexander has the ability to flesh out a character to make him believable and their performance together was just bliss. If anyone was born to dance the Prince it is Tyrone Singleton and he didn't disappoint, giving a thrilling account of the role.

 

I thought both performances I saw of NB's Nutcracker were terrific. Antoinette Brookes Daw and Kevin Peoung as Clara and Nutcracker proved they will be the ones to watch out for. Kevin Peoung has a prodigious talent, to say the least. Martha Leebolt and Javier Torres were enthralling in the gpdd in the second performance I saw.

 

My non-ballet-watching highlight of the year was Propeller's production of A Winter's Tale.

 

I'm already getting excited about 2013!

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Wow, Janet, that has to be the annual review to end all annual reviews! (Anyone who, reading that, is intimidated by its length - don't be. However little you may have seen this year, we'd still like to hear from you!)

 

Worst Production: Do you know, I can't think of anything I have disliked this year!

 

Lucky you! I'd forgotten what mine was until I was watching Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty this evening and it brought it all back: the "fourth act" reminded me most horribly of the Eifman Onegin I saw back around Easter time :(

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Best Production Overall:  Swan Lake by Sir Peter Wright (BRB)

Best New Production: Faster by David Bintley (BRB)

Best Revival:    Far from the Madding Crowd (BRB)

Best Staging: Faster by David Bintley (BRB)

Best Home Company: Birmingham Royal Ballet / Northern Ballet

Best Visiting Company: San Francisco Ballet

Best Male Dancer: Chi Cao (BRB)

Best Female Dancer: Nao Sakuma (BRB)

Best Partnership: Nao Sakuma & Chi Cao, Nao Sakuma & Robert Parker

Most Promising Male: Kevin Poeung (NB)

Most Promising Female: Antoinett Brooks Daw (NB), Maureya Lebowitz (BRB)

Worst Production: N.A.

Special Mention(Good) Jamie Bond as Sergeant Troy in Far from the Madding Crowd(BRB)

Eye-opener of the Year: Faster by David Bintley (BRB)

 

I live in London, watching performances by the Royal Ballet Company as much as I watch performances by BRB and by NB. I just can not find interesting productions, dancers, partnership within the Royal Ballet Company in recent years.

 

 

 

Edited by Ryo
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Strictly speaking, for me Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty missed 2012 by just 2 days, but it was so thoroughly enjoyable I have to mention it here. (And I'd also been quite taken by his touring Early Adventures bill, as I recall.)

 

Beyond that, just some brief, random recollections:

 

 

Ballet Boyz, The Talent - an exuberant, indeed exhausting show but the work seemed very samey. Heresy, I know, but I seem to recall suggesting that the addition of a couple of girls would have helped.

 

Ballet Black's “Storyville” touring bill - a good show. Chris Hampson's Storyville covered the narrative succinctly and I remember being rather impressed by Sarah Kundi in one of the supporting pieces.

 

Royal Ballet of Flanders: William Forsythe’s “Artifact” was odd but intriguing, with some strange wandering and garrulous characters.

 

Scottish Ballet and Ashley Page's “Streetcar Named Desire": this proved to be intelligently conceived narrative dance, clear and direct, almost certainly as a result of involving a theatrical director alongside the choreographer. That clarity was widely held to have been missing from Liam Scarlett's complex narrative Sweet Violets for the Royal Ballet, a piece that was nonetheless full of good moments.

 

San Francisco Ballet did what they do so well in their Triple Bill - a wonderful company.

 

The Royal Ballet's MacMillan Triple Bill did not disappoint, with “Las Hermanas” something I'd particularly looked forward to.

 

The Bolshoi's “Pharaoh’s Daughter” in HD streaming - a joke!

 

The Royal Ballet's live streaming day, class, rehearsals etc was simply addictive!

 

Not as much Zenaida Yanowsky in the year as I might have liked, but there might never be enough either.

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Dear all,

 

Please allow me to update my verdict.

I've just came back from Japan and suffered from sevier jet lag when I posted the 1st version...

 

I have checked my 2012 performance diary to make below updated version.

Some of you may be suprised to find that I added many names which belongs to the Royal Ballet Company...

 

 

Best Production Overall:   Swan Lake by Sir Peter Wright (BRB)

Best New Production: Faster by David Bintley (BRB)

Best Revival:    Far from the Madding Crowd (BRB)

Best Staging: Faster by David Bintley (BRB) / *Trespass in Titian 2012 (RB)

Best Home Company: Birmingham Royal Ballet / Northern Ballet

Best Visiting Company: San Francisco Ballet / *Eifman Ballet

Best Male Dancer: Chi Cao (BRB)

Best Female Dancer: Nao Sakuma (BRB) *Tamara Rojo (RB / ENB)

Best Partnership: Nao Sakuma & Chi Cao, Nao Sakuma & Robert Parker

Most Promising Male: Kevin Poeung (NB)

Most Promising Female: Antoinett Brooks Daw (NB), Maureya Lebowitz (BRB), * Beatriz Stix-Brunell (RB) -Alphabetical order-

Worst Production: N.A.

Special Mention(Good) Dancers

Jamie Bond as Sergeant Troy in Far from the Madding Crowd(BRB) -Alphabetical order- *William Bracewell as Oberon in The Dream (BRB)

*Yuhui Choe in Requiem (RB)

*Ryoichi Hirano as Salamander Prince in The Prince of the Pagodas (RB)

*Valeri Hristov as the King of the East in The Prince of the Pagodas (RB)

*Steven McRae in Carbon Life (RB)

*Itziar Mendizabal as The Firebird (RB)

*Marianela Nunez as Diana in Diana and Actaeon in Titian 2012 (RB)

*Tyrone Singleton as Boldwood in Far from the Madding Crowd, as Prince Siegfried (BRB)

*Beatriz Stix-Brunell as Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas, in Trespass / Titian 2012 (RB)

*Dawid Trzensimiech as James in La Sylphide (RB)

*Edward Watson in Requiem (RB)

*Valentino Zucchetti as The Fool in The Prince of the Pagodas (RB)

Choreographer

*Alastair Marriott & Christopher Wheeldon / Trespass in Titian 2012 (RB)

*Liam Scarlett / Sweet Violets (RB)

*Valentino Zuchetti / Brandenburg Divertissementhis in First Drafts (RB)

Eye-opener of the Year: Faster by David Bintley (BRB) / *Anna Karenina by Boris Eifman

Edited by Ryo
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