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English National Ballet : Ek / Forsythe / Quagebeur, Sadler's Wells


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I was at the rehearsal on Tuesday night as had to cancel Sat night tickets as I am away. I know that we don’t comment on rehearsals for they are just that but Rite of Spring was just brilliant and it seemed as though every dancer put as much energy into the rehearsal as a regular performance. Emily Suzuki stole the show along with Fernando Carrata Colomo. Supporters response (rehearsal audience) was very positive so I hope they had an even more amazing first night.

 

The piece evoked similar emotions for me to Prodigal Son- really felt the intensity of the piece. Sad I am away and won’t get to see a ‘proper’ night but can’t wait to see more of ENB over the Christmas/winter season.

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I can't say I'm a James Blake fan, but the use of the seven songs for 'Blake Works 1' was inspired. Forsythe's melding of steps and music and mood was a shere pleasure to watch. Current music and proper ballet steps (as well as a few shimmys) - joy! Varying from a group of 21 dancers to trios/duets, and a song each for the men and the women exclusively, it was difficult to pick a favourite number - but perhaps 'The Colour In Anything' a duet for Emily Suzuki and Junor Souza may have edged it. Definitely a work for ballet fans that love seeing ballet dancers dancing ballet!

'Take Five Blues' from Stina Quagbeure, took some jazzy noodling from Nigel Kennedy and created a scene of a dance-off between friends (5 chaps, 3 ladies, and another man 'intruding' into the activities). Mainly centred, it seems to me, about the men showing off to the ladies, though we never saw if any of them won the hearts of said ladies. Hugely enjoyable to watch, and again, ballet steps - joy!

Mats Ek took his quirky take on the quirky genius of the Stravinsky score, the sacrifice this time a forced marriage, and the 'victim's' rebellion to that state of affairs. Jam packed with Ek-like steps and mood, it is certainly a different take to previous 'Rites' the ENB have done by MacMillan and Bauche. Not as powerfully visceral as those previous versions perhaps, but still an absorbing watch. Emily Suzuki as the daughter, Fernando Carratala Coloma as the groom, with Erina Takahashi and James Streeter the bride's parents, were all excellent

Going again this evening, and I can't wait. Oh and the running time of 2 hours (inc 2 x 20mins intervals) was woefully optimistic, as we came out just before 10pm; even allowing for first night dilly-dallying from the great and good getting back to their seats from hospitality, I'd say it was more like 2hrs 20mins (inc the intervals)

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Roads are carnage today- in some areas around Greater London, it seems like everyone who has a car has decided to bring it out today and be more rude, dangerous or reckless (or all three) ....it’s been far, far more unpleasant than other Tube strike days. Would advise everyone travelling for the theatre today to give themselves an extra half hour or more. 

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Looking forward to the triple bill - our tickets are for the weekend so unfortunately any review won’t be in time for anyone still contemplating whether to go. I thought the storyline/synopsis Ek’s version of Rite had some echoes of Les Noces; would be interesting to see how it looks compared to the other ballet versions. Looking forward to Blake Works again, and seeing Quagebeur’s expansion of her ballet from a couple of seasons ago.

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This afternoon's cast sheet had amended the running time to 2 hours 20 - and was virtually exactly right.

 

ENB - the only company in the world which could put on a triple bill consisting exclusively of Rites of Spring? :)  (Horrendous for the poor dancers, though)

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16 minutes ago, alison said:

This afternoon's cast sheet had amended the running time to 2 hours 20 - and was virtually exactly right.

 

ENB - the only company in the world which could put on a triple bill consisting exclusively of Rites of Spring? :)  (Horrendous for the poor dancers, though)


The dancers all looked as though they were really enjoying themselves both during the pieces and at the curtain call

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8 hours ago, alison said:

ENB - the only company in the world which could put on a triple bill consisting exclusively of Rites of Spring? :)  (Horrendous for the poor dancers, though)


I was just thinking this!! What a fantastic idea. Ek, Bausch and MacMillan?

 

I was keen to see the Ek version as I love the music and was blown away when ENB did Bausch, but I saw the Blake Works in the Forsythe bill and found it “ok”, and was unsure about the new Stina piece and hoped that the Ek would be a success and so would be revived soon (next year hopefully!). Glad it seems to be good and it’s sold well.

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20 hours ago, alison said:

This afternoon's cast sheet had amended the running time to 2 hours 20 - and was virtually exactly right.

 

ENB - the only company in the world which could put on a triple bill consisting exclusively of Rites of Spring? :)  (Horrendous for the poor dancers, though)

My “like” is for the running time info (the SWT email still insists it is 2hours 8 minutes!) Alison....as I’m not sure I could bear the Rite of Spring score (as brilliant as it is) 3 times consecutively in one show! But your idea is good as a DVD perhaps?  I think it would sell and people could compare the different versions at different times. 

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Just back from tonight’s performance in a rather packed Sadler’s Wells!

 

Blake Works I remains to me a beautifully lush ballet. The dancers seem more confident in the work and have applied their own little quirks to the piece. The cast was a mish mash of the preexisting casts’ leading women with Hawes, Otani, Suzuki, and Wood all performing. Rhys Antoni Yeomans was in wonderful form, and Erik Woolhouse was a scene stealer with his cracking pirouettes.

 

Take Five Blues was a fascinating mix of moodiness and playfulness, there are real moments of brilliance in the piece (particular in group patterns) and shows brilliant promise in Quagebeur. Managing to extend a concentrated work and not make it feel bloated or bare is not an easy feat. Khaniukova, Conway, and Trossello brought a lovely wittiness to the ballet, Wood was also very commanding. 
 

As for Mats Ek’s world premiere, it took me a while to warm up to it. Partly as we had just seen two razor sharp neoclassical works, but also as a lot of the emotional action only seemed to take off halfway through the work. I enjoy Ek’s quirky aesthetic, and admire that he is still creating wholly unique phrases in his work. But having this quirky aesthetic with such a dissonant score was to me, for lack of a better phrase, the wrong kind of dissonant. I didn’t not like the piece, but it’s not nearly as gripping as Bausch’s iteration (or even as interesting as other works by Ek). All this aside, Breanna Foad was nothing short of revelatory, without hyperbole. She owned the stage and possessed not only a beautiful facility and technique, but a true bravery in her abandon. Frola also deserves a mention for his convincing turn as a rather adolescent groom. Adams and Reimar did the best they could with their stern parental roles. 

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Saw the Saturday matinee and thought this was a terrific programme - three interesting pieces, danced with the usual ENB style, energy and panache. 

 

Surprised that it was so much better attended than the BRB triple bill a week before. I know there was a train strike on the 5th but even so...?

 

Once again, stunned by cost of ticket - seat in the second circle with an excellent view was £20.00 (membership discount) - incredible value.

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45 minutes ago, AnnabelCharles said:

Saw the Saturday matinee and thought this was a terrific programme - three interesting pieces, danced with the usual ENB style, energy and panache. 

 

Surprised that it was so much better attended than the BRB triple bill a week before. I know there was a train strike on the 5th but even so...?

 

Once again, stunned by cost of ticket - seat in the second circle with an excellent view was £20.00 (membership discount) - incredible value.

Yes, I was surprised that it was so well attended compared to the BRB matinee the Saturday before.  Modern triple bills (before the Nutcracker season starts) so why so poorly attended for BRB and so well attended for ENB?  A fairly young and noisy audience too.  If anything, I preferred the BRB programme.  2 important choreographers, Kylian & Sholz, that are not well represented in the UK - versus Ek's Rite of Spring (yet another modern choreographer going down a well trodden musical road.  How many Rites of Spring are needed?)   

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1 hour ago, Henry said:

Yes, I was surprised that it was so well attended compared to the BRB matinee the Saturday before.  Modern triple bills (before the Nutcracker season starts) so why so poorly attended for BRB and so well attended for ENB?  A fairly young and noisy audience too.  If anything, I preferred the BRB programme.  

I thought the same thing and I also don't think it's the norm for other ENB triple bills at Sadlers I've attended- I've never seen it so full for a triple bill matinee.  

 

As for the show, I enjoyed Blake Works better than last time I saw it.  I am a William Forsythe fan- my main issue is with really disliking James Blake's voice so obviously quite hard to enjoy this work if that's the case.  If they could have danced to the same beat/used the music instrumentally I might really like it, it's his voice I have the problem with.  The Stina Quagebeur I thought was fine, it didn't really do anything for me but it was enjoyable enough although not sure about the music choices.  The dancers were obviously fantastic in both pieces I should add, I was just quite luke warm to the choreography. 

 

My main reason for going was to see the Rite of Spring.  I absolutely love the Pina Bausch version, I was blown away when ENB did it a few years ago and I love the music.  I was excited to see this new version but I'm afraid for me I just couldn't see anything good about it at all.  Purely the choreography again, nothing at all to do with the quality of the dancing, but I felt nothing whereas the suspense when watching the Pina version was so strong, I remember feeling the emotion just from watching something so powerful.  I suspect Mats Ek is not my cup of tea so I would have to think carefully before spending money to see any of his works again.  It was very warmly received by everyone around me and I'm pleased other forum attendees enjoyed it but definitely not for me 😄

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10 hours ago, Henry said:

yet another modern choreographer

 

With all due respect - most ballet companies over here on the continent would die for a new work by Mats Ek. He is one of the most important voices of modern ballet with his flexed feet, always creative, always imaginative. His modern Giselle in 1982 was a revelation at the time! He rarely does new works any more, and you have one now in London. Please cherish this artist! It took the British ballet audience 40 years and the death of an important dance critic to become aware of Jiri Kylián's genius, his important role for modern dance in Europe, and you only just started to see his pieces. You still have to discover Hans van Manen... 

I don't know how Tamara Rojo managed to get all these fabulous, important choreographers who made new creations for her, and I'm sure there are many people who treasure these works. But sometimes I despair about the traditionalism of the English dance audience.

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57 minutes ago, Angela said:

With all due respect - most ballet companies over here on the continent would die for a new work by Mats Ek. He is one of the most important voices of modern ballet with his flexed feet, always creative, always imaginative. His modern Giselle in 1982 was a revelation at the time! He rarely does new works any more, and you have one now in London. Please cherish this artist! It took the British ballet audience 40 years and the death of an important dance critic to become aware of Jiri Kylián's genius, his important role for modern dance in Europe, and you only just started to see his pieces. You still have to discover Hans van Manen... 

I don't know how Tamara Rojo managed to get all these fabulous, important choreographers who made new creations for her, and I'm sure there are many people who treasure these works. But sometimes I despair about the traditionalism of the English dance audience.

 

A few points:

  • if traditionalism = cherishing tradition, then I rejoice in it
  • disliking Mats Ek doesn't automatically mean a lack of openness to all more contemporary choreography; it could just mean disliking Mats Ek
  • as far as I remember, the only Mats Ek work I've seen is Carmen, and I hated it
  • not everyone considers either Kylian or van Manen to be geniuses. I've seen works by both choreographers and enjoyed them, but I wouldn't go any further than that
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But I think the original post did not object to Ek, but to Ek basing a work on Rite of Spring: the sentiment was not 'Oh no, Mats Ek!' or 'Oh no- modern works!'

it was, - correct me if I am wrong- 'Oh no, another modern choreographer using Rite of Spring- '

 

You can disagree with that too, of course, but it is a different point.

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Well I’d be happy to see a Kylian or Van Manen work but unfortunately just can’t get on with Mats Ek to date! 
I did a small workshop using part of Giselle choreography which was awkward but actually quite fun to do however probably a bit boring to watch! 
I suspect Mats EK is one of those choreographers who dancers tend to like because actually doing it yourself can be interesting …and taxing but  unfortunately this does not always extend to sitting and watching it. 
I think many of us regular Dance goers over here are very open to new Choreography but it has to be good to watch at least 60 per cent of the time!! Once it gets less than that you start to switch off and start thinking of things you have to do tomorrow or whether to have porridge for supper or breakfast! 
 

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Yes well at least the music is always worth hearing for that piece which is one good thing if the choreography is a bit weird or gimmicky or you can’t gel with it for whatever reason. 
I certainly think Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring would be rather hard to beat as a modern piece of Dance. 
Sometimes because of the time spent in London if you don’t live there choices have to be made and on this occasion I chose Northern and BRB triples over ENB. Im already spending longer in London this week because of ROH Diamond Celebration so something had to give ….so it wasn’t a rejection of Mat Eks as such on my part …..after all the middle ‘ballet’ in BRB’s triple Hotel was decidedly quirky and a bit weird a bit funny but cleverly done ( took me a while to realise they were actually live filming the dancers on the stage) I can be up for a bit of something different but often these sort of Dance pieces are okay to see maybe a couple of times at most and then don’t need to see again!! Not everything choreographers create is a masterpiece for all time but can be enjoyable nevertheless. 

 

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On 13/11/2022 at 23:09, serenade said:

I thought the same thing and I also don't think it's the norm for other ENB triple bills at Sadlers I've attended- I've never seen it so full for a triple bill matinee. 

 

Then all I can say is that you've been going to the wrong ENB triple bills - many of them have been sell-outs :)  ENB has obviously cultivated an audience for their more modern triple bills in London that BRB hasn't yet managed to.  And anyway, Ek and Forsythe would be pretty tempting to a lot of dance lovers.

 

15 hours ago, Angela said:

You still have to discover Hans van Manen...

 

Erm, no.  He has been discovered over here.  Not perhaps as much as he should be, but (SWRB), BRB, ENB, Dutch National, probably ... there is life beyond the Royal Ballet, who I don't remember doing any of his works.

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3 minutes ago, alison said:

 

Then all I can say is that you've been going to the wrong ENB triple bills - many of them have been sell-outs :)  ENB has obviously cultivated an audience for their more modern triple bills in London that BRB hasn't yet managed to.  And anyway, Ek and Forsythe would be pretty tempting to a lot of dance lovers.

 

 

Erm, no.  He has been discovered over here.  Not perhaps as much as he should be, but (SWRB), BRB, ENB, Dutch National, probably ... there is life beyond the Royal Ballet, who I don't remember doing any of his works.

 

What about Hans Van Manen's Four Schumann Pieces? If I remember correctly, it was choreographed on Anthony Dowell.

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