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Royal Ballet: A Diamond Celebration


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19 minutes ago, li tai po said:

Someone refers above to the late Patricia Neary.  As far as I am aware, she is still rocking on at the age of 80 [her birthday was exactly 3 weeks ago], large as life and full of energy.  She created the second girl in Rubies at the premiere in 1967, but she always claims she was a baby ballerina!

Many apologies, that was me. I meant Elyse Borne who coached Marianela and made the lovely comment. Sadly she passed away in 2019. As you rightly say Patricia Neary is very much still with us. 

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So many interesting comments here! 

The costumes in Prima….I didn’t mention them as think last night I was just bemused as they did seem in contrast to the wonderful music and in parts some great choreography to it. 
But trusting as I …mostly anyway..tend to be I assumed great thought had gone into this especially considering the occasion for its Premiere so there must be a reason for the somewhat gaudy designs. Was there a story connected to Saint-Saens and this piece? Unlikely really but how your brain ..well at least my brain..tends to meander when there’s a disconnect. 
As the piece was so beautifully danced I forgave the costumes and didn’t think they actually hampered the choreography more a distraction from it. 
I suppose come to think of it I didn’t actually positively like any of the costumes last night apart from…well the tutu ballets…and I’m not really a great tutu fan!!! 
The stage did seem a bit bare to open with Fille but this often happens at Galas so I just accepted that but maybe a better (grander) opener from one of the Ashton ballets though love Fille of course. So a sort of grander opening to match the ending! 
I did get some of the humorous bits in the Tanowitz but wasn’t engaged enough to want to laugh somehow I started to look up at the ceiling of the Opera House and became fascinated with why I could see into the space at the very top as don’t recall this being “open” before. There seemed to be a bit hanging down and hoped it was secure up there. I did miss bits of this piece as I said inspite of the two wonderful dancers so probably one I should see again but definitely didn’t immediately grab me. 
The Toonga piece…I trusted the music was chosen deliberately for this piece (though in Contemporary works it won’t be the first time there’s been hardly any connection to the movement and music) 

I thought it was somehow about the struggle ( hence the jerky rage type movements) between the individual to come out and be seen from within the group consensus sort of thing….the group movement ( thinking) controls us unless we can break free!  I don’t know probably reading too much into it….it could equally be about a group looking for leadership!! But the music was the harmony they were seeking whatever the rage was about!! I still think that those movements were so quick and awkward that to get the overall effect in timing etc was very dramatically effective. I did like Toonga’s other work for the Royal much more but as I said on another thread not every work by a choreographer is a masterpiece for all time but can be enjoyed for what it is. 
It really would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall on what dancers really think of any Piece they are given a role in. 
Regards Diamonds ….one of the masterpieces for all time…I seem to remember it gets clapped every time the curtain goes up at the beginning so not just a reaction to the gala last night. 
On a lighter note a word of warning don’t ever sit in a front row stalls seat (I’ve only done it once before but unfortunately not last night) when James Hay is dancing as once you see those eyes working you will be transfixed never mind his wonderful classical lines and musicality!! 

Also one last thing…somebody said Baryshnikov was in the audience last night!! Would love to have caught a glimpse of him such a brilliant dancer and he was amazing as Colas in Fille all those years ago. I wish I’d done a bit of audience mingling now just to see him again. 
I believe he may have been in London to receive an RAD award as when I got home there was a picture of him receiving it from Camilla from RAD Facebook page. 
So well deserved as was the highest honour a dancer can receive from them. 

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4 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

[RE 'Dispatch'] - The titters were I think intentional.  It was, I thought, very witty.  I have a feeling that Baryshnikov - who it seems was in the audience - would have loved this.  Won't be surprised if it doesn't very soon show up at his Arts Center.
 
It's rare that you get satire in ballet - and this one was blessedly oh, so specifically balletic - so deeply rooted and certainly laser sharp in terms of overall formal structures.  The humourous interplay with so many fascinating quotations/penetrating takes from Cunningham, Forsythe - but most especially Tudor and Balanchine - (including the sit out - which so made me giggle) - was stunning in the extreme and it blessedly didn't overstay its welcome.  Both dancers excelled - but I thought Bracewell a revelation.  How I would love to see him tackle the last movement of the Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, say, or - hopefully soon at this address - the final PDD of Agon - or certainly to see the two of them do Duo Concertant on a bill.   
 
One added comment - How glorious to see James Hay back in such breath-taking shape.  There can't have been too many other dancers whose stunning lyrical line - always wafting THROUGH the music - is consistently pinpointed by such a miraculous port de bras.  Such a gift for us all.  
 
 

This is an interesting comment, as I found - in my cinema seat - the choreography of this piece interesting, while the music and costumes intensely annoying! Quite honestly, I preferred Concerto pour deux which followed. At least Osipova’s costume was attractive (although McCrae’s could have done with some trousers or at least a nicer shirt) and I liked the music. 
Really, Dispatch was the low point of the evening for me. I don’t have a strong opinion either way yet about the Toonga, so I am looking forward to seeing it again - this time in the theatre- on Saturday afternoon. 

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15 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

Well... I've returned from the cinema with mixed feelings.  The downside was that the live relay stopped halfway through so we were all given refunds!

 

My stand-out of the gala was Qualia. We were given print-outs of the wrong cast.  I recognised Melissa Hamilton but couldn't place her sultry partner.  I thought the work suited them both and it was completely gripping, astounding even.  Then when they took their bows I recognised that the male dancer was Lukas BB, who had resumed his normal smiling face instead of this Heathcliff-like, magnificent glowering creature that he was during the dance.  So I do hope @Dawnstar sat through the second part.

See US!! I thought was rubbish, visually and aurally.  Sissens gave it his best but it was simply dreadful.  I would've preferred it to be more hip-hop musically and choreography actually. Anything would be better than this.

Nice to see Alex Campbell again after so long (his waistcoat was the same fabric as our first settee!) He and O'Sullivan make a good partnership, physically, and seeing this little Ashtonian treasure was like having a delicious aperitif that left you wanting more.
Also nice to see and hear Ed Watson.  I've been told off before on this forum for commenting on looks, but I'm going to be naughty again and say that although Watson isn't classically handsome exactly, his bone structure and colouring are like a work of art in themselves so I do enjoy the odd chance to see him now that he has retired from the stage!  (This is purely an aesthetic comment, not a lascivious one!  I am of the belief that ballet is a visual art, and that the dancers should be, and usually are, beautiful.)

The Osipova/Macrae Pouffer piece had gorgeous music but came at the point that the film broke down, alas.

And I agree - Muntagirov looked ridiculously youthful again.  He must have a Dorian Gray type portrait in his attic.

Melissa Hamilton’s partner was Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød (he and ROH have now abbreviated his middle name to the initial B only), who also partnered her in Concerto (second movement) in 2019 and created the male lead in Scherzo and Anemoi made by Valentino Zuchetti. Am looking forward to Qualia, which I haven’t seen in ages. Glad you enjoyed it too! 

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

Really enjoying reading all the contrasting views on this ‘celebration’.

Frustrating not to be able to join in but I only saw the rehearsal.

But could you join in, based on the rehearsal....? (perhaps you could be forgiven, on this occasion, for avoiding the usual etiquette)! 😊

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Yes agree just saying which pieces you seemed to like or not like without going into a critique of any dancers should be fine. Some friends were at the rehearsal and it was more or less a run through in costume I gather so not too much a work in progress type rehearsal. 

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I’ve loved reading through varying opinions on Diamond celebration. It’s so interesting. I love the mixed views. That’s what makes dance so interesting. I agreed and disagreed massively with lots of opinions. It’s just amazing how one can see something so different to others. The highlight for me was Prima. I’d watch that again. Probably wouldn’t watch any of the other short works again. I’ll be honest, if I was given a ticket to go again I wouldn’t. Or I would just come to 2nd section to catch Prima again! There’s my 2 cents! 

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Have only just signed in but to agree with you, I didn't like Prima, or more accurately the costumes, the only one that didn't make me need sunglasses was Fumi Kaneko's, all the girls dressed in different shades of that costume would have been lovely. I'll carry on reading the views, think mine will also be very different!

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4 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

Have only just signed in but to agree with you, I didn't like Prima, or more accurately the costumes, the only one that didn't make me need sunglasses was Fumi Kaneko's, all the girls dressed in different shades of that costume would have been lovely. I'll carry on reading the views, think mine will also be very different!

 

We've been talking about it here today and what I keep coming back to about the costumes in Prima was that they were distracting.

All through it I kept wondering why and trying to come up with some cohesion as to why Fumi's was so different (and lovely) and the rest looked as if they came from a circus (or one review suggested, a deflated beach ball).

 

It kept me from being fully absorbed into it because they were distracting in how bad they were.

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19 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

Please somebody tell me that Woolf Works doesn't have the same sort of thumping amplified music that Qualia has, because if it does I'll return my ticket as I couldn't take a whole evening of that. Other than that, Hamilton was very flexible & I have no idea what it was supposed to be about.

 

The only problem with seeing the Manon pdd is I then wanted to cancel the rest of the programme & see Manon in its entirety instead! I hope Richardson's casting means he's in line for debuting Des Grieux in the next revival, which presumably will be next season. Nice to finally see Takada live: on at least 3 previous occasions I should have done then she was injured.

 

Muntagirov looked about a decade younger tonight than he did at the end of Mayerling on Friday!

Woolf Works has thumping music in Act 2 and lighting effects with strobe/laser (can’t remember which-maybe both).  From what you have said before, Dawnstar, I think you might like Acts 1 and 3, but possibly find Act 2 less your cup of tea. All three acts are quite separate-their only link being that all three are inspired by Virginia Woolf books. 

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A few thoughts, mainly about the stuff I haven't seen before.

 

Fille – Wonderful, made me long to see the entire ballet again.

 

Manon – Ok, but unlike Fille, I didn't think this little snippet was as good taken out of context.

 

Qualia – I am quite enjoyed this, and I thought Hamilton was wonderful, positively boneless. However, I agree with others that it seemed to be an exercise in pushing flexibility to its limits. Also, the outfits of pristine white vests and rather old fashioned pants for the man put me in mind of Rocky Horror and the quote “What charming underclothes you both have.”

 

For Four – I really enjoyed this, but personally I thought it went on just slightly too long. I overheard an interesting comment in the break from a Chinese lady talking to her friend, when she said Wheeldon seemed to have taken a lot of movements from Chinese martial arts.

 

See Us!! - Oh dear. Well, the music was a surprise, not at all the scratchy noise I was expecting. In fact I quite liked it. The cast were hugely committed, and expended a lot of energy clenching their fists, thumping their palms, indulging in group tremor sessions, and conveying an enormous amount of emotional anger and frustration. Trouble is, I found it repetitive, boring and dull. The motley collection of grunge outfits didn't help either. No idea what this emerging choreographer is going to become, but not sure I want to know.

 

Dispatch Duet – Oh dear again. Unlike the previous piece, I found this slightly more interesting movement wise, but hated the music. And why were the dancers in old fashioned running shorts?

 

Concerto Pour Deux – I rather enjoyed Mr Swan Pouffer's offering. The movement seemed interesting, and the music was enjoyable as well. Darcey mentioned afterwards that he made the dancers use the entire stage, but I didn't get that feeling at all from the cinema relay. However, I would like to see other stuff by him. Unfortunately, yet more dull costumes. What is it with these modern ballets, that they insist on bare legs and shorts or knickers? The women can just about carry them off, but it doesn't flatter the men at all, and I spent my time musing whether the ROH employs a full time beautician to wax all the legs.

 

Prima – Dear oh dear oh dear. I thought I had seen some dire costumes in my time, but these really were some of the worst I have ever seen. Here are 4 lovely ladies, all in wildly different costumes of assorted lengths, 3 of which were just plain dreadful. Magri looked positively matronly in that maroon get up with what appeared to be a huge cabbage rose stuck on the front, and Naghdi was doing her best in horrible scraps of clashing colours with what looked like a frisby bobbing about either side of her skirt. Haywood at least didn't have the vile colours, but she had to contend not only with the frisby effect, but she also seemed to have a collapsible bag bouncing about on her left hip. Kaneko's floor length gown initially looked very elegant, but the underskirt kept shaping itself into pink forms that at first I thought looked like giant earlobes. Then I decided it looked like pigs' snouts peeping out from underneath. I'm afraid at that point I got a fit of the giggles.

You can tell from this lengthy description that I was so distracted, I couldn't tell you a thing about the choreography. Not one thing. Surely Zuccetti should have realised early on in the proceedings that these were not going to work. What was everybody thinking? Frankly I would have preferred to have seen the dancers in vests and pants, and that is saying something!

Diamonds. Aahh! Thank goodness they ended on a high note.  Lovely. 

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Fonty said:

You can tell from this lengthy description that I was so distracted, I couldn't tell you a thing about the choreography. Not one thing. Surely Zuccetti should have realised early on in the proceedings that these were not going to work. What was everybody thinking? Frankly I would have preferred to have seen the dancers in vests and pants, and that is saying something!
 

 

This is what I can't get my head around, how many people it would've passed through to get approved and everyone thought these costumes were a good idea? Not one person decided to step in and say not only were they hideous, which is one thing, but they completely distract from the dance, which surely is a hindrance to the choreography.

 

I just can't understand any of the thought process that led to those gorgeous dancers looking like that up on the ROH stage.

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8 hours ago, emmarose said:

 

I found myself start to clap when the curtain opened and asked myself why I was clapping.

But yes, it very much felt like, at last, something spectacular was happening.

They did the same thing at the rehearsal, and yes, it felt very much like "thank goodness, here's something beautiful that we know we will like".   You could almost hear the sigh of relief

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Reading all this - and everyone very open minded-  I do think that given the economic squeeze the contemporary material in programmes might not go so well! They have such a broad and fine repertoire at the RB that we would all flock to!

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I've seen the programme twice, once at rehearsal and once in the cinema.  I enjoyed the cinema performance far more, because it was better lit and the dancers were close up.  Obviously the dancing was up a notch too, but that's the difference between a rehearsal and a performance, though not always it has to be said!  I also enjoy the interviews and chat that they add to the cinema performance especially in this instance with all the new works, as they gave further insights. 

 

I've loved reading all the comments. Isn't it great when so many people can see it so early on.  Some random thoughts from me. 

 

I loved the chosen opening of the overture from La Fille. In the theatre, I felt quite moved as it is such a beautiful price of music and lovely to see if followed in the evening by Alex and Anna-Rose. Who else held their breath at the end in anticipation of that fiendish lift which closes the whole piece? They made it!  Made me wish to see the whole ballet again please - and soon. 

 

Manon - the same. Think of all those luscious partnerships there could be. 

 

I don't like Wayne McGregor's pieces but did appreciate Melissa Hamilton. Stunning performance from her.  

 

Prima and For Four - really enjoyed seeing the wonderful dancers, but could find no pattern, story or emotion to latch onto, so left a bit cold. Zuccetti definitely my favourite of all the new choreographers. 

 

See Us!!  I interpreted this as being about black power because it started off with Joe Sissons doing what looked like a black power salute, but I may be completely wrong here. Certainly, the dance and dancer sequences line didn't then follow that path later on.  There seemed a lot of anger, posturing, youth moment - I don't know!!  Is that what it was about?  Certainly, the choreographer didn't explain in his interview.  For me, this was dance not ballet.   

 

Dispatch Duet - longed to like it as Will Bracewell was in it - but sadly, apart from looking at him, I could find no meaning to it and hated the music.  Weird costumes too.  

 

If we look at the choreographers chosen for the new works, then diversity and inclusion is well served. 

 

Diamonds - Hurrah!  The real performance was fantastic.  Marianella and Reece sublime. Oh, what a joy. That's what I pay my money to see.   Left on a huge high. 

 

 

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40 minutes ago, JennyTaylor said:

They did the same thing at the rehearsal, and yes, it felt very much like "thank goodness, here's something beautiful that we know we will like".   You could almost hear the sigh of relief

 

That's what I felt, relief. I felt as if I knew where I was, I was back in the land of ballet. 

And I'd spent so long thinking while watching the new pieces, I could just sit back and enjoy and bask in the gorgeous dancing and costumes. And I really did, it was divine.

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1 hour ago, LinMM said:

Ha ha Mary! Not an entirely inappropriate suggestion lol! 

I must admit to specially googling Prima earlier on to see if I could find photos of the costumes after reading members’ horrified reactions. I saw just one earlier in The Stage (which didn’t look too bad apart from the eye makeup for Yasmine Naghdi- if you can make a beautiful and photogenic ballerina like Naghdi look awful, that’s really bad makeup!) but now that the Flickr collection have been posted, I know what members mean: they’re costumes by a fashion designer (a popular and successful British based designer who has made dresses for Catherine, Princess of Wales) and rather like costumes for Corybantic Games, what often looks impressive on the page doesn’t look great when the dancers start moving. In this case, they’re not as bad as the Corybantic Games ones and look quite pretty and trendy when the dancers are standing still...but unsuitable when they dance.

 

It reminds me of the New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala, where fashion companies and other sponsors pay huge sums to the company to be involved and supply costumes, but as the designers almost always have no experience or training in designing for dance, the costumes often look ungainly when the dancers have to dance in them.  It just illustrates very clearly that costume design for dance is a specialised art and skill- not everyone can design outfits that flatter a dancer’s lines, move well when they dance, and be suitable for lifts and supported pirouettes (at least there’s no partnering here) and not have bits flying or falling off when they jump or turn fast. I must admit that I love fashion but any time a fashion designer gets involved in dance, it fills me with dread.

 

The only exceptions are Jasper Conran, who designed beautiful tutus and leotards for Tombeaux, and whose shimmery dresses for Within the Golden Hour were an improvement on the originals (the men’s shorts and tops seem to be a choreographer decision as the original had them too, but in a different colour scheme), and Hanae Mori, whose designs for Nureyev’s Cinderella were glamorous (that dream outfit - dress and hairpiece - for Cinderella at the ball is one of the most beautiful Cinderella looks of all time).  

Edited by Emeralds
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9 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

One added comment - How glorious to see James Hay back in such breath-taking shape.  There can't have been too many other dancers whose stunning lyrical line - always wafting THROUGH the music - is consistently pinpointed by such a miraculous port de bras.  Such a gift for us all.  
 
 

 

I couldn't agree more with your comments regarding James Hay - where possible I always try to book his performances. I am seeing him on the 6th December in The Nutcracker and will try to see him Sleeping Beauty next year (as well as (hopefully) this coming Saturday).

Edited by MJW
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Looking forward to Dance Links tomorrow...interestingly, there is a lot of disparity in the  various published critics' reviews I have already seen - just like on this forum! Perhaps surprisingly there is even quite a degree of enthusiasm from some quarters for the Toonga piece😬!

The common denominator seems to be pretty broad based  plaudits for "Diamonds".

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2 minutes ago, MJW said:

 

I couldn't agree more with your comments regarding James Hay - where possible I always try to book his performances. I am seeing him on the 6th December in The Nutcracker and will try to see him Sleeping Beauty next year (as well as (hopefully) this coming Saturday.

This year, for the first time, we picked a Nutcracker date specifically to see James as Hans-Peter, whereas I’d usually pick according to the casting for Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince! Looking forward to seeing him in For Four this Saturday-  hopefully no cast changes! 

 

 

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Just now, Emeralds said:

This year, for the first time, we picked a Nutcracker date specifically to see James as Hans-Peter, whereas I’d usually pick according to the casting for Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince! Looking forward to seeing him in For Four this Saturday-  hopefully no cast changes! 

 

 

 

Fingers crossed!  I did the same for the Nutcracker last year and unfortunately James was indisposed; hopefully better luck this year.

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4 hours ago, Emeralds said:

Woolf Works has thumping music in Act 2 and lighting effects with strobe/laser (can’t remember which-maybe both).  From what you have said before, Dawnstar, I think you might like Acts 1 and 3, but possibly find Act 2 less your cup of tea. All three acts are quite separate-their only link being that all three are inspired by Virginia Woolf books. 

 

4 hours ago, zxDaveM said:

You could probably stream Max Richter's music for Woolf Works, and give it a listen - or go old school like me and buy the CD (Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works 🙂

 

Oh dear. It sounds like I'd better look up the music & decide if I do really want to see Alessandra Ferri live that much.... Does her character appear in all 3 acts?

 

2 hours ago, Fonty said:

Unfortunately, yet more dull costumes. What is it with these modern ballets, that they insist on bare legs and shorts or knickers? The women can just about carry them off, but it doesn't flatter the men at all, and I spent my time musing whether the ROH employs a full time beautician to wax all the legs.

 

Prima – Dear oh dear oh dear. I thought I had seen some dire costumes in my time, but these really were some of the worst I have ever seen. Here are 4 lovely ladies, all in wildly different costumes of assorted lengths, 3 of which were just plain dreadful.

 

I was thinking that last night too. Why do modern costume designers seem to not want dancers to wear tights? All the modern pieces last night had either bare legs or trousers.

 

It was the total difference in style of the 4 costumes that was the most baffling bit. If they'd been either different colours but the same design (like For For's) or the same colour in different designs then it would have been more logical but for both the colours and the designs to be totally different didn't really make any sense.

 

5 minutes ago, MJW said:

Fingers crossed!  I did the same for the Nutcracker last year and unfortunately James was indisposed; hopefully better luck this year.

 

Add me to the list of people trying to see Hay in the Nutcracker this year. In my case I was booked to see him in January 2019 & he got injured then with no Nutcrackers the following season & covid messing up the 2 seasons after that I still haven't seen him.

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8 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

 

 

Oh dear. It sounds like I'd better look up the music & decide if I do really want to see Alessandra Ferri live that much.... Does her character appear in all 3 acts?

 

 

I was thinking that last night too. Why do modern costume designers seem to not want dancers to wear tights? All the modern pieces last night had either bare legs or trousers.

 

It was the total difference in style of the 4 costumes that was the most baffling bit. If they'd been either different colours but the same design (like For For's) or the same colour in different designs then it would have been more logical but for both the colours and the designs to be totally different didn't really make any sense.

 

 

Add me to the list of people trying to see Hay in the Nutcracker this year. In my case I was booked to see him in January 2019 & he got injured then with no Nutcrackers the following season & covid messing up the 2 seasons after that I still haven't seen him.

Ferri’s character only appears in Act 1 and Act 3. If you can borrow/buy the DVD, or google YouTube/Facebook excerpts with Ferri in them, you’ll see what I mean. There was a lovely Insights Evening on the ROH website and YouTube with her doing a run through of the main pas de deux in Act 3 partnered by Federico Bonelli, which was beautiful.

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