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Royal Ballet Apollo / 24 Preludes / Aeternum Mixed Bill


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Well, Janet has encouraged me to join in - so here's my first!

 

I've just got home from seeing the Dress Rehearsal and then the "real thing" yesterday evening. Quite a day.

 

Pennefather the Dress Apollo, and Acosta in the evening : so different. Even the initial whirling arm is different - the dependence on the muses, the weight of presence. Amazing contrast within a tightly drawn ballet.

 

The new Ratmansky I felt was underwhelming - in fact I was a bit disappointed. The music was rice-puddingy rather than scintillating (whose orchestration is it??), the scenes followed on all to fast and furious, I couldn't build a narrative for myself at all. There is more in the latter part of the ballet than the earlier scenes, I thought, but with an amazing cast I just wash't amazed. And what did the Zanowsky/Pennefather spat remind us of? I can't place it - could it be Haydee/Cragun in the Shrew? It certainly stirred up something in the depths of my memory.

 

The Wheeldon, though, was astonishing! Twice in one day was NOT enough. That prickling behind the eyes (mine!) in the final moments; Hay really in his element; Nunes quite fantastic - where does she get the stamina to project all that emotion and control it like that? AND she was the best of muses barely an hour earlier; Kish and Bonelli like Yin and Yang; the strength of the eight dancers in Scene 1. The set was brilliant, the music too, (even though I was dreading more Britten). The whole thing will be with us for many seasons, I hope. I'm gushing, so I'll stop, but I'll be really interested to see what others thought of the evening!

 

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Well I only saw the evening performance but entirely agree with Simon, Carlos Acosta is one of nature's Apollo's, and I like the prologue in this version, Christina Arestis made a lot of a small role. I was just a little disappointed with parts of 24 Preludes although I liked the orchestration, it sounded more like Debussy than Chopin, there were some wonderful pdd and solo's but overall it reminded me of Dances at a Gathering, inevitable I suppose. Aeternum also reminded me of Gloria but in a good way, thought this was outstanding in all respects, the design and lighting superb, and the most wonderful final pdd for Marienela Nunez and Federico Bonelli, didn't know the music but can't wait to hear it again.

 

 

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I saw this triple bill this afternoon. It was the first time that I had seen the prologue in Apollo and I'm not sure that it added to the ballet. When Apollo jumped out in his swaddling bands it was a slightly comic moment. The performances were very good but lacked something. I would have liked a bit more zest. I was disappointed with 24 Preludes. Forty-one minutes is a long time to fill with what is essentially a plotless ballet (although there were some little stories in a few of the "episodes"). It was mostly rather cliched, although there were some original bits. The choice of a rather sentimental score didn't help. I thought that Aeternum was impressive. It was quite contemporary in style but still used a lot of classical vocabulary. The set was very striking and clever. The more junior cast definitely drew the long straw (the cast for 24 Preludes was all principals except for one). I'm sure that the RB will bring back Aeternum. I'm not sure about 24 Preludes.

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I saw this triple bill this afternoon. It was the first time that I had seen the prologue in Apollo and I'm not sure that it added to the ballet. When Apollo jumped out in his swaddling bands it was a slightly comic moment. The performances were very good but lacked something. I would have liked a bit more zest. I was disappointed with 24 Preludes. Forty-one minutes is a long time to fill with what is essentially a plotless ballet (although there were some little stories in a few of the "episodes"). It was mostly rather cliched, although there were some original bits. The choice of a rather sentimental score didn't help. I thought that Aeternum was impressive. It was quite contemporary in style but still used a lot of classical vocabulary. The set was very striking and clever. The more junior cast definitely drew the long straw (the cast for 24 Preludes was all principals except for one). I'm sure that the RB will bring back Aeternum. I'm not sure about 24 Preludes.

Talking about the more junior casting drawing the long straw:  whenever I watched RB this Season (most of it)  I have found it far more exciting to see the younger upcoming dancers ( "Infra" for example). Of course Nela and Leanne and Steven..are all great to watch but a new ballet cast with the younger dancers is so much more refreshing! Mr Wheeldon used a few Principals and younger ones like Clare Calvert, Yasmine Naghdi, Maegan G. Hinkis and James Hay and that's what IMO makes a new ballet so refreshing and exciting to watch instead of an all (except 1) Principal cast (24Preludes)

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Including the General rehearsal I've seen this triple 3 times. I really enjoyed all the performances of Apollo (Pennefather, Acosta and Bonelli) and to choose between the casts would be nit picking for me because I thought they all performed well and each cast brought something slightly different which made them all worth watching.

Unlike other posters above I thought the Ratmansky was ravishing. At the rehearsal I might have agreed that it was everso slightly too long but not now. I think the dancing has improved with each performance, particularly so this afternoon, maybe with first night tension out of the way. It seemed the dancers relaxed so all the clever detail in the choreography had much more impact. I feel I could watch it all over again and find something new and different in it. I love the way the tempo changes suddenly and dramatically and how Ratmansky has used his dancers singly and together so effectively. I like the costumes especially now the men's tights which were black at the rehearsal and first night have been changed to pale grey this afternoon. It was beautifully lit too. Personally, I think it's a work of genius. Of specific dancers I only want to say that I have been astonished by Rupert Pennefather: both as Apollo and in the Ratmansky. I don't think I have ever seen him dance with such intensity and commitment. Ratmansky (and/or someone else) has coaxed out of him some beautiful footwork and a charismatic stage presence to add to his attractive physical one. The whole package - I hope we see more of it.

The Wheeldon has grown on me and I very much liked watching it this afternoon. It is clever and has been beautifully danced - of course by Marianela Nunez but equally by Clare Calvert who has a lovely lyrical quality to her dancing and seems to fill the stage. I don't love it yet and I wouldn't rush to see it again.

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Thank you very much for starting the thread, Simon, and even more for posting your own thoughts.  I've expanded on your title somewhat in the hope that in future years it will make it easier to distinguish between this thread and another one discussing a bill featuring Apollo, which is also in the rep of, for example, ENB.

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annamk, you have raised an interesting point. Should a good ballet appeal on a single viewing? Many people do not wish or are unable to see a ballet more than once in a single run. Of course, the reverse can be true and a ballet which is immediately appealing can seem superficial on a repeat viewing.

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Including the General rehearsal I've seen this triple 3 times. I really enjoyed all the performances of Apollo (Pennefather, Acosta and Bonelli) and to choose between the casts would be nit picking for me because I thought they all performed well and each cast brought something slightly different which made them all worth watching.

Unlike other posters above I thought the Ratmansky was ravishing. At the rehearsal I might have agreed that it was everso slightly too long but not now. I think the dancing has improved with each performance, particularly so this afternoon, maybe with first night tension out of the way. It seemed the dancers relaxed so all the clever detail in the choreography had much more impact. I feel I could watch it all over again and find something new and different in it. I love the way the tempo changes suddenly and dramatically and how Ratmansky has used his dancers singly and together so effectively. I like the costumes especially now the men's tights which were black at the rehearsal and first night have been changed to pale grey this afternoon. It was beautifully lit too. Personally, I think it's a work of genius. Of specific dancers I only want to say that I have been astonished by Rupert Pennefather: both as Apollo and in the Ratmansky. I don't think I have ever seen him dance with such intensity and commitment. Ratmansky (and/or someone else) has coaxed out of him some beautiful footwork and a charismatic stage presence to add to his attractive physical one. The whole package - I hope we see more of it.

The Wheeldon has grown on me and I very much liked watching it this afternoon. It is clever and has been beautifully danced - of course by Marianela Nunez but equally by Clare Calvert who has a lovely lyrical quality to her dancing and seems to fill the stage. I don't love it yet and I wouldn't rush to see it again.

My thoughts exactly.  Saw the first night and yesterday's matinee and went from quite liking it but thinking it a little too long to loving it and not wanting it to end.  Not so sure about the Wheeldon - went from quite liking to not really liking it that much, but there were two casts so perhaps a third viewing will help.

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Saw the first night and yesterday's matinee and went from quite liking it but thinking it a little too long to loving it and not wanting it to end. 

 

Rather more like the reverse of my thoughts :).  I generally liked it more on the first viewing, and less - overall - on the second, although I thought some bits improved second time around.  Unless, of course, it just looks better from the right-hand side of the auditorium than from the left?  OTOH, I have to admit that it's perhaps not a ballet that I'd want to have to dance twice in 24 hours, especially if the second performance was probably only 12 hours at best after I'd gone to bed, if I were a dancer - some of it looked pretty taxing.

 

BTW, I had to stifle a giggle during the first performance: thoughts that the "Ed Watson is stronger than a rhinoceros" publicity campaign of a few years ago might have been truer than I thought back then, as I watched him carrying not one but two ballerinas around the stage at once :)

Edit: link to the old discussion, for those who don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.ballet.co.uk/dcforum/happening/6336.html

 

Double-edit: I see from Twitter that I wasn't the only one who recalled the "rhino" comments!

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I can't think of a higher compliment to Alexei Ratmansky than to say 24 Preludes has a wonderfully improvisatory feel to it - as though there was no choreographer responsible. Here was a group of folks naturally interacting with each other. (Dances at Gathering?).

 

More than that Ratmansky presents his dancers most flatteringly - even those among the cast about whom usually I find too personally showy at the expense of their choreography. Here was a meeting of equals.

 

I loved the utterly un-Chopinesque Francaix score - highly effective as theatre music. But ... ... ... the costumes by Colleen Atwood were over-glassily bright so that they distracted the eye from the choreography. Likewise the overly-assertive lighting by Neil Austin.

 

And 24 preludes in anticipation of what? There's dramatic developement in Ratmansky's use of the score from the combative quartet mid-way through - but we never really develop beyond buttoned-up Lilac Garden repressed emotion. 

 

Beautifully musical - but a superficial.

 

Utterly astringent was Balanchine's Apollo - the best performance in 30 years I have seen at this address (or elsewhere).

 

I am lost in all the variants of the ballet - staging, choreograhy, design - but Apolllo the ballet makes so much sense with its prologue.

 

Federico Bonelli and his muses - Melissa Hamilton, Hikaru Kobayashi, Yuhui Choe - all had a fearless Balanchine physicality - combined with a rather more English characterful wit. A delight.

Edited by Paul Arrowsmith
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here are some photos from the General Rehearsal photo call for this mixed bill from the Royal Opera House. To my mind, a superb bill!!

 

 

8505750468_ac2623796f_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Apollo (Rupert Pennefather and Sarah Lamb)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Royal Ballet - 24 Preludes (Steven McRae and Alina Cojocaru)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Royal Ballet - Aeternum (Federico Bonelli and Marianela Nuñez)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

See more...

 

Set from DanceTabs - Royal Ballet Apollo bill with new Ratmansky and Wheeldon

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House

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Dave, the photos look glorious as EVER, but I think the link to the full gallery is actually patched to the Ashton Programme.  Grateful if we might have a peek at the full gallery for this triple.  Signed:  The Ever Hungry ... but Smiling ...   :)

Fixed. But worth wandering around on Flickr - there are links too all Dave pictures on DanceTabs there.

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Dave, the photos look glorious as EVER, but I think the link to the full gallery is actually patched to the Ashton Programme.  Grateful if we might have a peek at the full gallery for this triple.  Signed:  The Ever Hungry ... but Smiling ...   :)

 

oops - sorry bout that! More haste less speed, and very tired eyes at time of posting!

And thanks Bruce, for fixing!

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Although I’ve lurked for quite a few years, this is the first time I’ve plucked up the courage to post my thoughts (not particularly knowledgeable – just going on what I feel), so here goes.   Firstly, I really wanted to echo everything that Annamk said above.  I’m so much in agreement that I could have written that post myself (although probably not as eloquently).  I absolutely ADORE 24 Preludes.  To begin with, the music is wonderful and that is always the bedrock for me – if I don’t really like the music, it can be much more of a struggle to enjoy the “illustration” of that music on stage.   I too love the costumes (particularly with the late addition of the grey tights for the men) and that lovely, mottled lighting which shifts shade and colour to suit the mood.  As for the piece itself, I find it an absolute delight from start to finish.  I feel Ratmansky has played impressively to the strengths of the Royal Ballet – that they are wonderful dancers is a given, but more than that, given half a chance, they are generally dramatic dancers, and in this piece, although supposed to be plotless, the choreographer has enabled them to bring out personalities and drama through his steps.  To see the adorable playfulness of Alina and Leanne in some of those sparkling, quicksilver steps is a joy, and Steven’s darting, restless solo at breakneck speed, finished with a dismissive flick of the hand, is breathtaking, as is the pas de deux between himself and Alina (I could definitely sense Johan’s input in this). Zenaida’s beautiful, melting solo hints of yearning or heartbreak.  I’ve been a Rupert fan for quite a while, and I always think he is in his element when being heart-stoppingly romantic.  However, his passionate, tempestuous “relationship” with Zenaida in this piece revealed a new side to him (roll on Mayerling!) together with an ability to let rip with some pretty speedy footwork of his own.  And, IMO, it is lovely to see Edward Watson actually being part of a creation that feels classical, rather than extreme and contorted (for want of a better word) which tends to be quite common these days (I know he’s good at that but he is a classical ballet dancer too). He extends such beautiful arabesques and has such an expressive back, shoulders and arms. He treated us to more dazzling, zippy footwork whilst his trio with Alina and Leanne was heart-warming. I could go on and on.  All eight dancers were wonderful and, as Annamk has already said, they are expanding the character of the piece with every performance, and dancing it better and better.  I would be extremely disappointed if this wasn’t brought back in future seasons. (As other posters have mentioned, it felt Dances-at-a-Gathering-ish but surely that can only be a good thing!). 

 

On first viewing (at the General Dress Rehearsal), I wasn’t so keen on Aeternum.  Not really being a Britten enthusiast, I found the music very tricky, although I loved the bold set and lighting and the

clever way everything gradually clears and brightens by the end, and I also liked the pas de deux with Marianela and Federico.  After the evening performance, I’d progressed to actually liking the fast section too (James Hay was wonderful – always is - and the rest of the dancers full of precision, energy and attack), and finding the final pas de deux very moving.  At Saturday’s matinee, with the second cast,  I progressed still further, my mind now having adapted a little more to the music which felt “clearer” (sorry – can’t really think of another way to express it), and I actually quite liked the first movement. Marcelino Sambe was dancing the solo (I’m not sure he nailed all of the precision and hand/arm movements that we saw James perfecting in the rehearsal in the Clore, but he certainly gave it his all and was bursting with energy and enthusiasm), and it’s great to see all the young dancers getting opportunities.  Claire Calvert was simply gorgeous, and the final pas de deux with Ryoichi Hirano felt fluid and full of emotion. Definitely up there with Marianela (and that’s a compliment to Claire rather than any detraction from Marianela’s performance). So – the Wheeldon piece is still rather a work in progress for me but it’s certainly growing on me.    

 

I love Apollo – completely timeless.  The three lead men (Carlos, Federico and Rupert at the rehearsal) I’ve seen have all been wonderful and suitably god-like whilst all being totally different. I’m very much looking forward to Rupert and Sarah’s official debut performance on 14 March.  I feel Melissa made an impressive debut on Saturday along with Yuhui and Hikaru, and Yasmine Naghdi and Mayara Magri stood out in the small handmaiden roles at the beginning of the piece.   For me, Apollo’s birth helps makes sense of the whole thing. 

 

 

Sorry – I’ve rambled a bit …  I'll try to be a bit more compact in future.  

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If anyone else has been wondering where they have heard Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem used for a dance performance before, then the answer appears to be for Kylian's Forgotten Land.

 

It's not music that strikes me as immediately demanding to be danced to, but I felt convinced I had some distant memory of it being used before. 

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I always rather liked Dances of Albion and was  hoping it could be revived at some time.  Still have vivid memories of Collier dancing 'Goddess Excellently Bright' and Whitten & Eagling in the 'Rose Thou Art Sick' pas de deux.

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Welcome, Elle, and thanks for posting.  Never mind the level of eloquence and ramblingness - I've made far less eloquent and more rambling posts in my time :)

 

I feel Ratmansky has played impressively to the strengths of the Royal Ballet – that they are wonderful dancers is a given, but more than that, given half a chance, they are generally dramatic dancers, and in this piece, although supposed to be plotless, the choreographer has enabled them to bring out personalities and drama through his steps.  (snip)  And, IMO, it is lovely to see Edward Watson actually being part of a creation that feels classical, rather than extreme and contorted (for want of a better word) which tends to be quite common these days (I know he’s good at that but he is a classical ballet dancer too). He extends such beautiful arabesques and has such an expressive back, shoulders and arms.

 

I agree with much of what you've said above, but especially the last bit, so I've left that in.  I've been a little critical in the past about the sheer number of companies who've been jumping on the Wheeldon/Ratmansky/McGregor bandwagon, going for someone tried and tested rather than developing their own choreographic talent, but I do feel it's been good to have an outsider's view on the company for a change.  (And I was also thinking, bearing in mind recent creations at the RB, how nice it was to have a ballet where it didn't feel as though a huge amount of the budget had been spent on complex sets.  Then along came the Wheeldon ... :) )

 

I do still cherish the hope that somebody, sometime, will actually create something adagio on Watson for a change, bearing in mind what you say above, although for me even more, perhaps, I think it's his attitudes fondues (I think they were attitudes rather than arabesques, although the bit of film I'm thinking of is from rather an odd angle, so it's not entirely clear). 

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I don't generally pay attention to critics, but I read this one by Graham Watts and he says this bill illustrated the weaknesses of the royal ballet male principals, in comparison to the females. Not sure I agree. I think actually the royal has quite an impressive lineup of male principals at the moment, albeit with some coming to the end of their careers.

 

http://londondance.com/articles/reviews/royal-ballet-apollo-24-preludes-aeternum/#.USuK_w1NSlY.twitter

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No, I think Mr Watts is right in this instance.

 

Really? I find Soares, Kish, Watson, Pennefather, McRae & Bonelli all pretty impressive, with some good up and comers. They could maybe do with a couple more, but I think the danger of adding new ones is that it denies the current principal's the opportunities to develop.

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