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Royal Ballet - Raven Girl/Symphony in C - 2013


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Hi all, I’m going to Raven Girl in a few weeks and I find I enjoy a ballet much more if I do some reading up or blu ray watching in advance, all I can find about Raven Girl is the book description on Amazon:

 

“So begins the tale of a postman who encounters a fledgling raven while on the edge of his route and decides to take her home. The unlikely couple falls in love and conceives a child - an extraordinary raven girl trapped in a human body. The raven girl feels imprisoned by her arms and legs and covets wings and the ability to fly. Betwixt and between, she reluctantly grows into a young woman, until one day she meets an unorthodox doctor who is willing to change her”

 

Any ideas on how I can find out more about the ballet itself so I know what I’m watching? Thanks.

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Welcome to the Forum Timmie.  Don't forget to tell us what you think when you have seen the performance!

Will do. I am glad it's paired with Symphony in C as that should be less of a challenge for me (ballet noob).

 

Oh, and thanks for the welcome :-)

Edited by Timmie
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Hi Timmie,

 

The author told the whole story at an insight evening last week, they were filming it, I expect they'll have parts of it on Youtube before it opens(the book was also on sale but I didn't have cash on me, maybe someone else bought it and will be able to give more details or correct mistakes).

 

If you, or anyone, want to know the story beforehand, it follows on the Amazon description more or less with:

 

The Raven girl has a human body but a Raven voice and cannot talk. She gets to university, one of her professors specialises in chimeras (animal and human hybrids), she asks him to give her raven wings and he agrees. In the meantime, a very shy boy who likes her notices she went missing, he finds her in the hospital after her operation and his horrified, (I'm not sure I remember the following exactly, definitely missing some details), in the commotion, Raven Girl escapes through the window and flies away, she meets with the Raven Prince, they fall in love and live happily ever after.

 

Some casting info; Sarah Lamb will dance Raven Girl, Eric Underwood the prince (we saw them rehearse a pas de deux, apparently from the end of the ballet), Edward Watson the postman, Thiago Soares and Bennet Gartside the professor/doctor.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I've amended the title of this thread to add Symphony in C with which Raven Girl is splitting the bill that opened tonight .... the latter to very mixed reactions on Twitter, I must say.  So, over to those who were there .......

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Here is a sample from Raven Girl, from the 1st cast dress rehearsal on Thursday, 23rd May. Will post a pic from Symphony in C later, once I've had the enjoyable task of pouring over them first! :-)

 

8798049097_579a0c525e_z.jpg
Raven Girl (Sarah Lamb) gets her wings
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr



See more...

Set from DanceTabs - Royal Ballet: Raven Girl & Symphony in C
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House

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Bear in mind with this I am a complete ballet noob so I may not appreciate some of the subtleties of ballet and choreography, but I really did not enjoy Raven Girl.

 

The final dance between the Raven Girl and the Raven Prince was exquisite and the scenes with the Raven Girl, her mum and the Postman were also enjoyable but the rest of it left me somewhat unmoved.

 

It was also one of those ballets that had the gauze curtain down at the front the whole time to project the effects on. The problem with this is that my eyes are trying to focus on something that’s deliberately blurred and this is really tiring. Combine this with dancers dressed in black and a low level of lighting means it was quite hard to watch at times.

 

A few thoughts that went through my mind during the performance, “OK it’s a slow start but it’ll pick up soon”, “I really shouldn’t be watching the orchestra so much” and “I wonder what the time is?”.

 

Having said all that don’t let me put anybody off, I heard plenty of positive comments during the interval, so it may be just that it’s not the type of ballet for me.

 

A complete contrast when the curtain went up after the interval, no gauze, bright lights, blazing white tutus and all my favourite ballerinas. Loved it. Worth the money for those 36 minutes.

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Timmie, I agree with you.  I was really disappointed with Raven Girl.  No disrespect to all the wonderful dancers involved;  they did their best and Sarah Lamb in particular really shone.  The final pdd with Eric Underwood was beautfifully danced, and if there had been more of the same I might have liked it more.  As it was, I thought the narrative aspect of the story didn't work;  I had purposely avoided reading anything about this ballet in advance, but panicked at the last minute and got one of the other 'regulars' to give me a quick synopsis of the plot.  I'm very glad she did, because without I'd have been totally lost (and probably asleep).  There was nothing to move it along;  the first ten minutes was Ed Watson (sadly underused) sorting out envelopes and sitting at a table in the gloom.  The whole thing was way too dark;  those of us up in the amphi also have to pay for our tickets, and we deserve to see what is going on down below!  I don't know if the people sitting closer had a better view, but most of the time everything I could see was in gloomy, dark lighting.  We've discussed this on this forum before:  why do modern choreographers think that everything has to be dark?  Do they think their work is so poor that none of us might like to see it?  That can't be the reason, and I do wish that some of them would explain.  I hate it when that gauze is kept down (my only quibble with Bayadere).  We have to have projections these days, therefore we have to suffer with a dark screen that cuts the audience off from the dancers, and adds to the general gloom.  The costumes were interesting and I liked the sets, but if there isn't enough dance content, no character development and no storytelling success, a piece drags along....and drag this did.  A few people sitting behind me left, and I noticed others fidgeting and looking at their watches.  I don't have a watch, otherwise I'd have been doing the same.  There were some good ideas here, but I think it needs to be looked at again, and perhaps made shorter and more punchy.  As it is, I don't want to sit through it again.

 

Which puts me in a difficult situation, because Symphony in C, as Timmie says, was the opposite altogether:  brightly lit, bright costumes, fabulous music and another fabulous cast, this time used to the best of their abilities.  Always a joy, Symphony showcased the lovely Nela, Zen, Yuhui and Laura, plus other dancers who were looking good and having fun.  For me, it's a pity it's the second piece of the evening as I'd love to see the other two for which I have tickets, but artistically it's a good thing as it makes everyone feel happy, so an excellent way to end the evening.

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Amongst the dazzling forests of arms and legs and torsos, Symphony in C also provides opportunities to isolate a few dancers. Here is an example...

 

 

8823819286_4fb633c279_z.jpg
Symphony in C - Anna Rose O'Sullivan, Yasmine Naghdi, Camille Bracher
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr



See more...

Set from DanceTabs - Royal Ballet: Raven Girl & Symphony in C
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House
 

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I must say I agree with the opinions expressed so far.

 

I was really underwhelmed by Raven Girl, the final pas de deux stands out, I also quite liked the family scenes in the beginning, but it indeed felt very long, with a lot pf padding in between.

 

I was sitting in the stalls so visibility wasn't that much of an issue, but it still wasn't great; I have a seat in the amphi next week so will be able to compare (even if I am very tempted to just arrive for Symphony in C).

 

To me, one of the main issues that hasn't been brought up yet was the music. Maybe I'm wrong and influenced by the knowledge that the composer mostly works with film; but it left like it was accompanying the action when it should have been driving it. It sounded like a very gorgeous but for the most part not really distinguishable blanket of sound that only helped to accentuate how little was happening. I'm guessing they were going for eerie and unsettling, but that's not how it came across.

 

I'm also a bit disappointed that you would apparently need to read the book to fully understand the story (or watch the video where the author outlines it). I didn't really expect all the nuances to fully come across on the stage, but they could at least have been included in the synopsis in the programme. As things are, as gorgeous as the final pdd is, it arrives out of nowhere, with the prince not having been introduced in any manner. It would seem that Wayne McGregor didn't do himself any favours by telling Audrey NIffeneger not to worry about it being danceable. A lot of it felt like the dancing was a series of little vignettes that were not necessarily very well connected.

 

This is all coming off a lot more negative than I thought it would go or how I felt last night. This is all the more disappointing that I would love to see a McGregor triple bill (seeing Chroma was my entry point to ballet, the triple bill DVD is the only ballet one I've bought), and it's not like he cannot deal with long form either, his Anatomie de la Sensation for POB was great (especially then coming right after the rather disappointing Live Fire Exercise). It seems like he was constrained by the conscious exercise of explicitly telling a story which ironically made a work less moving and expressive than some of his so-called abstract ones.

 

This is all coming off a lot more negative than I thought it would go or how I felt last night.

 

And then Symphony in C, which is really how it should be done, more than ever the unity between dance and music was apparent, with every note and phrase triggering something on stage, every dancer doing an amazing job (as they did in Raven Girl to be fair), and the corps more unified than I remember pretty much ever seeing it.

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This problem of poor visibility, in the sense of low lighting, use of gauze curtains, and dark costumes against dark backgrounds, is becoming really annoying. I think that we, as audience members, need to complain directly to the companies much more frequently and vociferously. We have a thread on annoying audience behaviour. Perhaps we should start one on annoying dance company practices, with poor visibility being at the top of the list!

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I was so relieved when Paul Kay came on .... as his clothes and general smiling panache added a touch of light amongst all the Ravenish gloom.  T'was much welcomed and well danced.  Agree the final pas had also more to offer than much else which preceded.  I kept wondering if Edward Watson had been not much available during the creation period as he was, I agree, much underused.  I always had assumed he was McGregor's male muse at the RB. Perhaps I was wrong.

Edited by Meunier
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This problem of poor visibility, in the sense of low lighting, use of gauze curtains, and dark costumes against dark backgrounds, is becoming really annoying. I think that we, as audience members, need to complain directly to the companies much more frequently and vociferously. We have a thread on annoying audience behaviour. Perhaps we should start one on annoying dance company practices, with poor visibility being at the top of the list!

I did just that at the Coli once. We saw Wayne Eagling's "Nutcracker" in its opening season, and the gauze curtain which remained down for the entire first act was distracting to me. It made everything look two dimensional as if you were watching a screen, not a stage. We went on a backstage tour as part of a Ballet Buddies morning, met the Stage Manager, so I asked if I could offer some constructive feedback and told her about the gauze screen.

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I did just that at the Coli once. We saw Wayne Eagling's "Nutcracker" in its opening season, and the gauze curtain which remained down for the entire first act was distracting to me. It made everything look two dimensional as if you were watching a screen, not a stage. We went on a backstage tour as part of a Ballet Buddies morning, met the Stage Manager, so I asked if I could offer some constructive feedback and told her about the gauze screen.

 

What was her reaction?

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I'm competely with the comments on dark lighting. I sit in the stalls and even then it can be challenging. I have no truck with "artistic" lighting.  We have all paid our money and we really do deserve to see what's happening on stage. Surely this should be the number one criteria for all productions. I was struggling to see some of La Bayadere last week and that was from Row L.  Light up the stage properly please

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I'm competely with the comments on dark lighting. I sit in the stalls and even then it can be challenging. I have no truck with "artistic" lighting.  We have all paid our money and we really do deserve to see what's happening on stage. Surely this should be the number one criteria for all productions. I was struggling to see some of La Bayadere last week and that was from Row L.  Light up the stage properly please

 

clash-crash clunk-thunk.

I'm afraid that's the sounds of your words falling on deaf ears  :-(

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I'm afraid I'm going to add my voice to the negative comments about Raven Girl, what I could see of it !

 

I was sitting in SC86, so quite a sideways view, and from the side the gauze actually makes it impossible, not just difficult, to see what is over on the other side of the stage. It isn't until the action moves to the centre that it comes sort of into focus, but it remains a real barrier, and one that I resent, however much it is a central part of the is ballet's design.

 

The other thing is, as others have said, the general low light. Older eyes (as both of mine are ... )  find this challenging, and I really don't want to be peering into the shadows as I was. At least in Bayadere the shades stand out Persil-like through the gauze and the gloom!

 

Maybe these problems meant that I missed some wonderful things - did I? - but I did enjoy for example the interaction of the postman and the raven - a wonderfully off-kilter pdd - and the odd with the prince at the end was glorious. BUT (negative again) it wasn't until I saw the photos later that I realised what a fantastic pair of costumes they had : on stage they just looked vaguely black and grey!

 

Finally, I think it is a a great idea to let "them" know about these concerns - but in this instance which "them" should I write to? Advice please!

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