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The Royal Ballet post-Benjamin and Galeazzi


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(I was originally going to post this back around April or so, but things got away from me.  Better late than never)

 

Later this week, Leanne Benjamin and Mara Galeazzi will be giving their final performances with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, both in Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling, ironically a ballet which pretty much started both their careers with the company.  So, within the space of less than a year, the Royal Ballet will have lost its three most instinctive female MacMillan interpreters - I'm including Tamara Rojo in the headcount here.  Benjamin was fortunate enough to work with MacMillan early on in her career; Galeazzi just missed out, I think (and Rojo had no direct exposure to him at all).  How is their loss going to affect the company, do you think?  Do you see anyone in the lower ranks of the company with any indication of a similar level of understanding of MacMillan as yet?  Is it possible that certain works might even drop out of the active repertory in the absence of dancers who can do them justice?  (I know that my own wishlist of revivals over the last decade or so has included works I particularly wanted to see these dancers in, and I imagine that a number of those will now vanish from that list, for the time being, anyway.)   Could this even be indicative of a start of a change of direction (or narrowing of range) of the company - whether temporary or permanent?

 

Let's have your thoughts ...

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I'm showing my ignorance here, but what makes a dancer a successful interpreter of the MacMillan rep? Is it the ability to inhabit dramatic roles convincingly? And is there a dance vocabulary which is particular to MacMillan?

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I think there are enough dancers in the company good enough to carry the MacMillan rep. I personally cannot wait to see Hamilton dance Manon. Coaching wise we still have Mason, Collier and even Rosato who all were picked by MacMillan for their first big roles. When it comes to the classics, what do today's audiences want. Yesterday evening in the Clore we were treated to an evening on the development of the pas de Deux in ballet. In the final session Anthony Dowell passed on his knowledge of partnering to Ben Ella and Yuhui Choe with regard to the Grand Pas in Sleeping Beauty. On more than one occasion he mentioned the Russification of certain roles. As technical abilities have increased have we lost some artistry. Watching Yuhui and Emma Maguire was an absolute treat. There are other young dancers in the company at present who I am sure can carry on the traditions of the Royal Ballet. I just hope that they get the chance to show us what they can do.

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What did Anthony Dowell mean & which roles was he referring to that have been "Russificateded"?  Sleeping Beauty is Russian of course, as are most of the other classics.  Was he referring to more modern roles such as Ashton's or MacMillan's?  Perhaps he meant they are more athletic, although I don't see how MacMillan's pas de deux could be made more athletic than they already are!

 

I agree there is some wonderful talent in the younger members of the RB, so it would be good to see some of them given opportunities with solo and principal roles.  After all Darcey Bussell was still in her teens when she was plucked from the corps de ballet by MacMillan.

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Dowell used a section from Swan Lake to explain this. Siegfried supports Odette in a series of arabesques en voyage and we were shown three variations of this. Originally, Odette was hardly lifted but as techniques became stronger she was lifted to shoulder height. During this her arms are pointing back to Von Rothbart indicating the struggle to break free from his spell. This what we see in Dowell's production. In Russian productions the ballerina is lifted and turned over above her partners head and we lose the narrative thread. This point was also made by Giannandrea Poseo the Spectator critic. Ivanov felt that the choreography should tell the story.

This programme was being filmed and I assume it will be available soon on the ROH website

By the way Dowell used Emma Maguire and Valentino Zuchetti to demonstrate all this. Miss Maguire of course looked absolutely wonderful

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Anyone who had the privilege of seeing Marianela dance Tatiana in Onegin must surely feel content that there is another established RB ballerina who is more than ready to essay a range of MacMillan roles, as is Lauren, of course.

 

However, I also concur with the views expressed above about the wealth of (even) younger company talent awaiting the opportunity to fill the amazing, dramatic shoes of Alina, Leane, Mara and Tamara.

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I agree with some of the comments above that, leading the MacMillan field going forward, will be Lauren and Melissa, and Sarah Lamb. Emma McGuire is also showing great promise in this respect, having seen her wonderful interpretation of Princess Stephanie. Interesting that she was paired with Valentino last night; I was watching them dance together a couple of weeks ago and was thinking then that they could be a very good, dramatic partnership in the future.

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