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English National Ballet, A Tribute to Rudolph Nureyev, London, July 2013


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3 works associated with Rudolph Nureyev during the span of his career: Petrushka, Song of the Wayfarer, Raymonda's third act

 

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ENB: Song of a Wayfarer (Esteban Berlanga, Vadim Munyagirov)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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ENB: Raymonda (Act 3) -

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Set from DanceTabs - ENB : Nureyev tribute

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Fab photos Dave and John thank you!  I was waiting hoping for a cheap ticket but gave in and managed to get a front row U/C so I didn't mind paying full price.  Now having seen the pics I am so glad I got one!  I am really looking forward to seeing this on Saturday.  I like how Petrushka and Raymonda evoke wintry scenes in the current heatwave, although the poor dancers look boiled!

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Just back from two performances of this fabulous mixed bill. Particular plaudits this afternoon to Anton Lukovkin (Petrushka), Francisco Bosch (in Wayfarer) and Elena Glurdjidze (Raymonda) and, this evening, to Sheville Dynott (Moor), Esteban Berlanga (in Wayfarer) and Daria Klimentova (Raymonda). But, out on his own, the breathtaking Vadim Muntagirov gave us a truly emotional portrayal in Wayfarer followed by fireworks in Raymonda. Wow, what a star and how fortunate we are to have him dancing in the UK.

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It was a pleasure to attend the opening afternoon of ENB’s Tribute to Nureyev, most especially for a fabulous, exhilarating performance of Act III of “Raymonda” which was a feast of classical dancing.  I had not expected this to have a full set and was delighted when the curtain rose to reveal Barry Kay’s sumptuous evocation of a mediaeval hall.  The Act started with the Hungarian dance led by Stina Quagebeur and James Streeter with a spirit and style that was well matched by the other couples.  The famous ‘Grand Pas’ had the luxury casting of two of the company’s female Lead Principals as well as the eponymous Raymonda.  Fernanda Oliveira and Erina Takahashi each performed their variations with an elegance, charm and effortless technique which almost belied the fiendish difficulty of the choreography. Nancy Osbaldeston delighted in the quicksilver Variation 2, as did the charming trio of Shiori Kase, Senri Kou and Ksenia Ovsyanick in the Pas de Trois.  The Pas de Quatre of Ken Saruhashi, Yonah Acosta, Nathan Young and James Forbat was elegant and powerful with beautiful double tours en l’air and beats, all landing cleanly and softly and in unison.  The ray of sunshine that is Crystal Costa bounded through Variation 4 as if she had been born en pointe.  But the greatest kudos must go to Elena Glurdjidze and Dmitri Gruzdyev as Raymonda and Jean de Brienne whose Russian training shone through every step.  From their first entrance to the grand finale, they were every inch the epitome of Imperial Russian style.  If Gruzdyev does not jump as high as Muntagirov, who is probably wowing the audience this evening as he wowed me at the Saturday rehearsal, there is a panther-like quality and virility to his cabrioles and maneges that is a joy to behold.  Glurdjidze’s variation was a masterclass in style with her shimmering bourrees and luxurious backbends, and her series of releves travelling downstage increasing in speed was breathtaking.  In all, a triumphant ending to the afternoon by dancers and orchestra alike.

 

I thought “Song of a Wayfarer” was given a dignified and poignant performance by Francisco Bosch and Fabian Reimair, reflecting the beauty of the vocal performance by Nicholas Lester.  I had never seen the complete ballet before and I was struck by how many of the steps which became Nureyev’s favourites to use in his own choreography were contained within it.  The two men were well matched physically and temperamentally and the haunting image of their final walk upstage will stay with me for some time.

 

I wish I could be as complimentary about the new production of “Petrushka” which opened the programme but it made me long for the exuberance of the production by Beriosoff which was a staple of LFB’s repertoire with or without Nureyev.  This was too sedate with none of the organised chaos required for the crowd scenes and this was a fair where no-one really seemed to be enjoying themselves. . I was very disappointed to see that the superb acting skills of this company had not been exploited. The wet-nurses looked beautiful but their dancing lacked the joyous abandon I remember so well from the late 1970s. The battle of the delightful Street Dancers of Shiori Kase and Jung ah Choi went almost unacknowledged by the crowd and the Charlatan lacked sinister menace. The trio of puppets, led by Anton Lukovkin as Petrushka with Fernanda Oliveira as the Ballerina and Yonah Acosta as the Moor, were excellent and it was the two scenes in their cells (or compartments as the programme calls them) that showed Fokine’s creativity.  I am looking forward to seeing what the other casts bring to these roles and hoping that the crowd scenes liven up considerably by the time I see the programme again on Saturday afternoon.

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Thanks for reviews.  I was at both the matinee and the evening performances.  I thought ENB's Nureyev tribute programme was beautifully produced starting with an excellent and amply brief documentary film which was as filling as it was skillfully constructed as an effective introduction.  It was so touching this evening to see the crowd once again applaud Nureyev's image when it first appeared.  Shiver inducing.  So wonderful too to see Lynn Seymour, Michael Coleman et al in such continued fine fettle.  

 

I agree with much of what has been said - although I thought the Petrushka had a much better showing in terms of its detail in the evening performance than it did in the afternoon. Otherwise I thought that Reimair (SONG) and Glurdjidze (RAYMONDA) were the stars of the matinee by a long shot: such detailed focus mixed with such riveting personalities in both instances.  Their eyes pierced as they shone through the aura of their placement - as did the glorious balletic amplitude of the sumptuous Ms. Costa (RAYMONDA) and Lester (SINGER - SONG) and the VERY FINE ENB ORCHESTRA under GAVIN SUTHERLAND at BOTH performances.  The evening saw a particularly fine Shevelle Dynott and adorable Nancy Osbaldeston in PETRUSHKA but WHOLLY agree that MUNTAGIROV was by far more than a length the standout in terms of overall quality.  He dominated.  What a joy it is to be able to watch this young man develop.  Clearly his and our own future under Ms. Rojo's skillful leadership is going to be a rich one.  This ENB programme bodes extremely well for the future.  Brava! ... nay, Bravi!  Keep up the very fine work.  

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I saw this evening's performance. Song of a Wayfarer was the highlight for me and showed how much ENB is going to miss Esteban. He had a very intense stage presence in this work and I thought that he and Vadim complemented each other well. The role showed Vadim's beautiful technique to advantage. I don't know which part Nureyev danced. I agree with Irmgard that the crowd scenes in Petrushka were rather flat and, in fact, the stage looked rather overcrowded with the result that some of the detail of the minor characters was lost. Raymonda, which was the most enthusiastically received by the audience (athough SoaW also received a lot of applause as well), was a feast of dancing, but I thought that there were some slightly nervy variations. Daria was elegant as Raymonda and Vadim made his choreography look easy.

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I saw this evening's performance. Song of a Wayfarer was the highlight for me and showed how much ENB is going to miss Esteban. He had a very intense stage presence in this work and I thought that he and Vadim complemented each other well. The role showed Vadim's beautiful technique to advantage. I don't know which part Nureyev danced.

 

Nureyev danced the role that Vadim danced.  You can see his strengths laced through it by Bejart.  I agree that Esteban was potent in the opposing role this evening, much as he was as the catalyst in Petit's L'Ariesienne for ENB.  I'm sure we all wish him well with his future career based in his native Spain.  That said I thought Reimair was absolutely fantastic in that same role in SONG OF THE WAYFARER and the combination of both him and Vadim would I think be a sure bet for the ENB future.  This deserves to be a staple for the company.  London has for far too long lacked the privilege of much of Bejart's best works ... as indeed it has much of Robbins' canon which Nureyev admired enormously.   

Edited by Meunier
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My first time of seeing Song of a Wayfarer (and the first times ENB/LFB has danced it without Nureyev in it?  They haven't danced it since the 1980s, I think), and I loved it.  What I would be interested to know from those who have seen it before is a) does it make a very different impression when on much leggier dancers such as Muntagirov and Berlanga, and B) I remember reading some reviews of it back in a late revival which commented on the additional poignancy of contrasting Nureyev late on in his dancing career with a much younger dancer (Patrick Armand, I think it was, who would probably still have been a teenager at the time).  Does having two dancers who are much closer in age change it at all?

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I first saw Wayfarer shortly after its premiere and the work was very much geared to Nureyev's technique and personality, Bejart always seemed to choreograph around the individuality of his dancers e.g. Jorge Donn and Suzanne Farrell who were in the company at the time he created this.  One of my friends who never missed any of Nureyevs performances, spotted a  some differences last night, but in my view it looked an entirely different work on Muntagirov even though the choreography is basically the same.  Nureyev and Bortoluzzi were I believe the same age when they first danced this as both were in their early 30's.  In later revivals Dowell (four years younger?) was outstanding in the second role.

 

Berlanga is closer to Paolo Bortoluzzi, both in looks and build, being only a little taller and with a slightly more stream-lined physique, last night I found him quite uncannily like the original.   As for Muntagirov, I think it is one of the best things he has ever done and I was so happy that the work hasn't aged and looks so fresh on another generation.  Let's hope it keeps a place in the rep.

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There were two ENB shoots - Foteini Christofilopoulou did the second one for us - with Tamara Rojo in the Raymonda lead. Two pics for your delectation including one of the best Rojo shots I've seen in a long while...

 

 

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Dmitri Gruzdyev in Petrushka

© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Tamara Rojo in Raymonda Act III

© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Foteini Christofilopoulou: ENB - Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Yes, I was struck by the physical similarities between Bortoluzzi and Esteban when I saw that b&w photograph of him in the programme. When and where did Dowell did this?

 

At Covent Garden and in a gala programme I think, as for the date I'm not too sure, but some wonderful stats people post here and I'm sure someone will give you the exact date.

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 Petrushka is quite a rarity in London, the last I saw must have been by the Mariinsky a decade ago, which I remember as much more expansive than this staging, despite the Royal Opera House stage being much narrower than the London Coliseum. I haven't yet managed to work out who did it for ENB: Isabelle Fokine is listed in the programme as one of ENB's guest repetiteurs, would it be her? In the tricky role of the Moor, Shevelle Dynott's stage presence stood out last night - an emerging Character Principal?

 

The Song of a Wayfarer presented last night was a brighter version than the one I remember Nureyev dancing, led more by Fate or Destiny than Death, but that is appropriate for a younger dancer and no less effective, the final sequence as moving as MacMillan's ending to Song of the Earth. Vadim Muntagirov has made it his own: again, a sense of a dancer's career taking a step forward and upward.

 

I've seen two revivals of Raymonda Act III in London this year and there is no doubt in my mind that ENB have done the better job: the ensembles dancing well and in unison, sparkling soloists, the magic we've come to expect of “Klimentagirov” (and the enticing prospect of Tamara Rojo or the wonderful Elena Glurdjidze to come), overall the grandeur I missed “round the corner” last January.

 

So, whether you get a top price seat for £25 at TKTS in Leicester Square tonight or tomorrow, or an £8 seat in the Balcony, go see!

Edited by Grand Tier Left
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I have a feeling the last Petrushka we saw in London was the Bolshoi VIkharev reconstruction in 2010 (?) with Ivan Vasiliev in the title role.  I am less than happy that someone decided to turn to Isabelle Fokine, are there no notations of the wonderful Nicholas Beriosoff version that the company used to cherish? 

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I should also have mentioned Nancy Osbaldestan who I thought was pitch perfect as the ballerina doll last night (her debut). Having seen her in this role, I hope that she might get a crack at Coppelia next summer.

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Can't wait to see this - thank you for the reviews.  Am I the only person to wish that Vadim (and Daria for that matter) would do Saturday matinees he always seems to be cast in the evening when I can't get there from 200 miles away so very annoying!  I've only managed to see him once in Suite en Blanc....bother!

Thanks for posting the photos Bruce - I agree Tamara looks fabulous in that shot!

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Am I the only person to wish that Vadim (and Daria for that matter) would do Saturday matinees he always seems to be cast in the evening when I can't get there from 200 miles away so very annoying!  I've only managed to see him once in Suite en Blanc....bother

 I believe that Vadim did  both a Saturday and Sunday matinee of Apollo. He has also done matinees in the regions.

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The ENB was a real treat tonight, they hit that magic spot where everything is in synch and the energy on stage is just magical during Raymonda. The Berlanga/Muntagirov Wayfarer was mesmerising, I think I am in love with the piece now.

 

If they keep this level of awesome going, I'll feel a strong urge to block book for their next London performances

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I saw Thursday evening's performance.

 

In Petrushka, Olsbaldeston as the Ballerina and Reimair as Petrushka were both impressive. But the shape of the narrative was a little obscure: the chase sequence lacked any sense of menace, and the Charlatan's troubling character barely registered.

 

Song of a Wayfarer was very well danced, and the music was beautifully played, but I find it difficult to enthuse about Béjart's choreography.

 

Raymonda was a mixed bag with some lovely solos (especially Muntagirov).

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Saw last night's, thought Petrushka was a little underpowered (especially after Russian Seasons last week) what wonderful designs though, must be hard to breathe life into this nowadays, shame there are so few performances. I'm not being funny but I thought whoever danced the bear was good, very realistic.

 

I liked Songs of a Wayfarer more than I remember from the past, probably due to exceptionally beautiful dancing from Vadim Muntagirov, he dominated the ballet as did Nureyev.

 

Always love Raymonda, (there's a photo in the programme of Rudolf Nureyev and Doreen Wells who I saw in 1965 at the Apollo Victoria in the full length ballet, that brought back happy memories) Tamara Rojo and Yonah Acosta look good together, wonder if Carlos was in the audience? So for me it was an evening of memories, including the excellent film at the start, good quality too, including rehearsal footage of the current productions.

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A big thank you to everyone who contributed for the flower throw tonight to celebrate ENB's Tribute to Nureyev. If any of you were unable to be there, it was clear that both the dancers and the audience loved it -and, of course, this isn't something that happens a lot for ENB and that seemed to make what happened appreciated all the more.

 

Incidentally, there was a real 'first' tonight with both Esteban (who is, of course, leaving) and Vadim being presented with flowers on stage after their stunning performances in Wayfarer.

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It really was quite an impressive flower throw tonight, and Tamara Rojo's onstage hug for Esteban after Wayfarer was very sweet. It looked for a moment that she'll make him stay by simply keeping the hug going. When your boss is seeing you off to new unknown shores, that's a hell of a way to let you know that you are appreciated.

 

Tonight's Wayfarer was indeed stunning, and well worth the expensive ticket I bought for today just to see it again.

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A big thank you to everyone who contributed for the flower throw tonight to celebrate ENB's Tribute to Nureyev.

 

.........and a big thank you to you for organising it so well.  It was a wonderful way to let the company know how much we value and appreciate them.

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I saw both performances today. All three Raymondas have been excellent, but Elena was simply stunning and, unsurprisingly, received huge applause. She was beautiful, radiant, regal and sensuous and had a great connection with the audience. I think that it's the best role that I have ever seen her in. Petrushka grew on me (did the crowd scenes liven up a bit?). Crystal Costa couldn't match Nancy's immaculate portrayal of the Ballerina and I was disappointed with Yonah Acosta who gave a very unengaging performance as the Moor. Anton Lukovkin and Fabian Reimar were equally good as Petrushka. Once again, Shevelle Dynott was very good and there was a great rapport between him and Nancy. I was very impressed with Francisco Bosch in SoaW. I didn't think that he was particularly good in his role in Firebird last year and so I was surprised to see him dance so well today. His movement was beautifully fluid and he was very expressive. I must confess that I felt quite emotional at the end of Song this evening, knowing that I was seeing Esteban for the last time. He and Vadim looked so good together in this that I hope that some day they will be able to dance it together again. All in all, it was a very good programme and the flower throw this evening was a lovely way to end the season. (Btw, who did the bouquets for Esteban and Vadim come from?)

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I got a last-minute ticket to this tonight, largely because of what I had read on this thread, and I'm so glad I did!

 

A really "meaty" evening, with such different, and differently challenging, ballets, and such heavy-weight - in a good way - scores. The chap sitting next to me, who said it was his first visit to the ballet for 30 odd years, didn't know what had hit him!

 

Petrushka had me welling up, which I usually do even when just listening to the music. It's such a cruel world, especially in the Moor's cell . . . and Petrushka's final appearance on the roof makes me wish I believed in souls! All of the puppets were fantastic - and it must be so difficult (for the doll in particular) to show such emotion with such a limited and limiting range of movement.

 

The Song of a Wayfarer was mesmerising. It was the first time I had watched Berlanga properly and now he's off! Such an emotional goodbye. And Muntagirov was even better than I had been led to believe. He's one of those dancers who let one (well, me anyway) relax because I know that nothing is going to go wrong, and that what I am seeing is completely sincere. Those qualities he shares with (the very different) Ed Watson, I think.

 

And Raymonda III (which I last saw in the hands of the Ballets Trocs . . ) was just so stylish! It seemed that everyone - in the auditorium and on stage - was thoroughly enjoying themselves. And it is obvious why it was such a favourite of Nureyev's. 

 

Looking forward to the Acosta Acstravaganza next!

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Muntagirov was good enough on the opening night but today it was even better performance by him, with perfected terchnical and emotional accents.

And Elena Glurfjidze!

I always loved her and tried to see her performances. She never lets me down. Her Raymonda tonight was not imperious but a very noble maiden. No agressive attacks in demonstrating her technique (as some other ballerinas do) but perfect feeling of style as well as her winning femininity.

 

Can anyone tell me why she is not cast in Swan Lake?

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