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Memories of 2013


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Well it's that time of year again when we have a few moments to reflect on the passing year as the new one arrives.

 

I have had a terrific year of dance-watching this year and here are some personal highlights:

 

Funnily enough, the performances I will long remember are ones that I have seen within the last couple of months:

 

  • NB's Cinderella, specifically the matinees on 19th and 28th December.  These were 2 of the most emotionally charged performances I saw all year (19th was led by Martha Leebolt/Toby Batley and 28th by Lucia Solari/Javier Torres).  I was totally swept away by both these performances; the whole company was incandescent.

 

  • RB Jewels matinee on 30th December - simply splendid and utterly breath-taking

 

  • Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at the Lowry, particularly the evening performance on 16th November.  I think this is the best cast overall I can remember for this production.  Jonathan Ollivier is truly majestic as The Swan/Stranger.

 

  • BRB's Sleeping Beauty - in particular Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao at the Lowry and in Birmingham were absolutely scintillating.  Momoko Hirata and Joe Caley were utterly magnificent in Sunderland

 

  • The opening night of ENB's Le Corsaire on 17th October was simply exhilerating

 

I very much enjoyed seeing National Ballet of Canada at Sadler's Wells in April.  I don't think it will be my favourite production of R&J but I thought the company were on magnificent form.  I was equally enamoured with Stuttgart Ballet in Taming of the Shrew and I just loved the Bolshoi in Flames of Paris.

 

I thought Carlos Acosta did the Royal Ballet proud with his production of Don Quixote.  It was a thrill seeing Alex Campbell as Basilio on his debut and Roberta Marquez was the epitome of Kitri for me.  I enjoyed the televised version with Nunez and Acosta too.  I knew from the minute the production was announced that Acosta was a good choice to mount the production - this ballet is surely in his blood.

 

I am so glad I got to see Edward Watson's powerhouse performance of Rudolf in Mayerling - he was quite overwhelming in the role.

 

 

Dancers of the year for me:

 

  • Chi Cao (BRB) is right on top of his game at the moment and gave us some really exciting and memorable performances
  • Toby Batley (NB) who continues to grow in stature by the performance
  • Kenneth Tindall (NB) who is one of the best dance/actors around and is totally subsumed into every character he plays
  • Momoko Hirata (BRB) is sheer brilliance to watch in everything she does
  • Martha Leebolt (NB) who, for me, walks on stage, breathes and is wonderful
  • Pippa Moore (NB) for being such a wonderful and versatile dance/actress

OK that's the 2 companies I mostly follow but I have also loved Vadim Muntagirov, Alina Cojocaru, Alex Jones of Stuttgart, Vladislav Lantratov of the Boshoi and it was wonderful to see Jon Renna of NBoC as Mercutio.

 

 

So that was just a few of my highlights.  I'd love to hear everyone else's memories.

 

 

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Has to be the RB's Mayerling. Not sure if I could pick out a particular cast as they were all stunning, but probably the Pennefather and Soares casts. Hamilton was probably one of the performers of the year for me, as she seemed to be in everything I saw, and she was dazzling in pretty much everything.

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For me a definite highlight was the Osipova/Vasiliev Giselle followed a few nights later by another stunning one with Novikova and Sarafanov, both with the very fine Company that is now the Mikhailovsky Ballet.  They will only get stronger with its incoming wealth at the top.  I pray we see them again soon. I agree with Janet that the ENB Corsaire is supreme and hugely applaud Tamara Rojo for sharing the same courage she gloriously exhibits on stage in the rightful continuation of her own determined administration.  Would that there were more like her.  She is a brilliant role model.  Agree too about the BRB Sleeping Beauty.  Wright's SB production far outshines the last few RB efforts in my eyes.  I went to see one performance this time round and ended up going to four at Sadler's Wells.  Agree Chi Cho and Nao Sakuma were simply stunning.  BRB and the current ENB (in its best shape since Schaufuss ) were for me the standout OVERALL UK ballet companies in 2013. They both richly deserve to be applauded.  (That said, the Schaufuss Midnight Express was SURELY the nadir of this or perhaps any other season.)  The Canadians certainly showed their might in terms of overall Company enchantment .... but then they would, wouldn't they, with another great leader, in the the rightfully legendary hands of one shimmering Karen Kain.  In similar major (i.e., world) Company league was the Boston Ballet at the Coliseum who stunningly breathed as one (as opposed to, say, fighting for a particular pride of place in a star based ensemble).  They were unquestionably on a mighty (and much appreciated) move in terms of the brave selection of their London rep.  I salute you Boston Ballet for your courage - and am only sorry that the London ballet audiences didn't show similar gumption in their support of your fine work.  Certainly for me there was no finer male ensemble in evidence this year than that shown in the opening taster as exhibited by the Stuttgart Ballet.  While the selection of its rep certainly couldn't be said to be imaginatively overwhelming the Bolshoi had a goodly number of stand out moments.  Who could forget the Osiliev effect in Flames (much as had been created for them by Ratmansky, a choreographer who is celebrated through much of the modern world for his extension / enhancement /application of balletic literacy but who was so cruelly lambasted this year in London by certain major critical figures who perhaps - just perhaps - simply don't get it) and Vitaly Biktimirov's Cabulette a la David Niven which is - as far as I'm concerned - one of the best character performances I have EVER seen in Ballet; ranking right up there with Erik Bruhn's unforgettable Madge or Coppelius.  (Some memories just will not fade.)  The most frightening ballet occurrence I myself was party to (i.e., present for) was Alexandrova's terrifying on-stage accident in La Bayadere.  May she recover to full stealth soon.  Still it was wonderful to be able to actually taste of Smirnova's ripe potential as much as to see the broad grin of Filin (her mentor) being bravely returned - however briefly - to the boards he had himself once so happily ruled in a time prior to this year's outrageous horror in his personal regard.  Osipova's adventures -- e.g., her first Juliet - were a definite highlight with the Royal's season but, for me, so too were the Oneign performances with Alina and a magnificently insightful Jason Reilly.  I also very much applaud the continued dawning achievements of James Hay and Francesca Hayward and the ever abundant radiance of one Ms. Nunez..  There is much hope for their futures and our expanding enjoyment which is certainly refreshing to know.  McRae too built on this stealth - nowhere more so than in his blistering leadership in Rubies - one of a rightful international league.- but two days ago.  (I know he did the exchange with ABT this year, but part of me wishes he could do the same with this assignment with NYCB.)  Another highlight for me was the first UK sighting of a Jason Peck piece here performed by and created for the LA Dance Project.  I simply had to go back and see its second jubilant performance (although I didn't stay to see the remainder of the programme for a second time - knowing that Peck's piece as evidenced in its thrill through movement was more than worth the price of ANY ticket.)  I was, again, only heartbroken that there were so few people in that Sadler's Wells audience.  That, too, sadly spoke for itself.)   Standing above all, however - and for nothing more than the diversity of its pure joy and intelligence - were BOTH programmes by the Mark Morris Dance Company.  Please may we have them back to hold more mirrors up to our nature.  How lucky we were to be in London in 2013.  Very lucky indeed.  This was OUR Olympics!!

Edited by Meunier
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Most memorable ballet bits for me of 2013:

 

Marianela Nunez’s wicked Gamzatti smile reaching up to row R in the Amphitheatre.

 

The corps of the Sofia National Ballet doing a Mexican wave bow at the Swan Lake final curtain call.

 

The matinee Bolshoi La Bayadère Manu dance by Anastasia Stashkevich (the cutest dance of the year).

 

The Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev Flames of Paris pas de deux, most heart pounding moment of the year, and the loudest applause I’ve heard at the ROH.

 

All of Le Corsaire (best ballet of the year).

 

The ENB Snowflakes under the falling snow, with the choir of children in one of the boxes (most beautiful moment of the year).

 

Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb in Rubies (most exciting partnering of the year).

 

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 Osipova and Vasiliev in Don Quixote and Laurencia with the Mikhailovsky, and in Flames of Paris with the Bolshoi,  Semionova and Matvienko in Giselle,  Alina Cojocaru and Jason Reilly in Onegin,  also Nunez and Soares in Onegin,  Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in everything they danced with the Bolshoi but Diamonds in particular, Carlos Acosta's show at the Coliseum, most of the Bolshoi's Season and the chance to see Sergei Filin on stage, Evgenia Obratsova and Natalia Osipova dancing Juliet, and latest the new Don Quixote, especially Iana Salenko and Steven McRae. Congratulations to Carlos Acosta CBE!

 

That's just what I can remember at the moment, shows what an amazing amount of first class ballet is on show in London!

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Janet McNulty

 

I agree with you about Northern's Cinderella and Birmingham's Sleeping Beauty. I have yet to see Jewels and Le Corsaire. I saw Bourne's Swan Lake some time ago and while I appreciate it I prefer his Cinderella.

 

I also love the dancers you singled out, particularly Moore and Leebolt.

 

The highlights of the year for me were:

 

  • Ballet Black's Mixed Bill
  • MurleyDance's autumn tour
  • the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company's programme
  • the Yorkshire Summer School Gala at Sadler's Wells
  • Scottish Ballet's Hansel & Gretel
  • Northern's Midsummer Night's Dream and Cinderella, and
  • Stuttgart's Taming of the Shrew.

My favourite dancers of the year were

  • Sarah Kundi, and
  • Michaela dePrince

but I am looking forward to seeing my all time favourite dancer. Antoinette Sibley, on the 2 Feb.

 

Actually I wrote a few notes in Frohes Neues Jahr which started as a review of the dance interludes from today's concert but went off on a tangent as my posts usually do.

 

I relay to you and everyone else on this forum the Vienna Phil's greeting "Frohes neues Jahr." 

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I have several wonderful memories.  The two most memorable are:

 

Svetlana Zakharova and Friedemann Vogel in Giselle at Teatro dell' Opera di Roma.

 

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Don Quixote at Metropolitan Opera House.

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ADDENDUM ... 

 

I just wanted to add to my list of memories from 2013 that of the stunning force of balletic nature that is the retiring POB etoile Nicholas le Riche in La Jeune Homme et la Mort.  As the young folk are wont to say - and as I believe in this instance is more than fully deserved:  He was AWESOME :)  I will only add that I feel confident in saying this having been privileged to witness all three - (and let's not mistake it WAS a PRIVILEGE) - of his public performances in that role with the very fine Company that is ENB.   

 

I would also like to add what a delight it was to see a dedicated Xander Parish further blossom in the programmes hastily compiled by A Liepa at the Coliseum..  What a gift it was to be able to comfortably cheer the home team in this regard.  I very much look forward to the potential of seeing a further extension of his gifts when the Mariinsky visit London in July/August of this year.  

Edited by Meunier
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I was fortunate to see a lot of ballet in 2013, which was a bumper year for visiting overseas companies. It's hard to pick out any particular performances as there were so many really enjoyable ones. However, I really enjoyed Northern Ballet's Gatsby, the Mikhailovsky's Don Q (Osipova/Vasiliev) for the sheer energy of the performances and the incredible excitement generated in the theatre and ENB's Petite Mort and Song of a Wayfarer. My personal highlights were seeing the charismatic Nicolas Le Riche in one of his signature roles and the many performances of Vadim Muntagirov which I saw, particularly in Song of a Wayfarer (mesmerising), Swan Lake (supremely elegant) and with Daria Klimentova in The Nutcracker (a luminous partnership). The men of Stuttgart Ballet were wonderful but I would have liked to have seen them in meatier repertoire. Boston Ballet was a very welcome visitor who showcased some very good dancers in two varied and exciting programmes.

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I cannot add much to this thread as my ballet going tends to involve BRB only but I must mention Ambra Vallo's fantastic last Giselle at the Hippodrome with Cesar Morales.

 

Added to that I would like to mention the increase in ballet on T V. Particularly on Sky Arts 2. If anyone has not seen the documentary 'Madam and The Dying Swan' I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's even very funny in places.

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My ballet of the year was Ratmansky’s 24 Preludes for the RB and I will long remember the beautiful duet he created in it for Benjamin and Cojocaru, all the more poignant now those ladies have departed.

 

Best new production has to be Le Corsair by ENB, tremendous performances by the company as a whole, but whether it was a wise choice for ENB’s repertoire remains to be seen as I’m told ticket sales at the Coli are slow.

 

Best visiting company for me was Mark Morris; both programmes were outstanding with the beautiful and moving Socrates in the first programme contrasting with the laugh-out-loud A Wooden Tree in the second.

 

Best performance by a ballerina?  I can’t choose between Glurdjidze in Raymonda and Novikova’s remarkable Giselle, actually they were the best two performances I’ve seen in some years.

 

Best male dancer has to be Vadim Muntagirov who just gets better and better every time I see him.  His recent performance in Nutcracker with Cojocaru looked to me like a great partnership in the making.

 

Best newcomer:  Kristina Kretova of the Bolshoi, a witty charmer who is far more than just technique.

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Best performance by a ballerina?  I can’t choose between Glurdjidze in Raymonda and Novikova’s remarkable Giselle, actually they were the best two performances I’ve seen in some years.

 

Best male dancer has to be Vadim Muntagirov who just gets better and better every time I see him.  His recent performance in Nutcracker with Cojocaru looked to me like a great partnership in the making.

 

Best newcomer:  Kristina Kretova of the Bolshoi, a witty charmer who is far more than just technique.

 

I so agree with you MAB.

 

Unfortunately the simply wonderful performances by Elena and Olesya did not appear to have been seen by the critics and are, thus, missing from the lists for the Critics' Circle Awards.

 

Vadim is now growing into dancing with Alina in a way that augurs well for the future.

 

And Kristina was a delight last summer - but, again, alas, largely overlooked by the critics.

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Well, I just feel so privileged to have seen so many wonderful ballets this year. 2013 has been a perfect ballet year for me. Previously,  I've had financial or personal issues that have made it difficult for me to attend as many performances as I'd wanted to. Life gets in the way sometimes. But this year has been very good to me so I'm thankful for that. I've been able to attend more performances in 2013 than I have in many a year. 2013 has been a truly special year for me as a ballet lover.

 

I  have 2 real highlights. First is Ed Watson and Mara Galeazzi in Mayerling. It was so emotional I was shaking for 24 hours and would not speak to anyone for 48 hours. I just wanted to be left alone with that performance in my soul.

 

The second was Alina Cojacaru and Jason Reilly in Onegin. This was scheduled to be danced by Kobborg and I was devastated when he was injured. But the minute Reilly walked on stage, I knew I was seeing something so special, so moving. They were beyond words together in this.

 

But that;s pinning it down. I could go on......... Wow what a year. How very special. 

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Well, at something of a tangent to everyone else thus far, it's Witch Hunt (Hexenhatz), brought to the Linbury from Bern in May that I still recall most often.  Cathy Marston's final work out there before leaving as Director was, for me, immensely satisfying - so well constructed in its melding of text and action, and put across by a team that clearly believed in what it was doing.  I have to single out the female leads, Clemmie Sveaas, Paula Alonso, Martina Langmann and actress Mona Kloos - who, by the end, was drawn from her position on the sidelines into the centre of the action.  Every so often I return to Dave Morgan's start-to-finish gallery in the Photo Archive and it all floods back.  As I said, immensely satisfying.  

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Ian Macmillan

 

I missed Hexenhatz when it came to England which is a pity in view of what you say.  The YouTube video, which has excerpts from the ballet and some comments from the choreographer, is very interesting.

 

On the subject of witch hunts I seem to remember that Scottish Ballet have recently staged Arthur Miller's The Crucible as a ballet though I have yet to see it. I wonder how they compare or indeed whether they are even comparable.

 

I was in Geneva for work a few weeks ago and asked about ballet in Switzerland. There is a lot going on which is impressive given the small population of the confederation. I believe Bejart is there.

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Loved watching Carlos and Nela in Corsair - can't wait for the DVD but the most memorable has to be Alina's and Johann's final RB performance of Mayerling. You could feel the emotion in the house before the show started and the final curtain call and flower throw will be something I will never forget - shame this was not filmed for posterity.

 

Also loved the final of the RB School matinee performance - when all the children pile on stage.

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Loved meeting Janet and Helen (Don Q Fan) in Manchester.

 

Top dancing highlight had to be Osipova in Giselle with the Mikhailovsky. Her performance was breathtaking and indescribably moving and I can't wait to see her at the ROh a week on Saturday and in the live relay on the 27th.

Other highlights were her and Vasiliev in the Mikhailovsky Don Q and Laurencia and her debut in the Royal Ballet's Romeo; not a huge favourite as a ballet for me but she made it special.

My 'wow factor' ballet was definately the Vasipova Flames. it was just amazing!!!!!! I've never seen anything quite like it or for an audience to react to a ballet with such passion and eloquence.

I loved the Alina and Marianella performances of Onegin I saw at the beginning of the year. It is one of my favouite ballets and both casts were superb and heartbreaking. Special mention for Steven as a wonderful Lensky, and also his Don Q. He is a wonderful talent and we are lucky to have him.

I really enjoyed Stuttgart's ballet Taming of the Shrew despite some of it's content not being to modern taste. I thought the Petruchio on Friday night (I'm afraid I can't remember his name) was really excellent and wished the critics had attended that performance rather then the Saturday matinee.

Finally I must praise the live cinema relays. For us provincial folk living 200 miles from London it is an amazing treat to see performaces that are so accessible and where you can get such wonderful close-ups you can see details in costumes and facial expressions you couldn't see if you attended a live performance in the amphi. I am able to go with friends who would otherwise never see the Royal Ballet. We are lucky to have this wonderful facility, especially as more ballet is being shown. Well done the Bolshoi and the ROH for making this incredible treat possible.

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A bit late to this but 2013 was a wonderful year for ballet - really epic, with epic performances.

Sad memories - attack on Sergei Filin

Happy memories - Natalia Osipova in Giselle, Laurencia, Flames of Paris, Romeo and Juliet

Ivan Vasiliev in Laurencia, Flames of Paris

Evgenia Obratzova and Olga Smirnova in Jewels

The adorable dancing toddler in FoP

Boston ballet

Cinema transmissions from RB and Bolshoi

 

Thanks to all the ballet dancers, musicians and all who work so hard to bring audiences this great art. I am looking forward to 2014.

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  Ballet Black, I was slightly worried about this because our tickets had "restricted view" on them but we were front row and saw everything. The War Letters(?) piece stands out especially. 

 

  BRB with Sleeping Beauty at the Lowry with the lovely Jenna Roberts and Iain Mckay, lovely production with dancing to match. 

 

  Carlos Acosta's Classical Selections at the Coliseum, Diana and Actaeon pas de deux with the wonderful Marianela Nunez, Rhapsody with Yuhui Choe and Ricardo Cervera, Manon with Leanne Benjamin and Nehemiah Kish and Mayerling with Leanne Benjamin, Carlos Acosta and Ricardo Cervera.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still mulling this one over, but a few items which stick out in the memory enough for me not to have to go and drag out last year's diary are:

 

- Osipova in Giselle

 

- Nunez in Diamonds - and something else she was particularly wonderful in, but it escapes me for the moment  no it doesn't: Onegin with Thiago Soares.

 

- Nicolas le Riche in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort

 

- for very different reasons - Ed Watson's first and last Mayerlings of the run: the first was just one of those "you had to be there" moments (how often do you hear sniffs - and more - from hardened critics?), and the last was just unbelievably emotional, especially when you were as close to the stage as I was.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should also mention the second of his The Metamorphosis performances which I saw, when I was close enough to finally understand what the critics had been enthusing about when they referred to the expression in his eyes.

 

My Miss of the Year (as in I sooooooooooooooooo wish I hadn't missed it) was Jonathan Goddard in Dracula with the Mark Bruce company.  Hoping it will be resurrected - I decided that the Theatre Royal Stratford East might be suitably atmospheric if they wanted another London venue.

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Have finally decided on these highlights for 2013

 

Osipova and Vasiliev in Don Q .......real edge of seat stuff!! and Osipova in R and J for her wonderful artistry

 

The Royal Ballet School matinee students performance last summer so moving to see all the young talent there

 

Being able to be present at the YBSS Masterclass taken by Anthony Dowell with eight very talented students and watching the classes and then the final show for parents given by all the students there.

 

Seeing the Bolshoi Flames of Paris for the first time and with friends who were at the ROH for the first time ever and enjoying it hugely!

 

Watching the Rambert company in class and rehearsal so exhilarating .......and enjoying seeing the new building too.

 

And I am including Le Corsair by ENB which although have only just seen will count as 2013!! Real feast of dancing there!

 

There are lots of ballets missed of course and most sorry didn't book the Royals Don Q as well.

 

Not quite on topic but also joining this balletcoforum......it has been a real pleasure following the different threads and getting involved in the many and varied discussions here.

Linda

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm still mulling this one over, but a few items which stick out in the memory enough for me not to have to go and drag out last year's diary are: [snip]

 

- for very different reasons - Ed Watson's first and last Mayerlings of the run: the first was just one of those "you had to be there" moments (how often do you hear sniffs - and more - from hardened critics?), and the last was just unbelievably emotional, especially when you were as close to the stage as I was.

In fact, I was in the ROH Shop the other evening watching the DVD of Mayerling from the previous run, and wishing they'd waited another 2 or 3 years, because the performances had intensified so much in that time.

 

And I do still intend to haul my diary out - when time permits.

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