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Royal Ballet: Rhapsody/Tetractys - The Art of Fugue/Gloria: February 2014


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Loved Rhapsody. Thought McRae was awesome. Gloria is interesting but it dragged for me a bit. I won't mention what I thought of Tetractys as it will probably break some forum rule.

 

Would be interesting to read what other people thought.

Edited by chrischris
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I saw the rehearsal today, and judging by the reaction to Tetractys there and on twitter this evening I suspect I'm going to be in a minority of people who potentially like it. It feels like a piece that requires work to get into, once I started watching it like a puzzle, trying to figure out how the dance fits the fugues I started to enjoy it.

 

Some bits were definitely better than others, such as the bit with 3 dancers in black & white.

 

Quite happy to see it again tomorrow to find out whether it grows on you, or whether it turns out like a Rubik cube for the vast majority of people - have a go and play around a little, get stuck, never touch it again

 

ETA: there is a small possibility that I was just so relieved that the 'soundtrack' was nothing like Atomos that it would automatically qualify as a better McGregor for me - not usually keen on his music choices.

Edited by Coated
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Chris:  I've just edited the thread title to make later searches a bit easier.  Feel free to expand on Tetractys - there are certainly two camps as here, as elsewhere, as regards its creator's work!  I wasn't there tonight, but I'm always torn over Gloria - I love it in many ways, yet have never been quite able to square the liturgical text (though the Poulenc version was never intended for liturgical use) with Ken MacMillan's choreography.

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Rhapsody - was a triumph (as almost always). McRae danced outstandingly well and I thought Morera was really good - have never been much of a fan of her dancing but she was fantastic tonight. I have a feeling she is developing hugely recently. Everyone was on top form including the orchestra who were tight and together - a real pleasure.

Tetractys - I really did not like it. Thought again Bach is difficult for ballet but then remembered the outstanding Tamara Rojo Linbury Goldberg Variations . . . . I liked the set design but need to see it again to understand it I think (very spare geometric neon - I kept nearly understanding the patterns but was then distracted by the dance). Someone I went with does want to see this again. I don't at all. For me there was neither interesting enough set nor wonderful music to make sense if it all. I could not believe that McRae was dancing again and a major part - he must be shattered. Unbelievable cast all of whom danced really well but overall it just felt messy - couldn't work out a theme (ironic really) or an overall shape or pattern to it. Maybe this is one which needs to bed in and be seen a few times ??? Left puzzled.

Gloria - I left before this as it is one of my very least favourite.

 

 

 

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I was at the photocall for this on Thursday - here are a few pics:

 

 

12354790395_ff432641d2_z.jpg
Francesca Hayward & James Hay, in Rhapsody
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Eric Underwood, Marianela Nunez, Thiago Soares, in Tetractys - The Art of Fugue
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 


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Sarah Lamb & Thiago Soares, Carlos Acosta in Gloria
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

See more...

Set from DanceTabs - Royal Ballet Mixed Bill (Feb 2014)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

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I was also at the opening night. As others have said, the cast were uniformly excellent for Rhapsody - so fast, and yet so poetic, Steven McRae at his best, Laura Morera just going from strength to strength, and the corps were gorgeous. Gasp and goosebump-inducingly great.

McGregor piece: there are (as ever there is with his work) some astonishing movement and duets to see, and this really ties in well with the music at times (not always a forte). Think I need to get into that music a bit more to get the most out of it, as I found it a little dull (especially when multiple cast members covorting - it wasn't always easy to follow then). Which isn't something I thought I'd catch myself saying about a McGregor piece, love it or loathe it.

Gloria - utterly glorious. Not quite as high in my listings as Requiem of McMillan's short works, but not far off. Sarah Lamb was magnificent, Thiago Soares danced as well as I've seen him (think this is his star role in my opinion) and Carlos Acosta commanded the stage. Hats off to Meaghan Grace Hinkis in the 2nd female lead - was very impressed by her attack and poise.

 

All in all, very enjoyable night, in a multitude of differing ways.

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Well, that Tetractys photo reminded me of the thread a few months ago discussing the Luke Jennings article where he complained about the way male choreographers require female dancers to be manipulated in ways that emphasise their genitals, and he particularly mentioned McGregor as a prime example. Looks as though nothing's changed in the meantime, unless that photo was unrepresentative.

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Enjoyed last night's performance (7/2)! Rhapsody was sublime - Stephen was excellent and Laura was ahoy to watch - happy to see someone who doesn't necessarily fit the mould dancing well...

Tetractys was ummm, ummm - not sure about this at all - going to matinee today and will give it another go.

I've always liked Gloria. I missed Leanne Benjamin who I adored in this piece but Sarah was lovely. I wish this followed Rhapsody though ...

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I can only agree with what has been said about Rhapsody. Steven McRae was outstandingly good (and amazingly fast) and got a well deserved roar of approval at the end.

 

Teractys was just another set of McGregor gyrations....some amazingly good and some just plain ugly. (In support of Melody's comments, thank heavens the  dancers were clad in body suits this time). Having two simultaneous duets at the beginning was distracting (especially as one pair had Natalia Osipova and the other Eric Underwood, you didn't know where to look!) as was the dancers constant change of costume.  I was hoping that using a classical composer would make the ballet more accessible than some of McGregor's previous works but actually, for me, it seemed too bland for the choreography and the whole thing lost its edge. At the end the dancers got their rightful applause but there were boos at the back of the amphi when the creative team came onto the stage. I loved Chroma and Carbon Life and enjoyed Raven Girl but I don't see this one as a keeper. Osipovas flexibility had raised murmurs and gasps all around, but not even that would tempt me into seeing it again.

 

Gloria has long been a favourite (we saw Makarova perform it in the early 1980's) but somewhere along the line it seems to have lost its soul. I think it has something to do with the tension and stretch of the upper body that gave the piece it haunting almost yearning quality. Sarah Lamb is a lovely dancer but if that yearning quality is still there it is certainly not reaching the amphitheatre. Kudos to Meaghan Grace Hinkis who gave a wonderful performance in the second lead.

 

So all in all a mixed evening. Tellingly, the husband had gone back to whistling the music to Giselle before we'd even left the Opera House on the long trip back to Bristol.

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Fine performance this afternoon from James and Francesca. Hope they get more opportunities to develop further. Was nervous for both but they handled themselves well...

...am chuffed with talent spotting abilities having 'discovered' Francesca when she was in the corps... so all that painful classical training wasn't actually a waste of time he says ...rather unconvincingly

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I have just seen on the ROH website that Tetractys has been cancelled this evening due to injury and illness.  This must  be a quite unusual . Patrons are being given the choice of leaving and getting a full refund or staying for the two other ballets and getting a third refund.  Very disappointing if you have come from a distance indeed 'a bit of a disaster darling' as someone once said.

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Crazy not to have understudies. Sometimes despair of the ROH

It won't be an ROH or even a Royal Ballet decision. It's a choreographers decision, though I'm sure RB management would warn of the risk. For obvious reasons most ballet choreographers ensure they never put themselves or the company in this position.

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It won't be an ROH or even a Royal Ballet decision. It's a choreographers decision, though I'm sure RB management would warn of the risk. For obvious reasons most ballet choreographers ensure they never put themselves or the company in this position.

 

Yes, I know, and exactly. Why would the RB let McGregor take that risk?

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I note that the ROH website admits this has been an 'unusual step,' given the complexity of the piece and the impossibility of rehearsing a second cast in the time available.  And as Bruce says, most choreographers would ensure that they never put themselves or a company in such a position, yet it has happened here  - with the ROH reduced to be being no more than 'hopeful' that the cast will be OK by next Tuesday.  So there is no suggestion, it seems, of a backup being organised.  Are we to take it, therefore, that the RB has permitted (indulged?) Mr McGregor to create a small group somewhat apart, one that runs in some way in isolation from normal company policies?  On the face of it, a poor show.  Might the prospect of having to offer refunds ensure that he is kept on a tighter leash in future?

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It does seem odd.  I believe he has always had a second cast available before, even if they haven't actually performed, but we know there are a number of injuries and there must be a heavy workload for a lot of the dancers, with various new or as-new works being prepared more or less at once.

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On a more positive note, I was at both performances today and had planned to leave after the McGregor because of transport difficulties on a Saturday evening so things worked out quite well for me. I felt the audience were very sympathetic to the situation and only saw one couple leave the orchestra stalls. Very sad really when you think of the performances that we saw. Yuhui Choe and Valentino Zucchetti were superb in Rhapsody as were Lamb, Acosta and Hirano in Gloria. As for Francesca Hayward and James Hay in the matinee Rhapsody what can one say. There were a few tears of joy and happiness in the conservatory bar at the interval. How often do we see two former YBDOY and former white lodgers dance the principal roles in an iconic Ashton ballet. I feel sure that Lesley Collier must have been very happy with the performance of these youngsters. I cannot recall seeing a corp de ballet member dancing the lead female role in this ballet before. A  day to remember despite the unfortunate circumstances of the evening. 

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"It won't be an ROH or even a Royal Ballet decision"

 

The people at the top especially at the top of the Royal Ballet are responsible for the decision to allow the choreographer, they appointed, to carry out this piece of "bad practice".

The buck stops at the top.

These people are paid very large salaries funded by the government borrowing money on our behalf (Tax payers outside the S.E.).

They have probably been  getting well higher than inflation rises in salary for many years.

They should not be apologised for they have employees ( PR man) to do that for them

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I was sorry about the fact that Osipova had hit her head and Soares was unwell and wish them both well. I also think it curious that the RB does not take adequate precautions to ensure that the show can go on.

 

However, having seen Tectratys in the afternoon, I felt that once was enough for one day - and, maybe one viewing of another somewhat predictable McGregor piece surrounded with a lot of what seems to me to be pseudo-intellectual hype (again!) was all I need anyway.

 

In common with others above, I enjoyed Rhapsody and Gloria (and the various performers) very much. Two wonderful examples of glorious music being enhanced by dance.

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I have very mixed feelings over this.  It's fine for people who are regulars and can go more than once.  I would have been somewhat disgruntled if this had been my one ROH treat of the year and I was only able to see 2/3 of the programme, especially as I have enjoyed the Wayne McGregor pieces I have already seen.

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"It won't be an ROH or even a Royal Ballet decision"

 

The people at the top especially at the top of the Royal Ballet are responsible for the decision to allow the choreographer, they appointed, to carry out this piece of "bad practice".

The buck stops at the top.

These people are paid very large salaries funded by the government borrowing money on our behalf (Tax payers outside the S.E.).

They have probably been  getting well higher than inflation rises in salary for many years.

They should not be apologised for they have employees ( PR man) to do that for them

I'm not apologising for them and I'd hope that they and McGregor will change their relationship/way of working not to be here again.

 

And I'm appalled that the McGregor/RB position only holds out crossed fingers for the next performance on Tuesday, on the basis that both Soares and Osipova will be Ok again - as outlined on the ROH blog at:

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/tonights-performance-of-tetractys-the-art-of-fugue-cancelled

 

Casting a piece is usually central and the choreographer takes the lead. Time and time again it comes up about why managements allow choreographers to go off the rails in creating work ("Why didn't somebody say something" etc) and I think its because managements don't find it easy, or believe it's wise, to 'interfere' with creativity. If a work were sold, for example, as being created by Liam Scarlett and the Royal Ballet, it would be different. But there is one name at the top and generally they get on with it and everybody sees the result come the premiere - despite any misgiving of a looming train crash etc. It seems central to Wayne McGregor's creativity/work that he uses a lot of Principals (8 in a cast of 12 for Tetractys) and that's essentially his artistic decision and I doubt the contract says much about it. I think most ballet trained choreographers (and who were often ballet dancers) know you really need second casts and it strikes me that contracts really ought to put an onus on the choreographer, in return for the wodge and much creative freedom, to put on 2 casts and create work where casts can be interchanged at short notice. Because life is a bitch and dancers get injured etc.

 

It's right and easy to blame management in a binary world but I see it as a much greyer world and I see how this probably happened - part of a 'outside' choreographer really pushing a system hard to conjure great and new things (or not) and the system not really being fully in place to with cope it. It should have been really, I know. Main thing is that McGregor, as the creative in all this, appreciates that these things really do happen and he needs to create dance that gets danced and doesn't create work so single threaded on individuals. The company is 90+ strong and just shouldn't be here. So I hope future contracts make it clear and McGregor, in the normal time made available to create and prepare work for stage, has 2 meaningful casts. But managing creativity is not easy! Not to mention studio time.

 

All that's my 2p. But there is always another side - I'm mindful of the recent discussions here about Vadim, leaving ENB to join RB, where some harsh things were assumed and said with vigour and which were subsequently shown wrong.

Edited by Bruce
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