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Kings of the Dance


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The UK premiere of Kings of the Dance opened tonight at the Coliseum and is on until Saturday. The dancers are Roberto Bolle, Ivan Vasiliev, Leonid Sarafanov, Denis Matvienko, Marcelo Gomez and "Queen" Svetlana Lunkina. Here are some pictures from the rehearsal.

 

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 Roberto Bolle in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort - 20th & 22nd March
 
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 Svetlana Lunkina (all performances) and Ivan Vasilev in Le Jeune Homme et la Mort 19th & 21st March
 
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 Denis Matvienko, Marcelo Gomes and Leonid Sarafanov in Nacho Duarto's Remanso 
 
More pictures in two albums on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk
 
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A flood of red was seen in the balcony for last night's KINGS OF DANCE programme.  Perhaps everyone was at the Royal's cinema relay.  Overall it was an enjoyable affair by some truly wonderful dancers.  

 

Sad that they moved Le Jeune Homme et la Mort into the middle act of three as it meant two intervals of 35 minutes each to set/strike the set.  As seen on the Coliseum stage before Vasiliev was riveting in his performance as that desparate young man, rife with his ever changeable Chaplin-like gaze, one that can both bolt and placate by choice.  This was, I thought, the piece that suffered most in being performed to a recording of the score.  Petit almost demands that the instruments should breathe alongside his dancers; that they too should be one in their domination.  So wonderful to see Lunkina, here placing her temptress of death on a very fine and wittily Gallic wire.  She sawed; Vasiliev lunged.

 

Remanso, making up the first act, while well danced, has dated not so well I thought.  The third act held the most interest with a programme of largely new items being shared amongst this extraordinary group.  In Prototype Roberto Bolle multiplied, fought and caressed himself against an amazing video display which was - refreshingly - EVEN available to those sitting in the upper reaches.  It was so wonderful to see the Proust pas set aside its enticing prologue, here dazzlingly etched by Denis Matvienko and Marcelo Gomez.  Matvienko was every centimeter the troubled innocent and Gomes, here made his male tempter - so strong in his technique and yet simple but direct in his dramatic impetus - alluring and frighteningly cool.  Gomez toyed masterfully utilising the simplest of terms as only a master can.  He singed Matvienko's delicate edges with his black eye'd lazer sharp precision.  It was only fitting that the audience should make up in sound what they seemingly lacked in numbers in their appreciative response.  

 

Tue was what we sometimes know as Vestris and was, of course, part of what won Baryishnikov that gold medal at Varna which largely launched his international career oh, so many years ago.  As much as I adore Sarafanov's delicate prowess I have, I fear, seen this better animated.  I'm not entirely sure this was the best choice for this exquisite dancer. That didn't, however, stop Vasiliev from returning to SIZZLE in the Labyrinth of Solitude.  While I didn't think the choreography by Tomaso Antoio Vitali was anything that would set the world on fire, Ivan Vasiliev - in his determination - made it seem as if it might (as was acknowledged by the audience's explosion at the end).  His hands empowered as much as the brickwork force of his feet held sway in their forward trust.  He literally took off and yet somehow tied all unto that innocence that one instinctively has come to feel is part of Vasiliev's intensely personal make-up.  Here hurt and painful resolution met in this one person and paraded through the ever twisting shapes of his back.  They painted their own labyrinth of fleeting images and depicted no less than a wounded animal fighting to beat back the searing pain of his own personal shingles.  I was so pleased Vasiliev came down to the very lip of the Coliseum's stage to receive his audience's (as that is what they were by then) deserved acclaim.  He looked for a moment genuinely shocked.  Still he had here - sometimes determinedly, sometimes single handedly - kept this somewhat wayward and overlong piece together.  He had tamed this particular shrew in style  At moments he even made her sing.   How he managed to come back but less than a minute later to take part - with such animated style - in the closing jaunt, KO'd, staged by Gomez to music by another dancer 'king', Guillaume Cote of the National Ballet of Canada - (who, like Gomez, is a former RB guest) - is anyone's guess.  Adrenaline clearly counts for much.  I was, myself, only a tad concerned to see Vasiliev fleetingly clutch his lower back during the joy-filled and relaxed group curtain call much as he had done in more formal style last Saturday after Rubies at La Scala in Milan.  One thing was unique here, however.  At no point did such stand in the way of his overall commitment to perform.  Vasiliev delivered and, boy, how this audience - that which was there at any rate - lapped it up.  

Edited by Meunier
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Yes, I loved it too, will be interesting to read the reviews, thought that the Petit was rightly placed in the middle for dramatic effect as I think Remanso was too whimsical for a centrepiece, for once I didn't mind the 35 minutes intervals, especially as the last 65 minute section was worth waiting for,  in particular Roberto Bolle and Ivan Vasiliev's amazing solo's , the combination of power and sensitivity that all the dancers displayed during the evening was almost overwhelming, a very great evening of ballet!

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A flood of red was seen in the balcony for last night's KINGS OF DANCE programme.  Perhaps everyone was at the Royal's cinema relay.  

 

My guess is that they were put off by the exceptionally high prices: £29 for the back row of the balcony?!

 

On that point, it's worth noting that, tonight at least, the tkts booth in Leicester Square has £49 tickets at £27.50.

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What an absolutely fabulous evening of dance and what a pity there were so few of us to appreciate it. The upper circle was likewise less than half full, though from the volume of appreciate whistles and yells, one would not have thought so.

Having only ever seen Remanso on DVD it was interesting to see it live, however the highlight for me had to be  'Le Jeune Homme et la Mort'. Ivan Vasiliev's agonised youth, so fabulously taunted and manipulated by the wonderful Svetlana Lunkina was worth the admission price alone. How I wish we could afford to see it again on Friday.

The programme did suffer from the timings - an opening piece of 15 minutes followed by a 35 minute interval is hardly ideal. However this did give us the opportunity to people watch and locate a group of very notable principal dancers seated in the stalls below us. Maybe the shock Meunier noticed  when Mr Vasiliev took his bow after his brilliant performance of 'Labyrinth of Solitude' was because a certain Ms Osipova gave him a standing ovation from the centre of the stalls.

The final act had comprised short pieces that showcased each dancer before  KO'd  (the finale which featured them all). They had obviously enjoyed themselves and were still having fun whilst getting their well deserved ovations at the end. From the sheer volume of appreciation it was obvious the audience had thoroughly enjoyed the evening as well. If you haven't got a ticket, I recommend you get one

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A couple more photos from the dress rehearsal. The set changing for 'Mort' eventually meant we ran out of time for the last piece (where all 5 of the 'Kings' appeared together) which was a shame, but couldn't be helped.
 
13298144303_5189ca0504_z.jpg
lots of Roberto Bolle - in 'Prototype'
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Denis Matvienko, Marcelo Gomes in Morel et Saint-Loup
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
See more...
Set from DanceTabs - Kings of the Dance
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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On that point, it's worth noting that, tonight at least, the tkts booth in Leicester Square has £49 tickets at £27.50.

 

And tonight.  I find that odd, because when I looked at availability tonight yesterday, it looked pretty well sold.  Yet when I look at the seating plans today there are loads of seats available.  I did think the apparent sales patterns looked rather suspicious, though.

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I saw last night's performance. Vasiliev was the star of the show and received huge applause for both his pieces. He looked in very good shape.There's no doubt that Le Jeune Homme did suffer from not being accompanied by an orchestra. Whilst very good, Vasiliev did not have the same magnetism as Le Riche and his partnering and 'prop handling' was not as smooth. Lunkina, though, was the best dancer I have seen in the role. The other pieces (with the exception of Vestris, which I hated) all had interest but ran out of ideas part way through for me. Marcelo Gomes has incredible stage presence (and onstage power and virility) and I'd love to see him dance again in something more substantial. Whilst I enjoyed the evening I did come away feeling that it was a bit 'Ballet Chippendales'.The audience was interesting last night. The two women next to me left in apparent disgust at the end of Le Jeune Homme; the couple next to me talked intermittently throughout (in low voices) and the couple behind me only saw the third part having seen the Prologue and Act 1 of Sleeping Beauty and had a drink at the ROH. There was also what seemed to be a bit of a slow handclap at the end of one of the intervals.

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What a strange mix, Prologue and Act 1 of SB and Kings of the Dance, suppose SB was mostly all girls, and Kings all men :)

 

Jann Parry hits the nail on the head when she says in her review that most of the audience will have gone to see the dancers not the choreography, certainly that was the thrilling part for me, that I saw 5 great male dancers in one evening, and 1 woman of course!

 

Has anyone seen Roberto Bolle in Le Jeunne Homme ?

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Aileen - I had EXACTLY the same reaction to the performance as you did., down to loathing Vestris!!  Luckily I didn't have anyone around me talking or rustling - but someone seemed so fed up with the length of the first interval that they left before Jeune Homme - which seemed a perfect example of cutting your nose off etc.

 

Some of the things Vasiliev did were extraordinary, and I do admire him.  I came out of his 'Don Q' absolutely fizzing with pleasure.  And yet he - for me - is lacking in 'magic'.  I was lucky enough to see the 'first' Vasilev at his height, and Nureyev from his second performance at Covent Garden, and I was trying to work out why they had that elusive something.  Was it just that I was more naive and had seen so much less back then?  That is partly why I think live performance is so wonderful - the contact that comes across the footlights with the artist on stage - and it's not only the leading dancer that can have it.

 

Sorry - second para is a bit incoherent - I'm finding it difficult to express what I mean!

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Thoughts on tonight's performance:

 

I actually quite liked Vestris when Valentino Zucchetti performed it for Men in Motion, so I think the issue was with the performer.  I don't think he quite had the character and comic acting ability to sell it - certainly it got a polite, rather than enthusiastic, reaction from the audience.

 

Roberto Bolle was the other disappointment for me.  I've never seen him perform before, and having seen him I'm struggling to see what the fuss is about.  I think he may have shot himself in the foot with his choice of choreography.  I liked the start of his piece, and was really interested to see how a video screen could be combined with dance, as I still think there's a lot of potential in this form.  It went rapidly downhill!  I detested the video footage of his torso in close-up ("the perfume ad", as I mentally termed it), and generally the piece had no coherency or emotion.

 

At the other end of the scale, the stand out star of the evening was without doubt Vasiliev.  He was absolutely outstanding - one of the most dazzling performances I've seen.  

 

Overall I think the evening was a mixed bag.  I didn't really like the overall production - I'm no fan of short performances mixed with multiple long intervals.  The first piece was fine, and skilfully danced (Gomes also gave a good performance throughout the evening), but I thought a bit weak to kick-off the show, especially when followed by a long break.  The pieces didn't really gel for me, and I think the choice of so many pieces with complex sets requiring time to change over was not good in the context of the evening.  More dance and less interval would have been good!

 

The comments I heard around me at the end were extremely positive.  I think people were blown away by the skill of the dancers - my feeling is Vasiliev really brought the level of the whole production up with his performance.  I was left a little disappointed, considering the calibre of the dancers.

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Have just got back from London so will post tomorrow on this.

I saw on Friday and agree that Vasiliev was the stand out performer.....and he did Le jeune Homme piece as well on Friday.....though all the other dancers were really very good. It's a question of whether you liked the choreography or not in the end I think.

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A number of critics have complained about the quality of the choreography in this programme. Stuttgart Ballet brought some male solos to London last autumn and I, personally, wasn't that keen on them either although they seem to be highly regarded by German audiences and critics (and others). For me, most male solos and duets are either fey or self-indulgent/narcissistic. The only ones which I have really liked are Narcisse (performed by Polunin) and Songs of a Wayfarer (performed by Muntagirov and Berlanga). Has anyone seen any other effective male solos or duets?

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There were some good pieces at Men in Motion - I really liked some of the German performances in that production (can't remember the names, sorry!).  Although I was only half-sold on the Proust.

 

They could also of course go down the route of performing excerpts from full-length ballets, e.g. Act III Sleeping Beauty; Don Quixote.  

 

 Polunin performs a fairly modern piece called "Le Bourgeois", which I quite like.

 

I was thinking last night that they would have better material if they included pieces with a male focus, but which do include a female role, as they did with Jeune Homme.  Kobborg's Les Lutins would be a good male show-off piece if they would allow a woman to be included in the production.  

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Reading the Men in Motion thread again, I think that I should have gone to that performance rather than Kings of the Dance. However, I was really keen to see Le Jeune Homme again and, particularly, to see Vasiliev in it and that's why I booked for the latter programme.

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It is very interesting to see others views on this performance. On the whole I enjoyed it but the intervals were too long and the pieces were of uneven quality. To me, Vestris was a criminal waste of Sarafanov's talent. Very disappointing as I have not been able to see him in a live performance before. Agree that on Friday it was Vasiliev's night. My husband was not converted to this type of performance!

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I saw 2 performances of KoD, one with Vasiliev and one with Bolle in Jeune Homme. I don't regret paying money for it (it was worth it for Vasiliev's JH alone), but would not buy expensive tickets for this in future unless I hear that the programming has massively improved.

 

In reality, this was probably the only way for me to see some of the performers on Stage and I can appreciate the show for that. KoD left me feeling that I'd love to see them all in their 'natural habitat', but not in Vestris or old Duato pieces.

 

They should take the lead from of Men in Motion and commission pieces for the show instead of scouring the attic for choreography with no ladies in it. Or just invite a couple of ladies along so they can perform any role they deem suited to their talent regardless of their partner's gender. At the end of the day, endless solos become quite boring, no matter how well performed

Edited by Coated
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The two pieces I really enjoyed on Friday were Le Jeune Homme and Labyrinthe Of Solitude by Patrick De Bana......really loved the choreography for the latter and the drama of JH.

In JH I thought Vasiliev suited the role really well but didn't know who to watch as Lunkina was wonderfully riveting to watch too.....would definitely like to see more of her. They both got the tension of the piece across beautifully.....I felt quite wrung out by the end!

In the de Bana piece Vasiliev was completely brilliant both in the bravura aspects and in being able to draw one(well me at any rate) fully into the Dance and connect with a more vulnerable side to this dancer. The choreography had everything really in terms of different qualities of movement.....lots of contrasts...soft and flowing.....explosive powerful movements with lightning speed......which Vasiliev was able to exploit to magnificent affect.....I felt with him all the way and felt quite exhausted but exhilarated by the end of the piece......how he had the energy to come out and dance in the last piece immediately afterwards I really don't know......quite amazing.....must have huge adrenal glands!!

There were some Russian ladies in front of us and even though usually I hate anything being interrupted by applause (unless it's Don Q perhaps) they just could not resist a very strong burst of clapping at Vasilievs jetes virtually at the speed of Light ....towards the end....but not the end....However I know how they felt on this occasion they could not wait to express their appreciation of his dancing .....but I did manage to contain myself until the end. He deserved every minute of the audience near adulation as well.

 

There was wonderful dancing too of course by all the others I enjoyed the Morel et Saint-Loup piece by Petit too with great performances from Matvienko and Gomes.

The piece danced solo by Sarafanov which I thought was called Tue......but apparently not.....but I did not buy a programme because at £10 just too expensive for a programme I thought......Ive only got the promotion leaflet to go by for info.....anyway whatever it was called I agree with some others I didn't like that much......maybe it needed a more of a real "comedian" to carry this off but did seem a bit of a waste of Sarafanov's talents especially as in the UK don't get much of a chance to see him. There was something strange and off centre about it perhaps better placed in some Gala evening as it seemed somewhat out of place in this programme although I know they were probably trying to get variety into it. It felt a little like a joke falling a bit flat in the end and I think the audience only politely received it as they were rather puzzled too!!

The remaining pieces were just okay rescued by the excellent dancing as is often the case.

 

I did not care that much for the arrangement of the programme......with a fairly short piece followed by a long interval.....good job it was Le Jeune Homme next as this probably restored the audience's faith in the programme! I think they should have put at least one other of the short pieces (or added an extra piece) after Remanso before that long interval......in fact just before Le Jeune Homme started someone tried to start a slow hand clap and I felt some sympathy for this......it took me back to when Nureyev used to give his shows at the Coli and often started 15-20 mins late!!

 

I ' m very glad I went as the evening overall was hugely enjoyable with some great music too......if turned up a little too loud on occasions so stressed the recordings a bit in places and I agree too that a couple of pieces with female dancers would be okay even if called Kings of the Dance and all these dancers were certainly worthy of the title.....with one beautiful Queen in Svetlana Lunkina.

Edited by LinMM
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[quote name="Coated" post="84859"

They should take the lead from of Men in Motion and commission pieces for the show instead of scouring the attic for choreography with no ladies in it. Or just invite a couple of ladies along so they can perform any role they deem suited to their talent regardless of their partner's gender. At the end of the day, endless solos become quite boring, no matter how well performed

 

That's what they did in the fisrt edition: Corella, Kobborg, Stiefel and Tsiskaridze had a solo especially created forthem (Kobborg had a Faun by Rushton, Tsiskaridze a Carmen by Petit, I don't remember the others). The "core"piece was the Lesson, with two ladies, but just because in one of the theatre they were touring there was not room enough for Jeune Homme one.

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That's what they did in the fisrt edition: Corella, Kobborg, Stiefel and Tsiskaridze had a solo especially created forthem (Kobborg had a Faun by Rushton, Tsiskaridze a Carmen by Petit, I don't remember the others). The "core"piece was the Lesson, with two ladies, but just because in one of the theatre they were touring there was not room enough for Jeune Homme one.

 

 

I saw that Kings of the Dance performance and reviewed it for Ballet.co - here is the review:

 

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_06/feb06/ab_rev_kings_of_the_0206.htm

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A number of critics have complained about the quality of the choreography in this programme. Stuttgart Ballet brought some male solos to London last autumn and I, personally, wasn't that keen on them either although they seem to be highly regarded by German audiences and critics (and others). For me, most male solos and duets are either fey or self-indulgent/narcissistic. The only ones which I have really liked are Narcisse (performed by Polunin) and Songs of a Wayfarer (performed by Muntagirov and Berlanga). Has anyone seen any other effective male solos or duets?

l really loved Neumeier's Opus 100, created to celebrate Bejart's 70th birthday.

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