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ENB's run of performances at the Barbican Theatre starts tonight: is anyone going? If so, please could you report back on running time and running order (as well as everything else)? Thanks.

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It was a long dark evening at the Barbican for ENB's Lest We Forget rehearsal. Lots of Media attention. I await the revues. Meanwhile here are some pictures to encourage you to go.

 

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Tamara Rojo and Esteban Berlanga in Liam Scarlett's No Man's Land
 
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Ksenia Ovsyanick - Firebird, Begona Cao - Purist, Zdenek Konvalina - Peacock and Nancy Osbaldeston - Celebrity in George Williamson's Firebird
 
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Junor Souza and Alina Cojocaru in Russell Maliphant's Second Breath
 
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Tamara Rojo and Akhram Khan in Akram Khan's Dust
 
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Running order was the same as the order for casting on the ENB site

 

No Man's Land (interval)

Firebird (6 minutes music interlude)

Second Breath (interval)

Dust

 

I haven't gathered my thoughts yet beyond 'Must book more tickets' and 'remember to bring change next time to buy a programme'

 

Particularly loved No Man's Land which felt like a classic Scarlett, if there is such a thing (and I can't wait for his first commission of a full lenght ballet on a main stage) and Dust.

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Interesting night - v rapid thoughts...

 

Firebird seemed rather out of place given the other pieces were overtly about war and brand new commissions. It remains an apprentice piece but dancers come out of it well and it has a couple of thoughtful coup de theatre, though not sure why George Williamson took a bow given it's not a new work.

 

I was disappointed by Liam Scarlett's work (No Man's Land) - it took a very long time to get going and the set carried the interest at first. A fine pdd towards the end though.

 

Maliphant's Second Breath had no set and he knows how to draw you in from the off, if it then seemed to loose some momentum. The best of it was a duet featuring Cojocaru/Souza - eyeopening and I hope Maliphant does more work with Cojocaru - a very different quality to what he has created with Guillem.

 

But the big hit, from start to finish, was the Khan (Dust) - it really seemed to use the corps beautifully and the duet for Khan and Rojo was eye-opening. You don't get movement like this on ballet stages. Rojo was pleased to bits when she announced the Khan commission last year and it's fully delivered. More!

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here are a couple more photos from the dress rehearsal. Dust was awesome! Worth buying a ticket for on its own.

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Erina Takahashi and James Forbat in 'No Man's Land'
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Ksenia Ovsyanick as The Firebird
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Akram Khan and ENB dancers in 'Dust'
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...
Set from DanceTabs: English National Ballet - 'Lest We Forget'
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Thanks, Coated, for the confirmation of the running order: I was afraid it was that order and not the one shown on the list of ballets, which I think is therefore going to screw up my chances of managing the Saturday matinee - I could have given Firebird a miss if necessary :(.  I had hoped I might make it to this afternoon's one, but that will depend on how bad the pollution in central London is by the time I need to leave - and whether my work is actually finished by then.

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Thanks for all this information about running order and times, I was thinking of leaving early tonight before Dust, but now I think that would be stupid, have never been to an evening show at the Barbican before and have to get to Victoria, need the Circle line to be running okay.

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No, you need the Circle/Hammersmith/Metropolitan and the Victoria lines to be okay (changing at Kings Cross).  The optimum time from the Barbican centre to the concourse at Victoria is about 25 minutes, according to the notes I made when I tried it for the first time.  I have to say, getting to London Bridge used to be a lot easier.

 

And thanks for the reminder: I hadn't considered the practicalities of getting back to Vic late at night, either.  Think I shall miss my train unless they tighten up the running times by a lot :(

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Thanks, I usually prefer to stay on one train and go via Tower and Embankment, as I don't like changing trains at King's Cross, I'll have to think about it, I'm going to the Barbican by bus, 11 then 4, which I like much better.

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I had hoped I might make it to this afternoon's one, but that will depend on how bad the pollution in central London is by the time I need to leave - and whether my work is actually finished by then.

 

Sitting here still waiting for this job to be signed off - as I have been for the last 2 1/2 hours - and rapidly running out of time to make a 2.30 start :(

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Kings Cross is easy, only 2 stops to Barbican as I know, I live around the corner in a pub!!

From Victoria or Piccadilly line its quick.

Going next Wednesday and can't wait!!

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I haven't gathered my thoughts yet beyond 'Must book more tickets' and 'remember to bring change next time to buy a programme'

(£6, in case anyone else needs to know. Having said that, you can pay by card if you buy at the main programme/ice cream desk at "ground" level)

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Well, the performance last night finished just a few minutes before 10.30, I was very lucky because my seat was not only on an aisle but had an exit door right behind, also the Upper Circle is level with the ground floor, so I was able to get a train going round the Circle (dithered a bit about which platform to go to) and the journey is 24 minutes to Victoria via Tower Hill. Although I easily got the 11.17 train it ran late and I had a 30 minute wait for a Night Bus!

 

So lovely to sit in a modern theatre, comfortable seat, excellent sightlines, imagine most people get good views, and so much room to move about in the Barbican Centre itself.

 

The stage is quite big too, although most of these ballets had scenery which took up room at the back, I'd like to see ENB dance there again.

 

Wonderful casts last night, Alina Cojocaru danced with Zdenek Konvalina in No Man's Land and with Junor Souza in Second Breath, highlight of the evening for me was the pdd from this ballet which seemed to be in slow motion. Also remember the pdd from No Man's Land for Ksenia Ovsyanick and Laurent Liotardo which was danced to the same music as the final scene in Mayering (I think) different orchestration.  In Firebird I was so pleased to see Begona Cao again, she looked lovely!  The only slight disappointment, strangely enough, was Dust, just didn't like the music or the choreography as much as the other ballets, just personal preference, Tamara Rojo and Akram Khan very impressive.

 

The audience was fairly quite during the music interlude which is very sad, also original singing from 1916 is included in Dust.

 

Lighting and design was a very strong point in the 3 new ballets although there was an inevitable similarity, they were all dark and misty, evocative but of course the dancing is harder to see.

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I saw the opening night on Wednesday. It was the absolute highlight to my trip to London.

 

What wonderful, wonderful dancers they have at the ENB! I was overwhelmed by their power and energy and how fearlessly they tackled Khan´s and Maliphant´s works!

I didn´t know the company at all though I´ve seen “Agony and Extasy” on youtube and I understand that they are doing only classical works, is that so?

 

I wasn´t that impressed by Liam Scarlett´s choreography. The stage design was striking but was it really worth the effort?

The duets were beautifully and passionately danced love duets, especially the last one with Rojo and Berlanga really moved me.

 

I liked the idea of a different kind of “Firebird” without princes and princesses when I read the synopsis but then I was not very convinced…

 

But could have watched the dancers in both Maliphant´s and Khan´s works for hours. I found the more abstract approach to the subject much more compelling and I was completely swept away by the strange beauty and strong images combined with the fantastic lighting and the extraordinarily fascinating music in both pieces.

 

That said, the Barbican is easily the ugliest theatre I´ve ever been to.

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Petunia, I'm glad that you managed to find your way to the Barbican. I had a lot of trouble getting to the right bit of it and I've lived in London for over 25 years!

 

I saw last night's performance. Several RB dancers were there as well.

 

The Scarlett had a very striking set and lovely music. There were some lovely pdds and some clever ideas but I thought that there were times when it meandered a bit.

 

There was a lot of good choreography in Firebird but I don't like the 'story' overall. Ksenia was stunning and Nancy absolutely sparked in her role.

 

Overall, the Maliphant was probably my favourite. There was good use of all the dancers and the 'falling' sequence was very effective. I really liked the pdd for Alina and Junor. His partnering was very smooth.

 

Dust had a very atmospheric set and an incredible opening sequence for the corps but the pdd for Akram and Tamara did not have enough interest for me. The image of Akram climbing the hill was tremendously effective.

 

I think that the Barbican was a good place to stage this programme but one big disadvantage was the apparent need to amplify the orchestra (and the orchestra's invisibility - although it may have been more visible higher up). I liked all the music and the incorporation of the recordings but it was not clear whether there was a 'live' singer and whether some of the percussion was live or recorded.

 

I hope that I can go again as there was so much to take in last night. It would be interesting to see the same programme from higher up, and I'm really keen to see Esteban again and to see what the 'trio' does in Dust when Akram and Tamara are not dancing.

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Isn't it amazing how diverse our thoughts on Lest we Forget are? While I was at the Barbican yesterday, I thought to myself, lucky Londoners to have such a wonderful venue in the middle of the city! The theatre was really comfortable, with good sightlines. I had no trouble at all in finding the Barbican. I got off at Moorgate tube station & went up an escalator & after that it was well signposted plus there was the yellow line to follow!

To the performance itself, I loved it. I especially liked Liam Scarlett's No Man's Land. In fact it moved me to tears. What a talented young man. Alina & Zdenek  were fabulous in the final pas-de-deux. The Firebird was ok, danced beautifully by all concerned, but I don't really see the connection to the great war. The piece I liked the least was the Maliphant, but everyone else seems to rave about it, so perhaps I should see it again? Hated the music for that. Dust was amazing. It was the first time I had seen Akram Khan & I was really impressed! I could hardly breathe through the performance. My only criticism of the whole programme is the low lighting! I know it was to evoke a sombre atmosphere but I do really want to see the dancers too! Well done ENB. I hope I may be able to go see it again next week.

For anyone who has read my posts in Audience Behaviour, I am happy to report that yesterday's audience were fantastic. There was even a couple there with a young baby, maybe 6 months old. The child was as good as gold. Didn't hear a peep out of him/her! Also I was sitting behind Michael Nunn & William Trevitt, aka The BalletBoyz.

Susan

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I think that the Barbican was a good place to stage this programme but one big disadvantage was the apparent need to amplify the orchestra (and the orchestra's invisibility - although it may have been more visible higher up). I liked all the music and the incorporation of the recordings but it was not clear whether there was a 'live' singer and whether some of the percussion was live or recorded.

 

I wondered why they had bothered with a live orchestra. The Barbican pit is deep and shallow, so half of the players must have been sitting under the stage. From my seat, up to one side, I could see the orchestra but, disconcertingly, the sound came from another direction via a loudspeaker, and a rather low-fi one at that. There was also quite a bit of extraneous noise picked up by the microphones in the pit.

 

I don't remember having been to a dance event there with live orchestra before: Michael Clark, Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham all use(d) recorded tracks or live mixed electronics as far as I can remember. Live orchestral music really shows up a poor sound system.

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There was also quite a bit of extraneous noise picked up by the microphones in the pit.

 

Live orchestral music really shows up a poor sound system.

From where I was sitting, there was a constant hum (airconditioning?) clearly audible in the quieter moments; but wasn't some of the crackling deliberate and arising from the use of old recordings?

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Yes, I think that the crackling was intentional. The microphones did pick up some extraneous noise in the pit, though.

 

On another thread people were discussing promotions at the RB. I've said it before: why on earth has Ksenia not been promoted to a soloist position? It's unfathomable, to me at least. She stood out in the Scarlett as well as dancing the lead in Firebird and of course she's danced Aurora, Lilac Fairy, Medora, Gulnare and many soloist roles in many different ballets. She's equally good in classical and modern work and can act as well. Tamara, please promote her at the end of this season. I felt faintly annoyed on Ksenia's behalf when I read the programme and saw that a new female soloist had joined ENB. There's really no need when there is a brilliant soloist ready and waiting!

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On another thread people were discussing promotions at the RB. I've said it before: why on earth has Ksenia not been promoted to a soloist position? It's unfathomable, to me at least. 

 

It's unfathomable to many of us, Aileen.  I have yet to meet anybody who wasn't astonished when her promotion at the end of last season was only to the level of First Artist.

 

Edited to add that, in addition to the principal roles you mention, she has also danced Giselle (in 2010?)

Edited by Bluebird
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Very interesting reading today's critics on Today's Links today.  All of them give the programme good to great reviews....whereas Mr Crisp seems to have got out of bed on the wrong side yesterday and, as the lone voice in the wilderness, rips it to pieces and gives it a mere two stars.  A pretty excoriating review from him, actually.  I'd be interested to know if anyone agrees with him, as most things have been positive so far.  Even those who like a couple of pieces and don't like a couple of pieces are more positive than his review, which doesn't have anything good to say about anything!! 

 

I can't put forth an opinion yet as I have to wait until the final show to see it :(

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