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Royal Ballet: The Dream/Connectome/The Concert triple bill, May/June 2014


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Pleased to say that Dave Morgan was at the photoshoot... which included Alastair Marriott's Connectome, premiered tonight. Enjoy.

 

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Roberta Marquez and Bennet Gartside in The Dream

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Steven McRae (with Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball, Luca Acri, Tomas Mock) in Connectome

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Rob Clark, Sian Murphy and Sarah Lamb in The Concert

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

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Dave Morgan: Royal Ballet in The Dream, Connectome (premiere) and The Concert

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Probably the most successful mixed bill I've seen so far.  3 strong pieces making a good balance with each other - the evening flew by, which cannot always be said for mixed bills with their massive intervals.

 

I wasn't sure how Connectome would work (the Royal Ballet's newly commissioned short pieces have been rather hit & miss for me), but it was actually lovely, with a great set design but most importantly it drew wonderful performances from the dancers, in particular Osipova.

 

The Dream was great - Paul Kay as Puck stood out for me.  Negatives - McCrae's performance didn't seem as clean and sharp as I expect from him, plus in the opening scenes the corps de ballet sounded like a herd of elephants wearing clogs!

 

The Concert went down really well with the audience, and was genuinely funny.  Some great comic performances from the cast - I can imagine that piece is perfect for Lauren Cuthbertson, who seems to have a whimsical sense of humour (as far as I can tell, I don't know her, obviously!).  A few small mishaps with headgear falling off etc., but it didn't detract from the piece.

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I see that Dave has captured the moment at the end of The Concert when, if I remember correctly, one of the girls gets a 'wrong leg' in the final tableau before the curtain.... and slowly tries to change it in the vain hope that nobody notices.

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The Dream was celebrating its 50th anniversary last night, so at the curtain calls we had a visit from the original Oberon and Titania, Sir Anthony Dowell and Dame Antoinette Sibley. Nice touch, and welcome there were too. There are some lovely sections in the ballet, and even the 'faffing about' has some attractive steps. Steven McRae and Roberta Marquez danced their roles very well I thought - they could probably do them backwards by now. As above, some of the corps fairies were a bit loud for ethereal beings, but the 4 lead fairies were all gorgeous. And nice to see back on stage the likes of Mayara Magri and Sabina Westcombe

The big thing for me in the bill was the new Alastair Marriott piece 'Connectome'. Absolutely loved it. The staging is enigmatic, and visually stunning. Looking like DNA gels danging onto the stage one minute, and backwards flowing water the next. Then reminiscent of the flashes of a thought crossing the brain's neural network. The music (after the first section, which was a little screechy) is soul-stirringly beautiful - the projection of a singer's face onto the light tubes in harmony with the vocal recording, is quite breathtaking - its like an angel singing at the dancers. And the dancing is inspired: the cast of 7 (Natalia Osipova, Edward Watson, Steven McRae, backed by Luca Acri, Matthew Ball, Tomas Mock, and Marcelino Sambe) 'appear' out of the weave of the hanging tubes (which then recede into the upper reaches) and procede to dance the best choreography I've seen from Mr Marriott. Suppose it doesn't hurt having such a tip-top talented cast, but I think he employs them very well indeed.

I'm not so keen on 'The Concert', even though there are a couple of funny things in there (won't spoil them if you've not seen before). One of the younger members of the audience last night found it all VERY amusing, and her infectious laugh and giggle even got me going! Quite liked the opening sequence of chair swopping, loved the 6 female dancers with at least one always getting it wrong, Lauren Cuthbertson basically played herself I think, and looked a natural at the comedy parts. There were sections I really disliked though - especially the butterflies at the end, which I just found gruesomely unfunny. Probably on my own on that though, gauging the audience's reaction. which is fair enough. Hats off to Bennet Gartside for chomping on that 'cigar' for the whole performance!

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Another great triple bill at the ROH, and a surprise appearance from Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell at the end of The Dream, looking very happy (there's an interesting video of the scherzo on the ROH website, with Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep I think, wonder if the whole ballet was filmed?).  It was good to see Roberta Marquez and Steven McRae together again, also Paul Kay, looking forward to seeing Osipova and Golding very much.

 

I loved Connectome too, I was watching the dancers through opera glasses and obviously missed much of the changing designs but what I saw was beautiful, the ballet had the same dreamy sensual quality that I liked in Sensorium and Trespass, the music, lighting, high tech designs and of course the choreography all combined to produce a work of real quality, again looking forward to seeing the second cast.

 

The Concert is funny even when you know the jokes,  after just seeing Serenade I loved the bit where the Young Man has to partner Lauren Cuthbertson with her hair falling wildly everywhere, that pdd and the ensemble for the out of step girls are my favourites, lovely parody of ballet and the audience too!

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I saw the triple Bill last night and enjoyed the evening.  The Dream was lovely and a nice touch at the end to bring on Sir Anthony and Dame Antoinette.  Kudos to Paul Kay as Puck - all those jumps and leaps!  Connectome - hmm well it's modern and you know me and modern, however I thought the set and visuals were very interesting and dare I say almost a distraction from the dance, however the dance was just dance, no story, at least I got nothing from it, that is not to say it was not well executed.  I did find parts reminiscent of Rite of Spring especially where Steven McRae was held aloft by the other men.  The best piece of the night, for me was The Concert - it is ages since i have seen it (in Berlin) and I loved it.  Lauren Cutherbertson and Laura Morera were great as well as Bennet Gartside - hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable end to the evening.

In the intervals I saw Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon - keen to see Connectome?, Clement Crisp and a TV comedienne whose name escapes me. 

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In the intervals I saw Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon - keen to see Connectome?, Clement Crisp and a TV comedienne whose name escapes me. 

 

They were there supporting Alastair I reckon - there was a large gathering of luminaries in the corner of the Floral Hall, especially after Connectome. Team meeting (of team ROH choreographers)  :-)

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(there's an interesting video of the scherzo on the ROH website, with Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep I think, wonder if the whole ballet was filmed?). 

 

I believe it was shown on the BBC sometime in the 70s, with Dowell and Merle Park (assuming that's where the Scherzo was taken from)?

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Thought the performance last night of Ashton's DREAM (the first performance by the second cast after their dress rehearsal etching) was exquisite; a ripe treat.  There was a defining clarity here ensuring a clear diversity between the leading characters; one comfortably uniting all within its expansive reach.  Matthew Golding in his debut as Oberon maintained the weight of a mischievous nobility personified and literally flew through the intricate scherzo movement.  (I know many have commented on these boards on the position the poor boy holds his mouth in.  It struck me that this is simply because he has to breathe - which surely in his profession - in our world - is a physical necessity.  Here he did so knowingly - and - it must be said - joyfully - always moving in glorious tandem with the entrancing music.  Each element helped to elevate the space of our fancy. (Well, at least mine.)  Valentino Zucchetti (much as the delightful Mr. Kay had in this season's premiere cast) was an extraordinarily (one might almost say exceptionally) focused Puck, sharing his impish delight with any/everyone who might cross his scissor sharp regime's path.  His varying relationships were all oh, so carefully and delightfully carved - always maintaining a rightfully SUPER 'natural' spontaneity.  

 

However - FOR ME - the REAL difference in this particular outing was the multifarious dimension of Natalia Osipova's Titania.  In my mind's eye I thought I saw Ashton tip that cigarette that was seemingly sutured to his bottom lip as his chin peered down - and his eyebrows glowered up - in a struggle with amazed delight.  His smile bordered on the naughty as he spied her detailed thrust and delighted thrill in his petits legato..  Ospiova had in her premiere public Titania outing rendered an enticingly substantial suggestion embracing the vast diversity of Shakespeare's entrancing character.  Indeed here was a fairy queen who additionally cradled her inner Hypolita.  She flounced in anger; she pounced in jest.  Her interaction with Jonathan Howell's well framed Bottom was a masterclass in amazement not far removed from the dazed bravery of that catalytic changeling child.  The delicacy of Osipova's double take at the final presentation of the lovers (the same casting as in the first cast - here too offering delight - but within a more focused overall frame) was entirely worthy of, say, Dame Maggie Smith (who I once saw play Titania as the Virgin Queen in the 70's glory that was Straford, Ontario under the revolutionary steer of the visionary Robin Phillips.)  These mere mortals were for this Tatiana but an obvious and unworthy distraction.  Her eyebrows suddenly arched in an amazed social disdain.  (Suddenly I heard Ashton hoot - as he was sometimes wont to do - always amazingly keeping that proverbial fag in teetering place.)  

 

This performance was enveloped within the private world of its regal couple.  The multifarious zeal of their magical dissimilitude clasped all within its otherworldly clasp.  Their pas de deux DESERVED to be the celebration it so rightfully was.  It had - as it should but understandably not always does have - an ensured beginning, middle and end. When Golding's fine Oberon laid his Titania with pride on the ground he did so in an earned reverence we could all share.  As Theseus reminds us in his advice to Hermia (through the Bard's horn): "earthlier happy is the rose distilled / Than that which withering on the virgin thorn / Grows, lives and dies in SINGLE blessedness "  

 

I thought I overheard my momentary phantom of an Ashton mumble that it had all been 'just fine'.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I can't put it as well as Bruce Wall, but was more than pleased to see Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding dance together at last, thought they produced that extra thrill that comes with such exceptional dancers, liked the way he presented her to the audience at the curtain calls too!  Valentino Zucchetti has become a great Puck. The lighting could have been a little stronger although it increased noticeably for the final pas de deux, or perhaps it was just the glow coming from Osipova and Golding :)

 

Enjoyed the second cast of Connectome although the atmosphere wasn't as intense as with the first, this was more serene, great to see Alexander Campbell in a modern work, it suited him, also Sarah Lamb and Ricardo Cervera were moving in the pdd, pleased to see 4 different young men in the supporting roles, think this ballet takes a few viewings to appreciate and best to concentrate on the dancers, it's easy to just watch the projections. 

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I can only agree with everything that was said about last night's dream. Zucchetti was born for the role of Puck, adding comedy touches with the movement of an eyebrow whilst leaping all over the stage with beautiful movements.

 

Seeing Osipova / Golding in the dress rehearsal convinced me that I probably do want to fork out money for their Manon. Prior to the Dream I could see that Golding can make a decent prince, but wasn't convinced that he ought to be an RB prince. It was a slightly unexpected treat to see him bringing Oberon alive as a character, not just through dance, but through stage presence.

 

I will save you my rhapsodies about Osipova. I thought she was great in the rehearsal, then she's even better in last night's Dream. There were moments were I wanted the performance to be rewound so I can see that tiny exquisite movement again.

 

The only problem I have with this triple bill is my inability to decide whether I prefer the Osipova cast to do the Dream or Connectome, she and her partners add so much to both.

 

Hoping to catch Olivia Cowley, Nathalie Harrison, Kura and Hirano as the lovers at least once in this run, they were delightfully silly in the dress rehearsal and brought a great sense of both fun and theatrical despair to the roles, combined with the lovely dancing I've come to expect of them.

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I too really enjoyed last nights Dream and think Bruce has done a superb review of it. I thought Natalia was outstanding in her RB Ashton debut and proves her versatility as a great classical dancer. Is there nothing she can't dance and no roles she can't make her own?

I enjoyed Matthew Golding's performance more than I thought I would though I still overall prefer Steven's performance and would love to have seen him with Osipova.

Valentino Zucchettii was a real revelationa as Puck. I thought Paul Kay was really excellent but Valentino was amazing. I wish he had the chance to dance Don Q. On last night's performance he would bring the house down.

Thought The Concert was really excellent too; great performances by everyone, especially Sarah Lamb stepping in for the injured Lauren Cuthbertson.

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Valentino Zucchettii was a real revelationa as Puck. I thought Paul Kay was really excellent but Valentino was amazing. I wish he had the chance to dance Don Q. On last night's performance he would bring the house down.

 

Fingers crossed that the casting fairies make this happen for the next run, I would love to see a Zucchetti flavoured Basilio.
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Fingers crossed that the casting fairies make this happen for the next run, I would love to see a Zucchetti flavoured Basilio.

 

As the casting for the next run has already been announced, I hope the casting fairies won't make this happen (as that would require someone leaving, being injured or taking ill).

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It's funny how we all perceive things differently, isn't it?  I may be the only one, but Friday's The Dream was redeemed for me by the four lovers (Christina Arestis, Valeri Hristov, Laura McCulloch and Johannes Stepanek), who have been pretty spot-on during the run, I thought, and not tempted to over-egg the pudding by exaggeration as some dancers do: the comedy and the characterisation in this ballet should come from executing the steps as intended, and not from what dancers add on top.  I got the impression that Matthew Golding at times - notably in the pas de deux, but also somewhere else - was as yet concentrating harder on executing the steps than anything else, and I also thought in places he had some problems keeping up with the tempi set.  Natalia Osipova, I think, has the potential to become a very good Titania, but is it me, or was she rather approximate in some of the choreography (and mime)?  It could simply be that I'm used to seeing the ballet on shorter ballerinas, and that it looks different on someone of her physique, I suppose.

 

It was interesting to see Connectome on a different cast: it made me conscious of things I hadn't noticed before.  In particular, Alexander Campbell seemed to find something deeper somehow in the second movement than I had spotted with Steven McRae in the role.

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Alison, I completely agree about Campbell in Connectome!

 He seemed to be a complete person, rather than someone executing (albeit brilliantly) the choreography.

 

Simon, you describe exactly how I have always felt about Mr Campbell who is still greatly missed by all his fans at BRB.

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I really liked Osipova. I thought she was both an imperious and warm Titania and made lovely use of her arms and upper body in the pdd. Really a lovely performance all around. My other half enjoyed it too, but inexplicably found the final pdd boring and said it slowed the action down! 

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Saw Mc Rae and Morera last night- Bonelli being injured, sadly. However, McRae would be my choice in this role (now that Kobborg is no longer with us, alas)  and brought to it fizzing technique as we now expect but also a thoughtful characterisation. Morera's acting surpassed even her marvellous performance in Winter'sTale I thought- well, if she can convince us she is erotically obsessed by a man dressed in a donkey costume..and she did.

I agree with an earlier comment about the corps heavy footedness at some points,  which is a little unfortunate for a troop of wispy light-as-air -fairies.

 

I tried hard to get into Connectome but could not. The music chosen seemed to me heavy, portentous, laden with a sense of its own significance.The costumes I thought a really horrible mistake. How can anyone think these beautiful dancers will look better in huge, white gym knickers?I am baffled.

 

The dance seemed quite heavily dependent on moments from Song of the Earth and Requiem for its best effects. The scientific context did not convince me- in what way did the choreography actually embody the neurological idea?  Yes, the dancers move around connecting with one another but isn't that what they always do? The programme notes were mostly incoherent waffle- the tendency to transcribe interviews is a really unhelpful one as understandably these verbal comments don't always read very well in cold print.

I think this piece will date rather quickly.

 

The 3 wonderful dancers: Osipova, McRae, Watson I thought did all they could and deserved better.

 

I do like modern dance -e.g. Wheeldon seems to me so much more interesting in his range and able to present joy, fun and beauty in a style that can make use of  lyricism and fluid loveliness,  as well as the almost house-standard contortions representing angst, gloom and desperate seriousness that  we get from most modern pieces.

 

Sorry, perhaps I am channelling Clement Crisp..

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I managed to get a ticket for Thursday. I am so pleased that I did. The Dream cast a spell on the audience - we were in thrall to the performance. I have never seen it before and thought that it was beautiful. Golding lost his garland at one point - it flew off. Puck then kicked it to the side of the stage, raising a laugh. Is n't live performance wonderful! Osipova was enchanting.

 

Connectome was interesting, and I enjoyed the music. I think I need to view it again. hope that they repeat it.

 

I enjoyed the humour of the Concert.

 

All together a lovely evening.

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I haven't got tickets for this triple bill, and have been reading the reviews and comments with interest, as I love Ashton in general. 

 

I have seen Osipova dance before, but I never imagined her as an Ashton dancer, probably because everything I saw her in was so Russian in style.  It seems rather quick to place her in a leading role by this choreographer, given that British trained dancers frequently struggle with it. 

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Well I can only agree with Sunrise and Shade.   Osipova seemed made to dance Ashton. On Thursday night she was fleet of foot, light as a feather and she made everything seem so effortless. Her characterisation was absolutely wonderful.... the way she melted into Golding's arms in the final pdd was truly lovely.

 

Connectome seemed very flat the second time around. The 'second' cast didn't seem to have the emotional response and timing of the opening night cast. If it comes around again I sincerely hope they do something about those awful costumes!

 

The Concert was great fun both times although of course second time around you know what's coming! Maybe this was why parts of the opening night performance seemed to have more energy. Anyway this triple bill was a good end to the season and it was nice to leave the Opera House smiling. Well done to all.

 

Incidentally the Concert reminded me of so many Trocks performances that I looked them up........ they are due back in the UK  in September - November 2015

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I managed to gain a last minute ticket for the triple bill on Thursday and am so pleased and lucky to have been able to attend.

 

The Dream is a favourite ballet of mine having seen it performed by ABT in a clip online and the Royal Ballet equivalent did not disappoint it was a truly enthralling performance and I look forward to watching the development of the on stage Osipova/Golding partnership they work so well together!

 

The whole cast were a joy to watch an amazing performance all round.

 

Thank you for explaining the source of the laughter, Shade. I realised that the character of Puck had kicked something off the stage but missed the preceding event so did not quite comprehend the source or reason for laughter! Now it makes sense!

 

Connectome was very well received where I was sitting I found it to be a very interesting piece as though the dancers were particles dancing in a synapse triggering the development of new memories in neurones. I haven't read the programme that I bought so I'm not sure if that is what the work is supposed to be about but that's what I took away from the piece.

 

I would love to have been able to also attend on Friday to see Connectome performed by Osipova too as the work I believe was built around her and I could see this in the stylistics adopted by Lamb who performed it with such finesse.

 

The Concert I found to be truly hilarious one of the first laugh out loud ballets I have ever seen, the projection of emotion through mime and sheer adoption of the values of the character being played were astonishing.

 

As a complete aside I am rather sure that there were members of the Royal Family in the Royal box on Thursday evening to view the performance or at least unless my eyes deceived me I thought I saw the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Edinburgh attending the ballet from my vantage point. I am more certain of the former than the latter.

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