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Deloitte Ignite at ROH - Sampling the Myth

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Running for three nights on Sept 5th-7th, Sampling the Myth is a selection of live duets and solos from various mythical based ballets, plus some filmed specials and a new piece (Unearthed), all held together by a narration about myths and their place in human history.

I was fortunate to be at the dress rehearsal - so here are a few pics:
Edward Watson and Liam Mower (from Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

Eric Underwood in Wayne McGregor’s Raven Girl
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

Luca Acri and Marcelino Sambe in Aakash Odedra’s Unearthed
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
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Set from DanceTabs - Sampling the Myth (Deloitte Ignite Festival 2014
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

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The nicest thing about the whole event, including the Linbury performances, is the very real mix of people attending and enjoying it.


I particularly appreciated the opportunity to see the dancers in close up in the Linbury and to discover new works (including Raven Girl in my case) among the more familiar.

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I hope it’s ok to comment here on last night’s live streaming of the event, given the probability that the majority of Balletcoers will have seen the performance on their computer screens only.


I’m sorry to say that I personally was disappointed at this streaming . Most of it was poorly lit, possibly an unforeseen  technical problem at this first (as far as I know) live streaming to home screens, maybe easily ironed out as the technique becomes more familiar.. Whatever, it led to disappointments, such as not being able to see close-ups of Chris Offili’s paintings on the dancers  after we’d been told so much about it.  Another disappointment -in my case anyway - was  the shortness  of the Apollo  extract, which was too brief to hint at Balanchine's genius for those seeing his work for the first time.


One of the poorly-lit pieces had some very promising choreography (visible during a rare moment of full lighting) but it was impossible to identify it from the final credits, which rolled by at dizzying speed, so dancers' names - not identified at all in the opening credits - were impossible to read,  Finally, It wasn’t clear why only a couple of the items had curtain calls. – mostly there was just blackness when an item finished.


Despite my criticisms, I wouldn’t have missed the streaming for the world, and am grateful to the ROH, Deloitte, all the dancers, all the musicians , all the technicians and everyone concerned with the broadcast, and I'm  looking  forward keenly to future streamings. 

Edited by Ann Williams
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I enjoyed the live streaming very much, a great idea. I agree with points made by Ann Williams.


Such a shame the dancers were not credited alongside the names of choreographers! 



Roberta Marquez and Bennet Gartside will perform a pas de deux from Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird on 5 and 6 September

Yasmine Naghdi and Johannes Stepanek performing it on 7 September.

Edward Watson and Liam Mower will perform a pas de deux from Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

Rambert dancers Miguel Altunaga, Estela Merlos and Hannah Rudd will perform Dark Eye, a short work based on the idea of 'The Fates'.

Yuhui Choe and Valeri Hristov will perform the Act III pas de deux from Frederick Ashton's Ondine on 5 and 6 September, 

Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Nicol Edmonds performing it on 7 September.

Marianela Nuñez will perform a solo from Mikhail Fokine's The Dying Swan on 5 and 6 September,

Melissa Hamilton performing on 7 September.

Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood will perform an extract from Wayne McGregor's Raven Girl.

Federico Bonelli will perform a solo from George Balanchine's Apollo on 5 and 6 September,

Rupert Pennefather performing on 7 September.

Royal Ballet dancers Luca AcriAnnette BuvoliDavid DonnellyTéo DubreuilIsabella GaspariniMayara MagriHannah Grennell and Marcelino Sambé will perform Unearthed, a new work from Aakash Odedra featuring hand-painted on-body designs by Turner Prize-winner Chris Ofili.

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Some credits for the short films (I particularly liked Leda & the Swan and would like to see it again):


White Rush directed by Dylan Tedaldi, Choreography by Robert Binet. Music by Nils Frahm. National Ballet of Canada dancers Jack Bertinshaw, Emma Hawes, Svetlana Lunkina and Felix Paquet.
The Indifferent Beak. Choreography by Charlotte Edmonds. Claire Calvert, Eric Underwood
Leda and the Swan. Director and choreographer Kim Brandstrup. Dancers: Tommy Franzen, Zenaida Yanowsky
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OK, my 2p worth on the event.

I went to the free all dayer on Saturday, right from the get-go - but only got to the ROH on Sunday at 3.45, so missed the films/talks i'd hoped to catch, that i missed Saturday doing other things. There certainly was a lot going on - and that's even resisting the temptation to join in the kids gluing stuff!

Saturday, saw the old film compilation of Anna Pavlova's 'collected works' (Immortal Swan) in the Linbury. A bit dated, but fascinating all the same. After that was Kevin O'Hare chatting with Adam Cooper (Marianela Nunez was indisposed) about 'becoming a swan' - in his case for Matthew Bourne. To fill in, we heard about Adam's fascinating career path, along with a few anecdotes. In between, went to see Kristen McNally creating her new work on the The Talent (for the Ballet Boyz evening later this month). ALWAYS worth catching Kristen. She was working outside her normal methodology for this - normally she makes things on herself, then transfers it to her dancers (often female). With this, she is allowing the male dancers to work out the grips/moves between themselves, and under her guidance as to what she is looking for -  then edits it to what she wants as they tend to create so much. This proved a popular attraction, I had intended to visit a second time to see the progress, but couldn't get in! On Sunday, queued early to get a good spot (successfully), but we were then booted out, though welcome to join the end of the queue to re-enter if you wished, so it remained a popular draw. Sunday, Kristen was rehearsing/working on the final duet, so was a completely different experience. Certainly glad I made the effort to go, and go more than once. Nice touch - as we were leaving so the next shift could come in, a wee girl gave the item she had been making in the kids workshops to Kristen as a present. Awww!

I'm afraid the video install in the Crush bar (Fire Martyr by Bill Viola) did nothing for me - perhaps it needed the other 3 panels (earth, water, air) for full effect. The audio install of Whooper and Berwick Swans 'Migration' by Chris Watson was fascinating though, but as a nature nerd, it probably appealed to me from that.

Saturday, caught the external 'Windows in Progress' performed by Luca Silvestini's Protein company members. A joyous romp through mythical history and characters - and a lot of shop windows in the piazza colonnade (and ending in the ROH shop window). Great fun, enthusiastically performed and supported, I really enjoyed it.

Minna Moore Ede (the co-curator) gave a fascinating talk on the 'virtual gallery' on display in the Paul Hamlyn (Floral) Hall. The paintings and drawings from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, featuring their differing take on the Leda and the Swan myth( a recurring mythical theme through the festival, in various forms).

Before the evening's highlight 'Sampling the Myth', on the stage in the Floral Hall we had Calvin Richardson's take on the Dying Swan, revitalised for a male dancer - in this case Matthew Ball. Think i prefer it to the old version! Both these young men are recent joiners of the Royal Ballet - i reckon they need to make sure they keep them!


I saw the 'Sampling the Myth' show live on Saturday, and streamed into the Floral Hall on Sunday. The films worked a lot better on the screen, but the dancing much better live. A couple of the really dark (unnecessarily dark in my view) didn't stream well (as others have said) which was a shame. Loved seeing the 'capture' duet from Firebird up so close - and double thrill to see Yasmine Naghdi performing it on Sunday as she is one of my fave dancers. Enjoyed all three films, especially the Kim Brandstrup one 'Leda and the Swan (with Zenaida Yanowsky and Tommy Franzen) - go watch online if you can find it. White Rush by Robert Binet was striking, and the white v colour effects were fabulous, but I do wish they refrain from those stuttering cuts and jumps. Very distracting. In the middle film by Charlotte Edmonds (the Different Beak), loved the way it changed from studio to Richmond Park in the same step as Claire Calvert and Eric Underwood danced. Young Charlotte arrived in the Floral Hall with some of the organisers - saw herself on the big screen explaining her film/choreography, went Oh! and turned scarlet! Bless! Well, she is still a teenager. Of the other live danced pieces, thoroughly enjoyed the Matthew Bourne San Lake snippet - Edward Watson looked fantastic - and the Raven Girl excerpt (the final pdd) was breathtaking between Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood. This easily the best part of the ballet I reckon, and great seeing it again. Always good to see a bit of Balanchine, even if a really short piece, so the Apollo segment most welcome (danced nicely by both Federico Bonelli and Rupert Pennefather). Dark Eyes (by Rambert's Miguel Altunaga) was an exciting piece and brilliantly and zappingly danced - but oh for a few more watts in those lights! The Ondine snippet was a bit strange out of context - both couples looked good though. The Dying Swan was brought out again - even the brilliance of Marianela Nunez struggles to bring this to life for me. I wanted to like 'Unearthed' but it failed to fire for me (sorry bad pun) - the gloom, and the somewhat aimless striding about did it in for me I'm afraid.


Overall, really enjoyed the weekend. Was much more inspired to attend this year than previous years - and I'm glad I went. Job done!

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I watched the live streaming (such a great idea) on Saturday, attended the all day events at ROH on Sunday, and also watched the evening performance at the Linbury. It was an amazing day! I loved the intricate work of street artist Phlegm (decorating the entrance on the Piazza and also showing a work near the box office), the interesting talks taking place in the Floral Hall, and Calvin Richardson's stunning interpretation of "The Dying Swan" solo (Matthew Ball danced it on Sunday). Congratulations to everyone involved, a very creative event and a joy to see so many people wandering around and children participating.


My only criticism is that I would have programmed the Linbury evening performances in a different order (it was not a good idea to start with "The Firebird") and open with "Dark Eye" instead, choreography by Miguel Altunaga. It is a dark, mysterious piece set in a swamp-like forest and beautifully danced by three Rambert dancers (Miguel Altunaga, Estele Merlos and Hannah Rudd). "Ideas about fate are fundamental to our understanding of myth. Human life and storytelling is infused with questions of how stories began, what might have happened, if not this, and what might happen next, and why. The myth of "the Fates"...Three woman, three sisters, sometimes three witches, and their power to plot the course of our lives...", accompanied by the powerful music of David Preston, it would have set the tone of what was to come... and punctuate the "Sampling the Myth" theme of the evening.


Followed by "The Indifferent Beak" (a film, concept and choreography by Charlotte Edmonds): a fresh twist to the myth of Leda and the Swan, set in nature against a scenic landscape, evocatively performed by Eric Underwood and Clare Calvert.


Taking the bird theme from there, I'd show "Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake" Act II pdd (danced by Liam Mower and Edward Watson).


Followed by "White Rush" (a film, choreography by Robert Binet), it examined the relationship between the four adult children of Leda, on beautiful music by Nils Frahm, with dancers of the National Ballet of Canada. 


Still carrying on the theme of the bird, I would have ended the first part of the evening with "The Firebird" pas de deux ("Ivan Tsarevitch discovers the Firebird in the garden of the palace, he seizes her and will not set her free until she leaves him a feather for protection and good luck".)  I've seen Roberta Marquez (partnered on Saturday by Bennet Gartside) in this role on the big stage therefore it was so refreshing to see Yasmine Naghdi taking on this role (performing on Sunday and partnered by Johannes Stepanek). Physically she is ideally suited, with very expressive dark eyes, she gave us a superlative interpretation of the mythical bird, an exotic and delicate creature. I'd love to see her dance this role on the big stage one day soon.


After the interval I'd show:

"The Dying Swan" solo: the gorgeous Marianella Nunez, needless to say, was simply stunning on Saturday! (Melissa Hamilton danced it on Sunday). 


"Leda and the Swan" (a film by Kim Brandstrup, performed by Zenaida Yanowsky and Tommy Franzen) was my favourite amongst all of the films. Full of art historical references and superb photographic scenes, it had all the elements of what the evening was about: myth, poetry, art, dance, and references to Renaissance painters. "...The film ventures the shady territory between power and submission, active and passive, masculine and feminine". 


"Raven Girl" (Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood): I have seen the full-length ballet in 2013 and this pdd, isolated from the full-length ballet, looked stunning.


"Apollo" (Frederico Bonelli on Saturday and Rupert Pennefather on Sunday): a bit of an isolated piece... but it worked in the mythic context of the programme.


"Ondine" (final Pas de Deux): danced beautifully, full of emotion and passion, by Yuhui Choe on Saturday (Beatriz Stix Brunell danced it on Sunday).


"Unearthed" (choreographer Aakash Odedra): this new work had potential but sadly failed to impress, it felt more of a work "in progress" and went nowhere for me. The performance by Marcelino Sambe and Luca Acri made it worth watching.


(Sentences in italic are quoted from the Linbury programme).


Ps: DaveM, for your consolation...I waffled on as well :)



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I'd have to go with dark Eyes to finish rather than start the show Nina. It was so exciting and the Rambert dancers were simply amazing. It would have ended the evening on a high rather than that rather damp squib 'Unearthed'  which we all seem to agree failed to impress despite excellent performances from Luca Acri and Marcelino Sambe.


We had watched the live stream on Saturday and then travelled up to London for the Sunday events. We got there early thinking we would have to queue for everything only to be surprised at how quiet it was. I can only agree with all that has already been said, but would like to add 'Hats Off' to the wonderful Mr Gary Avis for a thoroughly interesting and entertaining discussion of 'Villains in Ballet' despite the Linbury being only half full.  

Having failed to realise that the evening performance included 'live' dance until after all the tickets had sold out, we were very lucky to get returns for it. What seemed so dark on the streaming was so much better in the theatre, but if it is any consolation to those who didn't get there in person, it was just as hard to make out the Chris Ofili designs on the dancers from several rows back from the stage as it was on the broadcast the night before.


All in all though it was a really excellent day out and well worth the early morning start from Bristol. Congratulations to all

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I went to the Cassandra Insight tonight and had the pleasure of seeing Lauren Cuthbertson and Thomas Whitehead rehearsing with Ludovico Ondiviela only a short stone's throw away (obviously no stones were actually thrown).


The rehearsal was preceded by a quite interesting, albeit a little long, introduction to the Cassandra Myth by Emily Pillinger, a classics lecturer from King's College who linked the story of Cassandra to both the question of what constitutes madness and how to express yourself when language fails. It was a really nice set up to understand some of the inspirations for the ballet.


The evening concluded with an interview with Ondiviela and the composer of Cassandra's music, Ana Silvera. They both came across incredibly well, giving a fascinating and quite humorous insight to their creative process. Ondiviela described how they started the project after he saw one of Ana Silvera's gigs, loved her music and then met her through a friend (third collaborator on Cassandra whose name I didn't catch). He described his fascination with the question of what constitutes madness, where does one draw the line and his suspicion that most people will do things, possibly behind closed doors, that others would describe as mad. Ana Silvera also talked about the way composing for a ballet changed her normal creative process, being more of a craft at times where you go back to make changes to meet your collaborators vision instead of finishing a composition when you think it's fine.


After seeing and hearing the short snippets of Cassandra today, I'm really looking forward to seeing the real thing.

Edited by Coated
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I went to the Cassandra Insight tonight and had the pleasure of seeing Lauren Cuthbertson and Thomas Whitehead rehearsing with Ludovico Ondiviela only a short stone's throw away (obviously no stones were actually thrown).


After seeing and hearing the short snippets of Cassandra today, I'm really looking forward to seeing the real thing.


Hear hear! That's what's especially good about Insight evenings which focus on new work. I found Ondiviela's description of his thought processes and, therefore, the genesis of his ballet Cassandra fascinating and potentially very helpful for the audience when the piece is staged.


I think that the other collaborator was Kate Church.

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