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The Royal Ballet, Manon, Autumn 2014


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What is "a posterior fog" please?

 

In this instance I was trying to economically express:  A mind entrapped suddenly in an inescapable past - and not just the swirls of escalating dry ice - without the ability to break out no matter how hard they (in this instance the character of Manon) might try (acknowledging that this was a period prior to modern psychology and its associated drugs and even a free at the point of delivery NHS.)  

 

My apologies for the lack of clarity.  It was scribbled late ... and while I was preparing materials I required to teach three two hour and forty minute classes back to back at a certain noted university.  Must now dash to catch a train to accomplish that same.   :)   The joyful memory of Ms. Hayward's triumph continues to haunt happily.  Long may it continue to do so. 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I think a very big star was born tonight. I am not an expert, couldn't tell you the names of the steps but when a little slip of a girl commands the stage as Francesca did tonight you know there is something very special happening. I am very priveledged to have been there. Sorry about the spelling -mobile device

 

Mr wall has put into words what I failed to do.

I so agree - she is something very special.  Superb technique, very strong presence and a hugely expressive face - the sparkle, the eroticism, the need, the greed, the loss - it was all there.   And her extreme youth somehow made it all even more real.   Manon was the perfect role for her - can't wait to see what else they throw at her.  But by God Edward Watson was at his very best last night - the chemistry alone was worth the price of the ticket.  But his incredible expansive creamy dancing just got better and better and made one realise yet again what a master of choreography Macmillan was.  Every arabesque spoke.  Add to that Ed's amazingly nuanced acting - every emotion, every detail of the story ran across his face  - I think it was one of his finest performances.  I only wished they'd filmed it!

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I agree with everything that has been said about Francesca Hayward's stellar performance last night. I can only echo the eloquent words of those who have posted above and thank them for writing what they have.

 

Alas, although I am a fan of his, I did not 'feel it' from Edward Watson until the final pas de deux. Indeed, especially at 'Madame's',  there seemed, dare I say it, to be more chemistry between Manon and Monsieur GM than between her and Des Grieux. 

 

I really liked Alexander Campbell as Lescaut - very well-danced and portrayed throughout and offering a genuinely amusing drunken episode.

 

Thomas Whitehead as Monsieur GM and Bennet Gartside as the Gaoler were both disappointing in my view. But it is early days for Tom in the role.

 

On the basis of the casts seen on this run, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Kevin O'Hare pairs Hayward and Muntagirov together the next time Manon comes back into the rep. That would be very, very special.

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It's great to hear about Francesca's success in Manon. It's amazing that she's so good in such a complex role at only 22 years of age. Many people seem to think that Juliet is better danced by an experienced ballerina. Is Manon the same (even though Francesca would be an obvious and stunning exception to such a 'rule')?

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Sad to have missed last night's performance which sounds truly wonderful from the comments above.

 

In reply to capybara above, although the gaoler scene is very disturbing to watch, Gartside is RB's finest Gaoler I think, in terms of conveying the full horror of the scene plus showing the bitterness of his outsider status in the preceding dock scene.

 

Can't wait for Hayward as Juliet!

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Manon last night - totally wonderful experience. I have long had Hayward marked out for greatness and, hopefully, here is the heir to Cojocaru.  Watson, as always, was sublime.  The perfect partner, the strength in that wonderful body, the creaminess of his movements that convey every particle of emotion.  Thanks RBS.  A wonderful night.

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Me too... Haywood really marked her card last night as a perceptive and moving dance actress. For sultriness she really reminded me of Viviana Durante, one of the all time great Manon's. Watson's strength has evolved over the years and there is nothing to detract from his strong and involving acting. Together they were pretty sensational I have to say. Strong support from Whitehead, Rosato and Gartside. Only Campbell doesn't work for me - reminds me of the rather annoying jester character you get in so many Russian ballets.

 

Not surprised to hear observations of Golding's lack of dramatic oomph. Seeing him guest with ENB (in Swan Lake) it was clear he was a wonderful mover and beautiful tall thing... but emotionally blank. RB is dramatic to it's fingertips and I was truly surprised when he was invited to join. But a real asset in the plotless works.

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I agree with everything that has been said about Francesca Hayward's stellar performance last night. I can only echo the eloquent words of those who have posted above and thank them for writing what they have.

 

Alas, although I am a fan of his, I did not 'feel it' from Edward Watson until the final pas de deux. Indeed, especially at 'Madame's',  there seemed, dare I say it, to be more chemistry between Manon and Monsieur GM than between her and Des Grieux. 

 

I really liked Alexander Campbell as Lescaut - very well-danced and portrayed throughout and offering a genuinely amusing drunken episode.

 

Thomas Whitehead as Monsieur GM and Bennet Gartside as the Gaoler were both disappointing in my view. But it is early days for Tom in the role.

 

On the basis of the casts seen on this run, I am keeping my fingers crossed that Kevin O'Hare pairs Hayward and Muntagirov together the next time Manon comes back into the rep. That would be very, very special.

I think, and this is to paraphrase what Sarah Crompton has said in the Telegraph,  that such is Manon's desperation for the cash, that her concentration has to be on GM, she has to compartmentalise and focus on the prize..she isn't her brother's sister for nothing!  Hence her apparent 'hotness' for GM in Act II;  I was sitting very close to the stage and found it very interesting that she avoided making eye contact with Des Grieux when in another interpretation she might look at him longingly.   Sad you didn't feel it from Ed in Act 1 - i thought their first PDD was very special - there seemed to be a genuine delight and joy in that first awareness of each other... 

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It's great to hear about Francesca's success in Manon. It's amazing that she's so good in such a complex role at only 22 years of age. Many people seem to think that Juliet is better danced by an experienced ballerina. Is Manon the same (even though Francesca would be an obvious and stunning exception to such a 'rule')?

 

Manon last night - totally wonderful experience. I have long had Hayward marked out for greatness and, hopefully, here is the heir to Cojocaru.  Watson, as always, was sublime.  The perfect partner, the strength in that wonderful body, the creaminess of his movements that convey every particle of emotion.  Thanks RBS.  A wonderful night.

Thank you for expressing exactly what I thought of Watson last night - you put it more succinctly than I have been able to.  What a dream! 

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I'm so jealous at having missed Francesca Hayward's 'Manon' that I'm about to say something negative : You have all, with your lavish over-the-top praise for her performance, put an enormous burden of responsibility on her young shoulders - where is she to go from here?  For that matter, where do YOU all go from here - what's left for you to say about her future Juliets, her Giselles, and the like, eh? You've more or less said it all already!

 

Bah, humbug!  I'm still jealous...But I do agree that it would be wonderful to see her paired with Muntagirov (not say that Watson's Des Grieux isn't perfectly satisfyihg too).

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I'm so jealous at having missed Francesca Hayward's 'Manon' that I'm about to say something negative : You have all, with your lavish over-the-top praise for her performance, put an enormous burden of responsibility on her young shoulders - where is she to go from here?  For that matter, where do YOU all go from here - what's left for you to say about her future Juliets, her Giselles, and the like, eh? You've more or less said it all already!

 

Bah, humbug!  I'm still jealous...But I do agree that it would be wonderful to see her paired with Muntagirov (not say that Watson's Des Grieux isn't perfectly satisfyihg too).I

Ha ha thats funny but no really I can't wait to see her Juliet  - and in time, I hope her Giselle...I think this is just the beginning - even her Manon will be better next time - and maybe there will be things she won't be suited to...and hopefully we will have a lot of new things to say...

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I'm so jealous at having missed Francesca Hayward's 'Manon' that I'm about to say something negative : You have all, with your lavish over-the-top praise for her performance, put an enormous burden of responsibility on her young shoulders - where is she to go from here?  For that matter, where do YOU all go from here - what's left for you to say about her future Juliets, her Giselles, and the like, eh? You've more or less said it all already!

 

Bah, humbug!  I'm still jealous...But I do agree that it would be wonderful to see her paired with Muntagirov (not say that Watson's Des Grieux isn't perfectly satisfyihg too).

I know exactly what you mean Ann re praise. All I can say for myself is that I'm not one to easily go over the top with praise and much more often I see only OK or mediocre performances from those being tested in principal roles. Where Hayward goes to from here is to carry on doing what she does. Impressive start, but we don't know where she will end up yet.

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I know exactly what you mean Ann re praise. All I can say for myself is that I'm not one to easily go over the top with praise and much more often I see only OK or mediocre performances from those being tested in principal roles. Where Hayward goes to from here is to carry on doing what she does. Impressive start, but we don't know where she will end up yet.

I agree, one must be careful in showering too much easy praise on such a young dancer.

Praise is too easily given to artists nowadays and it soon becomes meaningless.  Next up for Miss Hayward is Alice, and surely Juliet, Giselle, Fille,...will follow, and the pressure on her will become huge. She has a lovely dance quality and is a real dancer actress as someone said;  I can see her dancing some roles but not all. 

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Becomes meaningless for whom? Is praise ever meaningless to a performer? I don't think so. I have spoken to many performers (dancers, actors and others) including some who were heaped with praise from the beginning of their careers. To a person, they were all very encouraged and did not feel under great pressure. Indeed, they wanted to keep trying to get better. I don't know any performer who has ever come off a stage saying 'hey that was a great performance.' They usually pick it to pieces, so if the audiences give them praise they don't take it for granted. And at what point is it acceptable to praise someone? If someone gives a superlative performance are we all supposed to say nothing just because they are young? How would that make them feel, after years of sacrifice and hard work? And just because we laud Frankie now, you are only as good as your last performance. When I saw Osipova's Giselle, I gushed forth with praise. When I saw her Swan Lake I didn't like it at all, and said so.

 

I remember when Springsteen released Born To Run, he was on the cover of Time and Newsweek simultaneously, he was praised to high heaven around the world and even called 'the saviour of rock and roll.' Did that put him under pressure? No. He went on to create more music for those who appreciated and liked it, and has continued with an amazing career to this day. He always makes clear how much the support and opinions of his fans matter to him...and his fans have heaped praise on him and been very critical too. As a performer you take the rough with the smooth.

 

I hope Frankie enjoys knowing the pleasure she has given her audiences with her performance of Manon and revels in the moment.

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I think that Francesca will be alright (barring injury, of course). She wouldn't have been given featured and principal roles if she couldn't handle pressure. People remember Polunin being over-burdened with new roles but it turns out that his reasons for leaving the RB were far more complex. Most dancers relish new challenges and are hungry for new roles. Those that don't will stay in the background in the corps. Obviously, having enough rehearsal time reduces stress but there are plenty of dancers who have stepped into roles at short notice, which has started them on their way to the top.

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I so agree - she is something very special.  Superb technique, very strong presence and a hugely expressive face - the sparkle, the eroticism, the need, the greed, the loss - it was all there.   And her extreme youth somehow made it all even more real.   Manon was the perfect role for her - can't wait to see what else they throw at her.  But by God Edward Watson was at his very best last night - the chemistry alone was worth the price of the ticket.  But his incredible expansive creamy dancing just got better and better and made one realise yet again what a master of choreography Macmillan was.  Every arabesque spoke.  Add to that Ed's amazingly nuanced acting - every emotion, every detail of the story ran across his face  - I think it was one of his finest performances.  I only wished they'd filmed it!

 

 

Yes, I was completely overwhelmed by Edward Watson last night, he must have been inspired by Francesca Hayward to go to new heights, the last pdd was one of the best I've ever seen, thrilling dancing and partnering and he never stopped acting for a second!

 

I think he has a new Mary Vetsera.

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Thank you for your comment Sim. That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. 

I look at it differently.

 

Generally speaking: "superlative performances" are relative and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Quite. You are also entitled to your opinion, as is everyone. What a dull forum it would be if everyone were of the same opinion all the time!

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Yes, I was completely overwhelmed by Edward Watson last night, he must have been inspired by Francesca Hayward to go to new heights, the last pdd was one of the best I've ever seen, thrilling dancing and partnering and he never stopped acting for a second!

 

I think he has a new Mary Vetsera.

 

 

Yes, I think she can say goodbye to Stephanie

Genius! I knew there was a perfect role that I was forgetting! And as Ed's favourite ballet that would make it perfect.  Roll on Mayerling... 

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We may be at slight cross purposes here. Or possibly not!

 

When I called out my agreement with the statement "Praise is too easily given to artists nowadays and it soon becomes meaningless" it was based on a general view of forums like this and twitter etc - which is that by and large most dancers are talked up and more negative statement are much less often seen. Praise is everywhere - everybody did well - or nearly everybody, nothing is 100%.

 

I have no problem at all with people having a good rave about something and giving mighty praise - as I do myself from time to time. So really happy to see Hayward talked up. But the reality is that there are less good performances and performances that are 'ordinary' in the scheme of things and I think that tends to be lost in social media.

 

It never really struck me before but I think part of this depends on who you think you are really writing for on the forum. It's very clear that some feel they are writing for the dancer or choreographer, in part at least - and beyond that, for some again, a feeling of wanting to offer positive support by saying nice things mostly. That doesn't work so well for me (though I am human!) and where I come from is a feeling that when car magazines review cars they are not writing for the manufacture (and thinking about their feelings!) but for customers. Ditto hi fi magazines, holiday magazines, arts reviewers etc - its all info for consumers as to what is perceived to be good, what not, and how things rank - hence the prevalence of star rankings. Nobody can see everything and honest feedback on positives and negatives is useful when deciding how to spend money.

 

For myself I naturally find I talk about things I consider really poor as well as the converse and it's writers, on the forum or in newspapers, that have good times *and* bad times, in broadly equal numbers, I find useful. Those who mostly write with strings of superlatives are not so useful to me as a consumer - and it was Nina G's single sentence that encapsulated that for me.

 

So I don't look to write or comment for dancers particularly. Its always been said on the forum that it's wise to assume those who you write about will hear what was said and so be it if that is the case. The only thing I'd say is that when I do offer praise it's certainly not in a sea of praise for all!!

Edited by Bruce
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Good post, Bruce. I don't think that this is supposed to be a 'fans site' in the sense that people are supposed to offer uncritical praise of their favourite dancers and favourite companies. Everyone sees things differently, of course, and there is a great deal of subjectivity involved in enjoying a performance or an individual dancer in a role. We don't know how many dancers read this forum and, whether any or many do, this should not inhibit honest and respectful views of performances which we see as audience members. If dancers choose to read this site they have to accept that they may not like what they read. Actually, I've seen far more critical (and rude) comments on Twitter and so dancers who are sensitive to criticism should probably avoid Twitter as well.

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Oh Sim thank goodness for your post.  I was depressed by those about how stinting we should be in our praise because...?  I had the most marvellous evening last night watching Ed and Francesca and indeed the whole cast.  They gave me great joy and I wanted to share those thoughts.

 

Not that it matters but I don't over-praise if it hasn't pleased me.  I'm an ordinary ballet fan with no real technical knowledge and I have criticised on occasion.  Acosta never does it for me and I don't get the right vibes from Sarah Lamb.  I expect both of them can cope with my amateur view (!) but I hope that my genuine praise, my thanks for a wonderful night, however much I lack knowledge, sometimes reaches the artistes I am writing about.

 

When I watched Ed Watson dance the opening night of Mayerling it was one of the greatest nights of my life and it added to my pleasure to be able to say so on here and find others with similar thoughts.

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So that was amazing even though we only saw it and the cinema and I ended up talking to Bennett Gartside on Twitter and Marianela Nunez favourited and retweeted my thank you to her and Federico Bonelli. I have died and gone to heaven tonight.

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Genius! I knew there was a perfect role that I was forgetting! And as Ed's favourite ballet that would make it perfect.  Roll on Mayerling...

 

My thoughts exactly I can just see Francesca as Mary and Juliet, when those much wiser than me think she is ready for it then that is the right time. If I see something that so thrills me then that actor/dancer/sportsmen will get my unreserved praise.

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Just got back from the live screening of Manon and what a wonderful performance it was. Sadly, there were only about 20 people in the audience- but not that surprising given there was no advertising for the screening around the cinema. I thought the interview with Lady Macmillan during the first interval was insightful and for once, Darcey seemed more at ease when interviewing her. I've seen Manon several times at the theatre, including a performance by Guillem, but I have to say being able to see close ups made it a very emotional and memorable performance. Nunez and Bonelli were superb tonight.

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