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annamk

The Royal Ballet, Manon, Autumn 2014

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Indeed that is a shame and I would have thought some posters and wider advertising for the screenings would be a better use of ROH resources than all the encouragement to tweet and give comments all the time...the tweeters already have their bums on the seats!

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Has anyone written to Kevin O'Hare to tell him about the things that they think would improve the Royal Ballet's screenings in cinemas or posted their comments about them on the Opera House website? I ask because Mr O'Hare has said that he welcomes comments and suggestions. Of course he may not have been serious when he said this at a meeting of the London Ballet Association but he sounded as if he was. He may even regret what he said; for all I know he may be knee deep in letters from people who think that they could do a better job than him when it comes to programming and casting. But the chances are that heis blissfully unaware of those aspects of the screenings that are regularly subject to adverse criticism on this site. I have seen complaints about breaks in transmission on the ROH site which have at leas been acknowledged by someone at the Opera House.

 

I do not recall any adverse comments about their content and in particular about close ups spoiling theenjoyment of the ballets being screened. Most of the comments that I have seen have come from people who feel that they enhance their enjoyment of the performance.But for all I know all the enthusiastic comments come from audience members who are not regular ballet goers. If you are not a regular ballet goer you may well assume that those filming the performance and selecting the shots to be transmitted will have chosen the best ones. They will not feel the need to see a dancer's feet or whole body at a particular point in a ballet because they will not know the choreography.

 

I have not attended screenings of the ROYAL BALLET's performances but I have several DVDs of performances that were screened and I find some of the choices to move from full body to close up bizarre.As I have been to a few screenings of Bolshoi and Mariinsky performances I feel able to comment on their camera work and choice of shots but can not compare the quality of the interviews. I find that the camera work for the russian companies' screenings use shots which allow you to see what you would want to look at if you were at the performance and tend to use close ups when, as an audience member, you might well be looking at the dancers'faces. All in all they are far less fussy and busy than the Royal's are. Personally I do not think much of the russian interviewer who seems to be able to say very little at great length in several languages and her interviews have been short on content. Darcey must be truely dire if you think, as many of you seem to, that the russian lady does it better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

'

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Darcey comes across as fairly nervous. That said, had the greater part of my professional life been performing on stage in silence, I don't suppose presenting would come naturally to me either! Even George Lamb, who presents full time, stumbles over some of his words when presenting Royal Ballet Live.

 

Kristen McNally always impresses me when she co-presents RB live events; perhaps the ROH could consider trying her for some of the live links.

 

I must say that despite Darcey's nerves, she doesn't bother me. I spent much of the time admiring her rather fabulous necklace. :-)

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I have not seen the Russian lady or the Bolshoi broadcasts, but I did see the Manon broadcast last Sunday mattinee, and I enjoyed Darcey Bussell's presentation.  Her two interviews with Lady MacMillan and Kevin O'Hare were extremely interesting, especially as Miss Bussell worked with MacMillan on various roles, including Manon, which was fascinating to hear about.

 

In my book, that makes for a good Presenter, and I would wish for no other!

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Yup, Acosta and Osipova pretty much nailed the 3rd act so hard, it'll be difficult to prise it out of memory. Acosta might be a bit earthbound these days, but his partnering was unbelievably good, allowing Osipova to express every nuance of grief / hopelessness / regret and love in the final pdd. I guess you need a high level of trust to really fall bonelessly into someone's arms, and that trust was clearly there last night.

 

The last few movements on stage, when he props her up with his shoulder and then realises she is dead, were the best I have seen.

 

Osipova's dancing was so very beautiful and expressive, she threw her whole soul into the character. I would love to know what McMillan would have made of her, and what stunning ballets we might have ended up with if those two had been contemporaries.

Edited by Coated
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Osipova's dancing was so very beautiful and expressive, she threw her whole soul into the character. I would love to know what McMillan would have made of her, and what stunning ballets we might have ended up with if those two had been contemporaries.

 

Oh yes indeed & I felt she was MUCH better than her first performance although I'm not suggesting that wasn't very good more a reflection of how extraordinary she was last night. We are incredibly lucky to have such a unique and talented dancer based in London. I can't help wondering what she might do with Mary Vetsera in the future. 

 

They were electrifying together & richly deserved the rare standing ovation from the stalls. I never really felt the connection between them in any of their previous performances but last night was oh so different. 

 

Even the three gentlemen (Dyer, Hristov, Zucchetti) rose to the occasion and for once managed to dance the entire variation in time :)

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What were Acosta's solos like, particularly the first one?

I didn't think they were earth shattering, but there were glimpses of a natural elegance that not many dancers have. I was watching it thinking that this is likely his last Des Grieux before retirement.

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I didn't think they were earth shattering, but there were glimpses of a natural elegance that not many dancers have. I was watching it thinking that this is likely his last Des Grieux before retirement.

 

I agree. His inn solo was another case of squeaky shoes and wobbly arabesques but somehow I found I could overlook that because he was so much in the character & everything Osipova did was so interesting it was always possible to look elsewhere. As the ballet progressed his solos became more urgent & desperate so, unusually for me, I just didn't care whether he was technically outstanding or not. 

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...His inn solo was another case of squeaky shoes and wobbly arabesques but..... I could overlook that because he was so much in the character ...As the ballet progressed his solos became more urgent & desperate so, unusually for me, I just didn't care whether he was technically outstanding or not. 

 

Quite.  I thought it was generally accepted here that Carlos - while still retaining considerable drawing power and audience loyalty - was nearing the end of his days as a Principal dancer.  I'm puzzled as to why Aileen felt it necessary to ask about how he performed that  first tricky male solo.

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I saw the performance last night and came away feeling very underwhelmed which was a shame as I am a Manon lover. Technically Osipova is on top form but the pairing with Acosta did not seem to work as no chemistry. Whilst Carlos's partnering skills are still strong it does not seem to be enough to carry him through the performance without the technique he once had.

Thiago also had some extremely wobbly technical moments in Act 1 so all in all I was disappointed although it was clear some were more impressed than I was by the time of the curtain call.

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Ann, why shouldn't I ask about this? As far as I am concerned Des Grieux's dancing is as important as Manon's and, for me, if it's not good then it detracts from the overall performance. I feel that there are some things that are unmentionable on this forum. Others may not mind about the technical standard of dancing if they are swept along by the drama but I personally do. We all have our tastes and opinions. To be even-handed, Soares' dancing has sometimes disappointed as well; in particular, he seems to be curiously under-powered for a relatively young dancer.

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Thiago Soares is aged 33.  When considering his performance as Lescaut (good characterisation I thought), we should perhaps remember that he has recently returned from injury.

 

For what it's worth, I admired Acosta's partnering, especially in the Act 3 pdd, but was left feeling that noone else would be allowed to get away with dancing Des Grieux as mediocrely as he did last night. I shall hold on in my memoriy to his stellar performance in Manon with Rojo in Washington DC in 2009.

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So the point of the question was to 'proof' that a performance you did not see could not have been decent enough since one of the dancers does not have the technical ability of his youth shortly before retirement?

 

Not sure that throwing in that Soares can at times be underpowered makes this in any way more evenhanded. Yes, he can sometimes be a bit underwhelming. In case you're actually interested, he was fine last night with a nicely thuggish Lescaut and a slightly too drunk for my personal taste solo.

 

But then I just get swept up in drama whilst everyone clumps across the stage in wooden shoes, so it might be best to just ignore my comments on story ballets ;)

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I assume that you are responding to post # 453 rather than mine, Coated?

 

More generally, please don't let us start to get 'iffy' between one poster and another.

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For me, it has always been the overall performance that grabs me by the short and curlies!  Obviously I prefer the dancers to dance the roles well but age and experience can bring other facets to a role when the technical fireworks are fading.  And just because the technical fireworks are fading does not mean to say that a more experienced dancer cannot still dance the role, just perhaps the tours and jetes aren't so high and such like.

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To be honest I didn't think Carlos solo dancing was way worse than any of the other DG I've seen in this run. To varying degrees they all (Pennefather, McRae, Watson) wobbled & squeaked their way through the Inn solo. Sadly I didn't see Vadim. I think Thiago would be better as a Principal Character Artist I've always thought his classical dancing mediocre at best.

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I'm not sure what points you're trying to make, Coated. I wasn't at the performance last night and so I can't comment it but others were and it seems that there is a divergence of view on how well both Acosta and Soares danced technically. You are entitled to your opinion, tastes and priorities and they and I are entitled to ours. My point about Soares was to demonstrate that I wasn't picking on Acosta. If a dancer struggles technically I will say it, whoever he or she is. Just because s/he is a big star or a principal s/he is not exempt from criticism in my book. Broadening this discussion out, I think that there are questions to be asked about casting generally (ie whether the RB should be more particular about casting some principals in some roles) and about the wisdom of casting dancers in certain roles when they have recently returned from injury or when they are nearing the end of heir careers. Let's remember that this forum is not representative of people going to watch a ballet performance. Most people only go occasionally.They are not much interested in factors which lead to a less than stellar performance (and that includes dancer development and debuts). The are only going to judge the performance on what they see and that will include wobbles and uncertain technique. 

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Thought Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta were beautiful together last night, he acted more than I have ever seen from him as Des Grieux and I realised it was probably his last Manon, at the very end I couldn't watch through opera glasses, it was too sad, also Natalia Osipova was such a frail little waif in the last act clinging to life it was almost unbearable and the gaoler scene seemed even more violent than usual.  Far from Osipova needing to lessen her acting I thought the entire cast upped theirs, even the second act was fascinating (I tend to switch off sometimes here), everyone seemed really tipsy which I suppose they were supposed to be, great trio of Hristov, Dyer and Zuchetti too.  I think Natalia Osipova, like Alina Cojocaru, really lives the character through the 3 hours, and doesn't just dance it, I've read Natalia Makarova started to become Manon days before the performance!

 

Have now seen four performances of different but equal greatness, can Saturday's make it five in a row, I don't mind, I just want to see Roberto Bolle at the ROH again!

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I have only seen Manon once before and it was many years ago, so I saw it with fresh eyes. Therefore, my views may be different to those who have seen it many times. I found it very moving and the final act was heartbreaking. The scenery made me think of a Hogarth print.

 

I thought that Acosta and Osipova were wonderful together - I did not notice any lack of chemistry. A great evening all round - which made up for all the travel problems with trains and tube!

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Thank you Janet McNulty for your welcome to the forum, and thanks to those who indicated that they liked my first post – even though it was probably too gushing, and certainly “ill-informed”.  As someone who knows very little about ballet, anything I post will obviously be ill-informed. But I am learning more, not least from the  many well-informed posters on this forum.

 

I am still in some wonder at how deeply I was affected at seeing the RB’s Manon on the live film transmission. I had then intended to try and see a performance at the ROH, but they were all sold out. I now have my eye on the RB's forthcoming Onegin next year.

 

I know very little about the techniques of ballet, or about the art of choreography.  Nevertheless, my experience of watching Manon has confirmed my new conviction that dance – and especially ballet – is not, as I used to think, an enjoyable but essentially minor art form, but one which alongside music, literature, drama etc. , has an important role in enlightening us to what it means to be human.

 

My "professional" life has been spent both as a minister in the Church (of England), and as an evolutionary biologist. There’s no contradiction in this.  We all have both “ape” and “angel” in our identity as human beings. I believe that art is partly about exploring these two sides of our identity, and about how to combine them in a creative and inspiring way. Of all dance forms, perhaps ballet is the one most relevant in this, expressed even in such technicalities as the motivation for, and the evolution of, dancing on pointe.

 

[incidentally, I found a “New Online Dance Blog/Magazine” – mentioned in the “Doing Dance” section of this forum, informative and interesting; especially as it has 3 articles on Manon.]

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Thank you Frank...I am so thrilled you like the blog as it is my daughter who writes it! Do keep an eye open for further instalments!

 

I also think your comments relating ballet to 'ape and angel' are a brilliant way of looking at how ballet expresses the human experience.

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Crikey, for financial and physical reasons there are so many ballets I haven't yet seen. There's a first time for everything; in fact I saw Manon for the first time earlier this month AND tweeted to say how much I'd enjoyed it. If anyone thinks that I am therefore gushing and ill-informed I suppose they are entitled to do so. In turn I would think them rather rude. ;-)

 

If you care to read my post again you will see that the criticism was directed at the inclusion of tweets in the transmission.  

 

Including the tweets was lazy and made for a less than perfect transmission. It took up time that could have been put to better use.   I would have made the same criticism omitting perhaps the adjectives "ill informed" or "gushing" had all the tweets come from ballet critics.   

 

The Royal Ballet deserve better and so do audiences.   Something at least as good as yesterday's transmission from Moscow.  Now that really is my last word on the subject.

Edited by terpsichore

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I've seen three Manons so far this run (Nunez, Hayward and Osipova) and it never ceases to amaze me how differently people can interpret the role.

 

Nunez plays a very knowing Manon, right from the start. This can works, but how well depends (for me at least) on a very intense and heartbreaking Des Grieux, or else the tragedy of Act 3 is somehow lost. I'm not sure Bonelli quite got there...I remember seeing Pennefather and Lamb the last run of Manon and thinking that the ballet could almost be renamed Des Grieux, off the back of Pennefather's acting and performance. His Acts 2+3 were devastating! Sad I'm not seeing them this run.

 

Hayward blew me away completely. She will only get better technically, but the characterisation was already so full and cleverly nuanced! I can't remember seeing the Act 1 pas de deux outside the pub danced that well since my very first Manon (with Guillem and Cope in 2005 - I've probably seen it at least 20 times since then!). I was particularly impressed with her musicality.

 

Osipova - it sounds like I was lucky to have seen her second performance rather than her first, but that Act 3 will stay with me for a very long time. I remember when I watched Guillem back in 2005, willing her not to die simply so that the pas de deux would carry on - I felt exactly the same on Saturday. It looked as though she was absolutely spent but somehow managing to keep moving, and beautifully, which is of course exactly as it should be. I did think that Osipova's characterisation for the bedroom pas de deux in Act 2 needs a bit of work - she seemed to take the taunting of Des Grieux too far, and I didn't really feel her devastation when Lescaut died - which was a shame, since I thought that she and Soares had built a really detailed relationship between their two characters. However, given that was only her second performance I think I can let her off!! Very excited to see her again in the future.

 

I've waffled on for too long already, but one more thing I noted when reading this forum was the critique of Morera's interpretation as being too simplistically naive, but with a very tragic finale. Interestingly, my memory of Guillem's interpretation of the role is that she played Manon very much like this - as the young naive who was manipulated by Lescaut and GM but was truly in love with Des Grieux. Maybe I was just too young, but that remains the best Manon I have ever seen and so I wonder whether I don't prefer that interpretation. I certainly think Osipova tended more towards that version (with a bit of mischievious enjoyment at the discovery of how beguiling she could be in Act 2)

 

Seeing Yanowsky and Bolle next weekend and then I'm all done with Manon for this run (sadly)!

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Hmm, that's only 3 days' recovery time.  I wouldn't get your hopes up.

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He's apparently over 6 ft; let's hope that's tall enough.

 

I'm a bit surprised they didn't substitute Pennefather or Kish, though. Has Yanowsky ever partnered Golding in anything major? From what I've heard about him, he's a bit wooden, and that might not look too great next to one of RB's most expressive actresses.

 

Surely they won't bring Bolle over for just one performance.

Edited by Melody

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Not sure on that front, but he's danced with Zenaida before, hasn't he?

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