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BRB - Shadows of War Programme - Autumn 2014


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From what I read in one of the recent Gillian Lynne interviews, I understand that it's [edit: Miracle in the Gorbals] not a revival, more rechoreographed from scratch.  Or am I confusing it with something else?

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From what I read in one of the recent Gillian Lynne interviews, I understand that it's not a revival, more rechoreographed from scratch.  Or am I confusing it with something else?

 

That is what Gillian Lynne is claiming (and there certainly are some errors of fact in her claims in the FT interview last Saturday) - but her work builds on the creative archaeology that has taken place over the past four years, sifting the memories of others who danced in the original, many photographs and designs - as well as the musical prompts that the score suggests. Lynne has made conscious changes to Helpmann's original - but the spirit of his ballet is probably more in evidence than the claims being made for it.

 

Its subject matter sounds timeless. What will be interesting to see is how well a different generation of dancers encompass something inherently theatrical. 

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Gillian Lynne said in an interview in the Friends of BRB magazine that only Pauline Clayton could actually remember every step of her solo. I get the impression that this is a reconstruction of style and spirit rather than accurate restaging of the original work.

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BRB's Shadows of War programme (La Fin du Jour, Miracle in the Gorbas, Flowers of the Forest) starts next week (8th October) at the Birmingham Hippodrome before moving to London and Plymouth.  Can we please use this thread to discuss?

 

I have moved a couple of posts from the B&B thread as they are discussing Gorbals.

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Was there no notation for Miracle in the Gorbals? Or film?

 

Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me for it was a long time ago but I think I saw a scene from that ballet in the late 1960s or early 1970s and Sir Robert Helpmann was definitely involved. It may have been the gala for Ashton's retirement in 1970 which Sir Robert presented though as that evening was devoted to Ashton I am not sure why one of Helpmann's ballets would have been included. At about that time Dame Ninette de Valois was giving a talk at the V & A so it may have been something to do with that. There were certainly a lot of photos of the performance and some found there way into books which somehow got lost when my late mother moved from Surrey to Harrogate.

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Sorry, I am a clot. I've written my review but posted it on the Beauty and the Beast thread.

If someone brighter than me could move it I would be excessively grateful. Thank you.

Edited by Ian Macmillan
Done - see 14, below.
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See 13 above - this is Two Pigeons' post, copied from the other thread, and now deleted there.  There does not appear to be a straightforward way of moving an individual post between threads:

 

Posted Today, 06:38 PM

I was at the Hippodrome last night and found much to enjoy.  I have reservations about La FIn Du Jour as I think its meaning and style has got slightly lost over the years.  Needless to say, the company danced it extremely well and with real energy but for me they did not capture the underlying threat of what was on the horizon.  I was privileged to see the first cast over 30 years ago, can you believe it is so long, but I still remember Merle Park and Jennifer Penney's understanding of the 1930s chic.  I felt Maureya Lebowitz and Mathias Dingman did very well and once the company were in evening clothes I felt they got nearer the style I remember.

 

When it comes to Miracle in the Gorbals I think I felt very much as I did when I saw the ENB revivals of Ashton's Apparitions and his Romeo and Juliet.  How well these works have stood the test of time is something on which every viewer will have a different opinion. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Gillian Lynne and David Bintley for giving me the chance to see this work which was of such importance to the development of the Royal Ballet companies' repertoire.  The performances were exceptionally sincere and heartfelt with special mention to Delia Matthews as the suicide and Cesar Morales in Helpmann's role of the stranger.  This ballet stands or falls by the credibility of his performance.  I only ever saw Helpmann once in 1979 in an entirely different role but I totally believe the stories of how magnetic and unforgettable he was in everything he ever did.

 

Cesar is probably a much quieter presence but no less compelling for all of that.  I am seeing the ballet again tomorrow night and will see how it fares on a second viewing.  There is much to take in and it is a very intense 40 minutes.  I will be very interested to hear how other balletomanes view the work.

 

We finished the evening in fine style with  ballet which is very close to my heart, Flowers of the Forest.  Again praise to Mathias Dingman leading the second part, well supported by Elisha Willis and the first part, led by Iain Mackay was a sunny joy.  The men danced their hearts out in the Scottish Ballad but I did get very annoyed with the new lighting effects.  There was one point when I wanted to shout out 'for Heaven's Sake, turn the lights up'.  I was at the premiere of this ballet in 1985 and have seen it a number of times in the intervening decade.  As an aside, I think there is a mistake in the programme which says that Vyvyan Lorrayne danced at the Birmingham premiere.  It is my memory that it was Margaret Barbieri but I may be wrong.  it was a while ago.  Either way, the old back cloths and lighting were perfectly fine to set the scene without the new dramatic changes.  I do realise that it depicts great loss in battle without everything having to turn red. 

 

The programme was due to finish around 9.50 but it overran last night.  

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See 13 above - this is Two Pigeons' post, copied from the other thread, and now deleted there.  There does not appear to be a straightforward way of moving an individual post between threads:

 

There ought to be: I must have used it when I was performing all that surgery the other day :)

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I was at this afternoon's matinee too. So much to enjoy but what a shame it was so sparsely attended. It made an interesting contrast to the ENB Lest We Forget programme in that the links to war were much more oblique - 'Shadows' was very much the key word. I felt that Miracle in the Gorbals got a bit West End at times but it was very much a worthwhile excavation. You could see how the subject matter and style might have affected the young Kenneth MacMillan. And yet his contribution to the programme was paradoxically the sunniest thing on offer. La Fin du Jour was a delight throughout, with Celine Gittens and Yvette Knight standing out especially. I was conscious of the patched together nature of Flowers of the Forest - the shift in tone in the middle is sudden and not entirely satisfactory. I did however feel that the lighting was perfect, matching the changing mood of the piece. Finally it was nice to see a name check for my favourite band Fairport Convention in the programme - surely the first time they've ever been linked with ballet!

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Just home from Shadows of War matinee in Birmingham and scribbled my thoughts down on the train. I concur with ChrisG above that it was a shame it was poorly attended but the audience (myself included) responded warmly to what for me, was one of the best triple bills I've ever attended. Usually I find at least 1 in the 3 pieces dull but today I was engaged in all of them and found something wonderful in each piece (none of which I had seen before btw).

 

With Fin de Jour, although I failed to connect at all with impending war, I loved the piece. Superbly complex Macmillan lifts of the girls by the boys, with all 4 main roles shining throughout: Celine Gittens, Tyrone Singleton, Yvette Knight and Brandon Lawrence.

 

Miracle in the Gorbals I found very powerful and moving and was gripped throughout and felt the story really flowed well. I'm assuming The Stranger is supposed to be a Christ figure; Cesar Morales shone with a kind of divinity in this (possibly helped by amazing lighting on him). Delia Matthews as suicide was sublime. What a wonderful recreation of a past work - one of the best short ballets I have seen for many years. The Bliss score was played blissfully by RB Sinfonia.

 

And Flowers of the Forest was a wonderful end piece. I particularly loved the Britten Scottish Ballad section accompanied brilliantly on double pianos - 2 Steinway's in the orchestra pit! 

 

I was utterly swept away all afternoon. BRB is truly a dazzling company to watch right now. 

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Can't help thinking that the title of the programme may have put people off attending. The only direct reference to war was the sound of bombing before Miracle, and even that felt a bit tacked on. I agree however that it was a wonderful triple bill. Can't wait for the American one in the spring!

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Terpischore I will be at the matinee but I'm sure we could arrange a meet up in between performances if you are not too late into London will PM you

 

I have exchanged my evening ticket for a matinee ticket - mainly to enable me to meet you but also to see MurleyDance's Hail Britannia at The Shaw Theatre in the evening.   You may want to check your email.

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I'd guess curtain down was about 10.25 tonight, so be warned.  Some of the overrun might be due to the first-night party taking a long time to return to their seats, or it may have been due to the time taken to erect the set, I don't know.

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