Jump to content

Royal Ballet - Ashton mixed bill


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 223
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

I don't know, but whatever has been done hair-wise didn't help in my appreciation of the performance :(

 

 

So were Morera and Hatley: I don't think I've ever seen two people dance quite so well together in those roles.

 

I urge you to see the current Ashton bill "Symphonic Variations" cast Alison. Judith Mackrell describes them in her review as the best cast she has ever seen. I concur.

I have seen the 2001 (Cojucaru/Rojo/Wildor), 2005 (Yoshida/Lamb/Cuthbertson) and 2007 (Marquez/Morera/Hatley) cast, all beautiful of course but this cast (Nunez/Chui/Naghdi) has something really special. Naghdi and Choe danced in total unison alongside Nunez, every step was danced to perfection, pure classicism (felt as if I was drinking champagne whilst watching) and their total unison brought tears into my eyes. It was just as Antoinette Sibley once said "pure heaven"!  

 

The RB should show SV far more often and especially aim it at the younger generation/new audience: it's an education, showing ballet at its most beautiful, in its purest form of classicism. 

 

I read on:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphonic_Variations_(ballet)

 

"In the first production and early revivals the work was regarded as making such demands on the dancers that they took no part in any other ballet on the same evening's bill.[7] Margaret Dale in conversation with David Vaughan commented, "Even though Symphonic Variations more than any other ballet creates a feeling of serenity, for the dancers, in the beginning it was an 'absolute marathon', and made demands on them that had never been made before. ... It was a test of sheer stamina that very few British dancers could stand at that time."[7

 

In those early years it seems the demands of dancing Symphonic Variations was so high that " the dancers would not take part in any other ballet on the same evening's bill" yet I noticed on the Opening Night cast list that Yasmine Naghdi danced in "Scenes de ballet" before dancing "Symphonic Variations".  I wonder what Margot Fonteyn, Pamela May and Moira Shearer would say about this! 

 

This Ashton Mixed bill is just fabulous, "Symphonic Variations" IS the star of the evening (the loud and prolonged cheers of the audience spoke volumes), "Month" is truly sublime (Zenaida and Emma are superb), Five Brahms Waltzes left me a bit cold (although Helen Crawford gave it her all). 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I urge you to see the current Ashton bill "Symphonic Variations" cast Alison. Judith Mackrell describes them in her review as the best cast she has ever seen. I concur.

 

I did, Nina, and I don't :).  While the individual performances were very good, I didn't feel they'd as yet "gelled" totally, and the "magic" I've felt with certain other casts wasn't there - as yet.  I believe they've got the lion's share of performances for the rest of the run, though, so I certainly expect (considerable?) improvements in both those areas. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The SV casting is unfortunately a mix and mash and the Opening Night cast will sadly not perform together again.

 

Matthew Golding suddenly disappeared off the ROH production website (1 or 2 days before the Opening Night ) when it was announced he is replaced by Vadim Muntagirov, who will also partner Melissa Hamilton (2nd cast).  Reece Clark is replacing Golding as Nunez's partner, Naghdi is partnered one evening by Hay and another by Acri dancing alongside Stock/Zucchetti one evening and Choe/Dyer another evening. 

 

Not much opportunity there to "gel" :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate that Golding's withdrawal, for whatever reason, has resulted in substitutions but I can't understand why there is so much chopping and changing with the remainder of the cast. I feel a bit apprehensive about Hamilton, and it's an enormous ask of Reece Clarke who has only been in the company a year. With the greatest respect to him, I'm surprised that no-one more experienced was chosen to dance such a demanding role in such an iconic ballet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

......... and it's an enormous ask of Reece Clarke who has only been in the company a year. With the greatest respect to him, I'm surprised that no-one more experienced was chosen to dance such a demanding role in such an iconic ballet.

 

Wendy Ellis Soames who owns and mounts Symphonic Variations selected a very young dancer for the central couple once before - her name: Alina Cojocaru.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In response to capybara:

 

The difference is that Alina Cojocaru was part of the selected 6 members cast to dance SV and as such was fully rehearsed, whereas I think Reece Clark must have been one of the covers to Golding/Muntagirov and is a last minute emergency replacement of Golding.  

Edited by Nina G.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In response to capybara:

 

The difference is that Alina Cojocaru was part of the selected 6 members cast to dance SV and as such was fully rehearsed, whereas I think Reece Clark must have been one of the covers to Golding/Muntagirov and is a last minute emergency replacement of Golding.  

She was not listed in the original cast

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate that Golding's withdrawal, for whatever reason, has resulted in substitutions but I can't understand why there is so much chopping and changing with the remainder of the cast. I feel a bit apprehensive about Hamilton, and it's an enormous ask of Reece Clarke who has only been in the company a year. With the greatest respect to him, I'm surprised that no-one more experienced was chosen to dance such a demanding role in such an iconic ballet.

Hamilton and Clarke danced the final dress rehearsal and were fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I'll be seeing Hamilton but I'll have to rely on others for reports of Clarke's performance.

 

I thought that Cojacaru famously replaced another dancer at very short notice and that her success in the role was the beginning of her rapid ascent to the top. Let's hope that his role does the same for Clarke.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't go, but looking at the photos it looks like he's wearing Lego hair.

 

If you look at any photos of the original production you will see that Dowell (who created the role) always wore a rather bouffant blond wig.  I'm not crazy about this latest version but it IS a slight improvement on the original.  Mind you last time I saw this in 2005, both Murro & Cope wore their own hair and looked much better, and younger, for it.  I really think any wig that distracts from the dancing should be banned!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The SV casting is unfortunately a mix and mash and the Opening Night cast will sadly not perform together again.

 

Matthew Golding suddenly disappeared off the ROH production website (1 or 2 days before the Opening Night ) when it was announced he is replaced by Vadim Muntagirov, who will also partner Melissa Hamilton (2nd cast).  Reece Clark is replacing Golding as Nunez's partner, Naghdi is partnered one evening by Hay and another by Acri dancing alongside Stock/Zucchetti one evening and Choe/Dyer another evening. 

 

Not much opportunity there to "gel" :(

 

Ah yes, I'd forgotten that - I was thinking that the first cast had about 2/3 of the performances, and forgetting that Muntagirov had been moved over.  Oh well, I guess we'll see what happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

During Ashton's lifetime Symphonic Variations was not a regular repertory piece.I know that I had to wait several seasons before I saw it for the first time.In those days you had to wait until Ashton had a suitable cast and there was no thought of a second cast on his part. I should like to see it performed more frequently but only if care continues to be taken over casting.Fortunately the demands that the choreography makes of the dancers means that you can not throw it on with a scratch cast but I should hate to see it reduced to a repertory piece where casting has more to do with seniority, star status and the box office than suitability.But I should like to see the company dance far more Ashton than they do at present and do so on a regular basis.

]  

I am looking forward to seeing Reece Clarke in Symphonic. He gave a very polished and assured performance as Jean de Brienne at the 2014 school's performance, and people who saw him at the open rehearsal of this programme were very impressed by him. Perhaps the Muntagirov, Clarke cast swap was intended to take the pressure of a first night off the younger dancer and to give Hamilton an experienced  partner.I suspect that it has more to do with wanting to ensure that the first night, with the press present, went off well than a desire to raise Muntagirov's profile with the occasional ballet goer by getting his name in the press.

 

Several people have said that they don't get the Five Brahm's Waltzes  which is strange since the dances are exactly what the title says the audience will see. Perhaps the problem begins with a title which sounds a bit like a museum exhibit label but I find it hard to think of a better one. Would calling it an Evocation of Isadora Duncan help the audience? At first I thought  it might be its place in the programme but showing it immediately after Scenes was a deliberate choice and I do not think it was made simply as a matter of convenience. A good mixed programme is more than a jumble of disparate works, care is given not only to the choice of ballets but their running order. This programme is intended to show the full range of Ashton's art from the rigorous abstract of Scenes to the consummate story telling of Month.The latter a ballet in which the main action and the human emotions at the heart of Turgenev's play are portrayed in purely balletic terms using the vocabulary of classical ballet. A ballet in which steps and lifts that other choreographers would use for their wow factor are used to portray emotion and mood.

 

Symphonic is there, I believe, not only because it is an acknowledged masterpiece but because it is a ballet of mood and beauty in which everything appears simple and unaffected. However difficult it is to dance It must seem effortless and artless. This is definitely not a ballet about technical display or one in which the formal structure of the nineteenth century has any apparent part to play.It is among other things a choreographic riposte to the sort of ballets that Helpmann had been making for the company such as Miracle in the Gorbals and Adam Zero so it is interesting to be able to see it while Gillian Lynn's version of Miracle is being played by BRB.

 

But why include Five Brahm's Waltzes? In order to answer that question you need to know a little bit more about Isadora Duncan than that she was an American dancer who gave dance recitals in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. Her ideals were totally at variance with the world of ballet as experienced at the end of the nineteenth century. Think about the works of Petipa with which we are familiar particularly Sleeping Beauty with its formality and etiquette in which Petipa evoked the world of the Sun King's court for the Romanovs in their imperial theatre . It was a time when,in Russia, ballerinas wore their own jewels on stage and male dancers might come off stage bleeding because they had been cut by them. It was an age in which the Italian school reigned supreme as far as technical innovation was concerned . Italian dancers such as Legnani with her fouettes and Brianzi with her extraordinary balances traveled to St Petersburg where Petipa revived ballets and made new ones which incorporated these new technical feats .Isadora's world of dance was the antithesis of this with its natural movement, light costumes, bare feet and good music.While it is true that Petipa used Tchaikovsky's scores in three of his ballets there were plenty of dancers prepared declare his ballet music "undanceable" and you were far more likely hear Minkus or Pugni when attended the ballet. Plenty of people involved in the Russian dance world went to Isadora's recitals and she had a profound, if unacknowledged, impact on the aesthetics of ballet for much of the following century,

 

I sometimes feel that those who disparaged her later had been more influenced by her than they cared to admit. Ashton saw her late in her career  I believe that Waltzes started as a piece for Lynn Seymour to perform at a gala and that he added to it later. He made it clear that he had not attempted to reproduce what Isadora had danced to a specific piece of music;it is an evocation of her manner of dancing. In it he shows, as he thought she had, the beauty of simple movement. You should not be conscious of the fact that it is being performed by a classically trained dancer and while it should not appear effort full it should not appear completely effortless . The dancer should not attempt to appear weightless when jumping; arms do not float as the do in ballet . Ashton gives the dancer some of the props that Isadora used such as rose petals and a scarf and he gives her certain poses or actions that she was known to have used but I think that he did so because these were things that a dance audience in the 1970's would have known about .I recall reading the comment of an academic who saw Seymour perform this piece which was that while she had read a great deal about Isadora it was only when she saw Seymour in it that she understood the effect that Isadora's performances had had on her audiences.

 

Scenes follows Waltzes because at one level at least you could argue that with its apparent simplicity of style and movement in which neither dancers nor ballet steps call attention to themselves individually and the ballet has to be viewed as a whole or not at all Ashton made a piece which gives the appearance of a spontaneous response to the music much as Isadora's dances were intended to do.

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think that there was a swap for Muntagirov and Clarke as the former was only ever down to do two performances, perhaps because of his commitments in Japan. It's understandable that management decided not to put Clarke on on opening night.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I suspect that it has more to do with wanting to ensure that the first night, with the press present, went off well than a desire to raise Muntagirov's profile with the occasional ballet goer by getting his name in the press.

 

 

I agree but, if you have a major star like Muntagirov in your ranks, why waste time in showing him to advantage - which casting him in SV (and Manon) certainly did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the fact that Muntagirov has been cast in roles that were in Dowell's repertory is wonderful as he has a very similar quality of movement to Dowell's. The fact is I had almost as much difficulty in imagining Golding in Scenes as I had in watching Guillem in dancing Ashton. I am in favour of dancers being cast in roles that suit them I am not in favour of dancers being cast in roles which they are not able or prepared to dance as choreographed simply to sell tickets.

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was disappointed with this evening's performance. I felt that Scenes was rather flat. I saw it from low down and perhaps that didn't help. I'm not sure whether the corps is supposed to dance with brio or whether it's supposed to be more lyrical but, for me, it fell somewhere between the two. Even Yuhui didn't sparkle. Symphonic was also flat. Even Vadim was a bit disappointing. I felt that there was very little connection between him and Melissa and I think that it's the first time that I haven't seen really smooth partnering by him. They didn't work as a partnership for me and I hope that they are not paired together again. Does anyone know whether the dancers are supposed to look serious all the way through Symphonic? They hardly raised a smile between them and their unsmiling faces didn't help the mood of the piece. The only other time that I have seen this ballet it was danced by BRB at Sadler's Wells and I found it much more satisfying. I was bored after one minute of Five Waltzes. Month was a mixed bag. I felt that the supporting characters were more satisfying than the leads. Federico's solos weren't as elegant as they could be. As for Natalia, well, why be subtle when you can overdo it instead? I didn't much like her in the role. She could take a few lessons from Francesca who outclassed her in the role of Vera.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree on Scenes, for the rest it must have all looked a lot better from where I was watching. Bit surprised about the comment about Hamilton and Muntagirov having no connection since I commented to my ballet buddy earlier today that I didn't expect to see that much eye contact / focussing on each other from them in SV, and thought some of the lifts looked great. Luca Acri also looked pretty good to me, he has a lightness in his dancing that makes his movement look effortless.

 

Guess 5 waltzes is a matter of taste, luckily for me I like anything with a piano and a bit of floaty dancing. Thought the breaks between the waltzes seemed a bit too drawn out though.

 

Month was great - Hayward and Hay are a complete treat as ward and son, utterly believable as young characters. Osipova's take on the role definitely differs from Yanowsky's, one is a frustrated, slightly narcissistic wife who is passionately in love with the tutor, the other is a frustrated, slightly jaded, glorious Mrs Robbinson.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 As for Natalia, well, why be subtle when you can overdo it instead? 

 

This really made me smile, Aileen. I do so agree with you. Somehow, everything from her seemed 'busy', hurried and somewhat girlish. Maybe she will give a more mature reading as she grows into the role.

 

However, I disagree about the need for smiling faces in Symphonic Variations. For me, the eloquence of the dancing (from Muntagirov in particular) is what speaks volumes in that piece. However, I did feel that there was a better connection between him and Nunez on Saturday than with Hamilton last night. But, in fairness, Melissa must have been very nervous - it is such an iconic role

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not saying that the dancers should smile throughout Symphonic but a bit more variety in facial expression would have lifted the piece (IMO). They were all a bit blank for me. Perhaps what came across was a certain tenseness.

 

The problem with Natalia, for me, was that she wanted to dominate the stage. She's not an ensemble dancer or, at least, she wasn't last night and she's overblown in a subtle ballet like Month.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...