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Royal Ballet - Ashton mixed bill


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Very insulting, personal and offensive comments about Natalia Osipova.

 

 

I didn't find them offensive or insulting, just a robustly expressed personal opinion. 

 

Please, please, I hope we are not going to go down the PC route.  If we are only allowed to express favourable comments, and feel we cannot say what we honestly think about a performance that is not to our taste, then there is no point in having a forum at all. 

 

And I am sure there are enough ardent fans of Osipova's various performances to provide alternative views. 

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What a mixed bag last night's performances produced.In Scenes Choe brought out the playfulness in the choreography which seemed to escape Lamb completely.Scenes is so much more enjoyable if the ballerina looks as though she is enjoying the choreography.For me Zucchetti did the stegps but failed to dance the ballet.Perhaps he feels that the steps and epaulement are not sufficiently challenging for him.The role should be performed with a grandeur and elegance that is not, at present, within his grasp . Zuccetti is both physically and by temperament a demi-character dancer but so was Michael Coleman and this was one of his greatest roles. The corps were still very ragged is it because they are ruggedly individualistic or because they think that what the audience sees does not matter because it is only Ashton? .

 

Romany Pajdak brought rather more to the Five Brahms Waltzes than Helen Crawford did on Saturday, while Crawford brought her usual efficiency to the role Pajdak brought personality and a certain illusion of spontaneity and it made all the difference.

 

Symphonic Variations brought a stark reminder that this ballet is a daunting piece which requires all six dancers to be up to its demands and that to be nearly there is not enough. It may be under twenty minutes but it is the most demanding piece in the Royal's repertory and last night there were too many people on stage who for one reason should not have been there.Was it sensible to cast Zucchetti in both Scenes and Symphonic on the same evening?Was that the reason for him being slightly out of sync with the other two men? Hamilton seemed to run out of steam before the ballet was over.I can not make up my mind whether her problem with the fast section near the end was due to being too tall or sheer exhaustion. For me Luca Acri made no impact in the part that James Hay had danced so well on Saturday.

 

Month brought several debuts. Hayward squeezed everything possible out of the role of Vera. As far as Osipova's performance is concerned she seemed to me to dance it with all the choreographic detail that Seymour brought to the role the thing that was missing Seymour herself. All the histrionics in the choreography were part and parcel of Natalia's personality when Seymour danced it but last night what I saw was Osipova dancing the steps. The dancer and the character were two separate entities.

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I'm so very glad Osipova joined RB - she is world class and very exciting. When you think of her you think of vivid movement... but Natalia Petrovna is a role about stillness and quiet subtlety.

Edited by Bruce
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I haven't seen any performances of the mixed bill so far and perhaps I shouldn't comment, but I have to say I found Aileen's critical post a very depressing read indeed - surely she must have found something pleasing in at least one of the ballets?  Come on, Aileen (to be sung to the tune of 'Come on Eileen'). didn't you at least crack a smile at the flirtatious maid in Month leaping on knees of the young tutor and shoving cherries into his mouth?  Or the fussy husband searching for his keys under the furniture?

 

Ah well - takes all sorts....

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Bill, you object to critical comments about any dancer. I don't agree with your characterisation of my comments. There's not a lot of point in my posting if I'm nor permitted to say anything negative. For negative comments you should go on Twitter! It would probably be best if I avoid Osipova in future except in bravura or modern pieces as I haven't liked her in Swan Lake or Nutcracker either (although I quite liked her in Giselle). It's no skin off her nose; she has plenty of admirers but I'm just not one of them when it comes to certain roles.

 

Ann, I very much enjoyed Francesca and James' dancing in Month. I love the choreography, costumes and music in Scenes and Symphonic but, for me, last night's performances were disappointing as the choreography didn't soar. I'm sorry if you find my views depressing but that's what they are and I see from Twitter and Floss that I'm not alone.

Edited by aileen
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Aileen - I do not object to critical comments.

 

'...wants to dominate the stage....is not an ensemble dancer...overblown in a subtle ballet....'

 

It would be difficult to say anything more damning about any dancer.

 

I would like to meet up with you, sometime.

 

Best wishes,

 

Bill

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The RB should just stick with their "Symphonic Variations" 1st cast (Nunez/Muntagirov/Chui/Dyer/Naghdi/Hay). I understand Ashton only ever worked with one cast (please correct me if I am wrong).

 

Why having such a mix and match of a cast? And dancers having to swop partners in the various performances? It's such a short run; as such the Opening Night cast would have the chance to "gel"! (Aileen :)  

 

I agree with a previous post by Floss: why make a/some dancer(s) dance a part (because of their name) if they are not up to it!  SV demands such great stamina and running out of steam in this particular ballet is unimpressive. 

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Aileen - I do not object to critical comments.

 

'...wants to dominate the stage....is not an ensemble dancer...overblown in a subtle ballet....'

 

It would be difficult to say anything more damning about any dancer.

 

I would like to meet up with you, sometime.

 

Best wishes,

 

Bill

Worse - and more personal - things have been said on this forum in the past about other dancers. I honestly can't see any highly critical or offensive comments about Miss Osipova.
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Well I have to wait till November 4th to see this triple bill and Osipova will be dancing in Month.....and am looking forward to it.

 

Ive seen many dancers peform this role including Lynn Seymour so will be interested to see what Osipova makes of it but I'm sure there are several ways to interpret it!!

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Aileen asks whether the dancers are supposed to look serious throughout Symphonic Variations and I would say definitely yes. It has been my good fortune to see this ballet on  many occasions since its early performances with the original cast, and I never recall seeing any smiles or other ingratiating facial expressions which IMHO would be totally out of place in a work which has a number of serious themes in its creative background including the works of St John of the Cross which Ashton had been reading during the war. As I see it this work creates an almost mystical atmosphere which is why perhaps it never fails to hold an audience. Fonteyn in particular was outstanding in capturing this aspect of the ballet. At the moment when the three men and one woman (Fonteyn) are at the corners of the stage dancing adagio on place while the other two women are dancing allegro in the centre Fonteyn used to gaze straight out into the auditorium as if into another  world beyond, an effect which few other dancers of this role have ben able to replicate.

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Yes, please do comment all you people who loved Osipova's performance in Month. I would find it really helpful to know what you thought, especially in terms of appreciating her more at future performances.

Well I enjoyed her performance. I found it very moving. I was, however, sitting in the amphitheatre. I accept that it's possible that those who were sitting closer might have found her interpretation too melodramatic. It can be hard to judge how to project to all areas of the House. For example, I saw her first Odette/Odile from the stalls circle seats next to the stage and found her characterisation of Odette overdone. I saw her third performance of the role from the amphitheatre and really enjoyed it.

Edited by Bluebird
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I had to miss month in the Country due to train problems but I wasn't sorry to walk out on the 30 minute interval after the 19 minute ballet, ranting over, I have another chance to see Natalia Osipova dance soon and imagine she gives a very personal interpretation of the role, more Russian and dramatic.

 

I've never warmed to Scenes de Ballet in the past but last night I enjoyed the partnership of Choe and Zuchetti, he looked very serious in this and Symphonic Variations, quite a night for him!  The four men were good too.  On the other hand I always love the Brahms Waltzes and thought Romany Pajdak was a beautiful younger Isadora, she has the right soft style.  Symphonic Variations looked sublime as usual, I'm enjoying seeing so many new dancers in roles.

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No dancer is ever going to be ideal casting in every role in the repertory of a company. A dancer's physique, personality, intelligence, acting and technical ability are all factors in whether or not he or she will be successful in a particular role.

 

Up until the end of Ashton's directorship and for so time after that principal dancers were cast in roles to which they were thought suited.You never found out that your favourite dancer had feet of clay. Considerable care was taken in putting casts together. As a result you did not have half a booking period taken up by interminable performances of Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet enabling every principal and a few aspirants to give you their Odette/Odile or their Juliet. More selectivity seems to apply to the casting of Ashton's ballets. It would be interesting to know what part management,right holders and the dancers themselves play in casting decisions in relation to those works.

 

Osipova is here to dance the company's repertory and to learn from doing so. She has chosen to join the company rather than doing a few guest appearances. I have not noticed anything that suggests that she is not a team player. I did not like everything that Rojo did.I found her far too self conscious and mannered in the classics as if she was watching and evaluating everything that she was doing. I did not like her much in the little bit of Ashton that she did but I found her compelling in the MacMillan repertory.In the same way I may not like everything that Osipova does and I will say if I don't.But I shall go and watch her performances because she is clearly a gifted,intelligent and interesting dancer.Not all gifted dancers are as interesting as she is. Indeed some are positively bland when they are denied the opportunity to perform their technical tricks. Osipova clearly wants to do more than perform soubrette roles like Kitri until she retires and it will no doubt take some time for her to identify the roles that suit her . I for one am happy to watch the process. I am also interested to know whether or not other people enjoy the experience and the reason for their response to what they have seen.

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Very insulting, personal and offensive comments about Natalia Osipova.

 

You post comments like this every time someobody makes a slightly critical comment about a dancer. This place would be very boring indeed if we all had to be positive all the time, and if the ancers themselves found these mildly cticial comments insulting, personal or offensive I would suggest they are in the wrong profession.

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'...wants to dominate the stage....is not an ensemble dancer...overblown in a subtle ballet....'

 

It would be difficult to say anything more damning about any dancer.

 

Oh, I don't know - give me a few minutes.  I'm sure I could find something which would make that look mild in comparison :)

Actually, I could say the words you have picked out about another member of the company, and they'd be perfectly apt there too.

 

The RB should just stick with their "Symphonic Variations" 1st cast (Nunez/Muntagirov/Chui/Dyer/Naghdi/Hay). I understand Ashton only ever worked with one cast (please correct me if I am wrong).

 

Why having such a mix and match of a cast? And dancers having to swop partners in the various performances? It's such a short run; as such the Opening Night cast would have the chance to "gel"!

 

Quite.  I thought I'd heard of Ashton only selecting the one cast, too, although that hasn't been the policy this century, as far as I can recall.  Plus he would only programme the work when he thought he had the *right* dancers to do it justice.

 

Aileen asks whether the dancers are supposed to look serious throughout Symphonic Variations and I would say definitely yes. It has been my good fortune to see this ballet on  many occasions since its early performances with the original cast, and I never recall seeing any smiles or other ingratiating facial expressions which IMHO would be totally out of place 

 

Not *serious* serious, but certainly serene, and possibly a little ... detached?  

 

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. 

 

I thought Muntagirov looked less at home in SV last night than he had on the first night, and wondered if rehearsals with Hamilton might have had to be sacrificed in favour of the first-night cast.  Of the complete newcomers, I liked Luca Acri the best.

 

I think the breaks in the waltzes may be so that Isadora can consider what she wants to do in the next piece, if they're all supposed to be spontaneously inspired?

 

What a mixed bag last night's performances produced.In Scenes Choe brought out the playfulness in the choreography which seemed to escape Lamb completely.Scenes is so much more enjoyable if the ballerina looks as though she is enjoying the choreography.For me Zucchetti did the stegps but failed to dance the ballet.

 

I was slightly round to the left of the auditorium, so not facing straight on, and I did notice from that angle that Zucchetti seemed to be making a bit heavy weather of the partnering. I did like Choe's playfulness, but was still slightly missing Cuthbertson's musicality in the role.

 

Romany Pajdak brought rather more to the Five Brahms Waltzes than Helen Crawford did on Saturday, while Crawford brought her usual efficiency to the role Pajdak brought personality and a certain illusion of spontaneity and it made all the difference.

 

I liked Pajdak a lot in the Brahms, although friends who'd seen the rehearsal said she seemed freer then.

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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!

 

Thank you. I've seen RP in Month in the Country before and he didn't wear the wig, and I thought he was also wearing a wig in Manon this time around, so I just wandered if it was just a new thing with him. Hope Bonelli didn't have to wear the lego hair. That would be.......odd

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Oh, I don't know - give me a few minutes.  I'm sure I could find something which would make that look mild in comparison :)

Actually, I could say the words you have picked out about another member of the company, and they'd be perfectly apt there too.

 

 

And I could have a pretty good guess as to who you were referring to, Alison.  :)

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In the 1970's (Wulff may remember the exact dates) Park and Sibley alternated in the leading role in Symphonic.  Sibley was partnered by Dowell and Park, if my memory serves me correctly, by MacLeary.  Both casts were chosen by Ashton and rehearsed by him and by Somes.  On the first night I remember distinctly that the applause lasted throughout the interval.

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It's odd that she says that it was a 'pretty exceptional evening' but then goes on to talk about 'wobbly technique' and the cast being better when it was moving in SV and make a critical comment about Scenes. I don't agree with her opinion about Osipova and I'm exchanging my ticket for 28 October for a performance with the Yanowsky cast . Of course, Osipova has many fans who will think that she is fantastic in whatever she dances.

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I think Beauty is in the eye of the beholder Aileen.  Some dancers move me more than others and all my friends find the same with different dancers. Just because some people liked her performance doesn't mean to say that they are unanimously uncritical of her just that they enjoyed a particular performance. 

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I agree that there is a great deal of subjectivity involved in enjoying a dancer's performance. However, I would make a distinction between 'fans' and people who have their favourites; fans are generally uncritically enthusiastic about whatever their chosen dancer (band etc) does whereas people with favourites view a performance rather more dispassionately. I have my favourites but sometimes they are disappointing and I accept that. Personally, I don't believe that any single dancer excels in all roles right across a company's repertory and, of course, dancers all have off days.

 

I'm quite surprised by the amount of heat that my opinions about last night's performance have generated. I've seen plenty of negative views before.

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Not *serious* serious, but certainly serene, and possibly a little ... detached?  

 

Actually, now I've thought about it a bit more, I think perhaps more in the way of being in a world of their own?  Literally.  One which is bounded by the "four walls" of the stage, complete in itself, with no audience to interact with.  So, introspective, perhaps?  No, that's not quite right either.

 

Anyway, getting back to Month, which I rather forgot to comment on: on Saturday, I felt the performance was pretty close to pitch-perfect, but last night it all felt "off" to me.  For a start, I felt that Natalia Petrovna was actually on the verge of starting an affair with one or both of her admirers, and that is to my mind so wrong in the context of the ballet, which, as Bruce said earlier, requires subtlety.  And whereas the first cast seemed to have the comic timing necessary for the "lost contact lens keys" part of the ballet, I didn't feel that worked last night.

 

Also, it seems totally wrong to me that the RB should put on an Ashton mixed bill which doesn't feature Laura Morera if she's fit and well, as I assume she is :(

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