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How was your dance-watching 2014?

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Luke Jennings listed his 5 most exciting dance moments in yesterday's Observer.


I know the year isn't over yet but I thought we could start a round up thread!


I've had some incredible dance-watching highs in 2014 and it was very hard to choose just 5 things to highlight but here goes:



  1. I love Northern Ballet's Cleopatra and the Saturday evening performance in Sheffield in March was possibly the best performance I have seen of anything all year.  The whole cast was incandescent and it was incredibly moving and emotional.  Martha Leebolt was Cleopatra, Javier Torres Caesar, Toby Batley Mark Antony, Kenny Tindall Wadjet, Hiro Takahashi Octavian and Hannah Batemen Octavia.
  2. I enjoyed BRB's Prince of the Pagodas much more than I expected and I even grew to like the music.  One of my favourite moments was Rory Mackay's performance as the Emperor which I found incredibly moving.  Rory is such a fantastic actor and I loved the way he inhabited this role - I wept for him.
  3. Saying I enjoyed Northern Ballet's triumphant season at the Linbury is probably the understatement of the year.  I loved the programme, I loved the quality of the performances and I loved the audience reaction.  I can't wait for the 2015 season!
  4. Northern Ballet's new production of Cinderella was a feast to my eyes and I loved the depth of characterisation that Toby Batley brought to the role of Prince Mikhail.  The reconciliation duet at the end is very beautiful and I wept for Toby every time he fell to his knees.
  5. I was swept away by Maureya Lebowitz and Brandon Lawrence's debuts in BRB's Beauty and the Beast.  So much so that I felt immediately obliged to book for their matinee at Sadler's Wells.  They both brought every ounce of pathos out of the roles and I wept tears of joy in the final duet.


I've just realised that tears come into nearly every moment I have mentioned!


There were so many other performances I enjoyed too:


Celine Gittens in just about everything she did but especially as the Debutante in Facade.  Surely she must be promoted to principal soon.


Akram Khan's Desh was absolutely stunning.  I'm so glad I finally got to see it.


Francesca Hayward, Edward Watson and Alexander Campbell in Manon - nuff said!!!


Everything about ENB's Le Corsaire!


Maureya Lebowitz and Chi Cao in Fille.


BRB's Evening of Music and Dance at Symphony Hall.


Kenny Tindall's The Architect - can't wait to see it again.


Mark Bruce's amazing Dracula - Jonathan Goddard was outstanding.



The list could go on... 

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Great thread Janet am having a think but Mark Bruce's Dracula will definitely be one of them. My partner and I ....even though he didn't see it ....are still discussing the meaning of the Dracula figure!!

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My ballet going is far less comprehensive than Janet's but I would agree about Celine Gittens. I just love to see her, particularly when she's with Tyrone Singleton. They are a really gifted pair.


As I have not seen that much live ballet I would like to mention some great programmes about ballet on BBC4 and Sky Arts 2. I would give special mention to David Bintley's programme relating to the Sadler's Wells Ballet during the war, Tamara Roja analysing Odette/Odile and Deborah Bull talking about Dancing in Russia. I would give half a nod to Darcey Bussell's list of greatest ballerinas. It prevoked much lively comment but no two of us would ever come up with the same list as each other.


My greatest regrets are that neither the ENB Corsair or the RB'S Ashton programme wax recorded for television.


I welcome the series of unseen ballet from The Bolshoi. I suppose it is picky to regret that some of the filming was so poor and so darkly lit. I suppose I shouldn't moan as this seems to be a modern trend in the theatre now. I think some directors think we all have super vision.


My last word has to be for The Nutcracker and Spartacus on Sky Arts 2. Not great productions and choreography but who cares. Vassiliev and Maximova so everything was worth it.

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My 2014 dance highlights are:


1. Seeing The Royal Ballet's Melissa Hamilton in MacMillian's 'Gloria' in February, she is one of my favourite dancers and I have always wanted to see the piece live, so that was a dream fulfilled


2. Seeing the Royal Ballet in Robbin's 'The Concert', a real treat and another ballet I have wanted to see for ages!


3. Seeing Vadim Muntagirov in 'Manon' in October, just simply magical watching a fantastic dancer in one of my favourite ballets 


I don't get to see live ballet as often as I like so when I go up to London I usually go see The Royal Ballet.


Edited by WoodlandGladeFairy
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January 25, 2014 (Sophia): The Sofia Ballet - Swan Lake
February 1, 2014 (Washington D.C.): Mariinsky Ballet - Swan Lake.
March 9, 2014 (Milan): The ballet company of Teatro alla Scala - Jewels.
March 15, 2014 (Toronto): National Ballet of Canada - Swan Lake.
March 22, 2014 (Boston): Boston Ballet - Cinderella.
April 13, 2014 (Budapest): Hungarian National Ballet - Romeo & Juliet.
May 24, 2014 (Washington D.C.): Bolshoi Ballet - Giselle.
June 7, 2014 (Toronto): National Ballet of Canada - Cinderella.
June 22, 2014 (Bucharest): Bucharest National Opera Ballet Company - La Sylphide.
June 28, 2014 (New York): American Ballet Theatre - Swan Lake.
August 23, 2014 (Helsinki): National Ballet of Finland - Onegin.
October 19, 2014 (Chicago): Joffrey Ballet - Swan Lake.
October 25, 2014 (Ft. Lauderdale): Miami City Ballet - Romeo and Juliet.
November 15, 2014 (Toronto): National Ballet of Canada - Manon.


One more to go in 2014:


December 21, 2014 (Amsterdam): Dutch National Ballet - Cinderella.

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After another wonderful year of ballet-going, the following five 'events' thrilled and touched me the most in 2014:


1. Vadim Muntagirov's superlative portrayal of Des Grieux in the RB's Manon in early October


2. Daria Klimentova's farewell performance as Juliet at the Royal Albert Hall and the amazing reception and send off she received


3. Liam Scarlett's moving ballet No Man's Land which formed part of the ENB's Lest We Forget programme


4. Xander Parish returning with the Mariinsky to star on the Royal Opera House stage


5. ENB's vibrant Le Corsaire (which actually belongs to 2013 but was part of the New Year season at the Coliseum)

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I thought 2014 a really very good year for ballet locally; one with many treats albeit not with the range of international balletic exposure that was bestowed on London the year previous.  Prime among these were (i) the truly stunning revelation of Wheeldon's THE WINTER'S TALE by the Royal Ballet where this talented choreographer finally came into his narrative own I felt in what Mackrell referred to as 'a game changer'; (ii) everything about ENB's hauntingly beautiful LEST WE FORGET programme; (iii) both Muntagirov's and Hayward's debuts in MANON; (iv) Osipova in RUBIES (aside a shining McRae), GISELLE and - ultimately - A MONTH IN THE COUTRY; (v) the fine triple bill that Northern Ballet presented at the Lindbury; (vi) Stina Quagebeur's thrilling VERA for ENB's Choreographics incentive, that work being a fitting farewell from the Company for the hugely gifted (and much missed) Nancy Obaldeston and (although it was created the year previous I only caught up in 2014 with) (vii) Mark Bruce's incendiary DRACULA which I pray gains its rightful recognition on a world stage as a deserving ambassador for British cultural excellence and (viii) Brandstup's fixating blow by blow low down on maternal potency in his 2013 creation of a CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE such as was so vividly realised in Royal Ballet's THE AGE OF ANXIETY programme especially as on the occasion of Deirdre Chapman's mind blowing farewell performance; one so, so dramatically vivid and spare.  In terms of visiting artists, (ix) it was wonderful that London finally (nine years after its creation) got to see Ratmansky's CONCERTO DSCH courtesy of the Mariinsky / Hochhausers (was that their farewell to presentation as well?  ... If so HUGE thanks for so, so many memories over a number of decades) and (x) a very fine Valdimir Shklyarov impressing in a goodly range of roles within that Russian Company's summer remit.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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My dance-watching year was very much influenced by my newly discovered love for British ballet, mostly via the cinema and videos and of course by my first visit to RB and ENB this spring!


So, here goes:


- Marianela Nunez lighting up the stage as Aurora and Vadim Muntagirov giving the (usually quite uninteresting) Prince a personality. Visible even from row G in the Amphitheatre.


- Seeing Tamara Rojo, Akram Khan and Alina Cojocaru in the utterly absorbing works by Maliphant and Khan for ENB just one day later!


- I’ve seen Mayerling for the first time (both videos, with Watson and Mukhamedov)!


- Everything and everybody in the “Winter’s Tale”.


- World Ballet Day!


And: I’m glad I registered with Balletco :) !

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An interesting year for me with new Companies ....and reacquainting with old ones very much to the fore this year. Also lots of new ballets.......and new ones which I really want to see again. So some favourite moments then:


Early on a huge enjoyment to brighten up the winter ....Le Corsaire at the Coli and discovering lots of new talent especially among the men in the ENB.

Discovering a new ballet The Little Mermaid......by Ballet Theatre UK .....also a newish company for me and which got me out to Croydon!!

The Northern Ballet 's mixed programme at the Linbury......can't pick one out all great and another new Company for me.


Ramberts fabulous programme last year with Rooster which I really loved and at least was able to see on home territory for a change!


The wonderful and outstanding performance by Osipova in Giselle......a definite highlight for me and seeing an old favourite Month in the Country again with Osipova and that whole mixed bill in fact I found really satisfying.


A reacquainting after a long time with the BRB back in October was very inspiring with another new ballet for me Beauty and the Beast.....definitely want to see again and a beautifully danced Shadows of War programme with the fabulous Miracle in the Gorbals again must see again if get the chance.


Finally but absolutely not least was Dracula by the Mark Bruce Company......again a new one for me and will be watching out for them now ......as just must see Dracula again but also see other works of theirs. Again nice to see them on home territory.


So a very interesting year for me and .....not quite over yet .....as have The Nutcracker ENB this Saturday (just getting my two yearly fix of this ballet however the dancers will be interesting as all new to me by the look of it)

Then Christmas Eve will be seeing Alice at ROH and to end the year back to home soil and Ballet Theatre UK on the 27th at the Dome in Brighton ......with another new ballet for me "a Christmas Carol" So a great end to 2014.

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Just thought I'd mention "the one that got away"


I was really disappointed to miss the Thursday performance of Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in Sacred Monsters a couple of weeks ago .....as that performance was cancelled. I'm sure I'd have loved that.

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Highlights for me were Laura Morera in Giselle.


Ballet Black at Cambridge.


Various excellent casts of The Little Mermaid by Ballet Theatre Uk.


Also that company's very satisfying Swan Lake. Please allow me a proud mummy moment here, my ds as Siegfried and Von Rothbart. ( not at the same time of course!)


Wish I could have seen Northern or BRB but us dance teachers are busy most evenings!

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I am glad another poster has reminded me about Shadows of War. For all that I thought Miracle in the Gorbals was a mixed success I am very pleased to have had the chance to see it. For personal reasons I always love Flowers of the Forest and was more than happy to see it again.


One of my highlights would have been the wonderful Les Rendezvous which is a ballet I love. Unfortunately I cannot cope with the revised costumes and setting and not all the principals had any understanding of the required style. Against that, all the pas de trois were delightful and exactly what was required (apart from the costumes).

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Lovely to be reminded of all this. It's been a very full and interesting year.


I would probably say:

RB Sleeping Beauty McRae and Lamb

RB Midummer Night'sDream (Ashton)-loveliest set in ballet in my view.

but also Ballet Black-Arthur Pita's brilliant  A Dream within Midsummer Night's Dream-fthe only genuinely funny ballet I've ever seen but also lovely dancing esepcially the gay ballerinas-fabulous

A Month in the Country-Zenaida Yanowsky, and  the last Symphonic Variations with Muntagirov- and getting to know him- hurray!-the debut of young Reece Clarke and hope for the future

The Winter's Tale- so good to see a successful new full length ballet.

The Bolshoi live screenings-here's to many more companies doing this.

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1.  Mats Ek's Juliet & Romeo


2.  ENB's Lest We Forget programme


3.  Natalia Osipova's performance in Month in the Country


4.  The revival of Miracle in the Gorbals


5.  The Kirov's stunning new dancers Nadezhda Batoeva and Kimin Kim


Honourable mentions also for David Bintley's Prince of the Pagodas, although I had a couple of reservations it was an interesting new look at a familiar work with a remarkable score.  Seen only in the cinema: Alexei Ratmansky's Lost Illusions for the Bolshoi with terrific performances from Vishneva and Lantratov.

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1. Francesca Haywood in Rhapsody.

2. Melissa Hamilton in Gloria.

3. Meeting David Hallberg at Domodovo airport in Moscow. He was lovely and didn't mind me asking for his autograph and a selfie with him.

4. Seeing Nikulina and Kretova in La Bayadere at the Bolshoi.

5. Seeing Vadim Murgatriov and Sarah Lamb in Manon. Changed my opinion about Sarah Lamb as a dancer.

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  • Natalia Osipova in Giselle. Was lucky enough to see her performance both live at the ROH and in the cinema. Both incredible, emotional mind-blowing performances.

  • ENB Corsaire. My favourite production will always be the Kirov but this production had very vibrant, colourful sets and costumes and amazing dancing and real commitment from ENB. I have downloaded the ballet from Digital Theatre and am really pleased that I will now be able to watch the number one on my Christmas wish list on Christmas day!


  • Steven and Sarah lamb in Sleeping Beauty. Brilliant performances by both, especially Steven who really brought a sense of character and angst to what is often a rather thankless, cipher-type role.


  • Steven in The Dream; an amazing fleet-footed Oberon. Also seeing the Concert live for the first time; a great fun ballet.

  • Manon. great dancing from all casts I saw. Especially loved Osipova's  and Vadim's debut if debut performances are as good as these what will they be like when they have really had the opportunity to get into the roles? !! Also really enjoyed Sarah Lamb's interpretation. Like bravissima 35 it changed my opinion about Sarah as a dancer.


  • Still looking forward to seeing Osipova in Don Q and Vadim's and Takada's debut in the roles.

  • Only disappointment for 2014 was the Mariinsky rep which meant I didn't see them for the first time since first seeing them in 1990.

  • 2015. really looking forward to some Onegin debuts (especially Osipova and Vadim) and seeing Steven and Osipova in File.
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I enjoyed watching numerous RB performances, many lovely dancers and also some ENB performances but these are my 2014 stand-outs:


"Giselle": Natalia Osipova and THAT Pas de Six (Yuhui Choe/Valentino Zucchetti-Yasmine Naghdi/Marcelino Sambe-Luca Acri/Francesca Hayward).


"Manon": Osipova-Muntagirov, also Sarah Lamb.


ENB "Lest We Forget" 


"Month in the Country":  Zenaida Yanowsky-Emma Maguire. 


"Symphonic Variations": Vadim Muntagirov, Marianella Nunez and Yasmine Naghdi.     (young Reece Clark deserves a mention too) 


"The Winter's Tale": both casts were wonderful. 


ENB "Le Corsaire"


"Aeternum": Claire Calvert


"Don Quixote": Marianella Nunez and Ryoichi Hirano 


"The Sleeping Beauty": Yasmine Naghdi's "Rose Fairy" Variation


The RB Corps de Ballet in "La Bayadere" (I think it was last Season...)

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  • 3 weeks later...

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