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English National Ballet: Nutcracker, Winter 2014/15


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Yes, its nearly Christmas time so that means the English National Ballet are at the Coliseum in London, with Nutcracker (Wayne Eagling's production). I was at the dress rehearsal, so here are a few pics for the festive season! :-)

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Snowflakes, led by Alison McWhinney
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Flower Waltz
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Alina Cojocaru, Alejandro Virelles
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Set from DanceTabs: English National Ballet - Nutcracker
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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And to complement Dave's pictures here are some from me.  Enjoy the show.

 

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Jane Haworth - Mother, Francisco Bosch - Father, Basil James - Young Freddie, Michael Coleman - Grandfather and Tamarin Stott - Grandmother
 
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Fernando Bufala - Russian Dance
 
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Ksenia Osvyanick - Mirliton

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

Edited by John Mallinson
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Saw ENB's NUTCRACKER this afternoon and largely enjoyed the experience (although - to be fair - the Wayne Eagling production is not by some stretch my favourite interpretation of this particular Tchaikovsky masterwork).  

 

As ever, ENB is a Company bursting with potential.  All principal roles for this matinee were altered due (as noted on the cast sheet) "to injury".  It appears that even Casey Herd - who I understand was brought in to alleviate the current ENB difficulties with incapacitated male principals - was, himself, felled due to some physical grievance.  One prays that his is only a minor instance given the current climate.  

 

Nonetheless all present acquitted themselves well under the circumstances.  

 

James Streeter was a suitably magical Drosselmeyer; one ever mature in his illusion.  He was a true joy to behold, most especially in his detailed interaction with Shevelle Dynott's Mouse King (another replacement), one equally rich in his hedonic nitty-gritty.  Fabian Reimair as 'The Nutcracker' brought a gossamer thread of confidence to his established skill in partnering (something that sadly eluded Anton Lukovkin as the sole male in the Spanish variation.  I - for just one I'm sure - feared for Kei Akahoshi,and Amber Hunt in that particular variation.)  So many of the female artists in 'the House that Rojo continues to so strongly construct' were unfamiliar to my eye on this occassion.  Certainly the women in the thankfully revised 'Arabian Variation' - (short of the established glory that is Tamarin Stott - and what a stalwart libation she is in ENB's chalice - here additionally lending a dignified dramatic grace to her 'Mother' in the first act) - were new to the Company.  They ably surrounded Junor Souza in his opulently fantastical turn as a Slave Master secreted in a seemingly deep philosophical tussle with himself on a point of some key moral fortitude.  Souza's ever-vigorous sinew was as illuminating here as Ksenia Ovsyanick's Guillem-like smile and voluptuous puissance were deleterious shortly thereafter.  Those latter elements were to sing out in full force in Ovsyanick's heady depiction of a 'Lead Flower'.  Erina Takahashi (replacing the [injured?] soon-to-depart Elena Glurdjidze) was as a ballerina born 'Clara', gloriously relaxed in the central second act adagio being safely ensconced in the hands of the true hero of our day (or, more specifically, afternoon), Matthias Dingman, here on loan from the Birmingham Royal Ballet (home to the finest production of The Nutcracker in my estimation of those currently extant in this fair country.)  Dingman dances with the striking stealth of placement and fullness of musicality that is key to the joy now being offered by so many other young American males.  (Think, say, the marvel that is Robbie Fairchild.)  Dingman's coda variation was as breathtaking as it was refreshingly modest.  Bravo.

 

Although all was not as had been originally intended - a good afternoon was had by all.   

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Elena Glurdjidze is not injured.

 

It was hard to tell that from the cast sheet, Capybara - given that it specifically said:  

 

"*changed from advertised casting due to injury"

 

I will assume in Ms. Glurdjidze's case it was due to her [two] partners' injuries.  Most sad.  I was looking forward to seeing her. 

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Well, I hope that Erina and Matthew don't wear themselves out before I see them. Ditto Max, who seems to be dancing various roles at a large number of the performances. The dancers have a day off today before what I think is ten performances back to back. It's a heavy schedule. Fingers crossed that there are no more injuries (perhaps that is a bit optimistic to hope for).

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I was at a workshop at the ENB on Saturday morning with the final part watching the Company in class......a very enjoyable experience and Elena Glurdjidze was definitely present in this....it does not mean she isn't harbouring an injury which should not be risked in performance of course ....but she looked fine in this.

Will be reporting on sat mat soon!

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I was at a workshop at the ENB on Saturday morning with the final part watching the Company in class......a very enjoyable experience and Elena Glurdjidze was definitely present in this....it does not mean she isn't harbouring an injury which should not be risked in performance of course ....but she looked fine in this.

 

 

As I posted above, Elena is not injured.

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I spotted Anjuli Hudson, Amber Hunt, Madison Keesler, Senri Kou, Kei Akahoshi, Precious Adams and Tiffany Hedman.

 

I think that Isabelle Brouwers and Adrienne Lizardi might also have been there but not sure. Certainly, some of those dancing are new to the Company.

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Who are Tiffany Hedman and Adrienne Lizardi?

 

Adriana Lizardi is a new member of the Company. I apologise for spelling her name incorrectly above. Tiffany Hedman is not listed as a member of the Company but, since she has been on a lot and quite prominently all season, I asked who she was. She is the dancer with fair hair who goes off last at the end of the Snowflakes on the One Show clip (i.e. before they all come on again for a tableau).

Edited by capybara
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I saw the Takahashi/Dingman/Bufala cast yesterday.  Dingman made an elegant Nephew/Prince and the gpdd went very well, particularly the shoulder lifts which were very smoothly done. Bufala was a little tentative. I don't know how much the huge mask hampered him. Takahashi was rock solid as always. I don't think that I've ever seen her put a foot wrong. This is a flawed production which, unfortunately, delivers less each time you see it. The Nutcracker is a flawed ballet anyway, with little real dancing for most of Act 1 and little plot in Act 2 and I think that Eagling tried to get over this by continuing the threat from the mice in Act 2 and adding some complexity in the form of the dual (triple) figures of the Nephew/Nutcracker/Prince, which is not entirely satisfying. If you have seen it before the party scene drags. It also drags in the RB's version but Clara's dancing is far more interesting (naturally) than that of the child Clara in Eagling's version and the Act is lifted by the transformation scene, which is disappointing in the Eagling version. The battle scene seems to be comedic rather than scary despite the rather terrifying masks worn by the mice. The national dances are of uneven quality. The Chinese one is fussy with two men supporting one woman in some lifts and an annoying stick which the ballerina has to twirl round; it rarely really comes off. The Mirton dance is very attractive though, particularly when it is danced by Ovsyanick. The Snowflakes and the Waltz of the Flowers are the highlights for me, along with the gpdd. There are some nice touches in this version but, overall, the choreography does not make the most of the wonderful music and there is not enough interesting dancing in Act 1. The biggest disappointment for anyone who has seen the RB or BRB version is, however, the transformation scene and last night there was some problem because the growing tree did not light properly. I think that this is the fifth year of the Eagling Nutcracker. The ENB Nutcrackers typically last 8 years on average and so it will probably be a couple more years before the company commissions or acquires a new one. I'd rather like Tamara to look at some of the American Nutcrackers and acquire one of them rather than commission an entirely new one. There are so many productions out there and, IMO, there is no point reinventing a wheel that has been rolling along for decades.

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I saw this production in Liverpool and wasn't overly keen.

 

I am not entirely sure that I agree with your idea Aileen that the company should get an extant production as a replacement - I've seen some really bland productions, at least one of them by an American choreographer.

 

When I first started watching LFB they had a production by Ronald Hynd which I really loved and I also very much enjoyed Peter Schaufuss' production.  In fact the Schaufuss snowflakes are still my favourite of any production I have seen!  

 

Or perhaps Ms Rojo could follow where Scottish Ballet has trodden and acquire a Matthew Bourne production!

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I agree with Aileen, especially that the production delivers less each time you see it, in addition it doesn't have a particularly warm Christmas feel, I still enjoyed the first night as I saw Alina Cojocaru again (really miss her at the ROH, and Johan Kobborg). Alejandro Villenes is a lovely slim elegant dancer with a delicate face, not sure if he's the right partner for Alina though, but who is?

 

The ENB website shows Shiori Kase as being replaced at this Saturday matinee by Fernanda Oliviera, I'm hoping to be able to make this and was just checking, at other performances Erina Takahashi replaces her, and at one matinee Fernando Bufala :)

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Janet, when did SB do a Bourne Nutcracker? It's a difficult one for ENB which is directly competing with the RB. Many (most) people want to see a fairly traditional Nut but it does need to be distinctive from the RB's and perhaps that is what Eagling was trying to achieve. I liked the Hampson one (apart from some of the caricature party guests). The Scarfe designs were fun and quirky but Hampson (probably wisely) retained a traditional SPF plus cavalier. I can't remember the transformation scene. What has stuck in my mind are the icicles leaping out of a giant fridge, the folded paper bird carrying Clara away and the ice cream mountains in Act 2.

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I would have to agree that it is also not my favourite production. The company look in strong form though. Alina beautiful as ever but perhaps not a great pairing with her partner. They danced beautifully apart but not so great together. Perhaps height was the issue. I would also say that Alina's tutu did little to show off her beautiful physique as skirt looked terribly long.

I think it is nice that children are used in productions but I do wish their footwork was improved with the exception of young Clara who could not be faulted on that front.

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After having attended a lovely workshop actually on the stage at the Coliseum (how exciting is that!) in the morning I then saw the ENB Nutcracker last Saturday afternoon. The leads were danced by Fernanda Oliveira and Vitor Luiz ...and as Mouse king Anton Lukovin and Nutcracker Fabian Reimar.......all new to me.

 

This Nutcracker was beautifully danced and have no complaints in that direction.

 

However it's a couple of years since Ive seen this Nutcracker and I remembered then why I dislike it so much!!

I realise new productions have to be created from time to time and Wayne Eagling(loved him as a dancer with the Royal) was trying to do something very different and on that level he succeeded but unfortunately I just don't really like it.

It's a magical children's story and a chance for a fantasy trip round the world and I usually like Nutcracker best when it keeps to this vein with no sinister overtones.

I seem to remember Nureyev tried to make a deeper more Psychological interpretation of some aspects of the story and I didn't really like that version much either!

 

In this current version it seems the theme of the "battle between the mice/rats and soldiers" just carries on too long. Even when the Prince is finally revealed from behind the mask it just doesn't move on and the dramatic satisfaction of this transformation is lost when instead of that glorious music being used for a lovely duet between Clara and the Nutcracker Prince .......usually one of the highlights of the Ballet....it's a bit of a messy pas de trois with the masked soldier(who is not the Prince) and the King Mouse. Somehow this detracts from the music and is not as satisfying as the music deserves for me.

I think the "battle" between these two should be over by the end of the first Act and taking them into the second Act gets a bit tiresome and long winded so that when the King Mouse(the role wonderfully danced by the way) is finally disposed of I found myself thinking "thank God for that"

 

 

The second Act, I feel anyway, should have a joyous/fun aspect to it however inspite of everything being beautifully danced (and lovely to see Joan Sebastian Zamora in the Russian dance) it somehow falls a bit flat for me in this version......I think because I didnt really feel transported to a "magical" place in the first place.....which makes more sense of this Act and it's sense of being a child's dream!!

 

I wouldn't be that keen to see this particular version of Nutcracker again but the Company itself is in impressive form at the moment.

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