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Review of 2011

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So, we're almost two weeks into the New Year already. But what about the past year? What did you go and see? In the absence of the usual Ballet.co annual poll, it would be interesting to hear what you rated, what you hated, and anything else relating to ballet and dance in 2011. Trying to recall the old poll categories, they included best dancer, best partnership, most promising dancer; best home company, best visiting company; best new production (including new choreography), best revival; developments you find positive, or worrying; favourite and worst moments - but feel free to select as many of those as you like and/or make up your own.


Over to you ...

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This is really quite hard!


Female dancer: Martha Leebolt of Northern Ballet who lights up the stage when she steps on it and breathes - two wonderful creations to start and end the year with Cleopatra and Beauty (in Beauty and the Beast)

Male dancer: Cesar Morales - who had so much fun as Colas and Captain Belaye as well as his glorious performances in Symphonic Variations

Best new production: Beauty and the Beast (Northern Ballet)

Best revival: Symphonic Variations (BRB) - the Friday evening performance in Birmingham was sheer bliss, I thought I'd fallen asleep and woken up in heaven

Best company: Birminingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet jointly for all the pleasure both companies gave me in 2011


Special moments: Northern Ballet's choreographic evening full of delight and promise. Laetitia Lo Sardo as Swanilda and Sugar Plum, the first night of Cleopatra which was so exciting, BRB midscale southwest, An evening of music and dance at Symphony Hall


Wishes for 2012: RDB to visit the UK, Dance Consortium and the Lowry to realise that there has been a printing error and that NDT2 ARE coming to the Lowry

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Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Romeo and Juliet at the Coliseum, and Ivan Vasiliev a week later in Petit's "Le juenne homme et la mort" spring to mind immediately. Then the entire Mariinsky season at Covent Garden, especially the final outstanding 4 performances of La Bayadere, they were perhaps my most perfect 3 days of ballet ever.


Another highlight has been seeing ENB's amazingly talented young soloists, every performance I note another one or two, in particular I liked Anais Chalendard as Clara in Nutcracker.


As for wishes for this year, I agree with Janet, I would love to see the Royal Danish Ballet for a change.


These are just my quick first thoughts!





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Personal highlights:


Zenaida Yanowsky's zany and totally over the top Queen of Hearts in "Alice" (with thanks to Chris Wheeldon for the choreography that enabled her to let rip). With her unblinking resignation a few years back as the Bride in "Les Noces" at one end of the dramatic spectrum and this performance at the other, her range of characterisation is truly impressive. It's good to see her name appear again in castings for later this year. (And a very honourable mention to Lauren Cuthbertson for her Alice - revisiting the ballet on TV and DVD has brought home to me just what a demanding work it must be for the main character, who is hardly offstage for any time at all in some 2 hours.)


Cathy Marston's "Clara" during her Bern:Ballett company's visit to the Linbury in May - as ever with Cathy, a strong and distinctive piece, requiring some engagement by the audience.


Clear Disappointment:


Carlos Acosta's show (with Zenaida, I'm afraid) at the Coliseum - grindingly repetitive choreography in the name of some concept. I kept track in the first half by virtue of noting the number of named items and listening for changes in music - others around me were totally taken aback as the curtain fell and thought that it had all been one work.

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I'll have to come back and do the proper "bests" and what have you another time when I've had time to think about it, but there were some other things I wanted to comment on:


Worrying situations re artistic directors and boards in the USA (and possibly elsewhere), at Miami City Ballet and Ballet San Jose - and I suspect there may be more to come.


Biggest disappointments (barring Ballet.co closing):

1. Having to miss Edward Watson's Des Grieux due to injury (and then assuming that I'd at least be able to catch him in the autumn, only to find that he wasn't one of those cast).


2. (Because more expected:) Ashton's Romeo & Juliet at the Coliseum over the summer. A cut-down production with a couple of big star names just doesn't remotely start to do it justice. I have since been reading a lot of back-copies of dance magazines which discussed it when it was in the live repertoire, and they've only served to reinforce my feelings on the matter.


Imbalance in casting at the Royal Ballet (and possibly elsewhere). I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but last year I actually found myself deliberately staying away from a number of performances (and not only the ubiquitous Cinderellas) because I felt as though I'd had an overdose of the dancer(s) in question. There's surely something wrong when you start thinking "Oh no, not X again!" And then, of course, there are other dancers where you'd welcome the opportunity to be able to overdose on them ...

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