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Frequency of ballets in RB repertoire?


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Sorry if this is a slightly peculiar question, but when are the Royal Ballet (or any other UK ballet company) likely to next be performing Don Quixote? It's a ballet that I've never seen live & would like to- I was unable to get tickets for the ROH season when Carlos Acosta danced Basilio, and have been looking out for it since. I'm guessing it isn't a regular ballet for the RB unlike Nutcracker, so am I right in thinking it will be 3 or 4 years before it is danced again?x

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SP, I've moved your query to performances seen where I think you are more likely to get an answer.

 

As far as I am aware, RB is the only UK based company that has Don Q in its rep.  Visiting companies sometimes bring it (there was one last summer touring it around) but I don't know when it will be seen live again in this country.

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Well, it is a very interesting question but not one which anyone but Mr O'Hare and Mr Acosta are likely to be in a position to answer at this moment.As it costs a lot to mount a new production of a three act work I imagine that Don Q will be revived.

 

It is fascinating to see that the response to the RB's Don Q  from critics and ballet goers who blog are pretty mixed in the US and not dissimilar to the responses from similar sources here. I found the comment that the production appeared to have been mounted from the perspective of a dancer on stage rather than from the point of view of someone sitting out front watching the stage was very perceptive. It goes a long way to explain some of the awkwardness of the staging.

 

A little Don Q goes a long way for me.If I were going to see a live Don Q I would prefer to see a performance of a well thought out carefully staged revival such as the one that Ratmansky mounted for the Dutch National Ballet which tries to retrieve aspects of the original production that were lost in revivals from 1905 onward or the completely over the top display of the Russian idea of sunny Spain that the Bolshoi perform.

 

The Royal Ballet does many things extremely well but the style of classical dance that is normally associated with Russian and Cuban performances of Don Q doesn't come naturally to its dancers who generally lack panache.The RB has many ballets in its repertory that it performs infrequently to which it is much better suited and which it should be dancing regularly. In the dim and distant past the RB did not have a "Christmas show" that dominated the schedule from November well into January.O'Hare does not seem inclined to depart from this style of mindless scheduling that I associate with Dowell's directorship so I expect that Don Q will remain a Christmas repertory piece for a long time to come.But there are many other family friendly ballets that the RB could and should be dancing regularly which are structurally and choreographically stronger than Acosta's Don Q,such as Fille, Coppelia and Cinderella. 

 

I am sure that the next time that the Bolshoi visit here they will bring their Don Q. So in the unlikely event that Acosta's production is quietly dropped after the US tour you should not have too long to wait.

Edited by FLOSS
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If you're on twitter or go to Carlos Acosta's website, you could always ask the guy directly :-)  Or email the ROH. Sometimes these things slip out inadvertently. ;-)  As Don Q is on the US tour. the AD must be reasonably happy with it, so I hope you get a chance to see it soon.

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The Russian State Ballet are doing it in October at Stevenage. May be worth seeing where else they go? Not sure TTaynuilt is on their schedule though!!

Where did you find this? I looked online yesterday but I coulnd't find any future dates.
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I would wait and see it done properly next summer by the Bolshoi when they visit London.  It is not just a far better production that that of the Royal Ballet; it is danced far, far better by the Russians.  It is a piece that just doesn't seem to suit the Royal Ballet's dancers.

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I would wait and see it done properly next summer by the Bolshoi when they visit London.  It is not just a far better production that that of the Royal Ballet; it is danced far, far better by the Russians.  It is a piece that just doesn't seem to suit the Royal Ballet's dancers.

 

I agree that the Bolshoi's is the far better version and usually marvellously danced. But, be fair, there are some RB dancers who can work wonders with Don Q - even in the Acosta production.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry late to this thread SP but yes next summer Don Q will be performed by the Bolshoi and Im sure will be a show stopping event!! Do try and go and see it then at the ROH .....you wont be disappointed!!

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Thank you for the replies! Will be eagerly waiting to book tickets to see the Bolshoi! (does anyone know when tickets go on sale?)

They usually go on sale through the ROH box office at the same time as the final booking period for the Royal Ballet opens (in fact they are usually covered by the same booking process).  I suspect that will be February/March/April depending on your booking priority.  (In the new ROH magazine with booking info for Winter 2015/16, Kevin O'Hare has an item on the issue of declaring casting in time for booking of ballet tickets - delayed casting is the new normal, it seems - and gives dates when he will issue casting for each of next season's booking periods - these will be after the magazine is sent out.  They look like they will be a couple of weeks before patrons' booking opens and about three months before public booking opens.  For the Royal Ballet Summer 2016 booking period he plans to announce casting on Monday January 11th, hence the February/March/April estimate for Bolshoi booking.)

Edited by barton22
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While delayed casting information is not good news it could be beneficial to the company in the long run as far as dancer development is concerned.While he will have to cast the next booking period without knowing how dancers such as Ball,Magri,Naghdi and O'Sullivan have in the roles that he has cast them in during the Autumn season O'Hare should be able to take some of that into account when making casting decisions during the latter part of the 2015/16 season. Who knows he might even get to the point where he is able to us when he next revives Sleeping Beauty who is dancing Lilac Fairy,Bluebird and Princess Florine and who is cast in the Pas de Trois in Swan Lake.That would certainly be good news as far as I am concerned.

Edited by FLOSS
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I am conscious that the last two posts and mine should probably be under a different topic but I think O'Hare is wise to delay.

 

Think about it.......based on the last publication of the ROH Magazine being posted to some people in early April and the time it takes for copy to be assembled, for printing, and for distribution arrangements, he would have had to have been casting 10 months ahead. As long as the casting is known (even then probably  6- 8 months ahead) before anyone's booking deadline we surely have no cause for complaint - especially if it means that  younger dancers will be given more opportunities to develop and be challenged by new roles and that the casting information might, as FLOSS has said, be more comprehensive. Indeed, maybe the booking schedules should be rethought through - after all, why is it necessary for Patrons and Friends to have to book up to over 6 months in advance.

 

P.S. Would a mod. please consider making this a separate thread?

Edited by capybara
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In an ideal world the companies resident at Covent Garden wouldn't be so anxious to get as much money into their coffers at the earliest date possible.In those circumstance both companies would revert to the system that was in place many years ago when booking periods were much shorter and the dates for booking tickets were much closer to the dates of performance. In those days you got far more information about casting than now. Although it has to be admitted that in some cases if you knew who were dancing the main roles the regulars could have reeled of the names of virtually every other dancer in the other named roles.

 

Reverting to the original question about the frequency of performances of ballets in the repertory. There are some ballets such as Romeo and Juliet and Manon that turn up with such regularity that you begin to wonder whether at some point an artistic director signed a contract guaranteeing performances at regular intervals in his lifeblood, and others which have been out of the repertory for ages.Two Pigeons is one such ballet another is Coppelia.De Valois 1954 production of Coppelia was not performed at Covent Garden between the late sixties and the beginning of this century.Some ballets only last a season or two others come back with great frequency.New ballets if they are successful will be repeated as will new productions of the classics.As far as new works are concerned it is obviously less of a gamble to revive a new ballet first shown in the autumn of one season in the following season than it is to programme one shown for the first time in April or May in the following season.

 

If I understood her correctly Rojo attached a price tag of a million pounds to ENB's revival of Le Corsaire.So you get some idea of the reason for the Royal Ballet's enthusiasm for its new Don Q.Programming it in three consecutive seasons was probably thought to be too much of a good thing. After all they want tickets to sell themselves rather than being forced to sell them at a discount.

 

There are several Ashton ballets that are due for revival Cinderella,Sylvia,Ondine,Daphnis and Chloe, Wedding Bouquet,Jazz Calendar,Les Rendezvous,Facade,A Walk to the Paradise Garden and of course there is Persephone which someone should try to restore while some of the original cast are still above ground.

It would be nice to see MacMillan's Solitaire and Nijinska's Les Biches again.

 

As to which aspects of the Royal ballet's repertory we are likely to see over the next few years that really is down to the choices made by the Artistic Director. It isn't clear to me, at least,where O'Hare's "interests lie as far as the "company's classics", the works by Ashton, MacMillan and the Diaghilev legacy, are concerned.He has said that he wants new repertory but what that means for the "company classics" is not clear. It is likely to take a few more years before we really know what his ideas for the company amount to. The revival of Raven Girl next year does not promise well for the future.

 

Kevin O'Hare's appointment was thought by many to be the choice of a safe pair of hands and an absolute guarantee,for good or ill, of continuity.His background is collateral Royal Ballet rather than direct decent and his time at BRB,a company which dances new choreography virtually every season, will have shaped him,but the real difference it seems to me is his age. I am excluding Ross Stretton from this because he was not there long enough to make much of a long term impact on the company.O'Hare's appointment to the post of Artistic Director marked a real turning point in the history of the company because it marks a generational change.Born in 1965 he was in his teens when Forsythe was making his first works.

 

His tastes and his favoured aesthetic are likely to be markedly different from those of his predecessors. I can't imagine any of them allowing Untouchable on to the stage or thinking that Acosta's Don Q was what the company needed or, as one American critic pointed out,allowing a staging that appears to have been set with little apparent understanding of what it would look like from out front.On the other hand we have Alice an entertainment rather than a ballet and A Winter's Tale a ballet that seems to be the real thing; at least two choreographer's who seem to be capable of producing works of true value and more dancers of ability and talent than we have seen in the Covent Garden company for a long while.

Edited by FLOSS
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FLOSS, I'd have thought that a revival of Persephone would cost so much that it would be ruled out even before consideration of whether the choreography could be retrieved - it lasted nearly an hour, had a huge corps de ballet, elaborate sets, and needs a chorus and a tenor and I should think a lot of rehearsal on the musical side - and then of course a ballerina who has a beautiful speaking voice and can declaim in French. For myself I'd much sooner they revived Illuminations.

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My machine seized up so I could not add this to my last posting.

 

The other thing that marks Kevin O'Hare out from all his predecessors, except Stretton who I excluded for the reasons set out above, is that he is the first Artistic Director for whom both Ashton and MacMillan are choreographers from the company's past rather than living choreographers instrumental in making his career. Neither of them are people he has worked with.Neither has played an active part in moulding him as a dancer and neither has expanded his artistic experience by the ballets they made,their choice of repertory or choice of guest choreographers.

 

After MacMillan's death Anthony Dowell is reported to have said words to the effect that the Royal Ballet was about to experience something that was novel for it but something which was the norm for other companies. He was talking about a company that was for the first time to experience working without a choreographer at the helm or a major choreographer directly involved with developing its repertory and creating works on its dancers.

 

I think that all these factors make it even more difficult to say with any certainty how frequently particular ballets are likely to be revived in the future except that Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker are unlikely to slip out of the repertory any time soon and that the three MacMillan works will appear every other season or so.

 

It is the rest of the repertory that is uncertain.Me? Well I'm happy to admit that I'd rather see Sylvia or Cinderella than Don Q take a regular place on the Covent Garden stage.Their choreography is better and they place greater and more consistent demands on the female corps than Don Q does. For me Don Q is a ballet to be seen every time the Bolshoi visit but for the rest of the time I am happy to live without it.If it is a choice between vintage Ashton and an inauthentic piece of choreography which is very much "after Petipa" then Ashton wins hands down every time.Not only is it beautiful but it keeps the company up to the mark technically in a way that MacMillan's works don't. Ashton's ballets expose the dancers in a way that MacMillan's most popular works do not. In Ashton's works it is pretty obvious whether a step has been danced correctly or not and emoting will not make up for untidy landings and laziness. In MacMillan's full length works a dancer can more easily get away with sloppiness by emoting a lot. He can even get away with edited highlights if he chooses to do so as at least one Lescaut proved in the last revival.

Edited by FLOSS
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My machine seized up so I could not add this to my last posting.

 

The other thing that marks Kevin O'Hare out from all his predecessors, except Stretton who I excluded for the reasons set out above, is that he is the first Artistic Director for whom both Ashton and MacMillan are choreographers from the company's past rather than living choreographers instrumental in making his career. Neither of them are people he has worked with.Neither has played an active part in moulding him as a dancer and neither has expanded his artistic experience by the ballets they made,their choice of repertory or choice of guest choreographers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin O'Hare joined SWRB in 1984 (now BRB) when both Ashton and McMillan were still alive and active (although perhaps Ashton was winding down).  So it is not entirely accurate to say that they were not instrumental in making his career.  And of course SWRB was based in London at the time and still had very close links with RB.

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I agree with Janet. Kevin worked directly with Ashton on Valses Noble et Sentimentals and when BRB had the premiere if their production of Romeo and Juliet under the supervision of Macmillan Kevin was chosen as first cast Romeo when Fadeyechev dropped out at very short notice.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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Thank you for correcting my assertions. I had completely forgotten about the revival of Valses Noble et Sentimentales and the year when BRB acquired MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet and O'Hare's involvement in it.

 

The point that I was trying to make was that because of his background and experience as a dancer O'Hare is not a prisoner of the Covent Garden company's "glorious past" and not having experienced the response to the failure of works such as Cyrano and Isadora or the lukewarm response to Mr Worldly Wise at Covent Garden he has not been rendered risk averse.As he did not spend his entire career working in a company in which Ashton and MacMillan were the predominant influence on the company and his career, he is not in thrall to them or their reputations.Finally from his own experience he is probably better able to dampen unrealistic expectations that new works should be works of genius and to explain that the most important thing that a choreographer can do is to develop a company's dancers.If the choreographer turns out to be a genius or the work a masterpiece that is an added bonus.

Edited by FLOSS
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The point that I was trying to make was that because of his background and experience as a dancer O'Hare is not a prisoner of the Covent Garden company's "glorious past" and not having experienced the response to the failure of works such as Cyrano and Isadora or the lukewarm response to Mr Worldly Wise at Covent Garden he has not been rendered risk averse.

 

Also, someone, possibly you, mentioned the matter of generations, too.  Being significantly younger than the previous generation of ADs (not to mention not having a background actually in the RB), O'Hare is less likely to be aware of older works from the company's past which might bear revival.  Previously, Mason or Dowell (but clearly not Stretton) might have said "Oh, such-and-such a work would really suit such-and-such a dancer/be good for the company because ...", whereas presumably that is unlikely to happen now (unless of course the former generation are still giving input).

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Wulff,

I think that I would discount any decision about Persephone's viability as a revival if Anthony Russell Roberts was involved in it. He may have saved the Royal Ballet from unwittingly subsidising the opera company but on the rare occasion that I have heard him talk about Ashton's works he didn't really seem to know that much. Consanguinity does not guarantee a true understanding of an art form. He is the man who famously announced that Dante Sonata was incapable of revival at the very time that work was being undertaken to revive it.

 

As to Persephone the little sections of choreography that have been restored are intriguing and I would love to see all of it. The bits that were shown in a DVD called " Ashton to Stravinsky" reminded me a little of bits of MacMillan's Rituals.Anyway I do not see how anyone can know how a modern audience would receive it until it is performed. A decision made ten years ago should not be seen as binding for all time.A mixed bill of Daphnis and Chloe and Persephone would certainly attract me and I don't think that I would be alone.

 

Alison,

I agree that O'Hare's lack of personal knowledge and experience of the repertory is a a drawback but then so is a fear of taking risks.If you commission new works you can't afford to be totally risk averse.You can find a choreographer whose works you admire and you then have to choose between acquiring a work which is known to be good or having a completely new one.A new work is a risk even when made by an Ashton or a Balanchine. Not everything that these men made was a work of genius.In Ashton's case the turkeys as well as some great works have been lost perhaps in Balanchine's case too many of his works have been conserved.But if an AD is afraid of taking a risk the best that he will give the company and its audience is a series of very safe uninspiring and instantly forgettable works.

 

The real question is how the AD decides to balance the repertory between nineteenth century works, company classics and new pieces. At the moment I don't think that a sufficiently wide range of the Ashton repertory is performed. One of his full length works should be a regular feature of every season Sylvia and Cinderella are about ready for revival and there should be at least one mixed bill including works other than the perennial Dream,A Month in the Country and Rhapsody.Les Rendezvous in the Chappell designs would be a good start and very good for the dancers too.

 

In another discussion I mentioned a revival of Foyer de Danse and was told that only a short section survives on film. A Sarasota newspaper published, I think, at about the time of the Ashton Festival stated that the director of the Sarasota Ballet has it on his list of revivals and has a 32 minute film of the ballet so there is hope.So I would add that to my list of ballets that should be revived at Covent Garden along with Les Apparitions,Valses nobles et sentimentales and A Walk to the Paradise Garden.

 

Very early on in his directorship Kevin O'Hare said that he would welcome suggestions for revivals. Perhaps the time has come to make some suggestions. Before anyone tells me that ENB's revival of Apparitions was a failure it can't have helped that Markarova is reported in "Secret Muses" to have ignored Ashton's corrections to such an extent that he walked out on the revival.

Edited by FLOSS
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Floss. As far as I know, neither Anthony Russell Roberts and certainly not Kevin O"Hare were involved in the assessment of Persephone's viability for a present day revival. My information came from another source. In particular it was felt that some of the corps' moves were somewhat reminiscent of those street performers who used to perform "Egyptian Dances" in Leicester Square. Although I saw the ballet several times myself I can't remember enough of it either to agree or disagree with this impression.

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