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Masterclass "Manon" with Sir Anthony Dowell

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#1 Sonja



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Posted 18 October 2001 - 02:19 AM

Munich, 17.10.01

Last night saw Munich's first ballet masterclass I can think of: Sir Anthony Dowell rehearsed Des Grieux with Bavarian State Ballet's (BSB) first cast for the role, Oliver Wehe.
Since I never saw Sir Anthony dancing on stage, I cannot judge or comment that aspect - but from what he performed last night, we got an idea of his stage presence and charisma!
Rehearsal included the two main variations of Des Grieux, first one when he first sees/meets Manon, and the second one before the gambling when he is tormented as Manon wants both, him and the jewellery.
Oliver Wehe is a very fine dancer who has the "right looks" for Des Grieux - but something so far I have found lacking in his performances. Sir Anthony picked that instantly: "Don't do it too classically. You are not dancing Sleeping Beauty!" And boy, what a difference it made when Oliver tried to forget about the positions and "just went for it"!

Some comments and ways of explaining still stick in my memory - most of all "I found it helpful..." or "I found that particularly difficult" or "I used to do it that way..." - I am not sure, but I think this is also mentioned in the book of Darcey Bussell?
We also had some good laughs about some comments, for example at the end of first variation: "You put your head down - and then you PRAY that they will applaude. New York has always been great - they gave me a good time to rest and breathe!"
Or, right after he killed the gaoler: "I did not feel like standing there for ages and then - all at a sudden - think: Oh, now I have to do a double saut de basque!"

At the end, I felt as if Ivan Liska (AD of BSB) took Sir Anthony a bit by surprise as he asked him to flick through the scene just after Des Grieux has killed the gaoler - he seemed not really prepared to do this, but after a short thought, he went throught the whole scene with such energy, got fully into the role and seemed to forget about the audience (though probably being fully aware of us...) - so everyone applauded frantically after this short performance!

Next event in this series will be a masterclass with Dame Antoinette Sibley, rehearsing Lisa-Maree Cullum in the part of Manon. 12 December - and I am really looking forward to this!

#2 Giannina


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Posted 18 October 2001 - 10:06 AM

That was a wonderful discription, Sonja, especially the quotes as Dowell gave advice to Wehe. I eagerly look forward to the same type of report on Sibley. Thank you so much!


#3 Lolly


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Posted 18 October 2001 - 04:50 PM

Sonja aren't you lucky! I would love to have been there, but i'm glad you were there to tell us all about it! Don't you think Sir Anthony always seems to find just the right image so the dancers know exactly how to interpret the role? Oh we do miss him...! :o

#4 Sonja



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Posted 19 October 2001 - 02:24 AM

Giannina and Lolly, thanks for your kind words!
Yes, it was truly a very special expericence - and it's true, I have never heard anyone find such vivid images! Our second cast Des Grieux, Alen Bottaini, was watching as well - and when qlimpsing now and then towards him, it seemed he felt like jumping up and trying out those images as well!
Finally, after a long "thirst period", we seem to be really lucky - another masterclass has been advised, in January with Marcia Haydee, rehearsing "The Taming of the Shrew"!

#5 Shirley



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Posted 20 October 2001 - 06:31 AM

Sounds Wonderful Sonja!

Much beter than the recent RB masterclass I attended by Ross Stretton where he gave no advice at all to the dancers even though they were looking towards him for correction. We got some wonderful dancing but I wouldn't be able to call it a masterclass.

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