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carolm

A Month in the Country

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Last night we saw three short ballets: Les Biches, Symphonic Variations and A Month in the Country.

Les Biches had Leanne Benjamin and Zenaida Yanowsky and they were both in top form. I heard that Leanne was retiring but I cannot imagine why.

SV is for 6 dancers and it was fantastic! Alina Cojocaru & Federico Bonelli; Laura Morera & Johan Kobborg; Belinda Hatley & Steven McRae.

Morera replaced Jamie Tapper who is on maternity leave and McRae replaced Sadaki who is injured. I think Morera is a wonderful dancer and hope that she keeps be given more meaty parts.

The six dancers were so attuned to each other either as partners or as part of various combinations. We were still applauding when the lights came on and they took extra bows. This was the first time I had seen this ballet and I definately would like to see it again.

A Month in the Country was with Sylvie Guillem and Massimo Murru danced the tutor. Everyone in the cast were excellent. I do not know whom to highlight. Most of the dancers were new to me. Kolia, the son, was danced by Giacomo Ciriaci. What leaps! Does anyone know anything about him? Vera, Natasha Oughtred, is another find. When she, Guillem and Murru were dancing it iwas magic.

For us, the evening kept getting better and better. I do not think I shall forget this "Month" very quickly.

Carol

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Attending both matinee and evening performances of this triple bill, i could not help be deeply disappointed by the standard of dancing throughout yet at the same time deeply hopeful at the programming.

Mason is obviously a director on a mission and that mission is to restore the Royal to its former glory in terms of dancing and the best and only way to do this is to restore the company to its birthright, that being the greatest choreography of any Western company. Whether the company is yet able to fully step up to the plate is uncertain, but they are most definitely aware of all they have to achieve.

This is a difficult programme to pull off, three signature works, two made for the greatest ballerinas the Royal had at that time and one masterpiece from the Diaghilev era which if not done with absolute conviction comes off as naive and ill advised.

Let's start with Les Biches - this was stunning for me in one respect, in the evening performance the stupendous Zenaida Yanowsky equalled by memories of my beloved Beriosova. Les Biches does contain moments of virtuosity, but these moments must be sublimated to style, that ability to cast off effort is most jarringly not there within the performances of the three male soloists. Martin Harvey, in every role I see him attempt is defeated, at times it seems he is actually engaged in hand to hand combat with the choreographer, in Les Biches Nijinska won a resounding victory, with Harvey being knocked out in the very first round. Harvey is a man of handsomness, height yet very little dance perfume. Les Biches is a ballet of huge sexual ambivalence, the role of La Garconne being the epitome of this. I'm afraid I can see why Benjamin is due for retirement, the pirouettes sequence meant to start and finish on pointe is fiendishly difficult and defeated her, as it did Galeazzi, all this would be fine if the casting hadn't been so obviously sapphic. With both women cast for their qualities of androgyny, the role originally cast on Georgina Parkinson was far more playful, elegant, and feminine.

Symphonic Variations - again here was a role in which Fonteyn was the perfect examplar. I feel very much that we have seen the last of the great Symphonic Variations a long time ago. Bold attempts were made by Lauren Cuthbertson in the matinee and Larura Morera in the evening but the Ashtonian soul has been lost. I do take issue with the changing of the men's costumes to all being off the shoulder, the beauty of the original asymmetry where Somes was a v-neck blouson only added to the mystery. Cojocaru is a problem for me, she is too much the star, Fonteyn played down her star status to become a part of the whole. Cojocaru's much trumpeted partnership with kobborg was again the cynosure of this ballet and this is not right. Symphonic is not a star vehicle. Lamb in the afternoon was again too American. Ashton is troublesome for American dancers in as much as that to impose expansiveness on the technique is to miss the point entirely. Stephen McRae in the Henry Danton role in the evening was quite pleasent, McRae is the current great white hope for male dancing within the corps. It is interesting that barely a year in the corps he has been entrusted with this signature work - and he did it proud. Far more capable than Ferederico Bonelli in the fiendishly difficult Brian Shaw part who though capable of the virtuosity sacrificed ease and delight.

Month in the Country - This ballet is truly lost without its original interpretors or rather interpretor, Lynn Seymour. I have seen every dancer imaginable dancing Petrovna, great dancers - Makarova, Sibley, Guillem, Porteur and none have come close to doing the role justice.

Month is a masterpiece, but one whose genius is unrealised except by Seymour. Bussell made a cloyingly sweet attempt at the role in the afternoon Guillem an overwrought stab in the evening - both failed.

Bussell and Guillem's careers have been inextricably linked since Guillem joined the Royal in 88 and Bussell was pushed into a mould as being the English Guillem - now both in the autumn of their careers the roles they assume do bear comparative analysis, though analysis is invidious. Guillem's career path has always been braver and more independent than Bussell's but this new late blossoming dramatic tragedienne mould for Guillem I find arch and overwrought - what kind of dancer is Guillem? At the very least she keeps you on your toes which Bussell never does. Bussell's career, though rich by any standards has for me been a huge disappointment, she never fulfilled any mould she was cast as and her mentor Macmillan dying so soon into her career she was left to head a company which throughout her tenure as reigning ballerina has been lost in terms of direction. Under Mason it appears to have regained a sense of identity yet too late to benefit Bussell. Bussell's Petrovna was sweet, given to the general pained expression and self pity, Petrovna is none of these, to use the vernacular Petrovna is a "Bitch on wheels" yet at the same time we identify with her in that she is desperate to have one final attempt at happiness. She is given to a desire that obliterates sense and the senses, only Seymour has ever shown this it remains her ballet. Neither Murru nor Pennefeather are matches for Dowell.

In speaking of Month to friends who have never seen it, I talk of a masterpiece on several occasions they have seen it and thought me mad to eulogise but then we saw different ballets; the memories of Seymour, Dowell, Nunn, Rencher, and Sleep are what made this ballet great. And in fairness to Mason it seems those memories of the Royal's golden past still reside and live within her.

I should like this triple bill to be danced continually for a year once a week at least, it would be the greatest training ground for the current crop of dancers to resume their heritage.

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Thank you, carolm and Kate! I hope others will chime in.

Kate, I'm a "Month in the Country" fan as well and saw the original cast. (I agree that it's a masterpiece. I think some don't like it because they see it as a story ballet only, and it's so compressed that, for those used to "Manon"'s way of story telling, iit seems rushed. I don't think that's what Ashton was doing. It's more a character study and, of course, the style is as important as the dancing. I liked Guillem in it (I saw her several years ago) in a perverse way :) She played Natalya as a young woman who thought she'd struck gold marrying this rich old man, and had no idea how boring life in the country could be. Unfortunately, she would have gone after the footman if the Tutor hadn't come along, but at least it was an interpretation and not an imitation. I liked Porter very much as the delicious French chambermaid, but not after her promotion.

I'm delighted to read new voices fron London -- the Royal Ballet is an important company to many Americans, so I hope to be reading you regularly. Kate, I agree on Mason. I was excited by the next season, even though there are some ballets on it that I don't particularly like. I like the shape of it -- not too many full lengths, balanced triple bills Not "Memory Lane Evening for the Old Codgers" and "New Now Night fr Us Real Dance Fans!!!", but an old favorite/an interesting choice -- either from that Treasure Chest rep, or, it seems, a ballet that Mason just wants to see again -- /new work. I think good days are ahead.

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RE: Guillem

EXACTLY, Alexandra, the interpretation has become worse for that very reason. Guillem when she started dancing the role was youthful, a bit of a nymphomaniac, but as you said, it was her interpretation. Now she has toned it down to be in line with the grande tragedienne mould and this doesn't work.

No one has ever dared to be so bloody as Seymour in their dancing, so unafraid to seem utterly ugly and unlikeable - her devil may care attitude is what made her such a one off.

On a related note, by far the worst Petrovna I have ever seen was Sibley in 88 which was interesting to see her so defeated by Ashton She was a perfect examplar of the Ashtonian lyricism yet the passionate, visceral Ashton was beyond her.

Guillem has abandoned the classical rep in favour of keeping her body healthy for a prolonged career, Bussell is doing everything in these the last years of her career and that of course is her choice - but a full career isn't a score card. Just look at Kirkland, selective to the point of being pathological and a career cut short by a good decade, but one of the greatest of the second half of the 20th century.

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Attending both matinee and evening performances of this triple bill, i could not help be deeply disappointed by the standard of dancing throughout yet at the same time deeply hopeful at the programming.

We seem to have seen different performances on the same night at the same place.<s>

The first two ballets I had not seen before; the last (Month) I had seen many times. I have never felt that only one person does a role the "correct" way. Each dancer brings their own interpretation to a role. I am sure that each time a dancer dances a role it is different from the time before. I have seen Guillem in Month several times and as far as I remember, she danced it differently each time.

And the standard of the dancing was very high on Saturday night especially in Month and Symphonic Variations. Cojocaru was partnered by Bonelli; it was Morera who danced with Kobborg. I do not agree with you that Cojocaru was acting "the star"--I felt all six dancers were equal. I thought all the dancers were excellent and hope to see them again. And of course it is good that there are new dancers coming into view.

Carol

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Attending both matinee and evening performances of this triple bill, i could not help be deeply disappointed by the standard of dancing throughout yet at the same time deeply hopeful at the programming.

We seem to have seen different performances on the same night at the same place.<s>

The first two ballets I had not seen before; the last (Month) I had seen many times. I have never felt that only one person does a role the "correct" way. Each dancer brings their own interpretation to a role. I am sure that each time a dancer dances a role it is different from the time before. I have seen Guillem in Month several times and as far as I remember, she danced it differently each time.

And the standard of the dancing was very high on Saturday night especially in Month and Symphonic Variations. Cojocaru was partnered by Bonelli; it was Morera who danced with Kobborg. I do not agree with you that Cojocaru was acting "the star"--I felt all six dancers were equal. I thought all the dancers were excellent and hope to see them again. And of course it is good that there are new dancers coming into view.

Carol

Carol

I did not say that the dancing was poor rather it was generic. The point I made re Cojocaru and Kobborg is that their presence together on the stage carries a weight of an establised partnership - that's all. Symphonic is NOT a ballet where one projects anything more than the dance. This is so hard for modern audiences to understand. Fonteyn in the role danced by Cojocaru was utterly perfect, she was the perfect exampler and exponent of the role. There is nothing more to say. Cojocaru, is an interesting dancer who has advanced too fast too quickly and as such I find lightweight. BUT she is a star within the company and one is aware of this and as such the performance is a failure, because Symphonic is a ballet where no dancer is greater than the sum of the parts, they are servants. I'll never forget the moment when Fonteyn stood downstage right one legged crossed in repose filling up on the music until she moved, even in stillness she moved, it was beyond powerful, it was religious. Saturday? Was a nice little movement based ballet. When Symphonic is danced as watered-down Balanchine it has failed. Saturday was an honourable failure.

Month, now I'm sorry, but I have seen every cast since 1975 and none and I do mean none has come close to Seymour ever. It's sad as I do feel that Month is a masterpiece, but I have never seen it live up to its masterpiece status without Seymour. Guillem gave a nice performance, very grand, tipping nearly into sentiment but that's all.

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Sometimes I think we all sit in the same theater and see totally different performances every night :) I know during my first few -- more than few, actually -- years of ballet going, I thought I had gotten good at seeing what was there, but it was really hard to see what WASN'T there -- the ghosts of dancers who had danced the role before, or how a ballet looked when the choreographer was around to see it.

I never saw Fonteyn in "Symphonic," but I think I know the place where you mean, Kate. It's when the music suddenly becomes first happy and then almost triumphant? And the ballerina has been waiting, and she starts to move, riding the music as if a wave, and I could imagine that Fonteyn had been the personification of goodness, and that goodness will eventually triumph (it was 1946 and we needed a little goodness). If that's the place you mean; if not, perhaps you recognize it. It was a place where, to me, the choreogrpahy almost forced you to see her.

I've often wondered if "Sleeping Beauty" and "Giselle" have changed, too, so that if those who first saw them could come back and tell us -- after they were revived from a deep faint -- how the Maids of Honor's dance, or the Pas de Vendanges looked before it became just a dance -- and a dance that we now take pleasure in.

We have these kinds of conversations regularly on the NYCB and ABT forums too :) They're not resolvable -- one sees what one sees and only has the memoriies one has. (And even if everybody had seen the same performances and had the same history, we'd probably still disagree. :)

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I have never seen the ballet but would like to say that I’ve enjoyed reading this thread and learning from it. Thanks to Kate, carolm, and Alexandra.

Not to wander away from the topic, but apropos of Cojocaru and “Symphonic Variations,” I thought of the following exchange with Marc Haegeman from 2001:

DV: You mention that you often have very little time to learn these roles. How do you prepare for them except by working in the studio?

COJOCARU: By watching videos. In Kiev we didn’t have the people to show us the movements, so we had to learn with videos. With the Royal Ballet it’s different, but here we have to prepare roles on very short notice. Even for Symphonic Variations there was just one rehearsal and the next time we were rehearsing on stage. We had only three and a half hours or something, half the ballet maybe, and then I had to go home and learn the rest. When I arrived in the studio the next day, they asked me to continue where we left off the previous day, but because I learned it the night before, I was able to do the whole thing.

Link to the complete interview:

http://www.danceview.org/interviews/cojocaru.html

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One of the delightful things about this board is that people do weigh in with different opinions. It is most helpful to ballet newbies. For one thing, it encourages us to state our own opinions without fear or trepidation. Knowing that even the more seasoned and knowledgeable among us often disagree frees us up to venture an opinion now and then. For another thing, of course, it exposes people to different views of the same ballet. We get to see it through several pairs of eyes, several interpretations.

I am so glad that we have at least a couple of passionate Royal Ballet posters!

The best kind of thing this can lead to is dialogue. I love it when posters throw in a few questions: "Did you find that ....?" "What did you think of the way he ...?" "Were you as astounded as I when ...?" I don't like it so much when posters are didactic or insistent. I find that cuts off conversation, and the conversation is what I love so much to follow!

Oops, sorry, I might have taken us a little :) .

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Go figure.

I preferred Bussell to Guillem in Month in the Country. (I felt Bussell was at least trying to meet the role halfway). Guillem seemed to regard the role as something she could change as necessary to suit. It made for a good Guillem performance, but there didn't seem to be much Ashton there. She changed phrasing in her first variation a good deal, slowing down the phrases to dance in a more controlled and shaped manner.

I liked Harvey in Les Biches a great deal, but I've liked him in most of the character roles I've seen him in (Eros, Devil's Holiday). I enjoyed all casts of the ballet.

In Symphonic, I also liked Cuthbertson and Morera a great deal, as well as Belinda Hatley. I like Putrov, but have a suspicion he's not doing the arms "right" - the arms move too slowly, and I can only say my instincts (I haven't seen the ballet enough to be certain) are that the port de bras aren't the "movement grows constantly" sort but a more deliberate sort where the arms are placed into their straight lines or curves. It's easier to see than to describe - you can see the contrast between what he does and the female duet (for instance) to see the difference. In less-than-ideal Ashton, as so in Balanchine, I feel it's still possible to look past certain performances into the ballet itself. (Although if it's bad, or wrongheaded or dead enough, a performance can kill a work, but this wasn't even close to that.) As an American, getting to see Symphonic in anything remotely resembling context is an incredible joy. There's an indescribable difference between this and what we see at ABT. I can see the ballet here. It's hard for me not to look for the structure and I could finally see it (like the music, everything is done attacca), but it is rather beside the point.

Sarah Lamb may look American to the British, but she doesn't look American at all to me. She doesn't dance American. To my American eyes, she dances Russian.

Sorry, I am writing fast, my internet connection is from stray wireless in my brother's house in Bristol! Back to London tomorrow am to see The Dream and Symphony in C. As for Sym in C, I shall not worry or carp if they dance it at least as well as NYCB would do Symphonic Variations :) I think they're safe.

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Far more capable than Ferederico Bonelli in the fiendishly difficult Brian Shaw part who though capable of the virtuosity sacrificed ease and delight.

I believe it was Kobborg who danced the Brian Shaw role (?) and, as Carol M mentioned, Bonelli danced the central couple with Cojocaru. Based on this particular performance, I doubt people would have been able to tell Kobborg and Cojocaru are an established partnership. Personally I feel Cojocaru understands very well that this ballet is not a star vehicle. I thought the performance was well danced, although it was not the religious experience Kate L talked about. Perhaps when an Ashton or a Balanchine of a choreographer comes along and creates a ballet on today’s dancers- drawing inspirations directly from them- we will get that kind of experience again :) In the meantime, I think the dancers today are doing well in trying to do the ballet, made on dancers some fifty years ago, some sort of justice.

I found Les Biches quite delightful and thought Yanowsky as the Hostess terrific. I am not always emotionally ‘in tune’ with Guillem so I suppose it was not surprising that I remained so unmoved by her portrayal.

Anyway I obviously don’t have the vast experience and knowledge people here possess but thought I would add my two cents … :)

Ps. Leigh I hope you enjoy the performance tomorrow. I was not at all impressed the last time the company danced Symphony in C a few months ago- and this is an impression from someone who rarely ever gets to see NYCB! I hope they get their acts together and give a reasonably good performance this time around.

Edited by NNatalie

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I hope I shall as well, NNatalie :)

I was curious who did what in Symphonic as compared to the original - this is what I think so far -

Cojocaru Yoshida Fonteyn

Lamb Hatley (Shearer or May?)

Cuthbertson Morera (Shearer or May? Does anyone happen to know which part is the Shearer and which is the May?)

Bonelli Makhateli Somes

Kobborg Putrov Shaw

McRae Watson Danton

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Cojocaru, is an interesting dancer who has advanced too fast too quickly and as such I find lightweight. BUT she is a star within the company and one is aware of this and as such the performance is a failure, because Symphonic is a ballet where no dancer is greater than the sum of the parts, they are servants.

Still a relative newbie :) , I saw Symphonic Variations in the last run but for sure I'm learning a great deal, especially from discussions on boards like these. I couldn't possibly comment on what SV is supposed to be like, but I do know what I loved about it.

I wouldn't agree that Cojocaru or her partnerships stood out or outshone anyone in SV - on the contrary, what amazed me was how perfectly balanced the first cast seemed to be. Especially at the rehearsal and first night, they seemed to be in harmony, equally and perfectly matched from the angles and curvature of their arms, the timings of steps and jumps, the way they instinctively appeared to come together, form positions and break apart again, the way they were listening and responding to the music. From the amphitheatre I watched through binoculars for a few minutes, then put them down and just watched it in it's entireity...although I could more or less recognise the dancers without them, it didn't seem to matter because the quality of each was so brilliant and made up to one gorgeous whole. I am a Cojocaru fan admittedly and in anything else my eye would be drawn to her, but this was not the case here. I think the fact that the dancers allowed the ballet to shine through more than their individual performances must mean they are doing some kind of justice to it. I hope I'm making myself clear here! I have to respectfully disagree with Kate and say that as naive or as inexperienced I'm sure I may be, that "Symphonic is a ballet where no dancer is greater than the sum of the parts, they are servants" is exactly what I saw. :) If anyone surprised me, it was Steven McRae. I've enjoyed watching him in the corps all season. This is only his first year in the company, and he while he catches the eye in the corps it was a shock to hear he was covering another injured dancer in SV. It was an even bigger surprise to discover how exceptional he is - I could rave for quite a bit but, put simply, he looked like he belonged alongside Kobborg and Bonelli.

I enjoyed 2nd cast as well, but I didn't think they achieved the kind of unity that the first one did. Certainly I felt they weren't hearing the music in quite the same way! I want to see them again before I say anything more.

I preferred Bussell to Guillem in Month in the Country as well. Watching Darcey as Natalia for the first time, I was surprised at how much of the Ashton style she had. I mean, I'm hopeless at spotting these kind of things unless they're pointed out to me and I'm usually content to enjoy a ballet all the way through rather than worry at how the style is being lost. But I noticed it in Darcey, the twists and turns in her upper body, they made her and made the choreography seem so alive. I then was anxious to see how Sylvie did and was terribly disappointed, at how she moved her arms rather than her back, she seemed so stiff in comparison. From an acting perspective, Sylvie's more subtle, very naturalistic, but the changes in emotion barely register in her face, and while she's wonderful to watch with binoculars, I can see why people can find her rather cool. I preferred Darcey's more vibrant and I suppose more hysteronic approach. I liked Murru more than I thought I would given my doubts about him in the last run. But he and Guillem didn't thrill me the way Darcey and Rupert Pennefather did. Pennefather's also still in the corps but has been thrust into principal roles this season and next. I thought he was absolutely terrific, displaying a confidence in his dancing, in the choreography, and displaying so much charisma and leading man qualities that for me he didn't have before. He has a beautiful, understated manner in his dancing as well as his acting that made me recall Cope's perfomances, (so I guess it wasn't a surprise to see later that he's coached him in this) I think his age certainly helps - he can't be more than 24, but looks younger and helps crystallize certain aspects of Natalia's personality. I was pretty late in cottoning on to the fact that she's meant to be significantlly older in the Guillem-Cope, Guillem-Murru casts last time!

Les Biches isn't really for me. I'm having a bit of trouble with the music to be honest and found myself drifting away several times during the rehearsal. Admittedly I've been arriving late to the mixed bill and haven't made it to any of the actual Les Biches performances, but I shall give it another go next week!

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This may sound like a silly comment, and I throw it into the mix apropos of how people see. I remember the first time I saw "Month" with a different cast (than the original) and, aside from the interpretive and acting differences, what really bothered me was how different the feet were. Ashton is quoted (in David Vaughan's book) as having said that he loved Seymour's feet, that they were like Pavlova's; Denise Nunn had very beautiful feet as well. And they were a particular size and shape, and were very much a part of the picture. Different feet changed the picture as much as if you repainted a landscape and changed the flowers from blue to yellow.

Back to more important matters :) thank you all for these reports -- I'm very jealous, of course. I'd be happy seeing more Ashton in (almost) any cast! I hope you'll all tell us more.

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  Back to London tomorrow am to see The Dream and Symphony in C.  As for Sym in C, I shall not worry or carp if they dance it at least as well as NYCB would do Symphonic Variations :(  I think they're safe.

I wrote about how disappointed I was with NYCB in another thread. I felt Balanchine would be very disappointed had he seen them dance in an unruly style. Last night we saw Symphony and loved it! Were you there too last night?

I would love to hear your opinion. I started a new topic on this subject.

Carol

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Carol - I discuss it at length on my blog.

http://www.leighwitchel.com/blog/archives/...balanchine.html

I saw both casts.  I'm afraid I was not at all pleased.

If you did not like this performances count yourslef lucky that you did not see the Royal do it a few months ago.<s> I take in what you said in your blog but I still go back to my point that not being that familar with the Balanchine style, I thought the Tuesday performence excellent. Is it a case of "ignorance is bliss"?

Carol

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Leigh---who, if any, from the 'Balanchine Trust' staged and rehearsed them? :smilie_mondieu:

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Happen to still have my cast sheet on me :smilie_mondieu: Symphony in C staging was by Christopher Carr and Grant Coyle.

Looking at The Dream's principal coaching, Jonathan Cope is included. He's never danced Oberon although he expressed a wish that he wasn't too tall to dance it a couple years ago. It makes me curious if he danced any other role in Dream, (though dancing a role doesn't appear to be a pre-requisite for being able to coach it here) - I'll have to ask around!

Carol, I preferred the casts for Symphony in C a few months back myself :) - Roberta Marquez, Darcey Bussell, Deirdre Chapman and Tamara Rojo/Sarah Lamb. Sarah reprised her role in the 4th movement last night and stood out for me the most. I've never seen NYCB or POB live on stage sadly - will need to rectify that somehow, someday!

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Sylvia - the cast you saw a few months back is the one I saw as well, and I really enjoyed them.

Cope's been doing a lot of principal coaching lately - for Dream, Ondine, R&J, etc.... and it seems to be paying off rather well, I think....

Anyways, this is off topic, and I'm not seeing this bill til next week... so will keep reading until then!

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I felt Balanchine would be very disappointed had he seen them dance in an unruly style. 

carolm - just one final point of information - Balanchine was known to actually like what might be considered an unruly style! He liked it when dancers fell, if they fell because they were moving to the fullest. Also there's a famous quote about gardens - I'm going to mangle this because I'm posting from Beattie's basement cafe in Brum (the things we do for affordable Internet access!) He said in essence that English gardens were clipped and manicured but that Russian gardens were long and wild.

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carolm - just one final point of information - Balanchine was known to actually like what might be considered an unruly style!

I guess I was putting my thoughts in his mouth.<s>

Carol

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carolm - just one final point of information - Balanchine was known to actually like what might be considered an unruly style! 

I guess I was putting my thoughts in his mouth.<s> 

Carol

Hi carolm! This is :flowers: , I know, but I still have to throw my 2 cents in here and elaborate a little on Leigh’s post. I actually chuckled a bit when I read your comments about Jewels in the NYCB forum. As someone who saw the NYCB frequently in the 70’s when the master was still around, and then took a hiatus from the company until 2 years ago, let me say that the first thing I noticed when I started watching them again was how much more cohesive the corps had become. That was one of the things that really put me off the company back in the day. There’s a quote about Balanchine’s corps that I ran across in one of the forums here “24 girls doing 24 different things at 24 different times”. I don’t recall which poster said it, and if they were quoting someone else - but it sums up my memories of the old NYCB perfectly. I found it unbelievably jarring but I guess that was the way he liked it. Of course,it’s not as if all the NYCB had to offer was a wild, unruly corps of model-thin needle head girls - there was also Balanchine’s genius & amazing performances by the likes of Farrell, McBride, Kent,Villella, et al. I remember some astounding evenings - the first time I saw Concerto Barocco, Apollo, Symphony in C, etc. - but in the end I just couldn’t get past that unruly corps & spent the bulk of my time & money at ABT.

By the way, I love the RB and have really enjoyed reading all of your posts here. I fell in love with Symphonic Variations when ABT did it, even though I didn’t think the ballerinas they cast did it justice. I’m so jealous of you all, and disappointed that they’re not bringing it to the U.S. on their tour next year.

Susan

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carolm - just one final point of information - Balanchine was known to actually like what might be considered an unruly style! 

I guess I was putting my thoughts in his mouth.<s> 

Carol

Hi carolm! This is :flowers: , I know, but I still have to throw my 2 cents in here and elaborate a little on Leigh’s post. I actually chuckled a bit when I read your comments about Jewels in the NYCB forum. As someone who saw the NYCB frequently in the 70’s when the master was still around, and then took a hiatus from the company until 2 years ago, let me say that the first thing I noticed when I started watching them again was how much more cohesive the corps had become. That was one of the things that really put me off the company back in the day. There’s a quote about Balanchine’s corps that I ran across in one of the forums here “24 girls doing 24 different things at 24 different times”.

Susan

I really had no idea that Balanchine was not that bothered about the corps. And here I was criticising the NYCB while all along they were doing just what was expected! And...even though I now know that Mr. B. would approve--I still do not.<s>

Carol

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There’s a quote about Balanchine’s corps that I ran across in one of the forums here “24 girls doing 24 different things at 24 different times”.  I don’t recall which poster said it, . . .
That would be me.
. . . and if they were quoting someone else - but it sums up my memories of the old NYCB perfectly.  I found it unbelievably jarring but I guess that was the way he liked it.

Most of the time I enjoyed it very much. But the only reason I can say that is that I went so often. If I attended three or four times a year, if I didn't go often enough to know every single corps dancer, I don't think I would have liked it. And if I lived in a place where NYCB was just passing through on tour, it would have driven me crazy.

But one of the great joys of the RB in the old days was the magnificent cohesion of the corps. The viewer hardly saw 24 girls at all, but rather a single organism sharing a single breath. While NYCB's corps has become tamer, the RB has been moving in another direction. (One reason for that may be relaxed height restrictions.)

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