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carolm

A Month in the Country

31 posts in this topic

I have not been impressed with the way the company performed Symphony in C this season but I do think that the Royal can dance it better than this. To be fair to the dancers, Symphony in C was likely not given priority during rehearsals and the dancers were probably not coached in this ballet as intensively as they should have been. After all, the focus of this season has been on Ashton, as well as other important revivals like McMillan’s Rite of Spring, which are new to most of the dancers in the company. I think Symphony in C is the only Balanchine ballet that the Royal stage and rehearse themselves (as far as I can remember last season Agon and Prodigal Son were staged by Patricia Neary) and this may be where the problem is. Perhaps they would benefit from having someone from the Trust coming over. But all in all, I would refrain from making a general statement about how well (or badly) the Royal can dance Balanchine based on this season’s performances alone.

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I agree with NNatalie here, and also wanted to pick up on carbo's comment on the RB corp. While the heights do vary, I actually think the corps has really cleaned itself up in the past few years (under Mason), and this might be in relation to/due to their performance in intensive corps pieces, such as Les Noces and the current Rite of Spring... I thought they were fabulous in the last act of the last Swan Lake I saw as well, and as the fairies in Dream. This is a huge improvement from the messy shades scenes of a few years ago. That all said, the new Bruce ballet (Three Songs, Two Voices) sees a chaotic corps - I don't like the choreography for the corps at all in this, but they performed it messier, but energetically. I don't know if this was intended or because it was new, but I do wonder how that 'look' would work with some of the Balanchine works.

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'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!'

Do you think Cope is moving particularly to coaching taller dancers, perhaps regardless of role to a certain extent? He coached Pennefather in Month (so did Dowell - how I would have liked to sit in on those rehearsals!) and I think that both Watson in Dream and Pennefather in Month had an air of...I don't know - confidence? I'm pretty sure he coached Watson in R&J as well.

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Do you think Cope is moving particularly to coaching taller dancers, perhaps regardless of role to a certain extent? He coached Pennefather in Month (so did Dowell - how I would have liked to sit in on those rehearsals!) and I think that both Watson in Dream and Pennefather in Month had an air of...I don't know - confidence? I'm pretty sure he coached Watson in R&J as well.

I hadn't thought of that but it's an interesting thought. I get the impression from interviews, books etc that some/most principal dancers have a coach that works with them for most ballets. (A question for the next insight day!) Darcey Bussell's written her principal coach is Donald Macleary. So I'll be curious to see if Cope has a continuing role in Watson and Pennefather's development.

I agree 100% about Watson and Pennefather's confidence in Dream and Month! I've said somewhere else that having seen Watson dance a number of somewhat passive roles - Romeo, Palemon - it was thrilling to see him dance Oberon so commandingly and with so much vigour. Likewise for Pennefather, he made the role of Beliaev belong to him. I thought both performances were infused with little details that must have come from many hours in the studio.

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It's certainly heartening that as Cope begins to drop roles from his dancing rep., he adds roles to his coaching rep. He's been in the Royal Ballet institution almost all his life (and probably knows ballets that he hasn't actually danced just from years of watching rehearsals, and performances from the wings) and I'd hate to see him just disappear, but thankfully it looks like that isn't going to be the case.

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Can I just pop in to say two things:

I think Cope also must be used for partnering coaching - I know he was for R&J, and I think for Ondine as well? There's a reason people want to dance with him.

Secondly, did anyone else see the final performance of the season on Saturday night? It was splendid... and I even really enjoyed Sylvie Guillem in Month. Usually I don't prefer her in character roles. Her Manon is nice, but I prefer others... and I would never think of her as an 'Ashton' dancer, although 'Marguerite and Armand' might not be the ballet to base that decision on. That said, she had me in Month, as did the entire cast. The whole evening was really really well danced, and both Symphonic and Month ended with curtain calls after the house lights were up... And very sweet hugs and curtain calls with the retiring pianist (to return as a guest), Philip Gammon.

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