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Jane Simpson

Ansanelli with the RB

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Alexandra Ansanelli's first announced appearance will be on Feb 4th when she dances Balanchine's Tchaikowsky pas de deux with Federico Bonelli, repeated on Feb 23rd and 28th. (Of course she may be on stage before that we won't know till we see her.)

The second cast for the pas de deux is Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta, and Acosta also does the Robbins Afternoon of a Faun with Sarah Lamb on the same nights as Ansanelli's appearances.

The performance on the 23rd is also Jonathan Cope's last appearance with the company - he dances the Prince in Firebird - so it could be quite a night. The programme opens with Darcey Bussell and Zenaida Yanowskyy in Ballet Imperial, with the up-and-coming Rupert Pennefather.

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(Obvious bias, but) Ansanelli does a very nice Tchai pas. How is Bonelli's partnering? She's very light but is best with someone quite strong.

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Well, he's not in the 'human fork-lift' category but he's OK, I think - he seems to be improving all the time and certainly looks stronger than he did a couple of years ago when he first joined.

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I suppose we shouldn't be surprised because it happens all the time: a dancer leaves the company with which she's made her reputation, ostensibly to stretch her wings and try new things. That was certainly the impression one got with Ansanelli. There'd been talk of her joining the RB for some time, presumably because of their repertory. So her first performances with her new company are of her old repertory. What's the point?

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I rather suppose she needs to earn her keep while learning RB repertory & style.

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Even if she wants to learn new ways, isn't it best to meet her new audience in a familiar role that she knows shows her to great advantage? Good confidence builder, at any rate. And I'm sure the RB crowd will be entranced by her quicksilver shimmer.

M***e, Alexandra! :thanks:

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One problem is that the leading casting for the rest of the RB season had already been announced when Ansanelli joined - but as I said, she could be cast in secondary roles in Giselle and Sleeping Beauty, for instance, which aren't listed ahead of time. There's a lot of competition, though.

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I'm with Zerbinetta here - it's good for London to see her at her best before seeing her in unfamiliar territory. Though not originally listed because it was cast before she was signed, dollars to donuts she ends up doing her original part in Polyphonia as well. From the Balanchine I've seen at the RB, they could use Ansanelli in Tchai Pas.

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Federico Bonelli danced this with Zenaida Yanowsky at a gala in Paris this September. I didn’t go but friends who did said they, especially she (‘a real ballerina!’), made good strong impressions and if he could partner Yanowsky, I am sure he could partner Ansanelli!

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She'll test a partner's mettle. When she did Tchai pas with Benjamin Millepied, they got to the final two dives. The first one did not go well at all; he had trouble getting her. Did Ansanelli compensate at all in the second dive? Not one bit - she did it full tilt and without checking behind her to see if he was ready (the correct way, but very high risk, and something I didn't see in Paris, for instance). It's not just strength and ability. She needs someone used to that way of working with nerves of steel.

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Well, he's not in the 'human fork-lift' category but he's OK, I think - he seems to be improving all the time and certainly looks stronger than he did a couple of years ago when he first joined.

Bonelli used to dance in Amsterdam. Physically he's one of these amazing men who look as light as a feather (and he isn't tall either) but there's enormous power concealed in that body. His jumps will not impress you with their muscularity, but with their lightness.

It's really thrilling to see how well he's doing at the RB, being - if I'm not mistaken - the third ever to land the Armand rôle, with Rojo as Marguerite, and partnering Ansanelli now.

Speaking of Ansanelli, where did this hostile comment of Robert Gottlieb's come from? He rarely ever goes for the cheap shot like this. Some kind of resentment over her leaving NYCB for the RB?

Ansanelli has based her career on her prettiness and charm, flirting sweetly with the audience. Fine in Susan Stroman, say, and plausible in Coppélia and Harlequinade, but nowhere near enough for core Balanchine.

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Speaking of Ansanelli, where did this hostile comment of Robert Gottlieb's come from? He rarely ever goes for the cheap shot like this. Some kind of resentment over her leaving NYCB for the RB?
Ansanelli has based her career on her prettiness and charm, flirting sweetly with the audience. Fine in Susan Stroman, say, and plausible in Coppélia and Harlequinade, but nowhere near enough for core Balanchine.

It's not an isolated comment in this piece on Suzanne Farrell Ballet. He continues in detail, using her performances in Duo Concertante and La Valse to make his case. I don't remember earlier pieces by him which the current one contradicts. One related question is whether Ansanelli will be successful in core Royal Ballet repertoire, as defined by Mason and the artistic staff, or whether she will be the Balanchine poster girl for the Company, and, if so, whether RB audiences will be seeing quality Balanchine from her. I've never seen her outside a demi role early in her career, so I can't begin to comment on this.

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I think she's 5'5". There are a few people neutral on Ansanelli, but like a few other dancers, you tend to be either strongly pro or strongly con. Most of the people who don't like her echo Gottlieb that she forces her presence. I understand what they're talking about but having worked with her I know that the persona she has on stage is not artificial. It's genuine (actually, it goes beyond the boundaries of genuine and artifice to an artifice so passionately believed in that it became real). She needs to be cast and coached carefully to set it off properly. Between Tchai pas and (hopefully) Polyphonia I think London will get a sense of what's special about her.

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Did anyone see her debut with the RB on the 4th? Would love to hear about it.

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Did anyone see her debut with the RB on the 4th? Would love to hear about it.

Well, I think you could class it as a success - it was certainly well received. She looked very lovely, exceptionally well groomed and glamourous and this company could do with a bit of glamour IMHO. It was a very accurate, very musical performance - lacking perhaps in a daring if you compare it with Verdy (but then who could compare with Verdy) and she was dancing with a new partner whose partnering is reliable, but perhaps no more than that.

I'm looking forward to seeing her with the company - hopefully before too long - rather than in an isolated showpiece. With that big, light, jump it's a shame she arrived too late for Firebird.

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Thanks for the links, Dale. And it is wonderful to read of Darcey Bussell's success with Balanchine. I remember years ago when she guested with City Ballet and frequently out-Balanchine'd our own! Also one summer RB visit where, in a matinee performance of Cendrillon, she was the closest thing to Farrell I've seen since Suzanne retired.

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Well, I think you could class it as a success - it was certainly well received.  She looked very lovely, exceptionally well groomed and glamourous and this company could do with a bit of glamour IMHO.  It was a very accurate, very musical performance - lacking perhaps in a daring if you compare it with Verdy (but then who could compare with Verdy) and she was dancing with a new partner whose partnering is reliable, but perhaps no more than that. 

I'm looking forward to seeing her with the company - hopefully before too long - rather than in an isolated showpiece.  With that big, light, jump it's a shame she arrived too late for Firebird.

Thanks, for your comments Alymer. I do wonder what she will do during the rest of the RB's season, as the casting seems to be set for a good number of performances. My husband spotted her at the Kennedy Center Honors show and was quite taken with Alexandra and he's not a big fan of ballet yet.

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Maybe a Princess Florine or two?

I think she would be a good Princess Florine. Other than Beauty and R&J(tried to get tickets to see Sylvie, no luck). I can't remember the rest of the RB's season. :(

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There's a mixed bill with yet-to-be-announced divertissements. Would think she'd be somewhere in there....

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There's an especially favourable review of Ansanelli by Debra Craine in The Times:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/art...2027581,00.html

[Acosta and Lamb in Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun]..."are a hard act to follow, but Alexandra Ansanelli and Federico Bonelli managed to make a tremendous impression in the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. As a former dancer at New York City Ballet, Ansanelli has Balanchine in the blood and it shows. We rarely see his choreography danced with such exciting panache or intoxicating speed. Ansanelli, who has just joined the Royal, was clearly determined to make her mark..."

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There's an especially favourable review of Ansanelli by Debra Craine in The Times:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/art...2027581,00.html

[Acosta and Lamb in Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun]..."are a hard act to follow, but Alexandra Ansanelli and Federico Bonelli managed to make a tremendous impression in the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. As a former dancer at New York City Ballet, Ansanelli has Balanchine in the blood and it shows. We rarely see his choreography danced with such exciting panache or intoxicating speed. Ansanelli, who has just joined the Royal, was clearly determined to make her mark..."

That's a nice one. I read the London reviews of the RB frequently, and some of the critics get rather nasty. I remember La Bayadere being danced early in the season and someone making a remark that Tamara Rojo should have been in a more "concealing" costume, (ie hadn't really gotten into shape yet). I also thought Darcy got raked over the coals for Sylvia early this year.

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