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Sleeping Beauty in DC, June 22-25reviews & comments


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#31 Natalia

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 08:05 AM

p.s. I should have mentioned the 'fishdives' in the Act III Grand pdd. It was notable that the only couple to receive the instant-applause upon performing the fishdives -- indeed, after each and every dive on Thursday -- was the Cojo/Kobo pair. That's because they alone could 'snap' into the dive position in a split second & not waver. The others were OK - no dive was aborted - but the Cojo/Kobo pairing must be commended for their incredibly snappy execution and flair. ALSO - the execution of the final 'swan pose' in the adagio belonged to Cojo/Kobo...I shall never forget how he literally threw her up like a feather & caught her at the hips, then instantly snapped her down into the 'no-hands' swan dive. Breathtaking! The audience went absolutely bonkers.

#32 Mashinka

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 08:22 AM

Sorry to hear Sarah Lamb had problems with the Rose Adagio, she certainly didn't have any in London last month.

Perhaps Cojocaru impresses those least familiar with her dancing; I've been watching her as Aurora for some time now and although she makes a pretty little princess, I've yet to see any real development in the role.

#33 Natalia

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 08:30 AM

Mashinka, I've been closely following Alina Cojocaru for years -- since I saw her win a medal as a 16-yr-old at the 1997 Moscow IBC, in fact! I have witnessed live each of her celebrated appearances at the Kirov-Mariinsky, where she is an idol of the entire ballet community. Not to forget my regular visits to London, most recently for the 75th anniv gala. Hence, I beg to differ with you; I feel that Alina Cojocaru has developed as an artist -- from adorable junior competition medalist to out-of-this-world prima ballerina. But that's just my own 'inexperienced' opinion. :)

#34 koshka

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 09:04 AM

p.s. I should have mentioned the 'fishdives' in the Act III Grand pdd. It was notable that the only couple to receive the instant-applause upon performing the fishdives -- indeed, after each and every dive on Thursday -- was the Cojo/Kobo pair. That's because they alone could 'snap' into the dive position in a split second & not waver.


I agree completely--the dives were showstoppers seen only from this pair.

Once more on sets: It wasn't just that the sets were underlit--there were some times when I thought the _dancers_ were under-lit.

#35 richard53dog

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 09:04 AM

I went to all casts -- every performance except for the Cojo/Kobo 'repeat' on Sunday.

Now that the shock of the costumes has passed, I conclude that this is a pretty-darn-good production. The costumes, while too jewel-encrusted & pale, would be quite stunning with new, brighter backdrops. However, the most important element in this new-old production -- the restoration of most of the 1946 steps and mime -- makes the overall staging a triumph.



Thank you, Royal Ballet. Just bring back the true Messel costumes next time! :)



Tons of stuff has been written and I'm still sort of groggy from getting home so late last night.


I have to agree with Natalia on the sets and costumes. The sets are SO drab and washed out looking and the costumes are such a weird mismash. The RB painted themselves into a corner touting this out to be such a big deal. The frustrating thing is that if the sets were.....not brighter....but just a little more color saturated it would look so much better. And it needs better costumes, that work together better.
The Baby Aurora doll in the prolog looked gross, but I'm nitpicking here.


I've always loved how the British danced Sleeping Beauty so I enjoyed the two performances I saw very much, even the odd weak performer. As a company they have a great sense of style in this. And they have a long tradition of doing mime and can execute it wonderfully.



I saw Saturday night with Nunez and Soares with McMeekan as Lilac. I liked Nunez a lot, she's a very strong performer. She seems a bit overly "cute" in Act 1 but this may be polished in time. Soares partnered her well although he's a bit faceless. McMeekan was only so-so in my book. Good with the mime but less strong with her dancing.


Then I saw the Sunday matinee with Cojocaru and Kobborg with Cuthbertson as Lilac. This is the fist time I saw Cojocaru/Kobburg in a substantial piece, previously I had only seen them in Ashton's Scenes de Ballet
and a couple of pdds at a gala.
Cojocaru was wonderful at projecting the innocence and charm of the Act 1 Aurora. Also though there were no super long balances in the Rose Adagio she danced with great strength but also great elegance. Wonderful.

I loved Act 2. Kobborg really pulled off the world weary prince, just the character the Lilac Fairy is looking for. He did his solo with fine polish and style.

Cojocaru was very remote, almost otherworldly here. The whole vision scene really just blew me away. It's really my favorite section of the whole ballet.

Act 3. Again I was blown away by the Aurora/Florimund pdd. They were so "charged" that I couldn't break my attention away. The Fish Dives(a guilty pleasure for me) were fabulous; Cojocaru spun SO fast and then really dove. Each one was applauded. Overwise this pair did much really beautiful dancing; the kind that stays clearly in memory.

Cuthbertson was a good Lilac Fairy, her dancing was good and her mime was beautiful.


This morning I realized that part of what made this performance so special is the partnership chemistry, discussed on a recent thread. And I thought, wow I saw Ferri and Bocca in Manon and Vishneva and Malakhov in Giselle all recently. This reminded me just what this kind of chemistry adds. What you end up with is a total greater than the sum of the parts. I saw three very, very special performances


What else? Even the less than ideal men and other odd negactives, the company knows this piece knows how it should go.

I was delighted to see Ansanelli, she seems to have picked up so much classical style since I saw her in the Corsair pdd early last year in NYC. Great to see her extend her range and also to see her dance so well.

So really, for me the negatives were the sets, costumes, and the Wheeldon Garland Dance (why did they keep that????)

I was so happy I had the opportunity to see this.

:) :) :clapping:

Richard

#36 Natalia

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 09:20 AM

... the Wheeldon Garland Dance (why did they keep that????)


Richard


I guess that they kept it because it just premiered one month ago. :) Seriously, there's no reason why, in the next year or two, Ms Mason & the RB cannot restore the Ashton version of the Garland Waltz -- or even DeValois' 'Three Ivans' of Act III (to Nutcracker Trepak music), very much in the English tradition, yet strangely omitted here.

Like you & so many others, though, the nit-picking doesn't mean that we didn't have great fun this past weekend. It was a joy to have experienced the Royal Ballet in DC, especially in 'Beauty.'

#37 chauffeur

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 09:29 AM

those fish-dives by Cojocaru and Kobborg do deserve special mention! I think that was the first time in my ballet-viewing career that I have ever seen them done and not felt fearful for the ballerina's well-being. They were so powerfully yet beautifully executed. Such snap, crackle and pop!

#38 Hans

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 10:38 AM

Seriously, there's no reason why, in the next year or two, Ms Mason & the RB cannot restore the Ashton version of the Garland Waltz -- or even DeValois' 'Three Ivans' of Act III (to Nutcracker Trepak music), very much in the English tradition, yet strangely omitted here.


I think I could live without seeing the most over-played part of the Nutcracker polluting my favorite ballet, English tradition or not. :)

#39 nysusan

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 12:11 PM

p.s. I should have mentioned the 'fishdives' in the Act III Grand pdd. It was notable that the only couple to receive the instant-applause upon performing the fishdives -- indeed, after each and every dive on Thursday -- was the Cojo/Kobo pair. That's because they alone could 'snap' into the dive position in a split second & not waver. The others were OK - no dive was aborted - but the Cojo/Kobo pairing must be commended for their incredibly snappy execution and flair. ALSO - the execution of the final 'swan pose' in the adagio belonged to Cojo/Kobo...I shall never forget how he literally threw her up like a feather & caught her at the hips, then instantly snapped her down into the 'no-hands' swan dive. Breathtaking! The audience went absolutely bonkers.



I’ve seen so many unfamiliar dancers in the past 2 weeks that some details of the various SB casts are a little jumbled in my mind at the moment, but I recall that one pairing did the fish dives so deliberately that it felt like I was watching them in slow motion (I’m pretty sure it was either Marquez/Bonelli or Lamb/Samodurov) and, in any case, the only couple who did them with that “snap” was Cojocaru/Kobborg- at both performances.

I really liked Lamb, even though she looked a little academic at times. She was very much a princess “to the manor born”, rather than young & coltish. Her dancing was beautiful - crisp & authoritative but she hasn’t quite learned how to connect all the movements with that heavenly fluidity that Cojocaru displays. Let’s give her a little time, the pressure must have been huge.

None of the Auroras really nailed the Rose Adagio. Cojocaru’s balances on Sunday were unbelievable - she really took her time and lowered her arm to take each prince’s hand with great flourish - but she overdid it with the pirouettes and came off point in all but the last series. Still, she brings so much to the role that this was inconsequential.

I loved Ansanelli as the Crystal Fairy but as the Lilac Fairy I thought it was very obvious that she did not blend into the RB style. Her solo was beautiful but too showy (compared to the company style) and she doesn’t have that very open upper torso or the flow to her port de bras that the rest of the comany has. Among Lilac Faries I agree that Nunez was outstanding.

By the way - I don’t have a long history of seeing different SB productions but when the Kirov brought the Sergeyev version to the West Coast last year I remember a lot of talk here about how all their Lilac Fairy did was bourre around the stage. While I love all the mime in this production I was surprised that the only real dancing this Lilac fairy did was the 1st act solo. She is certainly integral to the plot, but in this production it really is a mime role, as opposed to a dancing role.

Among the Bluebirds the Maloney/Morera pairing was the clear winner for me. I also liked Kenta Kura on Saturday afternoon. Though his elevation was not outstanding the stretch in his upper body during his solos was beautiful. I liked his Florine, too -Yuhui Choe. Her movements were a little birdlike for me in the beginning but her solos were beautiful, very light & delicate.

The only Florestan that I really liked was Makhatelli but from my barely legible scribblings I think I liked a couple of the sisters a lot - Deirdre Chapmen, Samantha Raines and Natasha Outred. And I loved Laura Morera in everything she did - over the course of the engagement I saw her in 2 of the prologue fairy variations (Golden Vine & Enchanted Garden), in the Florestan pas de trois and as Princess Florine - I thought she was really outstanding in all her roles. On Saturday night I particularly liked Victoria Hewitt’s Crystal Faity and Sian Murphy’s Woodland Glade.

I sat in 4 different locations for this run and it really made a big difference. Many of the effects were not visible from the orchestra but read perfectly from the 1st & 2nd tiers - the initial vision of Aurora in the 2nd act, Carabosse in the mirror above Aurora’s bed in the 3rd, even just the way the scenes became visible through the scrims worked really well from the balconies and really badly from the orchestra.

#40 richard53dog

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 12:49 PM

[quote name='nysusan' date='Jun 26 2006, 08:11 PM' post='184754']

By the way - I don’t have a long history of seeing different SB productions but when the Kirov brought the Sergeyev version to the West Coast last year I remember a lot of talk here about how all their Lilac Fairy did was bourre around the stage. While I love all the mime in this production I was surprised that the only real dancing this Lilac fairy did was the 1st act solo. She is certainly integral to the plot, but in this production it really is a mime role, as opposed to a dancing role.

Susan,

I'm no scholar but from Peter Wright's comments on the Dutch Ballet Sleeping BeautyDVD with Sylve, he comments that the Lilac Fairy was originally really not considered a dance role. His version, in this set, has the Lilac Fairy in a flowing robe and heeled shoes, more or less a reverse image of Carabosse, as these are the two key characters which drive the plot. By the way Wright is WONDERFUL displaying how to do the mime

Wright also says that over the years, stagers wanted to give the LF more to do and gave her some dancing.
I'm not sure know if Wright is completely correct (I do think he must be mostly correct) as I've seen photo's
of early LF both in toe shoes and in heeled shoes. So a question here is did the original LF dance at all.
And if we want her to dance is there much authenic material to give her.


Nureyev, in his version for the POB goes the similar route, both Carabosse and the LF are in non dancing costumes and heeled shoes.

My early Sleeping Beauties, way before video, were all with the Royal Ballet , so although there have been changes over the years, they have been more in the way of adjustments. What I saw this weekend was not too, too different than my first one in 1969 (and I'll admit I was bored stiff. It took me a while to get the piece)

End of my non-scholarly comment, others can I'm sure be more concrete

Richard

#41 Hans

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 01:51 PM

To answer the question of whether the Lilac Fairy originally danced or not, one may look to the Kirov's reconstruction, in which the Lilac Fairy is in pointe shoes for the prologue (when she danced the entrée, adagio, variation, and coda with the other fairies) and heeled slippers and a gown for Acts I-III. So there is plenty of authentic material for her to dance, but (as far as I know) only in the prologue.

#42 Bill

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 02:49 PM

I've found this to be a fun and instructive thread. Having attended and loved the opening Cojocaru/Kobburg performance, I have just a few impressions to share:

The dancing was superb. To prep for the evening, I had watched Durante's Aurora a couple of times on video. I was amazed that, even from my not-too-close orchestra seat in audience left, Cojocaru was just as expressive while even more fluid with her arms and smile. Nunez was a strong and elegant Lilac Fairy and did a fine job with miming as well as dancing. That being said, the Bluebird was mildly disappointing for reasons mentioned above - in fact, my teenage son (undergoing mandatory ballet exposure) watched the Bluebird carefully and whispered "he didn't jump too high, did he?" Parental note: I was amused when my son nodded off at the start of the Grand Pas de Deux, roused himself a few moments later, and said "have they done the fish dives yet?" He was lucky to see them -- they were spectacular.

I like the pastels of this production's costuming. Beautiful. Indeed, I thought that the most jarring part of the costuming was Calabutte's rich green jacket and tall shock of white hair -- once or twice it overpowered the more muted tones of the other costumes. Perhaps in costuming, the RB should go with pastels or jewel colors but not mix them up.

I agree with the criticism of the ship in the Vision scene, although it reminded me of the Batmobile rather than a parade float. I also thought that the hunting party scene was unnecessarily truncated. These are quibbles, though. Overall Act II was very effective and suitably "Vision"ary.

The orchestra was decent but the Kennedy Center's acoustics emphasized the low end where we sitting, which was distracting. My daugher (formerly a dd but now a rather demanding musician) told me I was being too critical.

The audience came for an Occasion and they got one. The RB more than earned its ovations. Of course, this being Washington, a fair number of people streamed for the doors as soon as the curtain came down -- it was the shockingly late hour (for DC) of 10:40 on a Thursday. The sacrifices we make for art!

#43 carbro

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 04:14 PM

Thanks to my fellow BT'ers who attended Thursday, I don't have to detail bits and pieces. Just a few general reactions:

I was so thrilled by the restoration of a Real Sleeping Beauty that whatever design flaws existed (and they do), I was willing to overlook. EXCEPT -- the steps Aurora dances down on her first entrance. That may have been more a function of Ken Ctr's relatively shallow stage. Brits? Leigh?

Heresy, I know, but I never liked the Ashton Garland Waltz and prefer Wheeldon's -- although that isn't without "issues." I just hear the music more like Wheeldon does.

Cojocaru's indelible good moment: Vision scene. Her arms curled in a stylized fourth position, head turned sideways and down, looked to me like a cocoon. Indelible bad moments: extreme extensions, esp. in Rose Adagio. When we see that performance 5-7 years in the future, I hope this feature will be reconsidered. Not only did it look wrong, but it compromised her musicality.

Kobborg was an ideal prince. Loved Nunez's Lilac. Special mention to Natasha Oughtred, assigned not one but both of my least favorite roles -- Fairy of the Songbirds and White Cat -- and making them work for me. Brava for her underplaying of the lethal Cute Factor.

This production is the best Sleeping Beauty I've seen since -- well, the RB Ashton-deValois-Messel version. :wink: Cojocaru has the makings of a Great Aurora. Not quite there yet, but well on her way. Was it worth seventeen hours (as it turned out) on crowded Greyhounds? :thumbsup: Do it again? Not this week, thanks.

#44 kfw

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 04:22 PM

The audience came for an Occasion and they got one. The RB more than earned its ovations.

It's just great to read all these detailed, perceptive, informed and well-written reviews that help me see better and remember what I did see.

Cojacaru and then Cojacaru and Kohborg received ovations as thunderous as any I've heard at the Kennedy Center. After her appearance in "Gloria" Tuesday night at least person yelled "Alina!," but it was for Beauty that she really revved us up and sent us home talking out of our heads.

We walked by the open Opera House scenery door yesterday afternoon and there was the silver-blue boat, looking smaller than it had onstage. For me it was the magical ferry it's meant to be, especially with its figure on the prow (and especially when it wasn't bumping into things). The Batmobile, Bill? I see what you mean. I guess it's the circular carvings, some of which could be taken for wheel wells.

I had never cared much cared for Bluebird before. What are the beaten steps in which the dancer repeatedly turns his upper body this way and then that? For some reason, although none were high flyers, the Royal's relatively shorter dancers looked better to me in this than the tall figures I associate with the role.

I understand how the sometimes low lighting and dusky sets combined with the pastel costumes could strike some people as drab. But I saw 2 performances quite close, one from the mid-orchestra, and most of a rehearsal from the first balcony, and I was able to see Aurora and Carobosse behind the scrims from each location. They could have been brighter lit, but the dimness seemed appropriate, as Aurora is only being glimpsed, and Carabosse at that point is being eclipsed, her power fading to inconsequentiality.

The Garland Dance seemd fussy to me as well, and for once the stage seemed crowded instead of occupied with individuals.

#45 atm711

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 05:32 AM

I had never cared much cared for Bluebird before. What are the beaten steps in which the dancer repeatedly turns his upper body this way and then that? For some reason, although none were high flyers, the Royal's relatively shorter dancers looked better to me in this than the tall figures I associate with the role.


The steps are brise voles--and I agree on the size of the dancer. My favorite Bluebird is (was?) Jean Babilee, an enigmatic dancer of short stature--resembled a young Brando. I enjoyed reading all the comments about the Messel production; it was my introduction to "Sleeping Beauty' at its first American appearance so many years ago. It was my favorite for years until that magnificent Kirov reproduction.


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