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Mixed BillSong of the Earth and Symphony in C


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#1 chauffeur

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 09:36 AM

My daughter was at the Friday night performance. She looooved the Balanchine Symphony and was not moved much by the MacMillan Song. Another opinion was that Greta Hodgkinson seemed off in her dancing that night, which breaks my heart to hear because I was absolutely mesmerized by her in Autumn of Kudelka's Four Seasons last winter. She gave Cote, Kish, Zehr and Konvalina big thumb's ups for their performances. Anyone else see the bill and have a thought?

#2 Paquita

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 07:16 PM

I was there on saturday night. I thought "Song of Earth" was an interesting piece- quite haunting and visceral. Some of the choreography looks awkward, but it always appears natural and at times can be startling in its beauty. I found it to drag on a bit near the end though-- definitely not as tightly crafted as Symphony in C. Some of the mannerisms also got tiring (flicked wrists, flexed feet, etc.). The real standout was Guillaume Cote's messenger of death. He layered passion and conviction over flawless technique. Nehemiah Kish danced the man, and when the two men danced side by side, the differences between them were clear. Kish has great potential and a lovely line, but has yet to develop Cote's sensitive attention to detail. Xiao Nan Yu was also memorable as the woman.
Symphony in C was well done and looked very well rehearsed. The corps was nice as crisp and the principals were "on". Only Jennifer Fournier (substituting for Chan Hon Goh) in the third movement looked a little tense. Especially in the finale, she had difficulty keeping up with the tempo. In the 1st movement, Greta Hodgkinson and Aleksandar Antonijevic gave a confident and dazzling performance, which we have come to expect from them. I loved Sonia Rodriguez in the 4th movement. She was full of energy and her movements were clean and articulate. I was dissapointed about the last minute cast change. I heard great things about Goh and Konvalina's 3rd movement.

#3 leonid17

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 09:49 AM

I was there on saturday night. I thought "Song of Earth" was an interesting piece- quite haunting and visceral. Some of the choreography looks awkward, but it always appears natural and at times can be startling in its beauty. I found it to drag on a bit near the end though-- definitely not as tightly crafted as Symphony in C.


I would say in Europe, "Das Lied von der Erde" as in the MacMillan ballet is considered a masterwork. It does need the right cast and coaching. But as they say in Europe and some parts of Canada, "chacun à son goût".

#4 chauffeur

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 11:50 AM

Is it fair to say that MacMillan maybe is an acquired taste? I just remember, in seeing his Gloria earlier this year, thinking that it took some concentration and commitment on my part to see and hear what he was trying to say. For me, it was kind of like reading an author like Thomas Mann -- a little dense with ideas and not immediately accessible. It was well worth the effort, but I can see where some (like a young student!) might not be as willing, especially when compared to Balanchine whose choreography I continue to find almost "talent-proof." It doesn't seem to matter how old or experienced (or young or inexperienced) the dancers are -- the geometry of his movement is almost always fascinating.

#5 Paquita

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 01:20 PM

In recent years, the NBoC hasn't performed a lot of MacMillan's non-narrative works. The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and Manon are all quite popular. But as for plotless ballets, I can only remember "Solitaire" (which I think is also quite accessible).
This was my first time seeing "Song of the Earth" and I think a second (third, fourth...) viewing would be beneficial. It's hard to take it all in at once. Interestingly, a few parts of the choreography reminded me of different Balanchine ballets- Apollo, Prodigal Son, Rubies, and Serenade.

#6 volcanohunter

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 01:42 PM

In recent years, the NBoC hasn't performed a lot of MacMillan's non-narrative works. The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and Manon are all quite popular. But as for plotless ballets, I can only remember "Solitaire" (which I think is also quite accessible).

As far as I can remember, Manon is the only one of MacMillan's overtly narrative ballets the company has in its repertoire. Shrew and Romeo & Juliet were choreographed by John Cranko, as was Onegin. Besides Manon, the NBoC has performed MacMillan's Concerto, Elite Syncopations, Gloria, Solitaire and, of course, Song of the Earth.

#7 Noreen Arnold

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 02:31 PM

I was there on Sunday and was profoundly moved by “Song of the Earth.” I didn’t see any of the other casts so I have no comparisons to make, but I thought Jennifer Fournier wonderful in the role. I’ve read about the ballet but this was my first viewing and perhaps it’s my own age, and the fact that I’ve lately lost people close to me, but the concept that death is our companion all through life - a shadow perhaps or a mirror image of us - was deeply moving. I’m not sure exactly why I was so personally effected; I can only admit that I was. I can understand why it’s considered one of MacMillan’s master works. I would like to have seen it again, perhaps with Rodriguez in the main role.

I saw “Gloria” many years ago when the Royal Ballet came to Toronto and was completely blown away by the ballet. I rushed out the next day to buy tickets for another performance. Jennifer Penny, Julian Hosking and Wayne Eagling were the dancers for those performances and I can remember all these years later just how wonderful they were. That last moment of the ballet when the lone soldier stands at the top of the trench and looks back at the audience and then drops out of sight was chilling....it made palpable the sense of loss, of countless young lives destroyed. A whole generation gone. When the National Ballet scheduled the ballet several years ago, I told all my friends they just had to see it because it was so great. But when the company performed it the ballet just didn’t have the same impact for me. I’m not sure if the coaching was faulty or if the dancers just didn’t get it. Perhaps the music and the history resonates more deeply with the British and the Royal Ballet dancers could feel a real emotional attachement to it. Who knows.

#8 volcanohunter

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 03:02 PM

I was there on Sunday and was profoundly moved by “Song of the Earth.” I’ve read about the ballet but this was my first viewing and perhaps it’s my own age, and the fact that I’ve lately lost people close to me, but the concept that death is our companion all through life - a shadow perhaps or a mirror image of us - was deeply moving. I’m not sure exactly why I was so personally effected; I can only admit that I was. I can understand why it’s considered one of MacMillan’s master works.

Sorry if I'm veering a little off topic here, but I think it's certainly possible for ballets to affect us differently depending on our life experiences. I remember seeing Tudor's Lilac Garden for the first time when I was about 18. Frankly, I didn't really get it. It wasn't so much because I couldn't grasp the Edwardian manners of the piece, but rather because I couldn't understand the contrast between Tudor's "bound" style of movement and the sweeping emotionalism of the music. I saw the ballet again when I was about 30 and on that occasion I was completely destroyed. I guess I'd learned more about living with disappointment by then. Subsequent casts and productions haven't altered the impact of the piece for me; it gets me every time.

I saw “Gloria” many years ago when the Royal Ballet came to Toronto and was completely blown away by the ballet. I rushed out the next day to buy tickets for another performance. Jennifer Penny, Julian Hosking and Wayne Eagling were the dancers for those performances and I can remember all these years later just how wonderful they were. That last moment of the ballet when the lone soldier stands at the top of the trench and looks back at the audience and then drops out of sight was chilling....it made palpable the sense of loss, of countless young lives destroyed. A whole generation gone. When the National Ballet scheduled the ballet several years ago, I told all my friends they just had to see it because it was so great. But when the company performed it the ballet just didn’t have the same impact for me. I’m not sure if the coaching was faulty or if the dancers just didn’t get it. Perhaps the music and the history resonates more deeply with the British and the Royal Ballet dancers could feel a real emotional attachement to it. Who knows.

Perhaps it wasn't really a question of the dancers feeling a particularly British connection to the subject matter, since both Penney and Eagling are Canadian. But you were fortunate enough to see the original cast and I would think that the impact of creating the piece with MacMillan, for whom the subject matter obviously did resonate deeply, would have had a huge impact on their performances. I can see how it could be difficult for subsequent generations of dancers to recreate that intensity.

#9 leonid17

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 03:46 PM

Perhaps it wasn't really a question of the dancers feeling a particularly British connection to the subject matter, since both Penney and Eagling are Canadian. But you were fortunate enough to see the original cast and I would think that the impact of creating the piece with MacMillan, for whom the subject matter obviously did resonate deeply, would have had a huge impact on their performances. I can see how it could be difficult for subsequent generations of dancers to recreate that intensity.

I believe you are quite right in your statement.

Although both Penney and Eagling are Canadian born their ballet influence as graduates of the Royal Ballet School from where they joined the Royal Ballet and had long careers with that company, makes them particularly British dancers by experience. Eagling I believe may in fact be American by nationality as that is certainly where his family lived. Both dancers had fairly wide associations with MacMillan's choreography.

I remember The Song of the Earth's first performance with the Royal Ballet and its impact on the audience
was extraordinary. Marcia Haydee danced the lead with Donald Macleary and Anthony Dowell and Jennifer Penney was in that cast. It is a difficult ballet to successfully stage, as the three leading roles need outstanding expressive dancers to make it work and the soloists and corp de ballet also need to expressive in a way that is not always easy to achieve.

Whilst Gloria for me in successive RB performances has never achieved the intensity of the first cast nor has
The Song of the Earth and I have seen a number of casts in these ballets. It is often the case that choreographers are naturally influenced by their original casts and tailor the roles (in part) to their particular gifts.

#10 sparklesocks

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 04:14 PM

Song of the Earth wasn't for me. Then again, neither was Elite Syncopations. I have no intellectually stimulating reason why, I guess they're just not my taste. This was a bit of a tough program for the friend who accompanied me. Maybe not a good choice for a first-timer. Oops on my part!

#11 volcanohunter

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 04:27 PM

Eagling I believe may in fact be American by nationality as that is certainly where his family lived. Both dancers had fairly wide associations with MacMillan's choreography.

Eagling was born in Montreal and lived in Canada for the five years before moving to California, which, in any case, makes him un-British by nationality. I always assumed that Canadian citizenship was a factor in winning him a place in the Royal Ballet. Am I mistaken in believing that membership in the Royal Ballet was once restricted to citizens of the Commonwealth? I had assumed that citizenship played a role in Nureyev's designation as a "permanent guest artist" with the company, as well as the fact that dancers like Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun did not join the company after graduating from the School. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Perhaps I did not express myself clearly, but in fact I agree with you completely that the training and professional experience of Penney and Eagling, rather than their nationality, made then convincing interpreters of the Royal Ballet repertoire, particularly the ballets of MacMillan.

#12 Helene

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 05:02 PM

I always assumed that Canadian citizenship was a factor in winning him a place in the Royal Ballet. Am I mistaken in believing that membership in the Royal Ballet was once restricted to citizens of the Commonwealth? I had assumed that citizenship played a role in Nureyev's designation as a "permanent guest artist" with the company, as well as the fact that dancers like Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun did not join the company after graduating from the School. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

Lynn Seymour notes in her autobiography that as great as her friend and classmate at the Royal Ballet School, Marcia Haydée, was, she could never be offered a job with the Company because she was a citizen of Brazil. Seymour was eligible as a Canadian citizen.

Regarding Eagling's citizenship, it may be possible that he became a dual citizen at birth or as a child -- unless he was born to foreign diplomats on Canadian soil, he should have been a Canadian citizen by birth -- and by the time he joined the Royal Ballet, the Justice Department had decided, based on a late 60's Supreme Court decision on dual citizenship, not to make him choose.


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