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Royal Ballet in Philadelphia


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#31 nysusan

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 05:59 AM

Thanks for the reviews, I can't wait till tonight!

Thursday, July 12 Swan Lake-Tamara Rojo, Federico Bonelli
At the end of the 30 minute (!!) intemission, Monica Mason came onstage and announced, to my deep disappointment, that Rojo was injured and would be replaced in Act 3 by Roberta Marquez. She apologized for the long intermission and explained that Marguez and Bonelli had needed time to rehearse as they had never danced together before.


That must have been strange, and very distracting! I also heard that the audience was very unruly.

FYI - I haven't seen much of Rojo but Marquez is TINY. Certainly no more than 5' 2", probably closer to 5 feet. And von Rothbart is traditionally represented as an owl, though the major complaint I've heard about this production is about the costumes & scenery...

#32 dufay

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 07:40 AM

The audience was MUCH ruder than Tuesday night; it was embarrassing. Many looked and acted like they were at a Phillies game. Totally "Philly-stine". My daughter swore she would never attend another ballet there, as the audience was so rude. There was quiet about 5 minutes into the first act, but people still got up and walked around to buy pretzels with mustard (Philly haute cuisine). The concessions should be closed during the performances.
And I sure wish they could have brought an Ashton.

#33 dduffin

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 10:37 AM

I thought Rojo's replacement for the black swan was much smaller, not bigger. When en pointe Rojo was as tall as her partner, the replacement was not. I did not find it very odd having a different person for the black swan, I've even read that in some productions (I believe one was the Cuban National Ballet) even plan it that way. I thought all in all it was a good production although I did not feel the dancers were as swan-like as I had seen in other productions, just not enough arm movement or something just seemed missing to me.

#34 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 11:25 AM

Thank you so much for the review, Petite Arabesque. I've seen Marquez a few times in London including in Swan Lake with Ivan Putrov about a year ago. She's a clear mime and takes coaching well; she's developed into a reliable performer that you can count on to do well. Though she is in fact tiny, she's got long, extended proportions, which is probably why you thought her tall - she's an absolute godsend to today's shorter male principals.

#35 Whitney

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 04:30 PM

Did anyone catch the Friday night performance of Swan Lake with Marianela Nunez? I had the opportunity to take class with her on Friday morning and she was extraordinary. Though she complained of being off her leg, she still managed to whip out a clean, slow, well controlled six pirouettes. I was lucky enough to see the other 3 performances (which were all incredible might I add), but unfortunately I couldn't make it to the Friday night show. I'm really eager to hear what people thought.

#36 Petite_Arabesque

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 05:43 PM

Though she is in fact tiny, she's got long, extended proportions, which is probably why you thought her tall - she's an absolute godsend to today's shorter male principals.


I suppose it wasn't so much that she is tall than it was that she seemed to be such a different body type--leaner than Rojo (not saying Rojo is big, AT ALL!), and, like you say, appearing taller.

I think it is highway robbery what the Mann charges. It was very distracting for me to have people getting up and walking around during the performance, let alone the boxes of popcorn prevalent throughout the audience and the occasional car alarm and airplane heard over the music. I imagine that the dancers can get very distracted; I know I would.

#37 nysusan

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 07:50 PM

One note that I have to make: WHY is Rothbart an evil, giant owl?? It just seems so bizarre to me...an owl is completely non-threatening, IMO. And the costume was jsut ridiculous, not scary or menacing at all.


That was a really ugly owl costume in the 4th act!

I guess high expectations got the best of me on Friday night. I went in expecting to love this production and wound up liking it a little. Before seeing it I couldn't really sympathize with all the complaints the Brits had about the costumes, scenery & misbehaving aristocrats. After what passes for Swan Lake in NY I figured that as long as it had the authentic dance text how could it be anything but wonderful? Now I know what all the fuss is about.

I dislike the switch from Medieval Germany to what, 18th or 19th century Vienna? I guess it's still supposed to be Germany but in the first act Rosato's Queen Mother & Pennefather's Siegfried kept making me think of Sisi & Rudolph. I have to say that while the costumes & scenery were fussy & overdone they were also very beautiful & rich looking, nothing like some of the cheesy stuff we've seen lately from ABT. And the company looked wonderful – I love their open, expansive style of dancing. I was more impressed with the women than the men and really enjoyed Sara Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson in the pdt.

As the curtain closed on the first act I 'd just about convinced myself that I could live with an 18th century Swan Lake. Then it opened for act 2 and revealed a set that I can only describe as sci fi Goth. And it only got worse for act 3. Again – it was all really well done and very effective in its own way but I found it so distracting that despite the authenticity of the dance text I would hardly call this a traditional Swan Lake. The thing I disliked most was the costumes for the swan corps. Their dresses were romantic length tutus but multi layered with shredded ends and they were bright shiny white. Even their swan headpieces looked like some kind of filigreed, stylized feathers rather than natural looking ones. They looked more like a bunch of maniacal wilis than enchanted swan maidens and as much as I loved seeing the choreography the costumes really obscured the dancing for me. There were a couple of things I liked a lot about the production – I loved the mime. I'm familiar with the first act mime but I don't think I've seen the 4th act mime in years, and it was great to see it again. There was also a moment towards the beginning of the 4th act when the swan maidens mimed something like "where is Odette – what happened". It was all of a few seconds long but they all did it in unison and it was a beautiful moment.

Nunez & Pennefather were both good, but I didn't think either one was outstanding in their roles. Pennefather has nice long lines and cuts a very elegant figure. His acting was strong, partnering was solid & his dancing was clean but not exceptional. Nunez looked very strong technically. Her Odile was great, charmingly seductive and her dancing was spectacular throughout the black swan pdd. She's a great turner, her balances were extraordinary and her fouettes were beautiful and secure. Unfortunately I'd been marveling at her technical prowess all the way back in the second act, in the white swan pdd. I don’t want to see technique in the lakeside acts, I want to see magic. Her arabesque is beautiful, but there were way too many 6 o'clocks & not nearly enough poetry for me.

#38 Natalia

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:42 AM

I also went on Friday (Nunez/Pennefather). I recently saw multiple casts of this production in London but, at that time, missed Nunez...hence, my great interest in revisiting the production in Philly.

I agree with nysusan on many counts, including the overall ugliness of the set design and many of the costumes, especially for the men. However, I love the feathery quality of the long corps swan dresses; they truly enhance the choreography, particularly when the girls are waltzing (a lovely swishing quality to the skirts).

Unlike nysusan, I was absolutely bowled over by Marianela Nunez' Odette and Odile. WOW! WOW! WOW! Think Uliana Lopatkina's lines, balances, pirouettes...then add warmth. PERFECT! As Odette, Nunez was 100% poetic and lyrical, while acting as if Siegfried (long and elegant Rupert Pennefather) was truly THE man in her life. Her mime was clear as a bell; she truly engaged us, the audience, in her plight. In the pdd and, esp., her solo, she was expansive and musical. Whether hitting an arabesque or executing a multiple pirouette, she made it seem effortless. Smooth as butter. So languid. Nothing was rushed. Nothing was 'punched.' I have admired this languid, easy turning quality in only one other dancer in my 40-plus years of traveling the globe for ballet -- Michele Wiles. But Nunez adds to Wiles' technique-uber-alles manner.

Now it is not even worth comparing Nunez to the other Royal ballerinas who I saw performing this ballet in London last May; Nunez blows them all out of the water, I'm sorry to say.

Only tiny fault: Nunez is such a 'Can Do' dancer that sometimes -- just a tad -- she pushes the musical envelope as she slowly extends a pirouette or a balance well past the musical limit. [She must drive some conductors nuts.]

As always, it is a JOY to see the two white acts of this production -- the ONLY production on earth that preserves Lev Ivanov's original 1895 choreography for Acts 2 & 4, as staged ca 1985 by R.J. Wiley from the Stepanov Notes at Harvard Univerity Library. My main complaint about the touring aspect of this production: The Mann Center audience was unable to see A2 as Ivanov envisaged, with eight children accompanying Odette. The kids did not come along on tour, so Nunez emerged from the wings without the eight girls. Adults took the place of the girls during the Waltz of the Swans (the central line at the start of the waltz, where Ivanov intended the pre-teen/early-teen girls to perform). To see the true-and-complete 1895/Ivanov A2, one must travel to London.

p.s. I was highly impressed by the two dancers who appeared as 'solo swans' - Helen Crawford and Gemma Sykes. The taller one, in particular, who danced the first 'demi solo' segment in the A4 Valse Bluette (Crawford?...going by photos of faces in RB 06/07 Season programme book) has 'future Odette/Odile' written all over her. Both were wonderful.

p.s.s. Unlike the casting at most of my London viewings, Ashton's 'Neapolitan pdd' in A3 was NOT performed in Philly-July 13 by Stephen McRae, who absolutely, almost-embarrassingly 'stole the show' at the ROH. Nonetheless, it was impossible to miss McRae's stunning leaps and expansive movements during Friday's A1 Waltz by the corps de ballet! I wonder if Thursday's Philly audience saw McRae's Neapolitan?

#39 dufay

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:37 PM

Thursday's Neapolitan is listed as Ricardo Cervera. As I recall, he was pyrotechnically spot on.

#40 vipa

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 03:45 PM

Has anyone seen Alexandra Ansanelli in Swan Lake? Does she do the pas de trois or anything else? I'm curious about how she is doing. I used to enjoy her in NYCB.

#41 Natalia

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Posted 16 July 2007 - 03:28 AM

Vipa, I saw Ansanelli in London, where she danced in A1 pas de trois, as well as performing one of two big swans. She did a very fine job with both. She has danced Aurora at the ROH and will perform Gamzatti-Bayadere in the fall + Sugar Plum at the opening of the Nutcracker run in December. [Casting already announced for the fall period, on the ROH website - http://esales.roh.or...t...?evt=64&g=1]

Cervera is wonderful but McRae is simply phenomenal. Very odd that the guy who won the greatest applause in London in Neapolitan-- sometimes more applause & louder 'bravos' than given to the principals -- is not given his chance to shine overseas. I guess that it's all about seniority. :)

#42 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 03:49 PM

I thought Rojo's replacement for the black swan was much smaller, not bigger. When en pointe Rojo was as tall as her partner, the replacement was not. I did not find it very odd having a different person for the black swan, I've even read that in some productions (I believe one was the Cuban National Ballet) even plan it that way. I thought all in all it was a good production although I did not feel the dancers were as swan-like as I had seen in other productions, just not enough arm movement or something just seemed missing to me.


Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but i thought ORIGINALLY the black swan and the white swan were danced by different ballerinas?

Also, btw, add K-Ballet to the companies that have a different Odette and Odile. And they also use the Tchaikovsky Pdd music for the black swan (or at least they do in the DVD).

-goro-


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