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Ansanelli in Ondine


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 12:56 PM

Ansanelli danced her first Ondine last week. I haven't seen her yet (she's doing it again in the summer) and so far haven't seen any press reviews. But private opinion says she was good. She's certainly getting some of the RB's plum roles - Month in the Country and now this. Did anyone else see her?

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 02:47 PM

I saw the final dress, and I'm biased.

In New York, some of Ansanelli's best roles were fantastical - The Firebird comes to mind. Ondine fits very well into the line of roles that Ansanelli is really suited to.

I thought her third act was particularly moving.

#3 Drew

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:18 AM

Jane Simpson -- May I ask what role she danced in Month in the Country? I'm very curious about her career at the Royal and would love to see her in Ondine! (not going to happen though)...Thanks, Drew

#4 Jane Simpson

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 04:38 AM

She danced Natalia, earlier this year. There was quite a lot of negative reaction to her debut, but I didn't see her till her second performance and I thought she was rather good. She does tend to go over the top dramatically but this is quite easily fixed, and for me she had more of the spirit of the way Lynn Seymour originally did the role than several of the later interpreters.

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:17 AM

Shedding all pretense of objectivity (after final dress Alexandra and I talked for an hour about Ondine. I'm really biased) I'd suggest always going to her second or third performance of a role. She's not one of those dancers that nails it on the debut.

#6 miliosr

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:46 AM

Is there a consensus opinion in London as to how well Ansanelli is faring overall at the Royal?

#7 leonid17

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:28 PM

Is there a consensus opinion in London as to how well Ansanelli is faring overall at the Royal?


The short answer is no and it is no because it cannot be assumed that even all of the most regular Royal Ballet attendees fit a single group of opinion and in the same way that neither do all the ballet critics agree with one another on specific dancers. There is no Fonteyn or Nerina, Beriosova, Sibley, Park or Bussell all of whom had a following. It is absolutely true that Ansanelli is accepted as part of the troupe, but as only 3 out of 23 of the most senior dancers have a British background and as the Royal is effectively the national ballet company, I think regular audiences do not feel so committed as they were in the past for particular dancers. Perhaps there is a feeling that company dancers are more transient and of course there is the longing for an outstanding dancer (or two)to emerge from the RB School, like right now.
I would say that as an 'outsider', only Cynthia Harvey acquired an affectionate following in the more recent past among the RB regular audience and she was excellent as Ondine as she was in other roles.
Ansanelli has a following, but people no longer crowd around the stage door in large numbers for particular RB dancers as they did in the past.
Due to the excessive number of Principal dancers that the RB now has (more than twice the number than when the company was great) there appears to be quite a sharing out of support or affection and some might say that the order of appreciation may go something like; Cojacaru, Rojo, Lamb, Yoshida, Benjamin, Yanowsky, Nunez, Ansanelli, Galeazzi, Marquez, but it would vary from audience member to audience member and audience group to audience group.
In respect of the RB management, the fact is that Asanelli is cast pretty often in leading and second roles in ballets says it all. She is obviouxly considered an important member of the company.
As regards consensus of opinions among critics, unlike the past when there were six or more in London creating opinion of an informed nature, their opinions most often coincided. Today there is hardly any consensus as critics are much less informed than in the past and there is little regard for most critics writing in London to assist in the forming of taste and knowledge.
For myself, I have yet to form an opinion on Ansanelli having seen so many dancers come and go, not develop beyond a certain status or simply become reliable.
The opinion expressed here is my own and somewhat that of RB followers I have known for many years who like me, are most concerned that the RB identity has almost gone as has the repertoire of Ashton who for many, was the RB. It was the Ashton ballets and his directorship that gave the RB 'aesthetic' that was clearly recognisable and as the acceptance of a "universal" ballet dancer is now a norm at the RB the aesthetic has gone and it is a hardly conducive situation for a widely held consensus to be held.
It is extraordinary to read in current reviews of "Ondine", critics pointing out how poorly the corps de ballet realised Ashton's "line" and their general technical ability. I wonder why?

This post has been amended.

PS: I telephoned a friend who like myself saw Fonteyn as Ondine who said that Rojo was extraordinary in the role and that Ansanelli gave one of her best performances since joining the RB.

#8 atm711

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 04:36 AM

As a long time admirer of Ansanelli (I still miss her very much) thank you Leonid for your comments. She is a 'natural' for Ondine and in time I would not be surprised is she is at the top of the list of interpreters.

#9 Mashinka

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 06:06 AM

An excellent post from Leonid and I second everything he says, except...

As regards consensus of opinions among critics, unlike the past when there were six or more in London creating opinion of an informed nature, their opinions most often coincided. Today there is hardly any consensus as critics are much less informed than in the past and there is little regard for most critics writing in London to assist in the forming of taste and knowledge.


"little regard"? I would say there is none.

#10 miliosr

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 06:40 AM

Thanks for your insightful remarks leonid.

In regard to your question of "I wonder why?", I think you answered your own question in the paragraph preceding the one containing your question. If the company programs more Balanchine or McGregor than Ashton on a regular basis, then the Ashton style (and the company's ability to accurately render it) fades away into oblivion.

On a separate note, what would the order of appreciation be for the top men in the company?

#11 leonid17

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 10:58 AM

Thanks for your insightful remarks leonid.

On a separate note, what would the order of appreciation be for the top men in the company?


As far as male dancers are concerned, I have only ever really been interested in the following categories, danseur noble, mime artists and demi-caractere artists. As my preference is for academic classical ballets and dancers some famous or well-known dancers would not be of much interest to me. Therefore I cannot report without an unbiased view of the male roster of the Royal Ballet as my prejudices would prevail and so called virtuoso male dancers would be below my horizon of interest. Not that the RB in my opinion possess any true virtuoso dancers.

However, you asked a question. Acosta has the highest profile of the RB dancers and definitely attracts audiences. Kobborg is admired by many, myself included, but some commentators, ignorant and otherwise feel his technique is on the wane. Soarez and Pennyfather have their fans as does Samodurov and McRae. Ivan Putrov is admired by older connoisseurs. I personally think that Bonelli (who is admired) is almost a danseur noble but needs a different technical teacher in class and a possibly a different coach to bring out the potential that appears in something more than ‘flashes’, but is not present in an entire performance. I personally admire Eric Underwood but do not think the RB will know how to best use him, but his profile is growing. If I have not commented on other dancers it is because I do not attend their performances when they are dancing leading roles and so cannot judge audience attendance or response.

In case I have given the impression I do not like neo-classical ballets, dramatic ballets or modern works it is far from the reality of my attending ballet and dance events.
It is however, that I personally judge the ‘high art’ works as having more significance and a history that bears greater comparison in production and performance, due to the value of their timeless allegory and symbolism, combined with the nature of the academic choreographic challenge presented by the leading roles and the work for corps de ballet.

My apologies if I have taken the original post further off course.

#12 Jane Simpson

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 02:16 PM

Returning to Ansanelli, I'd say she's still looked on as someone with something to prove. (Sarah Lamb was accepted much more quckly.) One of the problems of forming a 'consensus' is that she seems to be extremely inconsistent, so that it's really only possible to discuss her with someone who's seen the same performances. For example, someone who only saw the very interesting Natalia which I saw would have very little common ground with someone who missed that but saw her really disappointing attempt at the Ashton pas de deux in Homage to the Queen. I think she needs really careful coaching to help her win over those who doubt her. I'd have cast her in the revival of MacMillan's Isadora myself.

Further to Leonid's posts, I get the feeling that Marianela Nunez has won a lot of new admirers over the last season or two and would appear much nearer the top of a popularity poll (where she's been for some time in my own estimation); and that Edward Watson, omitted from Leonid's discussion, is extremely popular with a large segment of the regular audience.

#13 Helene

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 02:22 PM

In the two performances in which I saw Ansanelli last spring -- Fonteyn/last movement in "Homage to the Queen" and Aurora -- I thought she was trying to channel Margot Fonteyn, at least from the waist up. I would think that this would have mixed reaction in London. From the waist down, though, she'd have far to go to meet that ideal, as her feet were sloppy in the fast sections, and her legs don't sing to me. Even through film, the perfect balance and finish between Fonteyn's upper and lower body was very clear to me, and without that counterpoint, it doesn't work, at least in my eyes.

I wasn't living in NYC when Ansanelli made her mark at NYCB, and only saw the company sporadically, so I have no basis on which to compare her dancing for NYCB and RB.

#14 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 03:00 PM

Echoing something I said before, in response to Jane's comment on inconsistency, it's less that, I think, than that Alexandra doesn't usually give a great first performance. Her second and third are almost always markedly better, and closer to what she can accomplish.

I also am not sure she'll completely find herself within the Royal Ballet's organization until she finds a sympatico partner.

Judith Cruikshank just posted a review of Ansanelli's Ondine in Danceview Times that sounds very much as I might have expected the performance to go given what I saw at the Final Dress.

Small and dark, with large expressive eyes and a strong, clean technique, Ansanelli is markedly speedier than most of her Royal Ballet colleagues, and this serves her well in dealing with Ashton's swift, darting choreography. She also makes excellent use of her hands, arms and upper body. Ansanelli's Ondine has a wonderful sense of 'otherness', She clearly does not belong in the human world, which both intrigues and alarms her, as for instance, when she feels Palemon's heart beating under her hand. She has the innocence and curiosity of a child, and it is only in the last act that we sense the burden that the acquisition of a human soul has placed on her. And all this she shows us through her interpretation of Ashton's expressive choreography – there are no extraneous additions or superfluous dramatic overlay.



#15 Helene

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 04:36 PM

I also am not sure she'll completely find herself within the Royal Ballet's organization until she finds a sympatico partner.

For the life of me I cannot understand why Monica Mason thinks that David Makhateli is.


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