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Royal Ballet in Washington, DC, June 2009Mixed Bill + Manon


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 05:27 AM

Just opening this thread for reviews and comments. The run opened last night with the Mixed Bill (Chroma, DGV and Month in the Country). Did any BalletTalkers attend? I am going only tonight (Ansanelli's farewell from the US stage!) and will miss all of the Manons, so am especially counting on BT reports.

As a reminder, this is the schedule, from the Kennedy Center web:

Tue., June 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Chroma
A Month in the Country - Zenaida Yanowsky and Rupert Pennefather
DGV

Wed., June 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Chroma
A Month in the Country - Alexandra Ansanelli and Ivan Putrov
DGV

Thu., June 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Manon - Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta

Fri., June 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Manon - Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg

Sat., June 27 at 1:30 p.m. (mat.)
Manon - Roberta Marquez and David Makhateli

Sat., June 27 at 7:30 p.m. (eve.)
Manon - Leanne Benjamin and Federico Bonelli

Sun., June 28 at 1:30 p.m. (mat.)
Manon - Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson

#2 CarmelaSMira

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 05:47 AM

I hope that someone will report as well! RB haven't done Month in the Country in London this season and won't do it next either, so I am very envious of you having the possibility to see it in the US!

I saw both Ansanelli and Yanowsky do it last season. Yanowsky is absolutely wonderful in the role; Ansanelli I found a little stiff and contrived, but in many ways I still enjoyed her performance also.

I'm also very curious who will be cast in DGV (this is an amazing work, I think, Wheeldon at his best!) as the casting has been moved around quite a lot. The "lead" female role was created on Bussell (you will see where the dancer is carried on in what we call the "Darcey lift" which was Wheeldon's kind of "homage" to Bussell) who of course has since retired. Then Yanowsky was cast when RB did it in February, but didn't do it in the end. Then it seems that Marianela Nunez was to have danced it, but she was injured so did not. In the end, 2 corps members, Melissa Hamilton and Nathalie Harrison took the role, and both of them were really fantastic.
However, I'd like to see if Nunez or Yanowsky may do it on tour (although, considering, I am not at all sure if Nunez will be in the US on this tour, as she doesn't have much part to play in these programs). Both would be fantastic in the role, I think! I suspect you'll get a viewing of Melissa Hamilton, 21 years old corps member who's danced all season in principal contemporary works. She created a role in McGregor's Infra in October and made quite a hit!

Meanwhile in Manon - Cojocaru didn't do it with RB this season (injured - it was an awful season of injuries) and many of the other combinations are different too, so it would be interesting to hear about. Interested to see that Marquez is doing it with Makhateli - that's going to be a massive height difference! She debuted Manon with Putrov back in October and I found their performance really disappointing - no chemistry, a lot of technical imperfection and little character development. That partnership is now finished, and I'm interested to hear if Marquez does is better with another dancer.

Sorry for the long post, I hope it was not too boring, and I hope I don't break any etiquette rule with what I write - it's my first post ever here, so I do not know how things are done!

#3 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 08:16 AM

I was at the performance last night. Monica Mason come out before the curtain went up and dedicated the performance to the nine people who died in the Metro crash on Monday.

Overall, I thought it was a great night. Terrific dancing in all three ballets. For me the the standout was A Month in the County with a very touching performance by Zenaida Yanowsky (4 curtain calls for her and Rupert Pennefather).

I wouldn't have programmed Chroma and DGV together -- I think they're too similar: intense, dynamic, athletic ballets. Of the two I preferred Chroma. DGV's music is relentlessly repetitive and the ballet falls in the category of Wheeldon works which want to "express something important," but instead end up being slightly pretentious. Still, I enjoyed both.

The audience was enthusiastic, although there were a number of empty rows in the top tiers. The intermissions were very long (30 minutes, and then another 10 or so after the chimes rang), presumably because the set and flooring for Month in the County took a while to assemble and dismantle.

I was quite impressed that RB has brought all of their principal dancers, even if it means most only perform once (or twice in the repertory works).

I can't wait to read the reports of Ansanelli's performance. I would love to see her penultimate performance since I've been following her since we were both teenagers, but unfortunately I have something else scheduled for tonight.

#4 ami1436

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 09:08 AM

cinnamonswirl, what did you think of Pennefather? I admit, I ask because I'm not necessarily a fan -- However last year when I saw him in Diamonds he impressed me. I saw him in Month maybe last season or the season before -- and felt like he was slowly starting to 'get' acting a bit more, so I'd like to hear about his growth, since I've now not seen him for a while!

I think Zen is lovely in Month -- she's really such a versatile dancer.

(And I agree with you about the programming of Chroma and DGV... and with Month! The program must be a bit discombobulated!)

#5 CarmelaSMira

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 09:17 AM

I wouldn't have programmed Chroma and DGV together -- I think they're too similar: intense, dynamic, athletic ballets. Of the two I preferred Chroma. DGV's music is relentlessly repetitive and the ballet falls in the category of Wheeldon works which want to "express something important," but instead end up being slightly pretentious. Still, I enjoyed both.


May I ask who performed in DGV and Chroma? The DGV casting was quite changed in February, when the company did it in London and Chroma I guess is missing usual cast members Sarah Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson? (although maybe Sarah is back?)

#6 Mike Gunther

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 09:20 AM

Can anybody explain the program notes (by choreographer McGregor) for Chroma? e.g. "... the body can behave as a frequency of color - in freedom from white." ??? I think we need some notes for the notes :unsure: . Enjoyed the dance, though.

#7 Simon G

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 10:01 AM

Can anybody explain the program notes (by choreographer McGregor) for Chroma? e.g. "... the body can behave as a frequency of color - in freedom from white." ??? I think we need some notes for the notes :unsure: . Enjoyed the dance, though.



Mike, there's nothing to explain, McGregor is the master of fatuous artspeak. Never has so little been said in so many words, with so little sense. Something about empty vessels making a lot of noise springs to mind whenever I read a McGregor diatribe but at 30,000 for a half hour of "work" he's laughing all the way to the bank.

And I didn't even like the piece either. When I saw it it was on with 4 Ts and DGV. Talk about the sublime leading the blind (the sublime being 4 ts), in case my metaphors mixed confusingly.

#8 leonid17

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 10:37 AM

Can anybody explain the program notes (by choreographer McGregor) for Chroma? e.g. "... the body can behave as a frequency of color - in freedom from white." ??? I think we need some notes for the notes :huh: . Enjoyed the dance, though.



Mike, there's nothing to explain, McGregor is the master of fatuous artspeak. Never has so little been said in so many words, with so little sense. Something about empty vessels making a lot of noise springs to mind whenever I read a McGregor diatribe but at 30,000 for a half hour of "work" he's laughing all the way to the bank.

And I didn't even like the piece either. When I saw it it was on with 4 Ts and DGV. Talk about the sublime leading the blind (the sublime being 4 ts), in case my metaphors mixed confusingly.


If it was only only 30,000 for his ballets I would still mind but not so much. I believe his fee for Infra was considerably more. Why when there are talented ballet choreographers across the world that need work to survive, does an academic classical ballet company employ a dance maker except for publicity and pandering to the ant-elitist dance critics.
I hope the season is successful for the dancers and yes you are lucky having "A Month in the Country."

#9 Mike Gunther

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 10:43 AM

May I ask who performed in DGV and Chroma? The DGV casting was quite changed in February, when the company did it in London and Chroma I guess is missing usual cast members Sarah Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson? (although maybe Sarah is back?)


Chroma: Federico Bonelli, Mara Galeazzi, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Ludovic Ondiviela, Tamara Rojo, Eric Underwood, Jonathan Watkins, Edward Watson

DGV (Tue): Cindy Jourdain (sub. for Lauren Cuthbertson), Leanne Benjamin, Marianela Nunez, Mara Galeazzi, Eric Underwood, Edward Watson, Gary Avis, Federico Bonelli

DGV (Wed): Cindy Jourdain (sub. for Zenaida Yanowsky), Laura Morera, Marianela Nunez, Mara Galeazzi, Eric Underwood, Steven McRae, Gary Avis, Federico Bonelli

#10 bart

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 10:51 AM

[I]t's my first post ever here, so I do not know how things are done!

You did perfectly, Carmela! Thank you for your insights and welcome to Ballet Talk. We have a number of Royal Ballet watchers on this board, and hope that you will join them -- and all of us -- in sharing thoughts, insights, and even prejudices about classical ballet.

By the way, for those reading these posts who -- like me -- can't be in Washington, here's a clip of the pas de deux between Natalia Makarova and Anthony Dowell (Natalia Petrovna and Beliaev).



#11 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 11:34 AM

Yes, it is a bit jarring to have Month sandwiched between two modern works, especially since the scores for these two are particularly loud and crashy. The percussionists probably have more to do in these two evenings that in the rest of the year combined. But I guess they were going for an all-English (British?) program.

May I ask who performed in DGV and Chroma? The DGV casting was quite changed in February, when the company did it in London and Chroma I guess is missing usual cast members Sarah Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson? (although maybe Sarah is back?)


I don't have the program at hand, but when I get home I can look up the full cast. I remember Sarah Lamb danced in Chroma (with lobster red legs -- it looked painful). Lauren Cutherbertson didn't dance at all. She was scheduled for DGV, but there was a program insert saying she was being replaced (I can't remember who off the top of my head).

Edit: I see Mike beat me to it :huh:

cinnamonswirl, what did you think of Pennefather? I admit, I ask because I'm not necessarily a fan -- However last year when I saw him in Diamonds he impressed me. I saw him in Month maybe last season or the season before -- and felt like he was slowly starting to 'get' acting a bit more, so I'd like to hear about his growth, since I've now not seen him for a while!


This was my first time seeing Pennefather, so I don't have anything to compare it to. For most of the ballet he struck me as a bit of a lightweight/matinee idol-type acting-wise, but the last scene (where she cries into the chair) was very beautifully done. So I think he's certainly got the potential to develop into a more mature, sophisticated actor. His dancing had that easy, relaxed quality (almost to the point of overly casual) that is so appealing.

Month strikes me as a difficult ballet, acting-wise. It's subtle, and the characterizations have to be very clear from the start, since it's only one act.

Mike, there's nothing to explain, McGregor is the master of fatuous artspeak. Never has so little been said in so many words, with so little sense. Something about empty vessels making a lot of noise springs to mind whenever I read a McGregor diatribe but at 30,000 for a half hour of "work" he's laughing all the way to the bank.


Not only did McGregor have more than half a page of totally opaque notes, but we got NO notes at all for the other two ballets. Not even original premiere dates.

Also, has anyone else noticed how poor the Kennedy Center orchestra has been lately? Last night (it was the KC orchestra last night, wasn't it?) they were very sloppy. When I saw the Bolshoi the French horns were out of tune and very squeaky (although to be fair, one of the pirates' coins did roll off the stage and bopped a horn player on the head, which is kind of alarming). And when NYCB was here, the double bass sounded like a moaning whale for Der Rosenkavalier of Vienna Waltzes. I mean really, it's embarrassing to hear them playing like this.

#12 abatt

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 11:50 AM

Does the NYCB use their own orchestra when they come to D.C.? I seem to remember that one of the points of contention during union negotiations with the orchestra related to whether NYCB had to bring its regular orchestra on tours which were within a certain number of miles from their home base.

#13 ami1436

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 11:53 AM

I hear you on Pennefather. The first time I saw him do anything 'major' was the Don Q pdd with Tamara Rojo at a gala. Rojo practically wiped the stage with him. He has *moments* -- he's gotta work on consistency.

Lauren Cuthbertson is out with glandular fever. It has been a tough year for the RB in terms of injuries/illnesses.

#14 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 11:55 AM

Does the NYCB use their own orchestra when they come to D.C.? I seem to remember that one of the points of contention during union negotiations with the orchestra related to whether NYCB had to bring its regular orchestra on tours which were within a certain number of miles from their home base.


They alternate years. I was told this year was KC year, but I could be mistaken. (And if it was actually in fact the NYCB orchestra, that's almost worse, since Vienna Waltzes has been back in the rep for a couple of years and the bassist should have had lots of practice!)

#15 CarmelaSMira

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 12:52 PM

Oh, so Nunez is there - I'm happy for those who can be there, because she is dancing amazingly and has had a great season here in London! She doesn't take Manon but probably will perform the role of Lescaut's mistress in Manon.

Yes, Lauren Cuthbertson is signed off for the month due to illness, she also missed Jewels at the ROH. However, it's great news that Sarah Lamb is back; as she missed the whole season at ROH after breaking her foot rehearsing Manon before the season began.. Looking forward to see her back in London!

I'm surprised at no Hamilton in DGV - she was one of the RBs "rising stars" this season. She is great in Contemporary, but has a lot of work to do on her classical technique though... Cindy Jourdain, for those who don't know her, is First Artist (like coryphee) in RB and a very good dancer, who hopefully will get more opportunities next season - I like her style a lot.

DGV is an interesting work, I think - one of the best things about it is that Wheeldon really knows how to use the corps - unlike McGregor, who I don't think has discovered what the corps de ballet is yet! I don't think there's particularly any point of it other than to look nice (if there is, I completely missed it, anyway!) but I like the way he uses symmetry and also explores the men's jumping technique and uses a lot of lifts - it doesn't get so earth bound, like contemporary ballet/dance can often be.

Sorry to keep asking the casting, but did you notice who danced the "Darcey role"? - this is the one where the corps line up, the music slows, her partner (probably Gary Avis) carries her on and walks her round in a kind of "Soviet high lift", they dance a pdd, and exit in the same way. It's the most interesting roles and pdd in my opinion. I would guess that probably it was either Nunez or Jourdain?

I'm glad Yanowsky's and Pennefather's performance has been so well received - Pennefather does improve a lot; he can be sometimes a bit lacking personality, but his technique is very solid and he is a good partner. He just has off nights and on nights unfortunately - I saw him do a fantastic Sigfried in Swan Lake this season, amazing elevation, great partnering, very convincing acting and nice bearing on stage. On the other hand I also saw his and Ansanelli's Nutcracker, where he looked as if it was killing him to partner her and they missed the fish dive at the end of the coda and finished the pas de deux without any final pose - oh dear...


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