Natalia

Royal Ballet in Washington, DC, June 2009

53 posts in this topic

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

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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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?)

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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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In regards to programme notes, it's worth noting (boom boom) that those real true greats such as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham etc absolutely refuse and refused to put notes in programmes in regards to choreography - the maxim was that the choreography spoke for itself and this is absolutely right. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong but Balanchine was of the same opinion ditto Ashton - no one ever got to the bottom of what Symphonic Variations was really about - he wasn't telling and it certainly didn't suffer as a work of art for not knowing.

If choreography can't stand for itself without a pseudo intellectual essay, than one could argue the choreography isn't worth a damn? Certainly the language is failing - though what McGregor's language actually is I'm not quite sure - but Monica Mason is willing to pay out major coinage to find out.

If someone sat next to you on a bus/train/plane and started to go on at you, a la McGregor, you'd quite rightly think you were sitting next to someone either insane or on drugs, and change seat. When this kind of waffling drivel is written in relation to "art" it's seen as alright.

The thing I think is sad is how few signature works the RB is touring to the States, where Ashton is revered think of what a programme with Monotones II, Symphonic Variations, Fille could have done? Also I think it so sad that a company which was once considered the greatest classical company in the world outside of Russia isn't touring a single 3 act classic which made it the company it used to be.

As for Pennefather, he's a soloist who like Edward Watson was pushed to principal status to fill the longtime vacuum of male principals from the UK. He's a political principle turned principal and like Watson is now expected to dance a range of roles and repertory he just doesn't have the technique to fulfil.

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Sorry for replying my own question - I read on the review that Nunez did dance in DGV the "Darcey role", rather than the role in green/aquamarine (3rd pdd) which she herself created.

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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.

Oh yes, I absolutely agree with you about the corps. Their choreography is very interesting. I especially liked the part where they line up in the middle of the stage and then peel off, and then repeat it to stage right. This is the first "modern Wheeldon" (as opposed to a more neo-classical piece like American in Paris or Carousel) I've seen where he has a corps de ballet and not just principals (like After the Rain). I certainly appreciated the fact that this was not another contemporary "pretzel pas de deux." And I do wonder if my reaction to it would have been different if it had been programmed with different ballets.

In regards to programme notes, it's worth noting (boom boom) that those real true greats such as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham etc absolutely refuse and refused to put notes in programmes in regards to choreography - the maxim was that the choreography spoke for itself and this is absolutely right. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong but Balanchine was of the same opinion ditto Ashton - no one ever got to the bottom of what Symphonic Variations was really about - he wasn't telling and it certainly didn't suffer as a work of art for not knowing.

Do premiere dates count as program notes? City Ballet programs always have world/or company premiere dates which I like because they help put the work in context. For an oft-danced Balanchine ballet I might remember off the top of my head approximately when it was choreographed, but not for choreographers like Ashton with whom I am less familiar.

I definitely would have liked to see more Ashton. This is only the second Ashton I've seen live (Fille, which I saw in Paris with POB and when the Royal Ballet brought it to Washington a couple of years ago), so I only know his work through DVD and tape.

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cinnamonswirl

By programme notes I meant the page long diatribes of pseudo intellectual artspeak McGregor favours, not performance dates etc

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Just got back from the performance--rather tired, might add more tomorrow, but here are my initial thoughts:

Chroma--showed off the dancers' lovely bodies and technique impressively but nothing else. Extremely pretentious, no substance IMO. I agree with those who say program notes oughtn't to be necessary, and in the case of this ballet they add nothing.

A Month in the Country--couldn't be more of a contrast to Chroma, both in style and quality. Ashton is an excellent story teller, and the characters and events were very clear. Ansanelli has beautiful footwork, and it was shown off to great advantage, but the part is really meant for someone older. Still, her pas de deux with Beliaev was touching. I have two questions about this ballet: first, did Ashton choose to use Chopin's theme and variations on Mozart's "La Ci Darem La Mano" from "Don Giovanni" on purpose? It seems to maybe have some relevance in terms of the older/younger, experienced/callow relationship of Natalia and Beliaev, although with the sexes reversed. I'm not familiar with the play. Also, is the ending with Beliaev kissing the ends of the ribbons on Natalia's dress in the play? I recall reading about a similar gesture in a play described in Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence", but I cannot recall whether the title of the play is mentioned, and I don't have a copy of the book with me.

DGV--left me cold and rather bored. I would not mind if I never saw it or Chroma again. However, A Month in the Country left me longing for more Ashton! I wonder if it might pair well with The Dream...?

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Also I think it so sad that a company which was once considered the greatest classical company in the world outside of Russia isn't touring a single 3 act classic which made it the company it used to be.

Was is the operative word in that sentence. Perhaps the company recognizes its serious deficiencies in the classics these days.

As for Pennefather, he's a soloist who like Edward Watson was pushed to principal status to fill the longtime vacuum of male principals from the UK. He's a political principle turned principal and like Watson is now expected to dance a range of roles and repertory he just doesn't have the technique to fulfil.

That is my view of both these dances, though Watson is one of the best modern dancers I've seen in years: I'd just prefer to see him with a modern company.

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I think that's a little untrue actually. Pennefather actually has very good technique generally and he is often an excellent partner - he and Nunez match very well. It's only his acting which sometimes lets him down, but he has improved this a lot over the last year or so.

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Carmela,

I really really have to strongly disagree regarding Pennefather's technique. It's not strong at all, and Nunez, Rojo with whom he's been partnered several times absolutely run rings around him. Watching him and Watson stumble through classical enchainements can be kind of painful and I notice Watson now completely avoids any classical, danseur noble role - which raises the question why is he a principal?

I always blanche a bit when people say "on the acting side" like performance is something that can be broken down into component parts and layered. If you look at old films of Dowell, he was never a great actor, but through the dance he achieved incredidble fluidity, poetry and artistry. Nureyev was always Nureyev, Baryshnikov too knew that performance and acting as a dancer came through the dance.

Mashinka, I agree with Watson, he's an extremely interesting dancer. The problem is for modern dancers trained in the classical technique is where is there for them to go, if not with a classical company? Netherlands, Rambert, Lyon I suppose spring to mind. I think that Watson would be absolutely blinding in Pina Bausch's company - but again I very much doubt he would be drawn to any of those companies. He seems to like the few modern pieces he's always first cast in and the scenery chewing Macmillan rep.

The thing is I very much wonder what Watson and Pennefather's careers would be like if they tried to gain a principal contract with any other major classical company? Next to ABT's rather impressive line up of spitfire male virtuosos - that just wouldn't happen, neither man has distinguished himself in the Balanchine rep except Watson did a good Melancholic a role requiring more flexibility than technique, though a T&V would defeat both men. I doubt either would be offered principal status in any of the major world companies.

Pennefather and Watson's elevation to principal is political and I daresay necessary to continue to justify the enormous state funding that the RB receives. I also get this feeling when I watch Lauren Cuthbertson, currently the only British female principal, who is a lovely first soloist, but just not principal material.

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Carmela, I saw Melissa Hamilton in 'only' the corps segments of DGV.....but we DID see the beauteous Cindy Jourdain (1st artist, the next-to-lowest rank) in a leading role in DGV, the first pdd.

Performance Report

Mixed Bill - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chroma - Finally, I've found the perfect ballet for Alina Somova of the Mariinsky: Flex, flex and more flex! [seriously - she would be perfect in this.] I'm with Hans and others who do not care much for this pretentious work, although it is initially intriguing, with its cream-colored 'box' of a set and unisex sheaths for costumes. There's a lot to admire in the ten dancers (four ladies & six gents), especially the initial pair of Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson, as well as the wispy Sarah Lamb in an impressive solo. And let's not forget the redheaded dynamo Steven McRae in both of tonight's modern works. Unfortunately, MacGregor seems to have TWO favorite moves, which are constantly repeated: (1) the undulating stick-out-the-arse and (2) the beyond-180-degree sideways kick-up, even by some of the men! Folks, if you think Chroma is bad...wait til you see the even more pretentious Infra, which was telecast in the UK a few months ago. How this fellow nabbed the post of House Choreographer is beyond me. Was the RB that desperate for choreographers? Is this the 'New Ashton'??? Speaking of...

A Month in the Country - This Ashton masterwork made the evening worthwhile - in and of itself more than worth the price of admission. Many of us stood and cheered Alexandra Ansanelli's soul-infused performance as Natasha, all the more poignant in the fact that this is her final appearance on the U.S. stage, and pennultimate performance of her too-brief career. [she is only 28 or 29, for goodness sakes. Last performance will be in Cuba...so this was America's farewell to a beautiful artist.] Ansanelli was romance personified, bringing back memories of the first-and-greatest Natasha, Lynn Seymour. Ivan Putrov brought dramatic sparkle and gorgeous line to the male leading role of the Tutor. The boy with the ball (Ondiviela, I believe...working without my notes) was excellent. Well, I loved the entire cast, who seem to have the Ashton signature petis-pas down pat. At intermission, the Russian friends who sat with me laughed as they told me, "Thank goodness that we did not walk out at the first intermission. Now this is more like it!" Incredibly, they (and I) also loved the 3rd and last ballet of the night, which was modern...

DGV - Wheeldon has done it again. Wow - wow - wow! Beautiful, exciting, thrilling, with elements of a 'plot' or even some 'romance,' which was totally lacking in the MacGregor work. Even Michael Nyman's minimalist score is hauntingly beautiful, including that 'Edinburgh Tattoo-like' finale with the roar of drums (but no bagpipes). I smiled as I remembered some movements straight out of Wheeldon's equally-lovely recent ballet for San Francisco, Within the Golden Hour, e.g., Marianela Nunez's entrance in a high 'platter lift' ('Bussell Lift' that Carmela mentioned earlier), slowly carried in by Gary Avis...and, later, near the end of Nunez/Avis' pdd, the movement where the man sits on the floor and hold's the lady's ankle, as she steeply inclines her body away from him. [Actually, DGV preceded Golden Hour...so Golden Hr borrowed from DGV , not the other way around, right?]

The enthusiastic and nearly-full audience cheered loudly for the Royal Ballet after each work. The section where I sat (2nd Tier) was almost full, unusual for a mixed bill in the middle of the week.

Natalia Nabatova

Washington, DC

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The thing is I very much wonder what Watson and Pennefather's careers would be like if they tried to gain a principal contract with any other major classical company? Next to ABT's rather impressive line up of spitfire male virtuosos - that just wouldn't happen, neither man has distinguished himself in the Balanchine rep except Watson did a good Melancholic a role requiring more flexibility than technique, though a T&V would defeat both men. I doubt either would be offered principal status in any of the major world companies.

Well, NYCB does have a history (at least in the Martins era) of having male principals who are no great shakes, but dance frequently because they are reliable partners and blandly inoffensive. An unintentional return to the days when the ballerina was the focus and her partner was just there to support her. Sebastian Marcovici and James Fayette (who has retired) spring immediately to mind. And frankly, I'd take Edward Watson or Rupert Pennefather over Nilas Martins (even in his good days 10 years ago, let alone his present state) any day.

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