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


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#31 dirac

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 01:43 PM

By programme notes I meant the page long diatribes of pseudo intellectual artspeak McGregor favours,


I get a kick out of you, Simon. :)

#32 Mashinka

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 01:52 AM

And in truth since both the RB and POB dance those three acts so rarely nowadays, it doesn't really matter. Watson and Pennefather have enough technique to muddle through a fille. Bayadere, Don Q, Swan Lake, Coppelia etc defeats them but those ballets are one a season at most and that's why the Royal has recruited so many foreign virtuosos.


Since the RBS production line dried up with regard to British dancers, employing from abroad has become a necessity, but if I'm unhappy about 'political advancement' I'm even more unhappy about the calibre of some of the imports. Surely if the Royal Ballet head hunts for male dancers they could have come up with someone better than Thiago Soares? His performance at the recent Diaghilev Gala at Covent Garden was embarrassing; a Russian friend described him to me in an email after that performance as "No jump, no line, no style, no class". He isn't the only dud as several foreign male dancers have been engaged at lower levels with similar dismal abilities, so what's going on here?

The POB has different problems from the RB such as the slavish devotion to modern work of no discernable merit, but the backbone of the company remains solid with talent still emerging from the school. It's more a problem of the wrong people getting promoted than lack of actual ability there.

#33 Simon G

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 03:02 AM

Mashinka

You're bang on about Soares, I just can't quite believe his performances when watching - it's just not good. Makhateli is another one, he has what I call the "Orlando Bloom Effect" where even when he's performing you forget he's there.

Steven McRae, is a technical dynamo, but I find his approach to dance and stage personality so pugnacious and overbearing that once you've stopped marvelling at his tricks there's not much else there - I feel he's another demi-caractere first soloist who has been promoted to prince because he's one of the few who has the technical armoury to cope with the principal rep.

I do wonder though with all those great great dancers that the likes of ABT, MCB, SFB manage to recruit that the Royal can't seem to do the same?

I also think you're right regarding the POB their rep allows great fruit to whither on the vine and male dancers of dubious technique leapfrogging to top rank over far more stylish compratriots. Moreau, Belingard & Pech are fine in the right rep, but aren't classical ballet dancers. Ganio seems increasingly to be permanently injured - a sad cautionary tale about over pushing talent before it's strong enough to cope with the massive physical responsibility it will have to cope with.

#34 Andre Yew

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:30 AM

:wink: I know that 7-11! By Jefferson House? :)


I'm not sure --- it's very close to the Foggy Bottom Metro stop if that helps narrow it down. It's the smallest 7-11 I've ever seen. Thanks too for the late night dining suggestions.

--Andre

#35 ami1436

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:57 AM

That's it! Sort of behind the hospital........

There's also a late-night Pita place... can't remember the name... but it's in Georgetown. Also in Georgetown, on M street, is an awesome South Indian cafe -- Amma's Kitchen.

And that's all from the food gallery -- can you tell I have yet to have lunch?

Anyways, did no one see Manon last night, with my beloved Tamara? I so wish DC could have seen this with her and Cope.... his Act I solo is beautiful.

#36 Andre Yew

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:37 AM

Anyways, did no one see Manon last night, with my beloved Tamara? I so wish DC could have seen this with her and Cope.... his Act I solo is beautiful.


Haha --- the lunch discussion syndrome! :wink: I have not heard good things about Carlos's performance last night, but I'll leave that to someone who was actually there.

--Andre

#37 ami1436

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 11:44 AM

Well... my humble opinion is that he's just not a MacMillan dancer. Carlos needs big slamming solos. He surprised me in Ashton's Rhapsody with some nuanced musicality, but really -- I'd rather see him as Ali, Basilio, Acteon, etc..........

#38 Hans

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 08:50 PM

Just returned from "Manon" with Alina Cojocaru and Johann Kobborg. My goodness, what beautiful dancer-actors they are! Cojocaru was very effective as a youthful Manon, just a teenager perhaps, who impetuously runs away with Des Grieux and is soon after seduced by the glamour of Monsieur G.M. Her teenage appearance was quite striking in the brothel scene--I could very easily imagine Sylvie Guillem dancing the same steps with seductive confidence, but I found Cojocaru's young, naif Manon, covered in unfamiliar silks and jewels, quite striking as she half-hesitantly abandoned herself to this new world, torn between the glamour and her feelings for Des Grieux. She was very moving, without being over the top, during the death of her brother, the rape scene in the gaol, and the final flight into the Louisiana swamp.

Kobborg, as no one needs to be told, is an impeccable artist, with beautiful line, a strong stage presence, and nuanced acting. He was able to convey his character's thoughts even while standing around the brothel, and he was sweetly protective of Manon.

Ricardo Cervera as Lescaut also seemed quite young, and perhaps not so much distasteful (considering he basically sells his own sister to the highest bidder) as thoughtless. I received the impression that perhaps they had not spent much time together as children, and as a result he does not really have feelings for her as a person. Self-absorbed and wily, his most entertaining moment came during the drunken Act II pas de deux with his mistress. Both he and Laura Morera displayed excellent comic timing, and it was a pleasant, light, well-choreographed contrast to the syrupy darkness of the rest of the ballet.

This was my first time seeing Manon, and I feel about it the same way I feel about MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet--I'll only watch it with a really good cast. It seems that MacMillan wants to tell the story through the dancing, without mime, but doesn't quite know how. We therefore see a lot of rather pedestrian steps repeated one (or two or three) too many times and must rely on the dancers' acting ability to understand characters' relationships and what is happening in terms of the plot. MacMillan is clearly a master of clever and complicated lifts, but unfortunately when he thinks he's come up with some really interesting gymnastics, he feels the need to beat us over the head with it and make absolutely certain we get to watch it several times, regardless of what the music is doing. In the same vein, he has to show us quite graphically and specifically just how Manon is defiled by the Gaoler, as he is apparently unable to get the point across any other way.

Thankfully, the rest of the cast was up to the standard of Cojocaru and Kobborg, so we had a beautifully danced, finely acted performance that triumphed over the unfortunate choreography to produce a moving evening of theatre.

#39 Alymer

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 01:52 AM

Makhateli is another one, he has what I call the "Orlando Bloom Effect" where even when he's performing you forget he's there.


Except when he partners so atrociously that he manages to ruin his ballerina's performance.

McRae, is a technical dynamo, but I find his approach to dance and stage personality so pugnacious and overbearing that once you've stopped marvelling at his tricks there's not much else there - I feel he's another demi-caractere first soloist who has been promoted to prince because he's one of the few who has the technical armoury to cope with the principal rep.


Agree entirely. I would only add that there's more to most of those roles than simply jumping about and looking cheerful - not that it seems to matter at Covent Garden nowadays. McRae is also quite small and although he looks brilliant at times, I wouldn't say it's a 'complete' technique

#40 Mike Gunther

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 01:37 PM

Just returned from "Manon" with Alina Cojocaru and Johann Kobborg...
My goodness, what beautiful dancer-actors they are!...
This was my first time seeing Manon, and I feel about it the same way I feel about MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet--I'll only watch it with a really good cast...
Thankfully, the rest of the cast was up to the standard of Cojocaru and Kobborg, so we had a beautifully danced, finely acted performance that triumphed over the unfortunate choreography to produce a moving evening of theatre.


Thanks so much, Hans, for this review! I saw the same performance, and share your generous feelings about Cojocaru and Kobborg - and you are right, MacMillan needs superb casting like this to make his ballets come alive - in truth I would have been happy to see M repeated, with exactly the same cast. May I also praise Gary Avis as the reprehensible Gaoler, in a truly memorable character performance that, for me, absolutely "sold" the Third Act.

Cervera's Lescaut, for me, is another memorable performance. In MacMillan's concept I suppose that he is an evil character, a brother who is so depraved that he pimps out his own sister. However, Cervera danced so well, and with such explosive joy in his character, that he almost tilted me over to "the dark side" - more importantly, he made it possible to understand how Manon, Des Grieux, and even Monsieur G.M. could have fallen under his spell.

I hope that folks will share their reviews of the other performances, with different casts. Had I to do it all over again, I would have seen every one of them.

#41 Giannina

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Posted 27 June 2009 - 05:54 PM

Green, green, green!

Giannina

#42 leonid17

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 08:31 AM

Thank you all for your reviews and comments on the RB it makes me here in London, feel in touch with what is happening with their performances.
I sometimes forget to check what is in Dance View Times and I think Alexandra has also written an excellent review of the triple bill widely discussed above and it has a stunning picture of Eric Underwood,
who is impacting more and more on the London audience.

#43 bart

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 09:21 AM

Alexandra's danceviewtimes review is here:

http://www.danceview...ty-matters.html

I was especially looking forward to reading her thoughts about "A Month in the Country," given BT's recent threads on Ashton. Here are are few of the points she made about casting and interpretation, which are especially interesting because they're based on close comparisons to previous RB visits with the same work.

It looked much better than it did on its last visit, where it had become the Sylvie Guillem Show, or even in the days when an overwrought Marguerite Porter danced the ballerina role, rather than Katia, the adorable strawberry temptress. But it didn't look quite like itself, and the dancing (and casting) raised more identity questions. Why has the ballerina role become a tall girl part? Lynn Seymour, who created it, was closer to five feet tall than six, and her lines are in the choreography. Zenaida Yanowsky's dancing was beautifully soft, but her height made the pas de deux seem awkward at times, and it was difficult to imagine that she would stay in a marriage and house that bored her so.

And:

As Beliaev, the young tutor who wreaks havoc in the unsuspecting family, Rupert Pennefather handled the pas de deux well, but had trouble with the solos, and did not create a clear character. Watching him, I learned more about Anthony Dowell (who created the role) than I had watching Dowell. How did Dowell show, from his entrance, that he unwittingly brought danger? (The audience laughed heartily at the loud chord that accompanies his entrance.) How did he establish that he was Kolia's tutor, because that wasn't clear, and Paul Kay's "Aw, shucks!" gesture when Beliaev left didn't help.



#44 Alexandra

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 09:06 PM

Thank you leonid, and thanks for posting the excerpts, bart! I realized that *I* had not been clear. When I wrote "The audience laughed heartily at the loud chord that accompanies his entrance" I meant at this series of performances, NOT when the ballet was new.

#45 Mashinka

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Posted 30 June 2009 - 02:17 AM

Why has the ballerina role become a tall girl part? Lynn Seymour, who created it, was closer to five feet tall than six, and her lines are in the choreography. Zenaida Yanowsky's dancing was beautifully soft, but her height made the pas de deux seem awkward at times, and it was difficult to imagine that she would stay in a marriage and house that bored her so.


My guess is that it is about age as the RB has become a much younger company over the years. Natalia Petrovna should look older than Vera, her ward, and old enough to be a mother to Kolia, played by an adult dancer desperately trying to convince us he's really a child. With no suitable older dancers available, the company opts for height instead; that way she can look down a little towards her son and her ward making her more a figure of authority towards the younger members of her household.

For a clue as to why she remains in the marriage read Anna Karenina.


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