Jane Simpson

Royal Ballet in Cuba

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the Royal Ballet has just announced that Rupert Pennefather is injured and will not be able to dance in A Month in the Country - he will be replaced by Jonathan Cope.

From the press release:

The Royal Ballet's Jonathan Cope sensationally stepped out of retirement yesterday for the opening night of the Company's tour of Cuba, to dance with Zenaida Yanowsky in Frederic Ashton's A Month in the Country. Rupert Pennefather, who had been due to dance, unfortunately had to withdraw at the last minute with a back injury.

Jonathan Cope retired as a Principal at The Royal Ballet in January 2006, and was forced to miss his last two scheduled performances after breaking his leg in a motorcycle accident. He has since been a repetiteur with the Company, coaching other Principal dancers in the roles he made his name in.

Speaking about the surprise turn of events Dame Monica Mason, Director of The Royal Ballet said this morning: "Rupert Pennefather was terribly disappointed he had to withdraw from A Month in the Country yesterday as everyone in the Company is so excited about dancing in Cuba. Fortunately, Jonathan has been doing class recently and he was thrilled to be asked to step in at the last minute. He danced the role a number of times in his career and has been coaching it in preparation for Cuba so he knows it inside out. Jonathan epitomises the spirit of The Royal Ballet and on such an historic night for the Company - our first ever performance in Cuba - was the perfect person to be up there on stage with us".

In an amazing piece of timing, The Royal Ballet will tonight (Wednesday 15 July) present a tribute evening to the Director of the Nacional Ballet de Cuba Alicia Alonso, 63 years to the day since she first danced Giselle at Covent Garden with American Ballet Theater.

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Jane -- you know how disappointed I was that he didn't dance his last two scheduled shows! Someone, buy me a ticket to Cuba now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o

I need a fainting emoticon.

eta -- i just realised this was last night. Ugh!

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I hope that a camera crew is accompanying the Royal Ballet on its trip to Cuba, as sometimes happens on such high-level tours (e.g., NYCB in St. Petersburg). This would make one heck of a documentary! How fortunate that Jonathan Cope stays in shape and was able to step-in at the last minute, 2.5 years after his retirement.

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Well, only a couple of days before he had been partnering Leanne Benjamin in the pas de deux from Fokine's Firebird as part of Hamburg's Nijinsky Gala, so I suppose he'd been taking class in preparation for that.

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Oh, I'm green with envy...

All those years living in the island, and never got to see an event like that before...now that I'm here, they go there...grrr!! :thumbsup:

Well, if anything, I'm TRULY happy for my friends...I know they must be analyzing EVERY SINGLE millimeter of Cojocaru's steps... :P

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Great to see all of the media coverage of this event.

Don't miss the video here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/16/wo...ry5166905.shtml

Lots of photos here:

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=11721

I've also seen coverage on bbc.co.uk and from the Associated Press, which I believe is what The Miami Herald ran.

Can we agree that this event has repercussions not only in the ballet world?

Isn't this a perfect example of how dance can build bridges that transcend nationality, politics and language?

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Thank you so so so much for those links! :thumbsup:

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Thanks to all for the links! The photos of the crowd (in the link Jane posted) are as interesting as the dancers. Would we had that much interest in ballet here!

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More photos here.

(thanks to Dansomanie for the link)

Thanks Jane.

I love the whole manner and expression of Acosta in supporting Madame Alonso in the last picture.

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The photos are marvellous. I was intrigued by the way that all dancers are identified by their nationality. It gives support to the MSNBC story (posted earlier) which portrays this (accurately I think) as a a big event in international relations.

The MSNBC reporter uses the phrase, "the first international company to perform on the island in three decades"? Is this possible? (I assume she is not counting Russian companies.)

The story makes it clear that this is also a big home-coming for Acosta, who is said to have "brokered the deal." Mason's comments that going back to Cuba with Acosta is like what it WOULD have been like travelling to Russia with Nureyev helped give this event a significance I hadn't thought of before. I'm actually astonished that American television covered such a story .. and that it did such a sensitive and intelligent job.

The photos of the young people watching the big tv screens in the square outside the theater -- AND those of the dancers themselves going outside to make their bows in front of the screens -- were incredibly moving.

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CNN report now available

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The photos of the young people watching the big tv screens in the square outside the theater -- AND those of the dancers themselves going outside to make their bows in front of the screens -- were incredibly moving.

...yes..they are indeed moving, bart...very...

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Incidentally, the reason of some missing dancers from the scheduled performances was that 6 of the Royal Ballet dancers got the Influenza A, including Marianela Nunez and Steve McRae. Let's hope they will all recover well and quickly!

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The MSNBC reporter uses the phrase, "the first international company to perform on the island in three decades"? Is this possible? (I assume she is not counting Russian companies.)

That can't be correct. The Washington Ballet went a couple of years ago. It was a big deal, partly since Septime Webre (the AD) is part Cuban.

Thanks for the links, everyone!

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The MSNBC reporter uses the phrase, "the first international company to perform on the island in three decades"? Is this possible? (I assume she is not counting Russian companies.)

That can't be correct. The Washington Ballet went a couple of years ago. It was a big deal, partly since Septime Webre (the AD) is part Cuban.

Thanks for the links, everyone!

By "international," they mean of international stature, i.e., the Big Six (Bolshoi, Kirov, POB, Royal-UK, ABT and NYCB). As much as we love our WB, it's a smallish (19 + 4 apprentices) chamber troupe. It sometimes appears bigger when its numbers are fortified by the Studio Company and students of the WB School during Nutcrackers and other larger works. Other smallish companies from outside Cuba have performed on the island during the past three decades, certainly during the biennale International Ballet Festival on even-numbered years.

Bart, after 1980, it was very difficult for the Bolshoi and Kirov to tour far from home, unless subsidised by the foreign presenters (i.e., Hochhausers, Kennedy Center, The Met). There was a little something called 'The Afghanistan War' which depleted the coffers.

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Also during those festivals we had the opportunity to see many dancers from international companies, even from ABT and NYCB-(those who could travel to the island without restriction by the means of a non American passport). So there, I was able to see performances by Julio Bocca, Maximiliano Guerra, Alessandra Ferri and even Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella. There were some Russians too.

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Rather late, but perhaps the most interesting of all the articles about the RB's visit:

Cuba Libre!

20 photographs as well.

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Rather late, but perhaps the most interesting of all the articles about the RB's visit
Interesting and rather inspiring too.

I especially love the sense that people have that high art can be popular and entertaining, and that access to it should be every person's right. This is slowly dissipated in the United States and Britain, where access to such a variety of entertainments and cultures means that everyone can pursue his or her own interests, often ignoring or even scorning others.

Tamara Rojo makes a marvellous point about this:

Rojo is perhaps the closest to a complete artist I meet on this journey; someone who sees life as an artistic endeavour. She points out a similarity between the National Ballet of Cuba and its British visitor: both companies came of age in adversity. "The Royal Ballet grew in importance during the second world war, because they kept dancing when the bombs were falling. If you can give pleasure when people are suffering, then you have a great impact."

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