What struck me when I saw the recent revival for the Royal Ballet was that some quite strange steps and lifts which I remember very distinctly from the original Royal Ballet cast, and a couple of viewings of a (largely original) City Ballet cast, had been smoothed out or effectively eliminated, making it a much more bland, "sweet", affair. I think also that it needs to be cast from dancers with strong and differing personalities.
I have always thought that, “Dances at a Gathering” should be treated as a piece d'occasion not a repertory work as it needs great personalities involved to make it work. From October 1970 when Mr Robbins first staged the work, I can remember the atmosphere of anticipation before the curtain rose at the Royal Opera House and the tumultuous applause at the end of its performance. The interplay between the dancers was a joy.
The sheer physicality, the romantic subtleties, the comedy all brought together with the absolute commitment achieving a quality of performance in a single act work from the RB that I had only associated with performances of Ashton ballets.
Laura Connor, Ann Jenner, Monica Mason, Lynn Seymour, Antoinette Sibley, Michael Coleman, Johnathan Kelly, Rudolf Nureyev, David Wall was not the complete cast as Anthony Twiner’s subtle and powerful pianistics was a significant part of the ballet’s tremendous London success.
This cast of course met the criteria, “I think also that it needs to be cast from dancers with strong and differing personalities. “, that Aylmer expressed
The RB’s last two revivals of this ballet despite some stellar casting, never really got off the ground for me but then who could reproduce the appoggiatura or acciaccatura in the choreography that Lynn Seymour, Rusolf Nureyev and the rest of the cast brought to it early performances.
As Aylmer quite correctly states the choreography with the RB has been adjusted since its original staging. Did Robbins stage subtly different versions? Are The RB’s revivals of 2008 and 2009 meant to be a revival of the 1970 RB production or a reproduction of the NYC production?