For today's young dancers joining the company, that journey begins with classical ballet training.
"Some can already dance in toe shoes and some can't, but all of them are ballet trained," said Carter. "We never have cattle call auditions. There are always lists of guys waiting for the opportunity."
Thursday, April 18
Posted 18 April 2013 - 10:45 AM
Posted 18 April 2013 - 10:54 AM
What it does not have, however, is any sense of headlong impetuosity, of the love that bowls its protagonists over. Their duets are lyrical and gentle, but despite the best efforts of Guillaume Côté’s wonderfully expressive Romeo and Heather Ogden’s Juliet, they are not passionate or heart-stopping.
With this emptiness at its centre, Ratmansky’s Romeo is like the picture books it so closely resembles – attractive, absorbing, but not quite the real thing.
Yet Ratmansky can’t decide how tightly to focus on his star-crossed lovers. He opens out the story, giving the Capulet family more interaction than usual, then downplays what are usually their big moments. They grieve as a group over Tybalt’s death, where many productions give Lady Capulet a huge lament to Prokofiev’s shattering music. Ratmansky slides away from that kind of intensity, weakening the drama.
Following closely the Shakespeare narrative, this is a more plot-explicit and dance-packed version than we are used to seeing. Indeed, you could accuse it of hyperactivity, yet Ratmansky takes his signals from a sympathetic reading of the score. There are times when his imagination and invention cast the music in an entirely unexpected and welcome new light — a remarkable achievement in itself.
Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:02 AM
Ratmansky's version is rich in such dramatic and choreographic insights, though it lacks the moments of revelatory stillness we get in MacMillan's version, where the register of the dancers' gaze and beating pulse can directly penetrate the story's core of terror and the sublime. Tellingly, the climax in the final scene doesn't come with Romeo and Juliet's death, but with their parents' appalled recognition of what they have thrown away. The tragedy that Ratmansky has opted to show is the larger one of human nature, rather than that of star-crossed love.
The Evening Standard
Choreographically, it’s all go. The feel is rushed and breathless; it’s packed full of steps, they can’t get them out fast enough. Which gives a real sense of youthful urgency and energy and the wind brushing through your hair but also technically leaves things snatched and unfinished.
Ratmansky’s approach is fresh and contemporary, while remaining very much a traditional interpretation of the story. That is to say he’s made no experimental shifts in time or place, and there are no radical changes to the plot. Instead, he focuses on the central romance, with pretty dancing and a gentle romanticism that sweetly conveys Romeo and Juliet’s young love. This all suggests Ratmansky’s production might best suit a younger audience, who will also appreciate the conciliatory ending when the warring families are reconciled.
Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:07 AM
The Arts Desk
Ratmansky’s action, though, is quite small and conservative. He relies on much mime and his moments of originality mostly concern the sprightly, well-knit boyband trio of Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio. The death scene does take an original tack, but is puzzlingly undercooked as drama. It may be that the modest and modestly skilled Canadian company just didn’t jibe with a Russian idea, but it all leaves this production feeling spiritless and lightweight.
In many ways, Ratmansky’s choreography is inferior. Much of the movement feels rushed and unfinished, as if too much has been crammed into each beat of music. The drama of the title characters is also only sporadically present. At times, their passion and anguish is tangible, for example when Romeo stands still, considering the difficulty of his fate, and Juliet runs and jumps on his back, gripping tight in a passionate and heartfelt embrace. At other moments, the choreography leaves the audience cold, despite charming and convincing performances by leads Guillaume Cote and Heather Ogden.
Michael Crabb gauges the initial critical reaction in The Toronto Star.
British ballet fans are very particular about Romeo and Juliet. Two of their most revered, now deceased, choreographers, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, both made admired versions. The latter’s is still a staple of Britain’s Royal Ballet so comparisons were inevitable and as the critics began to render judgment Thursday morning their words were of mixed comfort for the National Ballet.
Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:24 AM
That finesse, that detail, is what de Lappe is on hand to ensure and flesh out. “Agnes was a wonderful actress and also a great comedienne,” de Lappe says. “So a lot of her ballets are very funny. She knew ballet and modern and folk dance. But what I love about it is that it's all motivated by acting. There are no show-off steps, unless someone in the plot is showing off. It's honest and true. When I worked on a revival of ‘Carousel' for the Houston Opera, the singers and players would stand in the wings or outside the studio and watch, and some of them told me, ‘I've never seen dancing like this in a show or opera before.'”
Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:26 AM
Mark Kehlet Schou gets an admirable workout, achieving effortless, awe-inspiring height in his jumps. Mateo has created amazing choreography, but at times it seems too challenging for his dancers — the struggle evident in both in their faces and their footwork.
Posted 22 April 2013 - 10:42 AM
.....Years later, in 1978, both men were feted at the first Kennedy Center Honors. “George was so excited to see Fred Astaire,” Tallchief recalls. “I said, ‘Do you want me to introduce you to Mr. Astaire? Because I’ve met him.’ And George said, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no.’ George was very shy.” Tallchief herself was honored in 1996.
Yet those appearances were not her sole Washington experiences. Today, it’s difficult to imagine an American president honoring a ballerina outside of the Kennedy Center festivities. In 1953, however, Dwight D. Eisenhower cited Tallchief as “Woman of the Year." A serious ballet fan, Eisenhower’s press secretary, James C. Hagerty, would make frequent trips from D.C. to New York to watch Tallchief perform....
Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:19 PM
Sun 14 July 2013, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
A discussion on the history of French ballet from Lully to Stravinsky and an examination of The Rite of Spring, 100 years after its premiere, with Jane Pritchard, Dance Historian at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
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