Swanilda8

Cojocaru and the Royal

19 posts in this topic

This appeared over a week ago, but I was thinking about it today and I wanted to hear some other opinions:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/dance/10371161/Alina-Cojocaru-interview-Ill-always-be-grateful-even-for-the-lies.html

Cojocaru discusses why she left the Royal ballet. The paragraph that most interests me:

"Doors at Covent Garden, by contrast, were being closed to her. She has become known for injury cancellations, but it looked worse, she says, because for years director Monica Mason had been reducing her performances. The tipping point came in 2011 when Mason told Cojocaru her style was no longer “Royal Ballet style” and she did not want her as Aurora in the autumn run of The Sleeping Beauty. Cojocaru is considered an exemplar of the role anywhere else in the world."

Is there a Royal Ballet style? If so, does Cojocaru fall outside of it?

I would have thought that the Royal Ballet style, if it exists, is built on strict classicism and form, smaller dancers, a combination of Petipa, Macmillan, and Ashton repertory - a 20th century lyrical interpretation of classical technique. To me, it seems that Cojocaru fits that perfectly.

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As if there is still a "Royal Ballet style" and a Royal Ballet filled to the brim with dancers who trained in its school making it up the ranks of the Company or in earlier days, trained in the Commonwealth in a common style. As if their training is still honed to perform Ashton in his style. The roster is full of dancers whose training was mostly or entirely outside the Royal Ballet: Acosta, Bonelli, Kish, Marquez, Nunez (before going to RBS), Osipova, Soares, Yanowsky, and those are just the Principals.

Osipova dances in the "Royal Ballet" style? Really? Mason hired Alexandra Ansanelli from NYCB for Pete's sake. This is the lamest excuse I've heard in ages.

Cojocaru at least gets a last laugh: she's the star of the Royal Ballet's most recent "Sleeping Beauty" DVD, and she is spectacular in it.

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There are two sides to every story, and I for one don't know the RB's version.

If Cojocaru left because of Mason, they why did she go a year after Mason retired? Because O'Hare was/is consistent with Mason's policies and wouldn't cast her much either? If so, then why wasn't O'Hare also mentioned for her reason for leaving? Maybe she felt such bad blood that even a change in leadership wouldn't help and a fresh start was the only way she could move forward? I'm just a little skeptical when someone claims that the reason why they left a company didn't even exist anymore by the time that they did.

Nevertheless, if she was told by Mason that the reason for her not being cast as Aurora was because of her lack of the "Royal Ballet style", that is utter hogwash for the reasons Helene already mentioned.

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From an outsider's perspective, I wouldn't want to continually cast a dancer who seems overly committed to guesting while at the same time becoming repeatedly injured. I remember an interview with Cojocaru after her neck injury that took her over a year to recover from where she stated she was going to be more careful about her commitments/rep and choosing her partners (to prevent further injury) and her schedule suggests that neither of these things is a dominant consideration, despite still battling frequent injuries. I don't begrudge her wanting a change in leadership (or for Neuemier to create ballets for her), but I've never seen an interview with her that suggests her own desire to perform in many places, with many partners, might have led to some of the current problems she faced both with the Royal and with her own body.

That said, I hope she is with the Hamburg Ballet when they perform in Costa Mesa this winter, and that I have a chance to see her.

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What a surprising statement, "Royal Ballet Style" it is almost non existent, with so many dancers from abroad trained In different schools. I wonder just how many UK dancers are in the ranks. But one could almost say the same of English National Ballet.

The trouble is that the Arts are badly neglected here, dance is looked on as old fashioned or boring, meaning young people are not encouraged to take it up. When a promising candidate appears there is no funding to help them progress. It is up to parents to fund their off springs training, which often is simply not possible.. In other countries like Russia where children with a suitable physique and aptitude for a career in dance are taken out of normal education and sent to the major dance schools, where they are nurtured and funded by the government the students stand a far better chance. Actually Ballet still remains a cultural interest to the population. It is not treated as an elitist genre as in the west.

Going back to Alina Cojocaru she is a wonderful dancer, and I cannot understand Monica Masons attitude, she must have been oblivious to her sold out performances, as the audience certainly appreciated her qualities, despite where she was trained. . At least now people throughout the UK will be able to see her dance when ENB come out on tour. . Their gain is the Royal Ballet's loss.

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I've attached the NY Times review of Cojocaru's SB with ABT a few years ago, which was very positive regarding Cojocaru's performance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/arts/dance/21sleeping.html

I know that she sold out the Met Opera house when she danced SB with ABT. From my experience, some of her performances at ABT have been wonderful, while others were mediocre. In particular, I recall a Don Q that wasn't very good. Her SB w. Carreno and her Giselle w. Corella were very memorable, although she did make some surprising alterations to the Giselle Act II choreography. In addition to the roles she is already scheduled for at ABT during the spring season, I wouldn't be at all surprised if her name also ended up in some of the TBA slots for the ABT spring season.

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Two of the most memorable performances I've ever seen were a Cojocaru/Hallberg Giselle & a Cojocaru/Carreno SB. I saw a Don Q that was a really mixed bag, but for me even that was worth seeing. She is a unique artist with tremendous imagination, so she invariable make me hear the music differently or brings out moments in choreography that I never knew were there.

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I've seen Alina dance in London many times, her performances have a rare but hard to articulate quality that makes them unique and very special. Although it doesn't seem to me to make sense to say that Alina is not Royal Ballet style I have noticed that she often does some very small things slightly differently and I wonder if this what the Monica Mason and the Sleeping Beauty debacle is about. It might be connected to a point David Hallberg made in an interview with Claudia La Rocca :

"There are so few artists in the ballet world who embody an individuality of their roles, of the classics. [Natalia] Osipova is one, [Diana] Vishneva is one. Osipova is someone who innately has to do it the way she does it, or else she can’t do it. She can’t be told what to do; this is her, bursting out. So few ballet dancers are successful in that. And I feel like I am unsuccessful in that regard, that I have never truly found my individual voice."

I think Cojocaru also has an individual voice, so is it a question of whether Artistic Directors allow dancers to express their individuality ? Without this flexibility for dancers to show us the emotions of old ballets in a way that appeals to modern audiences I feel ballet is more likely to stagnate into a relic of the past.

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Interesting point annamk. But the flip side is that sometimes dancers take too many liberties or make individual interpretive choices which do not comport with the copyrighted choreography. As an example, one of the things that the NY Times previously mentioned regarding Osipova's first performance at ABT of Juliet in the MacMillan version is that she changed the choreography. I disliked some of Osipova's choices as Juliet because I thought that she was sometimes superimposing her own choices instead of following the copyrighted choreography. She turned it from a drama into a melodrama, and in my opinion, sometimes made it a less compelling ballet. (This is a general comment, and does not relate to Cojocaru.)

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Your point is absolutely right abatt - and I wonder where does the line lie between acceptable individual interpretative choices and too many liberties ? Interesting you mention Osipova's Juliet because I'll be seeing it for the first time in a few weeks. The few small things I have noticed Alina do differently have only seemed to make more sense of the story rather than changing the emphasis of the narrative.

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The following year, Osipova performed Juliet w. ABT again and it seemed like some of the excesses had been toned down.

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Interesting point annamk. But the flip side is that sometimes dancers take too many liberties or make individual interpretive choices which do not comport with the copyrighted choreography. As an example, one of the things that the NY Times previously mentioned regarding Osipova's first performance at ABT of Juliet in the MacMillan version is that she changed the choreography. I disliked some of Osipova's choices as Juliet because I thought that she was sometimes superimposing her own choices instead of following the copyrighted choreography. She turned it from a drama into a melodrama, and in my opinion, sometimes made it a less compelling ballet. (This is a general comment, and does not relate to Cojocaru.)

Slightly off the topic, but Osipova and Vasiliev danced MacMillan R&J in Japan with La Scala this September, and the horror was that at the latter half of the balcony scene, where Romeo lifts Juliet on his knees, Vasiliev stood up while lifting Osipova. That was a disgrace to the choreography.

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Naomi, I have to admit I love Ivan Vasiliev BUT I saw a clip of the Tokyo Romeo & Juliet performance on YT and that lift was SO wrong - I was very disappointed that he felt the need to cheapen the choreography like that.

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annamk, I like Vasiliev and think his Spartacus is fabulous but that was disappointing. Wonder how Osipova will dance Juliet at Royal Ballet the home of MacMillan.

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I know that Balanchine works are strictly monitored by the Balanchine Police Trust. I'm pretty sure that the MacMillan rep is still under copyright protection. Isn't there a similar organization that monitors performances of MacMillan's works?

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I know that she sold out the Met Opera house when she danced SB with ABT. From my experience, some of her performances at ABT have been wonderful, while others were mediocre. In particular, I recall a Don Q that wasn't very good. Her SB w. Carreno and her Giselle w. Corella were very memorable, although she did make some surprising alterations to the Giselle Act II choreography. In addition to the roles she is already scheduled for at ABT during the spring season, I wouldn't be at all surprised if her name also ended up in some of the TBA slots for the ABT spring season.

I agree that the Don Q she did with ABT was disappointing, there were several noticeable technical lapses. I think its worth noting that she was dancing through an injury that season. Perhaps she should have canceled rather than risk the damage to her reputation, but then look at all the flack she took for canceling her performances due to injury this past season.

She has given some amazing performances over the years - her Aurora is absolutely breathtaking and considered by many to be the gold standard of our generation. Her artistry is at least as important to me as her technique, but her technique has always been very, very strong. I haven't seen her since that injury season so I can't say if her technique has suffered permanent erosion or if she's now back to her usual technical standard, but I certainly intend to see all of her ABT performances this spring! The Royal Ballet was crazy to let her go but I'm glad she's found a company where she is happy.

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Personally, I think Alina's performances have always been less about absolute technical mastery and more about dramatic and emotional intensity.

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And she was absolutely RADIANT on the first night of Corsaire in Milton Keynes.

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