mussel

2015 US Tour

197 posts in this topic

Thank you, Miss O'Connell, for the background info on "Age of Anxiety"--much appreciated. And I agree, the resemblances to "Fancy Free" are there, but aren't much more than superficial. I neglected to mention above that I also enjoyed the Carousel medley PDD, seen with Acosta and Lamb. So call me middlebrow. No, actually, as Ernie Kovacs might say, Don't nobody call me middlebrow!

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Princeton University Press put out a critical edition of the Auden poem a few years ago, with an introduction and notes that very much added to my pleasure in the poem when I read it.

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Thank you, Miss O'Connell, for the background info on "Age of Anxiety"--much appreciated. And I agree, the resemblances to "Fancy Free" are there, but aren't much more than superficial. I neglected to mention above that I also enjoyed the Carousel medley PDD, seen with Acosta and Lamb. So call me middlebrow. No, actually, as Ernie Kovacs might say, Don't nobody call me middlebrow!

Adding thanks!

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Muntagirov did not come across to me like that at all when he danced Solor with ABT last year.

If y'all are talking about the Bayadere Muntagirov danced with Smirnova, IMHO he was clean but didn't project enough dramatically for the Met. (As opposed to Smirnova whose emotions did read clearly, but who projected in a very stylized fashion.)

Then again, folks weaned on NYCB tend to find the amount of expression that I expect excessive.

At any rate, I'd bet that Muntagirov read more clearly in the State Theater.

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I think repertory might have been constrained by the fact that this stop of the tour was sponsored by Joyce Dance Theater, which generally promotes modern ballet/works.

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I seem to remember that when the Joyce presented the National Ballet of Canada in Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland last September, some posters were sorry that the programming was so populist. But it sold really well.

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I attended the Saturday Matinee and loved most of the programme.

I was particularly pleased to be able to watch Yasmine Naghdi again, a dancer I really took to after watching her dance "Amour" in Washington. Naghdi and Ball danced the Finale pdd in "Infra" and they looked stunning together to say the least.

Thanks--I wasn't sure who that was, but had thought Naghdi. I also found her the stand out in the afternoon cast of Infra. Much as I always like Nunez--who danced that pas de deux in the evening I believe--I may even have liked Naghdi in that particular choreography a bit more.

I have only seen two McGregor works before one of which was a kind of miniature. I had a mixed reaction to the ballet. I'm not crazy about the almost non-stop gymnastic erotic mode--but the larger setting of the ballet (the sprightly lit, almost, but not quite, uniform images of walkers above (on the LED screen) and the more twisting, messy, irregular, darkly lit world of the pas de deux below as well as the introduction of the crowd slowly walking across the stage and one section with a slew of simultaneous pas de deux across the stage each contained in its own rectangle of light--all of those elements made it kind of formally interesting to me at times (in a way the movement did not) and perhaps a bit more suggestive in atmosphere than I might have expected. I also agree that the Royal Ballet dancers know how to put it over, though it does tend to even out some of their individual qualities -- which may be the point, but...(In the evening Watson was especially notable in part because he seems always able to put a stamp of individuality on what he does.)

Enjoyed Marcellino Sambé in the "Borrowed Light" Solo...not profound/complex choreography but I found it a very effective contemporary ballet showcase for this dancer.

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Princeton University Press put out a critical edition of the Auden poem a few years ago, with an introduction and notes that very much added to my pleasure in the poem when I read it.

Thanks for the tip! It turns out that Princeton has made the introduction to its critical edition available online here.

Sigh. Had Princeton's edition of "The Age of Anxiety" been available as an ebook, I might have purchased it to get access to the notes and the rest of the critical apparatus. There's no room for yet another paper edition of Auden's work on my shelves, however, and the library's copy is out ...

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The "Fancy Free-ness" of it might be related to the fact that Robbins choreographed it in 1950--in fact, Bernstein first thought of doing Age as a ballet, but was convinced to do it as a symphony instead. Interestingly, the Robbins ballet was quite non-literal and abstract, making use of leotards and tights, masks, stilts etc. It adhered much more to the sense and philosophical themes of the poem/score than to the literal narrative.

Out of curiosity (and because I'm writing a dissertation chapter about the original) was the Robbins connection mentioned anywhere in the program notes? During World Ballet Day when they showed a clip of rehearsal, Scarlett didn't mention Robbins, but the fact that everyone seems to see a bit of Fancy Free in it makes me wonder if he was thinking more about the 1950 ballet than he let on in the interview.

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I hope it's not a trend as RB, Bolshoi, Mariinsky, and the Chinese didn't bother to publish corps castings during their recent NY tours. I find it a little disrespectful to the corps members. I don't know if they have the same practice at home. Props to Mikailovsky as it even published the names of supernumeraries. POB did announce corps casting during its NYC and Montreal tours in 2012 and 2014, respectively. ABT & NYCB still list full corps castings. Don't know if other North American companies do the same.

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The RB do not usually publish corps casting at home either, at least for most of their repertoire. If it's a new work, we might get details of the corps - we did in Woolf Works I think. Sometimes for a Balanchine work (Symphony in C for example) the corps are listed in full, but that is quite unusual.

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I have just come across a review of the company's performances in New York in which the reviewer says that the Voices of Spring is derivative of Asaf Messerer's Spring Waters. Given the origins of this piece I have always assumed that Ashton intended it as a send up of that sort of gala piece. Voices of Spring started life as the entertainment that Prince Orlovsky provided for his guests in a production of Die Fledermaus at Covent Garden. It was provided for a stage audience that knew and cared little for ballet and performed to a real life opera audience most of whom probably felt the same about ballet.It was danced very much tongue in cheek by its original cast.Somehow over the years quite a few dancers who should have known better have lost sight of the joke or perhaps they are just too fixated on technique for its own sake to recognise that anyone can find such show off stuff as remotely funny or absurd.

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As I understand it, when the Bolshoi first came to the west, people were quite amazed with some of the more virtuosic material (lifts and grand allegro, especially) -- dancers started to try and replicate the skills, and choreographers were incorporating them into their work.

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Ashton's didn't make flashy display pieces which only exist as exhibitions of dance.Generally the more difficult the choreography the easier and more natural it should look.The audience's response to the reconciliation pas de deux in The Dream is not "wow" that was really difficult but "ah" how beautiful, The same is true of the end of the Fanny Elssler pas de deux where the response to Colas' one arm lift is not to comment on its difficulty but on its appropriateness as the culmination of the pas and as an expression of the couple's love for each other.

It is rather disappointing that the Voices of Spring pas de deux was included in the" odds and sods" part of the mixed bill.It isn't as if there aren't other short pieces that could have been used such as The Walk to the Paradise Garden which Ashton made as a gala piece for Park and Wall to music by Delius which Vaughan described as a masterpiece or a piece from the sixties made for Beriosova and MacCleary to music by Glazunov.But I don't suppose that O'Hare knows about them

I think that the entire tour revealed O'Hare's lack of knowledge of his company's history,repertory, strengths and weaknesses. and was more than a bit provincial.And as for discovering that the set won't fit the theatre that is just amateur.

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I find Ashton Fan's remarks about Kevin O'Hare unfair.

The "piece from the sixties...........to music by Glazounov", was in fact Raymonda pas de deux and variations created in 1962 and seldom danced thereafter. I believe that after acquiring the Raymonda Act III from Nureyev it disappeared from the rep, certainly I've never seen it.

Walk to the Paradise Garden was premiered in 1972, a rather odd piece, never a favourite with audiences or critics, it hasn't been seen for decades. Kevin O'Hare is too young to have seen either of these works and therefore has a good excuse if he is unaware of their existence. I can't remember the previous director resurrecting those two works either and she would have been dancing in the company when they were created. Mr O'Hare is doing well as RB director, I understand every director collects a group of malcontents, but his decision to revive The Two Pigeons after years of neglect of London indicates he has a higher regard for Ashton than might have been thought.

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Wasn't Kevin O'Hare still dancing with Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2000 ? In spring and autumn that year BRB put on a couple of Ashton programmes which included Two Pigeons, Voices of Spring pdd, Walk to the Paradise Garden, Five Brahms Waltzes in the manner of Isadora Duncan and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I remember going up to Birmingham to see it this though I can't recall many details of the casting right now without digging deep into my programme archive. (I think Bintley himself may have been in Tweedledum and Tweedledee.)

But I would think it's quite unlikely that given that this was O'Hare's company around that time (where his brother is still performing) that he would be entirely unaware of their existence, even if he wasn't in the cast.

Didn't Walk to the Paradise Garden also feature in the Gable memorial gala or am I misremembering ?

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I don't think the choice of Ashton pas de deux for the series of excerpts presented on the second program was a make or break issue for this tour. The fact is we got to see some interesting rep and some good and very good (and, unavoidably, some less good) performances. That last sentence sounds a little tepid--but I mean it as real praise.

Oddly enough--or not, since the choreographer is alive to work with the dancers and the choreography itself fresh and being danced by the dancers it was created on--Scarlett's Age of Anxiety seems in my memory to have been the most fully realized performance (even if not the greatest ballet) on this tour, the one that showed the company doing something IT does and can do better than any in the world. (I'm thinking of the 'first' cast, but the other cast was very fine too.) In an interview O'Hare spoke of a certain naturalistic style of acting that was distinctive to the Royal. That certainly seemed the case here.

Of course we saw other quality performances in other ballets, and in some cases truly splendid performances, but not as consistently up and down the cast or from the corps as well as the leads etc. One may feel it IS a problem the company can make a more consistently memorable mark in Scarlett than Ashton, rather like the days (now past) when NYCB was dazzling in Martins and sometimes less so in Balanchine. But as someone just seeing a few performances on tour I won't draw any grand conclusions. And it is just one opinion anyway.

I'm still happiest I finally got to see Song of The Earth. I also wish the Royal could have brought Winter's Tale, but that wasn't possible. On the ballerina front, I think it is a huge shame they lost Cojocaru, but on the evidence of the tour they have interesting younger talent, plus the wonderful Nunez at the height of her career, and in Osipova a thoroughly exciting ballerina with a fresh take on pretty much everything. And I am thrilled the company is reviving Two Pigeons. Wish they could tour THAT to the U.S.

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I'm certainly sympathetic to the argument that including "Voices of Spring" as the sole Ashton work on a mixed bill of British choreography is a peculiar choice. In the context of an all-Ashton program its tongue-in-cheek character would be immediately apparent, even if some performers were insufficiently aware of this quality. But as a stand-alone piece, it is extremely uncharacteristic of his work.

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None of the choreography was particularly well served by the bits and pieces format of that portion of the program. As for Voices of Spring...I don't think the performances we saw were less than terrific because the dancers were not performing tongue in cheek, because I think there were more basic problems. To parody something effectively if affectionately you need to be be able to do it very well. It's not like we got spectacular but pompous performances. In the afternoon there were nerves and/or insecurity. In the evening the dancers were more polished and more fun, but not enough to make a big difference. (As I remember video I've seen, Cojocaru rather let the humor speak for itself anyway...or dance for itself.) [edited because my memory telescoped two different casts I have seen in Voices of Spring].

After the last tour when the Royal brought a series of pas de deux for a portion of the program, there was a similar sense of dubiousness in many reports about the performances which included Ashton's Thais. Unfortunately, I missed that tour--

It is not that I think Voices of Spring was a great choice, and I assume it was there because they wanted a classical crowd pleaser, but bits and pieces is rarely the best the way to showcase choreography, as opposed to dancers.

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As for Voices of Spring...I don't think the performances we saw were less than terrific because the dancers were not performing tongue in cheek, because I think there were more basic problems. To parody something effectively if affectionately you need to be be able to do it very well. It's not like we got spectacular but pompous performances. In the afternoon there were nerves and/or insecurity. In the evening the dancers were more polished and more fun, but not enough to make a big difference.

...

It is not that I think Voices of Spring was a great choice, and I assume it was there because they wanted a classical crowd pleaser, but bits and pieces is rarely the best the way to showcase choreography, as opposed to dancers.

I'm wondering if the point was to showcase choreography, or to give the company a wide variety of material. Still, though, you make a good point about parody -- it's a trickier kind of work to make and present than many people think. The Trocks are remarkably effective at presenting their skewed view of traditional materials, even to audiences who don't know the source material well enough to recognize the details.

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I'm wondering if the point was to showcase choreography, or to give the company a wide variety of material.

I thought a variety of material in order to showcase a variety of dancers, though certainly featuring British choreography (or, in the case of the Nijinska solo, choreography partly associated with history of British ballet) in keeping with the rest of the program and rest of the season. That is, I thought they were going for a dancers' showcase with a distinctive Royal Ballet flavor. Of course one can think they should have chosen different pieces--for myself it is not really my favorite style of programming. (I preferred it to seeing Don Quixote though, and in the era of one week tours to New York once a decade it was a chance to see a number of different dancers.)

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THE AGE OF ANXIETY

Choreography: Liam Scarlett

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

The David Koch Theater 

2pm

 

From the beginning of this production, I was a captive audience. Bathed in crimson and blonde, Sarah Lamb's onstage presence shone forth like some kind of precious stone. Throughout the choreography, she danced her way through and around the four principal males with just the right measures of seductive and restraint. As the work unfolded, I became progressively excited for it seemed a kind of hybrid. Sometimes, I imagined myself on Broadway (Billy Elliot) or a painting by Edward Hopper (Nighthawks) or even some fractured play by Eugene O'Neil. It became quickly apparent that this Age Of Anxiety had muscle. The "girlfriend", Nathalie Harrison, moved across the stage with memorable finesse (and spectacular long legs). The angst and alienation gripping the characters to varying degrees sought to reflect a "brave new world" reaping the unexpected spiritual consequences of it's headlong plunge into post WWII Metropolis. The loneliness and despair. The desperation. But lest we all leave the theater with a bad case of the blues, members of the cast danced with such expert abandon and characterization that a fine balance was achieved throughout. One stroke of pure genius employed dramatic lighting in such a way that a kind of slowly moving "Rembrandt" emerged to startling effect. It seems possible that a little selective prunning in places for the sake of achieving a more compact result might bring even greater impact to this already brightly shinning production.

 

Rosetta.       Sarah Lamb

Emblem.      Alexander Campbell

Quant.          Johannes Stepanek

Malin.           Federico Bocelli

Bartender.    David Donnelly

Soldier.         Matthew Ball

Girlfriend.     Nathalie Harrison 

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