Gala for Sir Anthony Dowell
Posted 24 May 2001 - 08:34 AM
(I'm also still in shock that I managed to be there at all. Like so many others, I applied for a ticket, but didn't get one. So in a fit of insanity - or so I thought at the time - I went down to London yesterday to queue for returns, expecting to find that 10,000 other ballet fans had had the same idea. To my amazement, I was second in the queue, but the word was that there was a waiting list of 100..200...700 depending on who you'd been talking to. There was NO chance of returns. NONE. But the queue didn't budge and eventually....we got in. Amazing.)
Inside, there were tons of flowers. The programmes were being sold by girls from The Royal Ballet Upper School (wearing pink tutus and mostly standing in taking-a-call ballet postures). They looked sweet and told me they had standing room for the performance.
As for the Gala itself, Anthony Dowell narrated throughout and was both interesting and audible (important for those of us in the upper Amphi). The dances were from roles for which he was famous.
I'm not going to go into detail about everything that happened last night, however, or it would take about six months to write it all down. Perhaps other fans will help me out here. I'll just mention the highlights (for me!).
The first half of the programme was:
- a piece for all the boys at the Royal Ballet School - great to see the students dance (and dance SO WELL!).
-'Scherzo' from the 'Dream' (Ethan Stiefel, Giacomo Ciriaci, Jane Burn, Mara Galeazzi, Laura Morera and Jenny Tattersall.)
- The black swan pdd from Swan Lake with Yoshida and Johan Kobborg.
- 'Monotones' with Zenaida Yanowsky, Maurice Vodegel-Matzen, Alastair Marriott.
- First highlight for me was the 'Awakening pas de deux' from 'Sleeping Beauty' - some Ashton choreography I'd never seen before (but would like to see again). The Kirov play this music during the interval before the Awakening scene. It was beautifully danced by Belinda Hatley and Igor Zelensky.
- The 'Troyte' solo from 'Enigma Variations' came next, well danced by Edward Watson.
Dowell told us about one of his early performances. He had a tricky entrance through some scenery and the music was supposed to start when he got on stage. One day they had a famous guest conductor (my brain is failing - was it Klemperer?? Help me someone.)...and the music started while Dowell was still in the wings. 'I don't think I've ever run so fast,' he said, and it took him some time to catch up with the music.
- Another highlight was the 'Thais' pdd (Leanne Benjamin and Roberto Bolle). Roberto looked absolutely stunning....and his dancing was brilliant too. Leanne, too, did a good job.
Talking about his first performance in the role, Dowell said they hadn't had as much rehearsal time as they'd have liked, especially since the costumes were a bit tricky, so he and Antoinette were extremely relieved that it had gone well. But when Ashton came out for his applause at the end, he held up his hands for quiet. 'Would you like to see it again?' he asked. That, said Dowell, was his only experience of an encore.
- And the first half ended with the third act pdd from Manon with Viviana Durante (greeted ecstatically by her fans) and Jonathan Cope (looking great).
The interval. Floral Hall was a mob scene. Forget finding anyone you knew or getting a drink. But wonderful to see everyone in 'black tie'.
- Once again we began with the Royal Ballet School, this time performing excerpts from 'Souvenirs', an interesting and amusing ballet choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Wonderful to see so much young talent.
- Act II pdd from 'Giselle' with Viviana Durante and Kumakawa.
- 'A Month in the Country' with Alina Cojocaru and Jonathan Cope.
- Another highlight was the good old Don Quixote pdd with Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo. Acosta was brilliant (intricate and complicated jumps, great height...) Wasn't sure about Tamara at first, but her fouettes...! Usually I count, but this time I lost track. I think, however, that there were at least three triples amongst them.
- Adam Cooper and Sarah Wildor in 'Varii Capricci' - looking great together.
- Luke Heydon in Kulygin's solo from 'Winter Dreams'.
- Final highlight: Well, we thought the evening was almost over, but the lights dimmed and then we saw a short pdd for Sibley and Dowell. Not sure what it was called, or who did the choreography. (The story was simply the accidental meeting of two ex-lovers on a park bench, who discover that they are each reading the same poem.) I found this extremely moving - and I COULD NOT believe how great they both looked together and how well they danced.
- The programme ended with the Finale from 'Symphony in C' (Yoshida, Yanowsky, Benjamin, Bull, Cope, Acosta, Kumakawa, Persson.) At the end the back curtain went up and we saw all the students from the Royal Ballet School (of course half the proceeds of the evening were going toward the new building for the Royal Ballet School upper school, which will be on the other side of Floral Street, just opposite the stage door at Covent Garden. Someone told us later that the Gala had raised 700,000 for the new building. And later it was announced that one of the new studios would be named for Sibley and Dowell.)
- And then we had FLOWERS. Lots of them. And also a 'flower shower' from above. Great to see Darcey Bussell come out with a huge bouquet for Dowell. (Darcey looked terrific.) Then two rather chubby footmen appeared bearing more enormous bouquets...one of the footmen lost 'his' wig....and everyone laughed as they recognized Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. (Unless I was hallucinating and it was someone else! Well, I was at the back of the Amphi!) And finally Dowell himself appeared again, bearing yet another enormous bouquet which he presented to Antoinette Sibley.
What a night. Sigh.
Posted 24 May 2001 - 09:22 AM
[ 05-24-2001: Message edited by: Jane Simpson ]
Posted 24 May 2001 - 09:45 AM
Posted 25 May 2001 - 01:14 AM
A few notes: the Ashton awakening pdd from "Beauty" was choreographed for a production in the late 60s. It was the production in which the tutus were knee length (except Fonteyn's - she took a pair of scissors to her skirt). That pdd was one of the few moments I really liked, and I always wished they had retained it afterwards. I was at that "Thais" premiere and remember the fact of the encore well. As for the "Enigma Variations" incident, I think the conductor to whom Dowell was referring was most probably Sir Adrian Boult. If I remember my facts correctly I believe Sir Adrian personally knew Elgar. I do know that he did conduct "The Enigma Variations" for the Royal Ballet at one time, because one of my fellow notation students did a project on "non-verbal communication", and sat in the orchestra pit notating Boult's expressions and gestures whilst conducting!
Posted 25 May 2001 - 05:39 AM
Incidentally, I understand a film about Dowell was shown on British Television which may eventually make its way across the Atlantic. Someone was describing it over on ballet.co - and apparently Dowell tells the Thais anecdote on that, too, but with comments from Antoinette Sibley.
Am still hoping to hear from others who were there, at least for a rave about their own favourite dancers. Trouble is...a LOT of fans didn't get tickets.
Posted 25 May 2001 - 07:36 AM
Have you considered psoting your review up on the ballet.co page, or maybe putting up a link to this page instead? If the guys over there haven't found their way here yet already, I'm sure they'r love to read it. There are a few sketches of who performed what, but no detailed reviews yet.
Posted 25 May 2001 - 09:44 AM
Posted 25 May 2001 - 02:44 PM
In the farewell gala programme for Sir Anthony Dowell’s departure as artistic director of the Royal Ballet, Sylvie Guillem, the ballerina he called “Mademoiselle Non”, puts her side
“As you know, I dislike not to have the last word,” she says. "Therefore here are some ‘Yes’s’.
Yes, I admire and respect you.
Yes, sometimes you were right.
Yes, I appreciate your sense of humour.
Yes, I said ‘No’ many times.
Yes, Rudolf Nureyev was right when he said you were the finest dancer in all the world.
Yes, I love you.
Yes, I like gardening and not because you said I bury all my enemies in the garden."
Posted 26 May 2001 - 08:27 AM
It was a brilliant gala with fantastic dancing. Here are some of my highlights:
Yoshida and Kobborg - Black Swan Pas de Deux the best I have seen them dance with such energy an inspiration to many a young dancer.
The Pas de Deux for Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell. This was a very moving and poingent piece.
I thought the evening was wonderful and truely magical.
My brother also queued for 9 hours and I believe he met someone who posts on this site.
Posted 26 May 2001 - 10:23 AM
It is the one gala that I am very unhappy about missing--I hope all the people who were there on corporate expense accounts appreciated the love and talent in that house.
I was also very happy to hear that the RBS will benefit from the proceeds...
Thank you again--
Posted 26 May 2001 - 11:55 AM
Every time I have another look at what's being said over at ballet.co, I discover another mistake I made. Now someone's talking about the RBS girls in blue tutus(oops, I thought they were pink - must be going colour blind!)
Kevin, thanks for that amazing piece of information about the dinner afterwards. Really makes you think, as they say. And thanks also to Colwill for posting that quotation of Sylvie Guillem's from the programme. Thought what she had to say was very, very interesting.
James, your brother (an extremely charming and intelligent young man!) DID meet someone from this site: ME! I really, really enjoyed meeting him - and was also delighted to meet your Mother. I WISH I'd known where to look for you on stage but thought the boys in that section looked GREAT. I was so pleased to hear things have been going well for you (touch wood!)! What was it like back stage? I bet the atmosphere was amazing.
Posted 26 May 2001 - 02:12 PM
Everybody was very friendly and excited to be involved in a gala for Sir Anthony Dowell. It was one of the best performances that I have been involoved in while a student at the Upper School.
Posted 26 May 2001 - 06:06 PM
Posted 28 May 2001 - 09:15 PM
I couldn't help wondering where Irek Mukhemedov was.... is he injured or not performing much with the RB anymore? I would have thought that since he was brought over by Dowell and was one his brigtest stars that he would have been there.... Just curious if anyone knows the inside scoop!
Posted 29 May 2001 - 12:10 AM
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