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Royal Ballet 2017-18 season

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Did anyone notice that Sergei Polunin is back?  He is.  Check out the Dancers on the RB website.  Not sure what or how much he'll be dancing, but Sergei is not listed as a guest artist as Roberto Bolle is.  Sergei is listed as a Principal Dancer.  I'm very happy for the RB and for Sergei.  I only wish I lived closer... sigh...

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It's rather confusing as he's shown as a guest  artist on one page and a principal on another - the general opinion seems to be that it's the 'guest' that's right.

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I'm a little surprised the Royal Ballet would invite him back in any capacity considering some of the defamatory things he has said about the company in recent interviews.

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Posted (edited)

I thought his stronger statements came in much earlier interviews. Have there been more recent statements?

 

Defamatory seems a very strong word to me--he wasn't happy at the Royal for sure, and doesn't bother being polite about it (in those earlier interviews that I am thinking of at least...) But even at his most negative, a lot of what he said made it perfectly clear that he was driven by his own demons. Indeed, some of his most "defamatory" statements had himself for target ... He didn't say Monica Mason was doing illegal drugs or that his partners were bored with performing or that the company press office lied about his reasons for leaving. At various point, he says all of those things about himself. (He doesn't use the word "lie" but in one interview said that some of what he had been saying in an earlier wasn't true.)

 

But in any case, he was very young, and he is very talented, and he now has something of a track record showing up for performances etc. If the Royal is willing to give him another chance, good for them and, I should think, good for their audience. Perhaps no dancer should be given infinite chances, but some dancers certainly merit more than one or two. And, from what I can tell, he is very popular in London--elsewhere too of course.

Edited by Drew

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Posted (edited)

I would also think there are people throughout the company who care about him. If I were to talk trash about my parents, relatives and even some close friends due to my own problems, they are likely to forgive me and know I lashed out because I was going through a lot. Some may not forgive and forget. Some would.

 

There are no black and white ways to react when dealing with relationships even business relationships.

Edited by Birdsall

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Posted (edited)

At the time Polounin walked out on RB, was Monica Mason still in charge?  The change in leadership may be an essential part of the equation here.  Also, the current management seems to think very highly of Osipova, and she may have some influence on laying some groundwork for Polounin to have a relationship w. RB again.

Edited by abatt

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Drew said:

Defamatory seems a very strong word to me--he wasn't happy at the Royal for sure, and doesn't bother being polite about it (in those earlier interviews that I am thinking of at least...) But even at his most negative, a lot of what he said made it perfectly clear that he was driven by his own demons. Indeed, some of his most "defamatory" statements had himself for target ... He didn't say Monica Mason was doing illegal drugs or that his partners were bored with performing or that the company press office lied about his reasons for leaving. At various point, he says all of those things about himself. (He doesn't use the word "lie" but in one interview said that some of what he had been saying in an earlier wasn't true.)

 

Talking about his own drug use wouldn't be defamatory because it's an admission of something that's true. Polunin gave a spate of interviews about a month ago in connection with his Polunin Project and the Dancer film, and Luke Jennings took issue with Polunin making "wild accusations" about the Royal Ballet, and also with the journalists reporting on the interviews for failing to do fact-checking.

 

Quote

The Royal Ballet is the best paid company, but the dancers get nothing. The stage crew get paid three times more than the dancers, and they have a job for life – dancers only have 10 years.

http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/35020/1/sergei-polunin-on-dancing-dreams-and-the-dark-side-of-drugs

 

I seriously doubt any of these statements is true.

 

Quote

I couldn't believe the industry could have gone so low. I worked 11 to 12 hours a day, six days a week and the money was bad. Before dancers were treated well – they were looked after; they could afford houses. Now we live like children. Dancers live in shared houses with three or four others; you don't have enough money to buy your own flat or to pay for dinner.

 

A footballer in three weeks earns what a dancer makes in a year. I wasn't allowed to work with other dance companies – they were all so competitive with each other and art shouldn't be.

http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/culture/culture-news/news/a40385/sergei-polunin-interview-2017/

 

I dare say not many people can afford to buy a flat in London these days. (And footballers make in three weeks more than practically everyone else, too.)

 

Quote

The company is so jealous. They won't let you work elsewhere. They won't even let you use a style from elsewhere. You work so hard: 11 hours a day, six days a week. It isn't human. I didn't know what life was.

 

If the Royal Ballet is so inhuman (present tense), I'm amazed he would want to step foot inside the ROH, or the studios of any ballet company:

 

Quote

"Some people go crazy. It’s constant pressure. People don’t eat well. They work a lot. There’s no rest. People lose their mind by 30. They really go crazy – especially ballerinas. It triggers something.” School is like the army, he says, and then at theatres the competitiveness remains. “It’s not nice. I can’t say people enjoy it. You can’t love or have fun or experience things. It’s not healthy to be in that environment.”

 

That's not exactly an accurate reflection of reality either.

 

At least one reporter did ask the Royal Ballet for comment, but apparently it declined to respond.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/26/sergei-polunin-bad-boy-ballet-felt-tricked-jealous-royal-ballet/

Edited by volcanohunter

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Posted (edited)

I did not know about this recent interview -- I better understand what you were referring to...and thanks for the quotes.

 

Some of what Polunin says (about the unhealthiness of the atmosphere especially) reminds me of issues I have seen raised over the years by dancers and students from a range of schools, and traditions. (And indeed encountered in my own ballet student days.) Some companies and schools have tried to address them in some fashion without sacrificing the necesary rigors of ballet training and performance. Which is not an easy circle to square.

 

So, without believing that Polunin is giving a balanced picture, I wish I could say I thought it was all UNbelievable or all his own personal anguish being recast as external problems. I don't think I do.

 

It certainly does not surprise me that he still chooses to dance. Even without this interview it is easy to see he has a love-hate relation with the art. And many people have a love-hate relation with what they do. And if he still chooses to be a ballet dancer, and can muster the discipline for it, then I wish him well.

 

He surely is not the first 'difficult' or maverick artist the Royal has had as a guest artist or even a principal dancer!

Edited by Drew

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The season has been announced, including a new Swan Lake staged by Liam Scarlett. (No pressure.)

 

There is a major focus on Kenneth MacMillan's ballets to mark the 25th anniversary of his death. (But is a revival of Judas Tree really necessary, ever?)

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/ballet-and-dance-at-the-royal-opera-house-201718

 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
27 September—28 October 2017

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Joby Talbot

 

Jeux (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration)
18–24 October 2017 (Clore Studio Upstairs)

Choreography: Wayne Eagling after Kenneth MacMillan and Vaslav Nijinsky
Music: Claude Debussy

As part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, The Royal Ballet dances Wayne Eagling’s short ballet inspired by MacMillan’s re-creation of Nijinsky’s lost Debussy work.

 

Concerto / Le Baiser de la fée / Elite Syncopations (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration)
18–19 October 2017

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Dmitry Shostakovich / Igor Stravinsky / Scott Joplin
Performed by: The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet

Dancers from the UK’s five leading ballet companies perform two of MacMillan’s sunniest works alongside a new production of his dark, classical fairytale, as part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration.

 

The Judas Tree / Song of the Earth (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration)
24 October—1 November 2017

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Gustav Mahler / Brian Elias
Performed by: The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet
The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet present two of Kenneth MacMillan’s most complex and important works, in the second programme of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration.

 

Sea of Troubles (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration)
26 October—1 November 2017 (Clore Studio Upstairs)

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Anton Webern and Bohuslav Martinů
As part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, Yorke Dance Project performs Kenneth MacMillan’s powerful short ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

 

Gloria / The Judas Tree / Elite Syncopations (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration)
26–27 October 2017

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Francis Poulenc / Brian Elias / Scott Joplin
Performed by: The Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet
Leading UK dance companies perform three ballets that show the range and versatility of MacMillan’s muse, in the third and final programme of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration.

 

The Illustrated 'Farewell' NEW / The Wind NEW / Untouchable 2x WORLD PREMIERES
6–17 November 2017

Choreography: Twyla Tharp / Arthur Pita / Hofesh Shechter
Music: Joseph Haydn / Frank Moon and Christopher Austin / Hofesh Shechter and Nell Catchpole

 

Sylvia
23 November—16 December 2017

Choreography: Frederick Ashton
Music: Léo Delibes

 

The Nutcracker
5 December 2017—10 January 2018

Choreography: Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov
Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky

 

Giselle
19 January—9 March 2018

Choreography: Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music: Adolphe Adam revised by Lars Paine

 

The Winter's Tale
13 February—21 March 2018

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Joby Talbot

 

NEW Wayne McGregor / The Age of Anxiety / NEW Christopher Wheeldon 2x WORLD PREMIERES
15 March—13 April 2018

Choreography: Wayne McGregor / Liam Scarlett / Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Leonard Bernstein
The Royal Ballet celebrates the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with an all-Bernstein programme from the Company’s three associate choreographers, Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon.

 

Manon
29 March—16 May 2018

Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Jules Massenet

 

Obsidian Tear / Marguerite and Armand / Elite Syncopations
14 April—11 May 2018

Choreography: Wayne McGregor / Frederick Ashton / Kenneth MacMillan
Music: Esa-Pekka Salonen / Franz Liszt / Scott Joplin

 

Swan Lake NEW PRODUCTION
17 May—21 June 2018

Choreography: Liam Scarlett after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky

The Royal Ballet presents a new production of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent classical ballet, with additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and designs by John Macfarlane.

 

The Royal Ballet School Summer Performance 2018
8 July 2018

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I'm most looking forward to the Macmillan rarities, especially BAISER DE LA FEE. I wonder how it will compare to the two versions I've seen, i.e., Ratmansky's & Kasatkina/Vasiliov's? 

 

On the other hand, only one Ashton ballet? Gee, even Sarasota tops that.

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I suspect Sarasota Ballet routinely performs more Ashton than the Royal Ballet.

 

There is Marguerite and Armand in addition to Sylvia. However, since the former is being performed this season as well, it might have been better to choose something else when so little Ashton is on offer.

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Posted (edited)

Unfortunately as 2017 marks the twenty fifth anniversary of MacMillan's death it was inevitable that we were going to have rather a lot of his ballets programmed during the entire year. I am just grateful that we have had so few of his "challenging" works scheduled for performance and that Lady M. has not managed to persuade the management to disinter Isadora.

 

As far as the Ashton repertory is concerned I am not sure that It has been specifically singled out for neglect as we have not seen much of the Diaghilev repertory either since Mr. O'Hare became AD. It would seem that he is more concerned with commissioning new works for the company, most of which have turned out to be second rate, than performing and maintaining the company's repertory of twentieth century masterworks, or acquiring as regular repertory pieces any of the major works created elsewhere in the last fifty years. Strangely in all this MacMillan's three successful full length ballets have not suffered neglect. The company has proved itself capable of programming revivals of them with such regularity that there seems to be a timetable for their revival which raises the question of why something similar can not be done for the company's founder choreographer?

 

It must be difficult for any AD running a company with a significant repertory of masterpieces to get the balance right between encouraging the creation of new works and maintaining the historical repertory I can't help thinking that an AD who wanted to achieve a balance between new works, the nineteenth century classics and twentieth century masterpieces would find a way of doing so. What makes the whole thing so frustrating is that Mason pulled so many ballets back from oblivion and now O'Hare is letting them drift back into the shadows.I have heard one or two people suggest that this is because the current AD is more concerned about his legacy than he is about his duty to make the historic repertory available to the current audience but then perhaps the problem is that while the new works don't look too bad if they are seen in isolation when they are seen in close proximity to major works they tend to look weak if not inept.I hate to think what the 2020 season will look like if Kevin only programmes new productions and works created during his directorship. A season which includes Acosta's Don Q possibly his Carmen;Scarlett's new Swan Lake,Frankenstein, Sweet Violets and The Age of Anxiety; Wheeldon's Winter's Tale, Strapless, In the Golden Hour and After the Rain;McGregor's Woolf Works, Limen, Infra and Live Fire Exercise; Dawson's Human Seasons and Schechter's Untouchable does not seem that attractive to me and could prove to be a very cheap season.

 

It seems to me that the real problem as far as the Ashton repertory at Covent Garden is concerned is that his works suffer from not having the active advocate that MacMillan has in Lady M..I am pleased to see that Sylvia is being revived but I can only guess at why Marguerite and Armand is back again so soon.It suggests either that someone significant is retiring and wants to dance it or that someone has agreed to dance in that ballet as a guest artist.From something that Francesca Hayward said in interview last night it would seem that the ballet has now become a work that dancers want to appear in as she said that she hoped that she would have the opportunity to dance it when she is older.We shall discover the reason for its inclusion in the 2017-18 season when the casting is announced, at the moment it just seems part of a very odd mixed bill.

 

It is good that Giselle is being revived as it should mean that some of the dancers who should have been given the opportunity of working with Peter Wright when it was last revived may now have the chance of doing so but in many ways I wish that his production were less of an edited highlights account of the ballet.I find the Skeaping production which the ENB dance is far more satisfying.As far as the new Swan lake is concerned from the notes in the handbook for the 2017-18 season it seems that some of Ashton's choreography will be seen in Scarlett's new Swan Lake I assume that this means that at the very least we shall see Ashton's Neapolitan Dance but I hope that  we get his Waltz , his dance of the prospective brides and his Pas de Quatre as well.

 

Having just seen the Ratmansky reconstruction of Swan Lake in Zurich which was delightful because its period appropriate performance style gives the audience has an opportunity to experience something approaching what Petipa and Ivanov intended their audience to see I think that a company like the RB should really have at least two productions of the ballet in its repertory. One a scrupulous reconstruction danced in period appropriate performance style and a second more modern version with whatever choreographic interpolations the company has acquired over the years.In the RB's case their second version  would be a version of the ballet as danced in the 1970's probably the one danced during Morrice's directorship which included Ashton's Act I waltz which requires twelve good classical dancers,in Act III his dance of the prospective brides, his Pas de Quatre, Spanish Dance and Neapolitan Dance and Maria Fay's Czardas, and his Act IV. 

 

 As in earlier years the new season will, no doubt, look considerably more interesting when the casting is announced and even if the new Swan Lake proves to be less than choreographically ideal there will be debuts and the debuts of dancers like Hayward, Naghdi, Stix- Brunell, and possibly Heap as Odette/Odile  and Ball,Clarke and Hay as the Prince will persuade me to buy tickets. As Scarlett has ,so far, chosen good designers for his ballets there is every hope that the new Swan Lake will not be the bling laden design disaster that Dowell's production proved to be. 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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