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So, how was your season?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 26 June 2002 - 06:01 AM

This is for everybody, anywhere. The season is either over, or drawing to a close. What were the memorable moments? What's new? What trends are you spotting?

I hope people from all over will respond to this -- I'd love to have a cross-country view of spring 2002.

#2 sylvia

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Posted 26 June 2002 - 11:43 AM

Would a cross-Atlantic view be ok? :P I think many will argue otherwise but it's been a pretty good season for me.

In London...

Highlights!
Easily my highlight was Onegin in November, staged at the RB for the first time. I was crazy about it - the choreography, the lack of padding, sets, costumes, the emotional pdd. Such first class casts - how do you beat the combination of Tamara Rojo, Adam Cooper, Alina Cojocaru and Ethan Stiefel? And seeing Alina pair up with Johan Kobborg in the lead roles a few nights later confirmed to the whole of London that we didn't have just 2 stars but a truely rare and extraordinary partnership. In February they danced the most meltingly beautiful central pdd in The Leaves are Fading. In April it was a mesmerizing Giselle, as perfect interpretations as there could be and suffused with such detail. They are incomparable!

Mats Ek's Carmen was very WOW! Shouting and screaming on stage? I adored it! So funny and inventive and absolutely manic choreography, with funky fan-shaped, bullet-ridden sets. Nothing like I expected (I expected to hate it). One that really seemed to polarise the audience but the dancers here seemed to enjoy themselves and there's nothing more fun than seeing that. Sylvie Guillem snagged most of the nights but I liked Tamara's more womanly (less animalian) Carmen better. A shame that much of London failed to cotton on to Tamara and Thomas! Thomas Whitehead was a startling eye-opener and I'm crossing my fingers for more lead roles. But nothing topped Jonathan Cope's grand entrance as Escamillo in gold lame pants, snarling, strutting and shaking his bon-bon on stage ! :)

A forever favourite, MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet - 4 superstar casts and surprisingly I thought the best star-crossed lovers were Bussell and Bolle and their marvellously fresh and incredibly romantic interpretation. My nomination for incorrigible scene-stealer goes to Ricardo Cervera, only the most charming, mischievious, BEST Mercutio I have ever seen. Best death-scene too! His ballroom solos broke land-speed records! They were so astonishingly fast and breathtaking you could FEEL everyone's hearts caught in their throats! Greatest Juliet though - easily Tamara's. I was awed. She's only the most dramatically gifted dancer/actress in the company. You could take a snapshot of her at any moment and it would be beautiful.

Other highlights - Cojocaru and Corella in Don Q. Could there be a sweeter, spunkier pairing? Likewise, Rojo and Corella in Giselle. Please come back Angel! And BTW, it was the year of the male guest artist - with Corella, making regular appearances were Acosta, Bolle, Cooper, Le Riche, Murru, Stiefel and Tewsley (who's joining the RB!). I'm sure I've forgotten somebody but who?

Zenaida, Zenaida! (Yanowsky I mean). Her chilling Myrthe and powerful dancing came close to outshining the many Giselles she lorded over. (And speaking of Giselle, I have to mention the other stars, the corps who were simply wonderful.) Likewise she was the one dancer everyone picked out in In the Middle. I was thrilled to bits that she got to dance with Roberto Bolle in the live televised 'Prom at the Palace' for the Queen's Golden Jubilee. She so deserves the recognition.

Marianela Nunez continues to stretch and convince in so many roles - she stood out in Leaves, was a sweet and suitably superficial Olga, and in spite of her 20 years a radiantly confident and seductive Street dancer in Don Q. I think she really came into her own with Bayadere. She surprised many the way she took utter command of the stage with her Gamzatti. She's a dramatic actress who lets characterisation shine thorugh her beautiful dancing.

Christopher Wheeldon's Tryst. I did a poor job of trying to explain it in my posts but what can I say? It's a rare day when an abstract ballet gets a reaction out of me. Chaotic music and edgy dancing sandwiched a Darcey and Jonny pdd of such stillness and beauty.

And speaking of beautiful pdds, 2 words. Cathy Marston, a young exciting British choreographer/dancer. She created the loveliest ballet 'Between Shadows' based on The Go-between and was performed in the Clore Studio Upstairs (in the Royal Opera House). It was lovely, intricate, so atmospheric, with intertwining strands of stories, moods and memories it seemed. Central to the ballet was breathtaking and fervent pdd between Martin Harvey and Lauren Cuthbertson, 17 and fresh out of the RBS. I'm trying not to get too excited because they're all still quite young, but she, along with Marston and Harvey are definitely ones to watch.

Jonathan Cope - he gets more attention from the fact that he's Sylvie and Darcey's regular partner, but he really comes into his own in A Month in the Country and Marguerite and Armand. He makes such wonderful use of his long limbs and Ashton's steps look clearer, more beautiful than I thought possible. And ok, his ardent partnership with Sylvie in both ballets doesn't hurt either!

The younger dancers! Along with Nunez, Harvey and Cervera, were Ivan Putrov who's Albrecht was extraordinary and got as many cheers as Jamie Tapper's Giselle. He has future principal stamped all over him. And Johannes Stepanek who's danced brilliantly in so many roles for someone who's still in the corps! He's a heartbreaker though - at least a dozen of my friends fell in love with him and his near six o'clock extensions after watching just one company class. They didn't believe me when I said he wasn't a principal!

Partnerships! AD Stretton seems intent on pairing up all the principals with each other. Along with Guillem-Cope, it's going to be Cojocaru-Kobborg, Bussell-Bolle, Benjamin-Tewsley for the forseeable future. Plus he's wised up and brought Acosta back to dance with Rojo for Don Q. And now Yoshida-Putrov?! I'm still holding my opinion on that one.

Masterclasses, Company classes, Insight days. It's a real joy to watch some of the repetitors at work. It floors me how much knowledge they've manage to retain. The most entertaining for me were Donald McLeary (R&J), Kim McCarthy (Remanso) and Christopher Wheeldon (Tryst). Mr McLeary rehearsed Edward Watson and Natasha Oughtred in the R&J balcony pdd, the first time for both of them and partcularly exciting for Natasha who's still in the corps and had "always wanted to dance Juliet". Fascinating, especially the funny names they come up with for certain steps and are passed down the generations - for R&J there's "the wheelbarrow" and "the bicycle". (I'll let you figure out which ones they are. :) ) Kim coached Jonathan Cope in his "Walk in Central Park" and described movements as "taking a shirt off" and "throwing up"! Wheeldon's Tryst pdd showcased a "Star-Wars lift" - it was the dancers who insisted on the name he said! A real insight into how dancers learn the steps, the meaning behind the movement, how hard it all really is and how much effort they put in into hiding it! They definitely give a new dimension to the steps, the ballets and especially the dancers. The company classes are wonderful, though I've started feeling terribly guilty at watching something that should be private. What's especially nice is being able to discover dancers you would never have seen or paid attention to otherwise - I got my first glimpses of Nunez, Harvey, Stepanek, and Jamie Bond here. And I'm now desperate for an Oughtred-Watson R&J!

Irek Mukhamedov's farewell to London gala (well not really, he's back as Drosselmeyer in ENB's new Nutcracker this X-mas). 'The Four Horsemen' that he choreographed to the 'clickity-clack' of horse's hoof beats and a tango. Lots of virtuosic dancing and jumping and spinning for his fellow Zorros - great fun. That was back in September - seems AGES ago now!

Julio Bocca's Ballet Argentino - more tangos, steamy ones!

Estonian husband and wife, Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks - only the most luminous Swan Queen and Prince I have ever seen. For the first time I could really see the two fall in love in the Act II pdd. Agnes is in my opinion the most beautiful dancer in the world. I have never seen such a contrast between vulnerability (she danced like she would break into tears) and utter wickedness in her Odette-Odile. This was ENB's Swan Lake 'in the round' where 64 swans dance on a big round stage surrounded by the audience. More isn't always better but I thought the Act I 'pas de douze', and the double row of cygnets were terrific. Plus it's very exciting to have the likes of Odette/Odile, Siegfried, Rothbart swanning (sorry :) ) 3 feet in front of you (there are some serious cute tooshies in the company) plus the dancers' tutus are close enough to touch (I refrained) as they rush right past you in the aisles.

Lowlights
Ok, there were lowlights too, but I don't like to dwell on the negatives so I'll be brief(ish).

The mixed bills - either a bad mix or just plain bad! Duato's Por Vos Muero I found interesting at first but it soon became extremely bland. Plus the heavy velvety dresses swamped the ballerinas so there really wasn't much dance to see. Most of them - PVM, Remanso, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude (not such a thrill) and eventually even Leaves didn't stand up to repeat viewing. Beyond Bach was a bit of a mini-disaster when injuries resulted in bits being cut from the ballet, literally last minute rehearsals and dancers sharing roles in the same performance (i.e. one did the pdd bits, the other did the solos!). Echoed in In the Middle. Very confusing. Usually rescued by Sylvie (a la Carmen, Marguerite, Natalia Petrovna - no kidding).

Miyako! Where were you! Just 4 roles this season: Kitri, Sugarplum, Vertiginous and an excellent Giselle. There's Coppelia to look forward to in the summer and she's replaced Darcey in Don Q. A word to the director, I am NOT impressed.

Likewise, Sarah Wildor's gone. Unforgiveable.

ENB's Romeo and Juliet - the Nureyev one. I didn't much like the video and I wasn't impressed with it on stage either. Devoid of any beauty or romance. Too many steps - they looked more like classroom exercises. And it's too psychological for my liking (like what was with Mercutio in Juliet's dreams?) Dmitri Gruzdyev's R was the only pleasing thing about it.

La Bayadere - I can't fault the dancing but I really object to the cheese, the slaves, the sets and choreography for the corps. Curious that I was most moved by the pas de trois in Act III when so many felt the ballet was one act too long.

Don Q. Funnily enough most of it worked really well on tv. I keep saying it, the RB dancers are terrific and funny actors from the principals right down to the corps, and when the cameras focus on the going-on in the background, it becomes hilarious. But the mind-numbing prologue and the painfully long gypsy/windmill scenes do my head in and I doubt I'll catch the summer performances even if they are the last ones ever.

**************
I think that's it - I can't think of anymore negatives. Good that they're outweighed by the positives! We're not quite done yet as we still have the summer season to go (Jubilee Gala, Onegin, Don Q, Coppelia) but my booking form's arrived for next season and I'm so looking forward to more Carmen, more Tryst, not sure about Mark Morris' Gong. Excited about the MacMillan Season (Mayerling, Manon), a new Makarova-staged Sleeping Beauty, Scenes de ballet, Le Parc and lots of Swan Lake debuts. Plus the likes of NYCB's Whelan, Boal, Soto, Somogyi and Borree will make an appearance here in September.

Sylvia

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 26 June 2002 - 05:45 PM

Thank you for this, Sylvia -- it's lovely. This is a terrific end of season wrap up -- and I'm glad to have your view of everything in one post!

I hope you all will be inspired! Short or long, what happened this season?????

#4 Calliope

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 08:28 AM

For me, finally going to see POB in Paris. It was interesting to see Balanchine done by them.

Over at City Ballet, finally the promotion of Rachel Rutherford.
The loss of Meunier and the injury to Weese. And I kind of missed Margaret Tracey.
And the development of Barak as a choreographer, I hope they truly develop her.
Didn't like the Diamond Project, once again.

At ABT. La Fille and Dream. Who could ask for anything more.
Gillian Murphy was a nice revelation and Jaffe's farewell will stick with me for a while, I wasn't always a huge fan of hers, but she showed true colors that night and it was nice to see that recognized.

Looking forward to the Kirov in NY.

#5 Doris R

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 12:52 PM

Well, most of my ballets this season were in Philladelphia, however I did see a Nutcracker in Charleston, WVA, and Suzanne Farrell's company at the Kennedy Center -- but that all seems so long ago.

The highlights for me this year? PA Ballet's Sleeping Beauty was beautiful. Going back to the fall, I finally got to see Great Gallopping Gottschalk, (what fun!) Then this winter their Jerome Robbins program included Jose Limon's Moor's Pavane and it was very emotionally charged, and yes, I had fun watching Rodin. Those were the highlights for me, and they do Balanchine's Nutcracker which is always a delight.

Pennsylvania Ballet is officially finished for the season but "Shut Up and Dance" is Friday (tomorrow) night. It's their performance choreographed and performed by the Dancers who give their time and talents to benefit the Philladelphia AIDS charity group, MANNA. This is their 10th year to do this, but my first time to go. I'm really looking forward to it!

#6 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 03:01 PM

Thanks, Sylvia (the very name of our beloved Queen), that was a beautiful report!
Sad to say, I had no season - not a single performance - nothing to see. OK, a couple of school performances, but that was it.
So, you might imagine, here we sit starving and only relying on the TV for the odd broadcast (twice a year there might be something).
That's Sweden for you...

#7 Paquita

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Posted 28 June 2002 - 11:27 AM

Here at NBoC Romeo and Juliet was the seasons biggest success and certainly a highlight for me (Greta Hodgkinson and Geon van der Wyst). I also will remember Xiao Nan Yu's opening night performance in Solitaire and her incredible balance and extension in Monotones II. Rex Harrington's Apollo was wonderful as were the 3 muses, Chan Hon Goh, Greta Hodgkinson, and Sonia Rodriguez. Apollo is now one of my favourite ballets.
Other highlights for me included:
The Stars of the 21st Century gala, in particular Dovorovenko and Belotserkovsky's Tchaikovsky pdd, and Jamie Tapper and Johan Kobborg in Giselle and Flower Festival.
The Erik Bruhn Prize. Lots of talent especially from ABT and Suttgart.
My short visit to NYC which included NYCB in Concerto in Five Movements, In the Mi(d)st, and Who Cares? and ABT's Corsaire (Corella was amazing!).
What's New? NBoC's The Contract...
Trends? NBoC this season IMO, was at it's best in the smaller ballets by MacMillan, Ashton, and Tetley than in the very classical (Paquita, Sleeping Beauty).

#8 liebs

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Posted 02 July 2002 - 04:58 PM

Serenade on opening night was the moment I'd been waiting for since 9/11.

Nutcracker was fun as always, I could see it every night.

Paul Taylor's Black Tuesday, which I saw once at ABT and once danced by his company was the best new work of the season. Taylor's dancers brought more depth to the roles but I enjoyed ABT's program, which included Rodeo (still holding its own after all these years.)

David Gordon's season at Danspace was an example of how artists can do much with very little. A simple vocabulary and a little scenery but lots to say about men and women relate to each other. Valda Setterfield and Gordon continue to astound with the depth of their passion for dancing and each other.

Eugene Onegin at the Dutch National Ballet was a pleasant surprise. Decent choreography danced with committment makes for a moving evening. I enjoyed this performance more than the one I saw at ABT, although Ferri continues to be a performer who can move you with her beautiful dancing and delicate acting.

City Ballet's repertoire continues to enrich my life. This year winter and spring brought us masterpieces such as Serenade, Prodigal Son and Divertimento #15, great ballets like Who Cares? and those B+ works by Balanchine (Walpurgisnacht, Cortege, Suite #3)that I love because each shows us some aspect of classical dancing that no one else has revealed.

I was delighted to see The Dream at ABT, although I had many reservations about how it was danced. I hope McKenzie keeps those Ashton works in the rep and revives Symphonic Varitations. Bizet looked strange to me but still I'd love to see a revival of Symphonie Concertante.

A big disappointment was Stroman's choreography for Oklahoma. She used a hammer where De Mille used an ice pick. And I never seen a production where the title song was so poorly staged or failed so miserably to get rousing applause.

I guess the new season starts with the Kirov and Merce Cunningham in July - cann't wait!

#9 dirac

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Posted 10 July 2002 - 09:59 AM

It was very nice to see SFB in "Jewels." The production left something to be desired, but nothing is perfect. (It pulled in more people than "Othello," too, which was heartening to observe.)


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