Golden Jubilee Gala
Posted 24 July 2002 - 07:10 AM
I guess it was partly great, partly disappointing. Birthday Offering which began the evening started with a huge hiccup when the screen covering the stage got stuck 10 feet from the floor as it was being lifted. The dancing was quite nice but I'm embarssed to admit I actually can't remember much from it. I read about these wonderful ballets and I wonder what to do when I am so underwhelmed. I think I would have liked to have seen more of all seven couples rather than just Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope's pdd. Of the others I glimpsed Cervera and Gartside - Lolly, did you see who else was there?
And then, oh dear, The Vertiginious Thrill of Exactitiude followed - not just an excerpt like so much of the rest of the gala but the WHOLE thing. The quality of dancing is great of course - Tattersall, Yoshida, Yanowsky, Maloney and Watson looked very sharp and it's an interesting vehicle for demonstrating their technical strengths. But I don't find the Schubert music very exciting. Frenetic dancing gets weary after about 3 minutes, and it's bloodless, absolutely without soul. And the silly costumes! Those lime-green disc tutus for the girls, the magenta backless shirts and shorts for the guys! It was good to see Jenny Tatersall one last time though (she's just left the RB). But I'm disappointed that this is all Yoshida got to do. She obviously is as good as she's ever been and it would have been nice to see her in something that can really showcase her talents.
I feel the same way about Remanso - again the whole ballet. The physicality of the dancing is fun to watch and Bolle, Cope and Watson make the twisting, turning choreography seem so effortless. It's very impressive the way they turn their body inside out in one direction, the without any effort leap in a completely different direction. I just would rather have seen a short except.
I think it was Marguerite & Armand which followed - the last two scenes where Armand is disgusted with Marguerite and throws money at her, and then when they are reconciled before she dies. I love this ballet and Liszt's music so much. It was a little disconcerting to start right in the middle but the dancing from both Sylvie and Le Rice was so beautiful, so very, very convincing. Sylvie's expressions in the close-ups were so heartfelt, so natural - I don't care what anyone says, she is a tremendous actress. And that lift when Armand swoops in at the end, where he lifts here upside-down, then changes position so she's across her shoulders, and then again so they're face to face and her legs are flying, all the while spinning her around - wow!
Definitely the highlight of the first half was Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta in the Don Quixote pdd. Nunez has replaced Rojo in the current run of Don Q, and it seems that they are doing Cojocaru and Kobborg's performances as well. I can understand why - Nunez is fantastic. She's so young, only 20, and yet she has such charisma, such total command of the stage, to the point of nearly outshining Acosta. Acosta's solo - wow. He does these jumps where in the air, he's a 45 degrees to the stage, and sort of crosses one leg over the other at the knee and turns at that 45 degree angle before landing. Is there a name for this?! And I liked the smooth changes in position he made mid-pirouette, in complete control. A great show-stopper - a pity that the lighting was so rubbish! It seems like most of the gala was performed in darkness and it's made much worse when you're watching from a blurry screen!
Second half was much better. Started great with Scene I, Act III from Onegin, the ballroom scene. I was very surprised and happy to see that Nathan Coppen was dancing. I thought it was so great he got to do this after missing all his Onegin performances this summer due to injury. Okay, it's not a great solo, but it's just nice to see him back. Mara Galezzi's pdd with Chistopher Saunders followed and again, she was so lovely and graceful. I'm disappointed that it didn't follow with the final pdd but they haven't danced it togther before.
Leaves of Fading next, with Cojocaru and Kobborg. I don't think anyone will ever dance this as well as these two. Kobborg looks younger than I remember! I feel a bit sorry for him - he had lead roles in the whole of the Australia Tour (Leaves, Giselle, Swan Lake) as well as here (Onegin, Don Q, Coppelia), I imagine he might be a bit tired!
I'm a bit muddled about the order, but I think it was Ivan Putrov as the Golden Idol in La Bayadere, and then Bussell and Bolle in the R&J balcony pdd. And at some point Bussell and Cope danced the Tryst pdd which was controlled, languid, and absolutely terrific.
Then my favourite - a huge excerpt from Carmen, from where the soldiers light up, the pdd with Carmen (Guillem of course) and Jose (Murru), M's dance (Yanowsky), and Escamillio (Cope) and his golden hotpants. I don't know why, but I just love, love this! The humour is so appealing and the choreography extremely imaginative. I can't claim to understand half of what's going on or why dancers do what they do though! I remember reading that Mats Ek said there's great meaning behind each movement, so I want Carmen explained! And I love how the dancers really seem to throw themselves into it, the way the seem to be really enjoying it. I don't know, maybe they're just being very professional. But it looks like so much fun to dance. But I don't know what the Queen and Prince Philip made of it. They all dance like they've gone nuts - the vulgarity, the screaming, Carmen's splayed legs, Carmen pulling scarves from various parts of Jose and Escamillo's anatomy. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in that royal box.
It ended with a défilè with the artists and staff of the RB, choreographed by Christopher Carr. Very nice, especially seeing some dancers dance in costume, and others dance in their evening wear for the reception afterwards!
As soon as it was done I ran outside to see the main dancers take their bows to the crowd in the piazza and meet the Queen. Suffice to say that this part was probably the most exciting for me out of the whole evening. Some of the excerpts were a bit strange for a gala. And I missed Robert Tewsley. Plus watching on a big screen is a poor substitution for watching live - everything is dulled down. I agree with the critics that it wasn't a terribly inspiring gala for the regulars but I'd much rather Stretton not risk the dancers with further injury by rehearsing new work.
Did anyone else go?
Posted 24 July 2002 - 10:27 AM
It needn't have taken all that much extra work to put on something more interesting: for instance, everyone would have loved to see something of Cojocaru's Swan Lake, which she's just been doing on the Australian tour. And as the gala was to raise funds for young dancers and choreographers, wouldn't it have been a good idea to show some of them? To look at the cast list, you'd have thought it was in aid of Our Enormous Bills for Guest Artists. And so on.
(No, I wasn't there - I don't much like galas in any case and this one seemed a complete waste of time.)
Posted 24 July 2002 - 12:44 PM
Birthday Offering was lovely. I have only seen a bit of it on a video so it was nice to see it properly. (Ivan was dancing too Sylvia! Sorry I was watching Darcey mostly so can't remember anyone else. I must pay more attention!) The costumes are so pretty too, and the music is perfect, you find yourself almost humming along!
Vertiginous Thrill was very exciting - I had hoped they would do Middle instead but I wasn't disappointed. The girls were lovely, especially Zenaida - she makes me feel so much better about being tall, that she can dance with to such small girls as Jenny and Miyako - and still look perfect. The boys were great too - I expected Edward to be good as this type of thing suits him, but Brian was astonishing (Sylvia, did you notice in class he is very good at petit allegro - it showed last night! Is a promotion in the offing after two good roles in a gala?). Yes the costumes are ridiculous but they go with the ballet so well! It is clean and neat and unexpected - the only thing which doesn't follow that is the pretty lyrical music, and it still is a perfect match - how does that work?! High praises anyway for this.
M&A was good - Sylvie was lovely, she really is growing on me now. I have never seen a dead person with such pointed feet as her Juliet and Marguerite though.;) The moustaches on the admiring attendants were so amusing I laughed when I saw them - what with this and Onegin, the ROH false moustache department must be very busy! I suppose it is childish but they look like they are all in disguise! (can't fool me, sorry!) Even though it was only part of the ballet it was moving nonetheless. Nicholas was good too, dramatic and sweeping with the cloak bit.
Remanso is strange. I do like it but it just doesn't seem motivated like the Forsythe - it is silly and funny and the dancers always look like they enjoy it - and it is a great idea to use a wall to move around. But much of it is just running around. The dancers were good and well matched I think - all tall and strong - the part where they climb on each other against the wall at the end was lovely, very physical.
Don Q was brilliant - I can't think of two better dancers to do this show-off piece - Carlos seems a handful at times but Marianela can more than cope and doesn't let him hog the stage! He was wonderful - I think you need the kind of almost arrogance that he has to pull this off. I even wondered if he started making jumps up this time - some of them were outrageous and there were lots of gasps. The same with Marianela's fouettes - the audience were delighted! The only thing I didn't like about this were the costumes -they wore the horrid white and orange ones from the current production, not the nice gala red and black ones.
After the interval was Onegin - I thought it was a funny extract to pick as Onegin doesn't do much but walk around the edge and look bewildered and Nathan didn't have much impact I'm afraid. He is handsome though. Christopher Saunders was great - he paid so much attention to Mara it was lovely to watch. I still love this ballet but it is hard to get involved with just a taste. I love the ball part with the lifts which cross from either side - so pretty.
The Tryst pdd was a good choice for the gala as there is little set anyway. I kept thinking, "Gosh, Darcey is just so lovely!" all the way through - it is sublime just watching her move. I still don't understand the end of the pdd where they watch something go overhead then roll along the floor though.:confused: I wished they had carried on and done the end with all the corps on stage, that was my favourite part, very structured. There is a picture of this in the programme with an orange background and the dancers are just black silhouettes - and I STILL recognised Johannes! I wish I had his posture - I'm going to work hard this summer on my balance and centre as it is something I ALWAYS notice in him.
Leaves was beautiful and Alina and Johan K were perfect. I really hope they never fall out, when they dance together they are amazing! I can't think of any more ways to say they were brilliant!
Ivan was next with the Bronze Idol - I had hoped he would do this! He was fabulous as you would expect, beautiful elevation, and painted gold into the bargain! (I wonder if dancers like doing this role?) He looked quite serious and pouty but that might be the gold paint showing his cheekbones, not sure.
The Balcony pdd was wonderful, Darcey and Roberto were so in love! They do look perfect together in this, the line when they are together is so natural they are a dream.
Carmen, well, I don't like it! Last night I was almost gleefully hating it as I was with a friend who hadn't seen it before and I had told her all about it. After a couple of minutes she turned to me and mouthed, "It's HIDEOUS!", I was almost enjoying it being vulgar and awful if I wasn't hating it for the same reasons! I just can't like it, even Johannes bellowing across the stage couldn't redeem it for me, although it is always nice to see your favourite dancers even if you can't stand what they are dancing. I don't see why Ek would want to make such a grand collection of beautiful people look so ugly! The dancers seem to enjoy it a lot though, and that counts for something in my book, so I forgave it. I am not sure what the Queen would have thought of screaming cigar smoking swaggering foot stamping women but my Mother told me she will have seen much worse so I shouldn't worry!
Then the défilé started with a polonaise - quite odd seeing half of them in costume and half in evening dress! I wasn't paying attention hard enough again but my friend spotted Donald MacLeary on stage.
I had a great evening anyway - I went outside afterwards too and for some reason it was almost more exciting to see the dancers outside than on stage! It is a shame they didn't wait for a couple of weeks to give it on the last night of the season, it would have made a grand exit for the company as they begin their holidays. Deborah Bull made a good compere too, introducing the dancers outside! She still looks lovely.
Posted 24 July 2002 - 03:28 PM
I find it very interesting you think, kb, that M&A should not have been revived - I want to think about that before commenting. It hadn't occurred to me that some works shouldn't be revived at all. Do you think that about any more ballets or is it just this one?
Posted 24 July 2002 - 05:34 PM
Here's a taste (and the link):
Not a dish to set before a Queen
In the past, important royal galas have been joyous things, with festive commissions (but now we have no house choreographer) and thrilling guests from other companies. Well, nowadays the Royal Ballet has little but foreign guests to lead performances: on Tuesday Roberto Bolle, Nicolas Le Riche, Massimo Murru, Sylvie Guillem and Carlos Acosta joined those well-known products of the Royal Ballet, Alina Cojocaru, Marianela Nun~ez, Johan Kobbor and Ivan Putrov, in such gems of native choreography as Forsythe's Vertiginous Thrill, Tudor's The Leaves are fading, Ek's Carmen, Duato's Remanso and Cranko's Onegin. This is not the Royal Ballet whose activities duri ng the jubilee years we should have been celebrating. These are not works which tell anything about what a national ballet has done, nor what it should be doing, nor how it earned its right to a royal charter. Nor, in the glum presentation, does it say anything flattering about an opera house lately rebuilt and refitted at massive cost which cannot provide a smoothly functioning performance where minimal decors can be swiftly set and struck, and lighting is chancy.
Posted 25 July 2002 - 05:24 AM
One of the problems I find in ballet nowadays lies within myself. I always want better than what I saw last time and sometimes it ruins the illusion of why I'm there and that they are not just performing for me.
Buffy may be free on tv (and I'd debate the "talent" of any of the cast, but it seems to be more popular in the UK now as it's lost its edge here) but you pay for it in more ways than you may think. You also pay the high end salaries of "stars" or tv. Some might even refer to tv as "Souless, virtuosic flights of fancy"
Times are much different now then Nureyev and Fonteyn's and I think culture plays a different role to. And for that matter the boards of arts organizations.
Posted 25 July 2002 - 07:10 AM
A historical note, KB. Nureyev did not start serious training at 17, but much earlier. He went to a good, solid regional school before coming to the Vaganova Academy. One of his classmates (Alexander Minz) in an interview after he (Minz) defected said that he thought Nureyev truly believed he did not have proper schooling before 17, but that that wasn't how he was viewed by other students. What he got in Leningrad was polishing; he didn't start from scratch. I don't know why he crammed as many steps as possible into everything he choreographed -- perhaps it's a metaphor for his life. But I always wondered if he'd read all those critics who said "Agon has more steps in it than all of Sleeping Beauty!" as though Balanchine had set out to achieve just that, and quantity of steps made something great.
Back to the gala, the subject of this thread, the points that several of the British critics made, that a gala shouldn't be a slapdash sampler of what's gone on this past season, but, especially for a Royal Jubilee, should reflect the company's history is a good one, I think. At the 25th anniversary Jubilee, we got "Homage to the Queen". "Monotones" was another little gala number. The company's repertory was often enhanced by gala fare. (Ismene Brown had a good line, as she so often does: "A plate of this year's leftovers performed by any dancer still uninjured at the end of the season is not what I would consider up to the mark.")
On the other hand, perhaps we're lucky not to have gotten Stanton Welch's "Son of Homage to the Queen".
Posted 25 July 2002 - 11:23 AM
Does being passionately FOR something count for less than being passionately AGAINST something? It is a strange world.
Posted 26 July 2002 - 01:44 AM
I was at the gala, and really enjoyed it-I am certainly a big fan of the Queen and felt the gala was a fantastic tribute to her and her reign.
I also appreciated the choice of ballet, I got to see a couple of things I missed the first time around (Wow to the Vertiginous Thrill, and Hmm? to Carmen for me!) and also to reaquaint myself with things I'd seen before. I alsways think the problem with such occasions as galas is you could always argue that one thing was more suitable than another because there is such a wealth of material to choose from! I prefer to ge with the choice and get down to reallly enjoying myself!
As to the pricing, I can see its caused some consternation but I have to admit that when I got my form through i was really pleased with the pricing structure chosen. I know the top prices are a lot- but then only people who can afford it will pay that-and the money is supporting such a good cause. There was still plenty of scope for the lower price bands for those of us who don't earn thousands, not to mention the free seats in the Clore, Linbury and outside.
Overall, for me at least an extremely enjoyable night out witht he bonus of the dancers going outside to the piazza. xx
Posted 26 July 2002 - 02:05 AM
Valerie Lawson's review
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