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Scenes de Ballet/Winter Dreams/Sinfonietta

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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 January 2003 - 03:34 AM

One of the beauty parts of "Scenes" is that unless you know about that background material, you won't notice the geometry, it's so skillfully used.;)

#17 Jane Simpson

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Posted 10 January 2003 - 05:09 AM

One of the interesting things about this programme will be to discover what is this year's take on the costumes for Scenes de Ballet: for years people used to complain that they were dated and dowdy; then at the last revival they were suddenly seen as amazingly chic again. Also it'll be interesting to see how Cojocaru gets on in Fonteyn's role. I agree with Mel that you don't need to know anything about how Ashton made the ballet, or what he thought of it himself - it's just a masterpiece, vying with Symphonic Variations for a place in the programme I'd choose for my last night on earth.

I'm looking forward to seeing Dowell in Winter Dreams - I think it's arguably one of the three best roles he ever had made for him - but very different from what you might expect, if you've never seen it before!

It's ironic that Ross Stretton saw Kylian's Sinfonietta as the highlight of the whole season - I wonder how many of the audience will agree with him? - but since he left it's had almost no publicity at all. (Kylian and the RB fell out sometime in the 1980s and this is the first time since then he's allowed them to do one of his pieces.)

(Actually ANYTHING would be interesting, after a straight run of something like 40 performances of Swan Lake and Nutcracker!)

#18 Dale


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Posted 10 January 2003 - 09:53 AM

Kylian's Sinfonietta is done in New York at American Ballet Theatre. It has a lot of jumping, lots of earnest earthy folk looking at sunsets and, if I remember, rolling on the ground. No pointe shoes for the women. I guess it is considered a good piece for men.

I can't believe Stretton thought that would be the highlight of a season that included Scenes de Ballet and I've never seen Ashton's ballet. Unfortunately, I've only seen photos of the work (and the costumes look gorgeous, very chic).

#19 Drew


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Posted 10 January 2003 - 09:17 PM

While I agree that the 'highlight' of this program, certainly, for me would be the Ashton, I think Sinfonietta -- if well danced -- is pretty thrilling. When I saw it first (with Kylian's company) and later with ABT, I enjoyed it very much. The music has a brilliant, brass 'fanfare' type opening. At the Metropolitan Opera House, ABT had several instrumentalists placed in boxes so that the opening brass surrounded one; I assume this is an effect that Janacek wanted.

The choreography is definitely contemporary not classical or even neo-classical, and I mostly remember the repeating series of big, simple, but in my opinion very effective, grand jetes that punctuate the entire work. But though the choreography is in an athletic, contemporary style, I find that it manages to seem easy and joyful rather than merely driven and acrobatic. If the company captures that quality it could be a hit. So, as a contemporary-style repertory acquisition for the company I don't think this a bad choice at all -- unless one thinks the company should not be doing any contemporary ballets and I wouldn't go quite that far.

#20 sylvia


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Posted 11 January 2003 - 10:22 AM

I've just come from the triple bill rehearsal and I'm kicking my heels round Convent Garden til the Cathy Marston double bill tonight. Not a review - just some thoughts as I'm dying to say...how much I loved Scenes de ballet!! Everyone I spoke to kept saying the same thing - how beautiful the choreography and Stravinsky music is (I want to buy a CD now!), how good the dancers were, especially Alina (partnered by Kobborg). I think the only quibble I have is the costumes - Alina looks wonderful and fresh in daffidol yellow but I wasn't keen on the funny head pieces for the girls - they make them look like little birds, and the guys look like they're wearing t-shirts for a punk concert! I'm sure it will all grow on me :)

Jonathan Cope is injured - I quite gutted but I hope he can still make the last performance of Winter Dreams.

#21 grace


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 02:04 AM

well i must be a very boring person: i don't even remember sinfonietta, although i know i have seen it. i find winter dreams boring in the EXTREME! and scenes de ballet leaves me cold. i wouldn't even attend this program, if i could. :(

i am amazed to discover that ashton rated it so highly (scenes)...that's one thing new i've learned today. :)

#22 Lolly


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 02:25 AM

How exciting Sylvia! Do name some names - who was coaching, and who danced?

I am very excited about Monday now, it sounds like an interesting conbination of ballets. And it feels like I haven't been to ROH for ages!:(

#23 sylvia


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 04:58 AM

Lolly, it was a stage rehearsal so the coaches were probably watching off stage. But names, here you go!

Conductor - Charles Barker

Scenes de ballet
Music - Igor Stravinsky
Choreography - Frederick Ashton
Designs - Andre Beaurepaire
Lighting - John B. Read
Staging - Christopher Carr
Ballet Mistress - Gail Taphouse
Principal Coaching - Lesley Collier, Antoinette Sibley

Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg

Ricardo Cervera, Yohei Sasaki, Joshua Tuifa, Edward Watson

Dierdre Chapman, Emily Low, Isabel McMeekan, Vanessa Palmer, Jane Burn, Mara Galeazzi, Laura Morera, Samathan Raine, Victoria Hewitt, Bethany Keating, Sian Murphy, Natasha Oughtred

Winter Dreams

Music - Tchaikovsky, arranged by Philip Gammon, Thomas Hartman
Choreography - MacMillan
Designs - Peter Farmer
Lighting - John B. Read
Staging - Grant Coyle, Monica Mason

Piano - Philip Gammon

Olga - Nicola Tranah
Masha - Darcey Bussell
Irina - Tamara Rojo
Andrey Prozorov their brother - Edward Watson
Natasha his wife - Genesia Rosato
Kulygin Masha's husband - Anthony Dowell
Lt. Colonel Vershinin - Inaki Urlezaga
Lt. the Baron Tusenbach - Alistair Marriot
Captain Solyony - Martin Harvey
Dr Chebutykin - Chistopher Saunders
Anisa the family nanny - Sandra Conley
Maid - Vanessa Palmer
Soldiers - Kenta Kura, Ernst Meisner, Richard Ramsey, Johannes Stepanek


Music - Leos Janacek
Choreography - Jiri Kylian
Designs - Walter Nobbe
Lighting - Kees Tjebbes
Staging - Jiri Kylian, Roslyn Anderson

Ivan Putrov, Jonathan Howells, Ricardo Cervera, Jose Martin, Thomas Whitehead, Bennet Gartside, Martin Harvey

Marianela Nunez, Tamara Rojo, Emma Maguire, Jane Burn, Dierdre Chapman, Vanessa Palmer, Zenaida Yanowsky

#24 sylvia


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 05:14 AM

Winter Dreams was lovely - a little long but lovely. I found it so much better on the bare stage than on video (which I kept fast-forwarding through). I really feel like MacMillan's choreography brought out the best in the dancers. Sinfonietta - ummmm...I'll wait til I see it for real before posting anything. :)

#25 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 06:38 AM

An OT question just arises in my mind: I wonder if Ricardo Cervera is some twig off the family tree of the great Spanish naval family. Old Admiral Cervera once lost a sea battle, and was taken onboard the enemy flagship. He so charmed the officers and sailors that they all wondered who had won and who had lost! If Ricardo has that sort of deportment, he must be something to see and watch for the future!:)

#26 Lolly


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 07:39 AM

Ricardo is definitely charming. A candidate for Fancy Free perhaps?;)

Thanks Sylvia. Castings look great - aren't we lucky!

#27 sylvia


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Posted 12 January 2003 - 06:39 PM

Very lucky - there's so much to look forward to this season. :) It's a nice to see so much of the company featured in the same night - the male soloists are especially prominent.

I'm excited about Sylvie Guillem and Nicholas Le Riche's RB debut in Winter Dreams - wondering who's cast as her sisters. Anthony Dowell was great to watch btw - it's the first time I've ever seen him dance on stage!

#28 Lolly


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Posted 14 January 2003 - 01:07 PM

Oh my goodness, what a GREAT evening! I was enthralled from start to finish. Casting was the same as the rehearsal Sylvia posted.

Scenes de Ballet is beautiful. When it started it made me hold my breath, it was a lovely moment. The dancing is so quick and neat, I loved the regimented feel and the definite positions. The boys' costumes were nice, lilac tights and black velvet tunic with geometric shapes. But I bet they got very hot! The girls were in pale blue tutus and bizarre little black hats - and all the pearls were a bit odd! Alina Cojocaru wore a yellow tutu and was as aparkling and happy as ever, and Johan Kobborg looked deservedly pleased with his tours en l'air. I really need to see this again - maybe there is a video of it?

Winter Dreams was wonderful. It was so emotional - the characters were so vividly portrayed you couldn't help but feel their sorrow and pain. And of course I was incredibly excited to see Anthony Dowell....:P

I really liked Sinfonietta. I had been afraid it would be dull, but it was really lively! Now I can see why my ballet teacher insists I take a contemporary class too - the whole thing was just like what I do in that class - there were loads of movements and stuff I recognised - it was great! The speed and the jumps - I loved it. I will have renewed interest in my class now.

Everyone was right when they said it was a piece for the boys, but it was great to see Marianela Nunez and Zenaida Yanowsky in it. The boys were superb, they had such energy. I liked Martin Harvey and Bennet Gartside dancing together, and of course Ricardo Cervera shone all the way through - he is such a performer, you always feel that he really wants to be there and everything he does is the best he can do - nothing is done by halves!

I liked the costumes too - pale greys and blues and browns - although the skin-toned one was slightly unnerving! After all those Nutcrackers it was good to see the dancers in this, being kind of natural and looking like themselves.

I can't wait to go again. This triple bill is unmissable I think - if you don't have a ticket, get one quick! I am off to read the programme notes...

#29 Alymer


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Posted 14 January 2003 - 03:13 PM

I was very happy to see Scenes de Ballet back in the repertoire, but I couldn't say it was particularly well danced. It's a curious piece, unlike any other Ashton ballet I can think of, but beautiful. However, it demands a great deal of chic and style from the female corps de ballet and these are qualities sadly lacking in today's Royal Ballet dancers. It also requires epaulment - which Ashton himself once remarked 'must be a lost art'. They performed the steps nicely enough, but I longed to see the beautiful young women of the Paris Opera in those elegant hats and jewellery.

The idea of having two tall and two short supporting men seems to have been abandoned. All four were short. Amazingly, they all performed their tours en l'air rather better than Kobborg, who was definitely doing one and a half, and generally seemed to be having an off night. But I think in this piece he is at a disavantage being small and slight. It needs a big man - as was Somes. Cojacaru danced very prettily, but both she and Kobborg were playing to much to the audience and for me this is a piece where the dancers dance and the audience is allowed to watch - you don't throw winsome smiles in every direction. And I think you need a real ballerina to dance the variation and gifted and lovely as she is, I don't think Cojacaru is there yet.

I'm not a fan of Winter Dreams which is essentially a series of solos, pas de deux and dances for small groups of characters from Three Sisters. It's over-long at 52 minutes and I generally find myself in sympathy with Mandelstaum who apparently remarked 'give them three tickets to Moscow and the play would be over at the end of Act I'. It can have moments though, but last night was pretty flat. Tamara Rojo made something of her role as Irina, but Bussell dancing with Inaki Urlezaga was rather muted. Beautiful, big, light jetes though. He I thought totally miscast. Urlezaga was substituting for an injured Jonathon Cope, so this may well have affected Bussell's performance. I shall be interested to see what Guilleme and Nicolas LeRiche make of the roles on Friday.

I always think of Sinfonetta as run, jump and yearn and IMHO it gives everything it's got in the first couple of performances you see. However it's a big crowd pleaser and it should make the dancers move. Rojo and Marianella Nunez in the two principal women's roles were fine and among the men I liked Ivan Putrov and Thomas Whitehead, though it was rather alarming to see that Zenaida Yanowksy actually jumped higher than her partner.

However, to me it seemed as if most of the dancers, men and women, were trying to dance the piece in that nice, neat Royal Ballet style, which just doesn't go with Kylian (who incidentally rated the longest bio I've ever seen in a Royal Ballet programme). If Stretton's idea in bringing in this piece was to make the dancers really move, an aim with which I can sympathise, then so far it hasn't succeeded.

Curiously, Scenes de Ballet, the oldest ballet on the programme, looked by far the most modern. Who says you need to move on from pure classical technique.

#30 anoushka



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Posted 15 January 2003 - 08:45 AM

I am really glad I get to see this Triple Bill again on Thursday, as one watching isn't enough!

Scenes de Ballet was lovely to watch, those I was very worried about the girl's pearl hats, which I thought might come off at any moment! The colours worked eally well together, though I would never have thought a yellow tutu (Alina Cojucaru) against the pale blue tutus of the corps would have worked. Johan Kobborg certainly looked very happy to be there, but wow, did those boys look warm! Their little velvet jackets looked superb but must have been a trial to wear!

I adored Winter Dreams-I really felt for the characters, espeically after seeing Anthony Dowell dance. He was excellent, and projected so well on stage. I felt a little in conflict for Darcey Bussell because if it had been me, I would have rathered stay with him, than go off looking for love elsewhere!

Sinfonietta was also superb, it really was an excellent evening. I was very startled to see Ivan Putrov leap out of the far back corner of the stage in a flesh coloured outfit, for one moment my heart stopped! All the boys were great in this, with Martin Harvey and Bennet Gartside providing a great comparison in their blue outfits, to the others.

It was also lovely to see Marianela Nunez and Zenaida Yanowsky, though it was a shame they weren't in it more! In fact as soon as it was over, I wanted it all over again!

I recommend going to see this one, without fail! xx

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