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Ashton Fan

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  1. Drew, I think that there would be plenty of people who would love to see the Bolshoi's reaction to the news that they would be dancing a Ratmansky reconstruction of La Bayadere. But I can't make up my mind about what would cause the company greatest consternation, whether it would be the news that everyone would be dancing in period appropriate style with low extensions, the loss of Solor's Soviet style choreography, the loss of the Golden Idol, the full restoration of mime sequences or the news that everything was to be performed at the tempo indicated in the score ?
  2. Royal Ballet Giselle

    The Guardian review is now available but it only covers the Hayward Campbell performance. Perhaps members of the press felt that two debuts within less than twenty four hours was too onerous a burden. Anyway the Guardian report is not behind a paywall nor is the Dancetabs review nor the review in the Telegraph.
  3. Royal Ballet Giselle

    The current run of Giselle performances promised London audiences two eagerly awaited debuts with both Hayward and Naghdi dancing the title role for the first time. As it turned out it there were also two unscheduled debuts in the role of Albrecht by Benjamin Ella and Alexander Campbell. Ella, replacing McRae who is injured, made his debut dancing with Takada as his Giselle while on Friday night Campbell, replacing Sambe,made his official debut with Hayward as his Giselle. In fact the Friday night performance was Campbell's and Hayward's third performance of Giselle as they had already danced the ballet at the Friends Open Rehearsal and at the Taylor Family performance for school children. On Saturday afternoon Naghdi and Ball made their scheduled debuts in the leading roles of Giselle and Albrecht. Debuts in major roles like Giselle are always of interest but two important debuts within twenty four hours is unusual at Covent Garden. There is a very positive review in the Daily Telegraph of the Friday night performance by Hayward and Campbell and a less enthusiastic one in DanceTabs by Jann Parry of the performance which the same cast gave at the Taylor Family matinee for school children. She seems to have problems with Campbell's Albrecht who is not sufficiently blue blooded and noble for her tastes. He is on the short side and looks more like a demi-character dancer than a nobleman but as he gave a masterclass in unobtrusive partnering in act 2 I have no complaints. I wonder what her response would have been if the originally announced Sambe had danced the role as he is also short and on the stocky side. As far as press coverage is concerned I suspect that most of the papers which still cover ballet will publish their reviews early next week and report on both the performance given by Hayward and Campbell and that given by Naghdi and Ball. Although whether or not they will be given much column space is another question.
  4. Mnacenani, The information given under the heading "Credits" states that it is the Vikharev reconstruction. I can't help wondering not only who is going to stage it but who is going to coach it and what performance style will be adopted? I seem to recall that in her autobiography Tchernichova had some pithy things to say about the pedagogues' shocked disbelief when faced with this reconstruction in 1999. It was to the effect that most of the coaches who had criticised Vikharev's reconstruction for radically departing from Konstantin Sergeyev's "authentic" Sleeping Beauty had criticised Sergeyev's production for its lack of authenticity when it was first staged in 1952. At that time the very people who were now claiming to be shocked by Vikharev's staging were fully aware of the changes which Sergeyev had made to the ballet's text in order to create his "authentic" version.
  5. Royal Ballet Giselle

    Hayward and Campbell danced at the Friends Open Rehearsal of Giselle. As it is not the done thing to write about such performances in any detail I shall restrict myself to two comments. Much as I like Sambe and believe that he has enormous potential seeing Hayward and Campbell dance together at the rehearsal left me wondering why they had not been cast together initially and feeling very pleased that I have a ticket for their official debut. It would be interesting to know precisely what Kevin's views on partnerships are as he seems simultaneously to believe in them and not believe in them depending on the dancers concerned. Casting rarely seems to follow any obvious logic such as always pairing inexperienced dancers making their debut in major classical roles with an experienced partner as Naghdi and Ball, up until now, have generally been cast together in joint debuts with no one worrying about their shared lack of experience. I understand the need for dancers to be flexible and capable of dancing with a wide range of colleagues but I don't see the logic in not allowing other dancers to achieve a similar level of familiarity and trust with each other comparable with that currently enjoyed by them. Dancing with someone whom you trust implicitly gives far greater scope for full out "risk taking " dancing and artistry than dancing with someone whom you are not entirely sure about and you are learning to trust does. In case anyone feels the need to correct what I have written here in the light of the casting announced for the company's new Swan Lake I have noticed that Ball is due to dance with Osipova and Clarke is dancing with Cuthbertson.
  6. 2018-19 Season

    Perhaps it just feels like it, but with the exception of the MacMillan cash cows,Kevin seems to need to have significant anniversaries to justify reviving major works by dead twentieth century choreographers connected with the company. As far as commemorating Robbins and Nureyev are concerned he does arguably have the beginning of the 2018-19 season in which to redeem himself. He may feel it politic to do so simply because staging a new production of Swan Lake with less of the original choreography than we have become used to seeing, and very little of the Ashton choreography as an alternative text may prove to be something which does not achieve the success he mus be hoping for. I shall wait until the next RB season is announced before I start to complain about these lapses. Mussel I don't think that the ROH has yet become the House of McGregor-Wheeldon -Scarlett. I believe that "pleasure" awaits us in the 2020 season. Wheeldon and Scarlett do at least continue to create works which use classical dance vocabulary, indeed Scarlett has said on more than one occasion that he considers the movement which McGregor creates to be dangerous for dancers. Going back to the original topic the choice of repertory at POB for the coming season. I had imagined that at the very least the company would have decided to revive a couple of Nureyev's stagings of Petipa's ballets and some of the nineteenth century works with which Nureyev was associated as a dancer such as Giselle. I imagine that the repertory selected represents the sort of works that Dupont liked appearing in and the sort of works she would have liked to have danced. Now up to a point a director is permitted to stage works by choreographers they admire but if in doing so they abandon their company's heritage and ignore the need to provide development opportunities for the dancers for whom they are responsible they are guilty of dereliction of duty. As others have said it raises the question of exactly what sort of company Dupont wants the POB to be. May I ask is a petition likely to have any effect ?
  7. "Swan Lake" a la Liam Scarlett (what to expect .....)

    Dear Mashinka, You liked the Markarova production a lot of people I know did not for the reasons I have given. I did not say that the text which Markarova selected was bad simply that it was derived from a different tradition. I agree with you about the designs which were good. As far as the current Sleeping Beauty is concerned I think that the main problems with it are the sluggish speed at which the ballet has been performed in successive seasons, some Auroras concentrating on the Rose Adagio at the expense of the ballet's second and third acts and their role's over all trajectory and the casting and coaching of the Prologue Fairies. At times their casting has suggested suggested that they were selected by drawing names out of a hat.At least at the last revival the presence of Mr Kessels in the pit ensured that the ballet was danced at a speed which reflected Petipa's musicality. As far as my hopes for the new Swan Lake production are concerned I hope that it will have designs which create an appropriate mood for the ballet, ensure that it is visible throughout the theatre and that it is danced at a speed and in a style which reflects both Petipa's and Ivanov's musicality thus ensuring that in act two the corps de ballet and Odette look as if they are appearing in the same ballet. I also hope that Scarlett's choreography is not too at variance with the rest of the text being danced and that if it is too awful it is replaced in double quick time by either the original choreography or Ashton's.
  8. "Swan Lake" a la Liam Scarlett (what to expect .....)

    The short answer is "Too long". In fact Bjornson's designs with overly fussy costumes, a listing palace and the flight of stairs down which Aurora made her entrance just before embarking on the Rose Adagio only "graced" the stage from 1994 until 2003 when Dowell's production was replaced under Stretton's directorship by one staged by Markarova. Unfortunately this production did nothing to endear Stretton to the local audience. He had staged Nureyev's Don Quixote for the company ignoring the fact that its not the sort of ballet which plays to the company's strengths and that de Valois had declined Nureyev's offer to stage it for the company some forty years before.That had been bad enough but with his new Sleeping Beauty produced by Markarova using Konstantin Sergeyev's choreography Stretton was seen to be ignoring the ballet's local performance tradition. The company was given a version of the ballet based on revisions to the text made in the 1950's that are part of modern Russian performing tradition which not only ignored the fact that the ballet had an important local performance tradition dating back to the Diaghilev company's staging at the Alhambra in the 1920's but its significance to the Royal Ballet's sense of identity and its understanding of its history and development. For the Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty is not just a classical ballet it is THE classical ballet.
  9. "Swan Lake" a la Liam Scarlett (what to expect .....)

    There was no real problem with the Dowell production as far as the choeographic text was concerned apart from the fact that Ashton was so upset by the removal of all of his choreography for the ballet that he refused to let Dowell use his Neapolitan Dance. It was Sonnabend's design which people objected to and which led many to stay away from the Royal's performances of the ballet for years. The Neapolitan Dance which had been part of the text of the Royal's Swan Lake since 1952 was only restored after Ashton's death. Unfortunately the bling laden designs remained with us until the very end. I somehow suspect that if it had not been Dowell's production the designs at least would have been replaced long ago. Last season Scarlett was interviewed by Monica Mason at an Insight evening. I found it intriguing when he said that he had only agreed to be interviewed because she was to be the interviewer. At one point he said that she had not let him undertake some projects and that he now recognised that she had made the right decision. The frightening thing for me was that he said that he liked the design ideas for Dowell's Sleeping Beauty which was another design disaster as far as I was concerned.Towards the end of the interview she asked him what he could say about his Swan Lake. He answered that he was still doing his research but he was keeping the Ashton Neapolitan Dance because he had enjoyed dancing it. He said that he was aware of the company's tradition and he recognised what a great responsibility he had been given. I have to say that I was rather impressed by this response from someone in his early thirties. What we have been told about the new choreography suggests that, for good or ill, Scarlett is following the lead of the 1963 production or one of its off shoots which were staged in the 1970's. The indication that he is giving the prince more to dance could simply mean that he is going to give him a moody solo at the end of act one which while it may not be in the original text did the ballet no harm and was part of the RB's Lake from 1963 onward until Dowell's production was staged. It's the suggestion that we might have a dancing Rothbart which gives me more concern. If the new text is disliked the company has a number of textual options available to it. The real problem will arise if the designs are as badly thought out as those for the Dowell production were simply because they cost so much.
  10. Royal Ballet Summer Season Swan Lake Casting !!

    I am afraid that I can't be much help here.Usually student's performances mean that the amphitheatre is allocated to students and the general public can buy seats elsewhere in the house but that does not seem to be the case for this performance as the entire house seems to have been allocated to students . I have no idea what sort of prices they have set for the students' performance but I suspect that they are very cheap much as the tickets for the Welcome Performances are. Ticket prices for the Welcome Performance seem to be set at between £5-£20. It looks as if the Welcome Performances are intended to ensure that they sell out so the company can tick the box for attracting whatever percentage of the audience the Arts Council has decreed needs to be made up of newcomers.
  11. Royal Ballet Summer Season Swan Lake Casting !!

    Meunier fan, I was not intending to give a complete account of Ball's career in my earlier post but you are quite right Naghdi and he made a wonderful pairing as Olga and Lensky cast with Osipova as Tatiana and Golding as Onegin. Most inexperienced dancers would have been pleased to hold their own against that sort of cast but their performances were outstandingly effective and affecting .Here are some more basic facts about Ball's career. He joined the company in the 2012/13 season. He was promoted to First Artist in 2015, to Soloist in 2016 and to First Soloist at the end of the 2016-17 season. Such regular promotion is far from usual, although Clarke seems to be following a similar trajectory. As Mashinka said in an earlier post the Royal Ballet is looking very good at present with real talent at every level of the company. Two male principals were absent through injury during last season but I am not sure that anyone noticed their absence as far as the quality of the performances which the company gave are concerned. The number of talented dancers in its ranks at present means that no one is surprised if a junior dancer is paired with a far more senior dancer, as happened when Clarke was cast with Cuthbertson in Sleeping Beauty last season, if a very junior dancer is cast as a replacement for a senior one as happened when Clarke replaced Golding in Symphonic Variations a couple of seasons ago or a very junior dancer is simply cast in Symphonic Variations as happened last season when Joseph Sissens was cast in the Brian Shaw role. It seems that the company is finally benefiting from Gailene Stock's directorship of the Royal Ballet School.
  12. Royal Ballet Summer Season Swan Lake Casting !!

    Such casting information as the Royal Ballet is prepared to divulge for Swan Lake is now available on the Royal Opera House website. It gives details about who is dancing Odette/Odile and Siegfried and who is conducting each performance. The bulk of the performances are to be conducted by the company's music director Mr Kessels who not only believes that Tchaikovsky was a great composer but that his indications of speed and dynamics should be followed in performance. This gives a strong indication that when he is conducting the various Odette/Odiles will be appearing in the same ballet as the female corps as far as the speed at which the second act is to be danced is concerned. Interestingly Mr Kessels is sharing conducting duties with Mr Ovsyanikov who has a different view of Tchaikovsky's markings. He seems to take the view that it is the conductor's duty to indulge the ballerina as far as the speed at which she wishes to dance her choreography is concerned which has often made it look as if Odette and the female corps were dancing in two completely different ballets.
  13. Royal Ballet Summer Season Swan Lake Casting !!

    Mnacenani I am not sure whether your question is who is Matthew Ball or whether it is why is Matthew Ball dancing with Osipova . While I can't tell you with total assurance what was in management's mind when it decided on the casts for this initial run of the Royal Ballet's new Swan Lake I can tell you something about Matthew Ball's career so far. He joined the company in the 2012-13 season and is now a First Soloist. Although management does not favour partnerships he has been cast quite regularly with Yasmine Naghdi the company's newest principal dancer. His first big role was as Romeo with Naghdi as his Juliet. He made his debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy's cavalier and the prince in Sleeping Beauty dancing with Naghdi during the 2016-17 season and partnered her in Emeralds during the same season. They got very good reviews for their debuts. They really do seem to bring out the best in each other. In early 2016 he made an exceptional debut as the Young Man in the Two Pigeons with Stix- Brunell as the Young Girl. Their performances were pitch perfect and the most idiomatic of the entire run. In early 2017 towards the end of the run of Sleeping Beauty he made his debut as the Bluebird, not a role that I would have expected to see him perform as he is not a dancer who I would classify as a technical virtuoso, but he gave a good account of the role. During the latest run of Nutcracker he appeared in the Chinese dance which as revised by Peter Wright is far more technically demanding than it was originally, as well as appearing as the SPF's cavalier. I am not surprised to see Ball's name in the cast list. I think that most people had expected to see him make his debut as the prince in Swan Lake dancing with Naghdi making her debut as Odette/Odile. However management seems to be taking a safety first approach to casting as all the dancers making their debuts as Siegfried or Odette /Osile in this run of Swan Lake have been cast with experienced partners. Naghdi making her debut as Odette/Odile is to be partnered by Kish and Hirano who is making his debut as Siegfried is partnering Lamb. As far as the Osipova,Ball pairing is concerned she has appeared with him in Wheeldon's Strapless and presumably is willing to dance with him. She will be appearing with a talented young dancer who has, so far, proved to have impeccable manners as a partner. He shows every sign of being a fine dance actor and partner. The pairing promises to be fascinating. I don't think that anyone would be that surprised if he were to be promoted to principal at the end of the season. He seems to be a front runner, if not the front runner, for the next promotion to that rank.
  14. New DVDs from the Royal Ballet

    The Royal Ballet's new recording of The Sleeping Beauty is now due to be issued on the 2nd February. The performance on this all regions DVD is conducted by Koen Kessels who gave an interview to Gramaphone Magazine in which he made his admiration for Tchaikovsky's ballet scores abundantly clear. The result is that the ballet is danced at a speed much closer to the one at which Petipa expected his choreography to be performed than has been usual in recent years at Covent Garden. The cast is lead by Nunez and Muntagirov . The Prologue Fairies are Choe , Takada, Naghdi, Hinkis and O'Sullivan and the dancers appearing in the third act divertisements include Naghdi, Sambe and Magri as Florestan and his sisters and Campbell and Takada as the Bluebird and Princess Florine.
  15. Frederick Ashton Foundation Master Classes

    As I understand it these events are being arranged and recorded to provide archive material for the Ashton Foundation. I find it interesting that the 2016-17 master classes included the Prince's solo from Sleeping Beauty which is an element in the company's standard text of the ballet when the other pieces of choreography being coached in these master classes are real rarities. But when you see Clarke being coached in the solo you realize how much essential detail has been lost and how necessary it was to record the solo being coached by the first man to dance it. I am fortunate enough to have seen all of these pieces and while I am particularly pleased to see The Walk to the Paradise Garden being coached by Merle Park I can't help regretting that it has taken so long for this to happen and thinking about what has been lost in the meantime. Like everything else it is probably a mixture of lack of money and the shortsightedness of the rights holders who did not recognise the need to protect and preserve what Ashton had left them which has led to the current state of affairs. But then the company's ambivalence towards its Ashton repertory has contributed to the situation and has no doubt influenced the rights holders view of the artistic worth of Ashton's legacies to them. Ashton said that he did not think that his works would outlive him and most of the rights holders seem to have shared his assessment of their likely future viability and contributed to it as until recently they have taken little or no action to ensure that the ballets left to them would be performable in a recognisable form after they were unable to stage the works themselves. The good news is that the foundation now has artistic control over three of them. Brian Shaw's ballets were left to the Royal Ballet School by Derek Rencher and are managed by the foundation which has been able to buy Daphnis and Chloe but the rest are to a greater or lesser degree at risk. At present I would think that Fille is in greatest danger as it now belongs to Alexander Grant's partner who is a non dancer. As the foundation was only established in 2011 some twenty three years after Ashton's death there is rather a lot of work for it to do. So many dancers who should have been involved in the project of coaching and recording ballets being coached died long before it got off the ground.