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2015-16 season

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The Royal Ballet has announced details of its next season. The link is here.

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/ballet-and-dance-201516

Cinema broadcasts will include:

Romeo & Juliet

a MIXED BILL featuring a new version of Carmen by Carlos Acosta, plus Scarlett, (brief) Robbins and (brief) Balanchine

The Nutcracker

an ASHTON DOUBLE BILL featuring Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons

Giselle
Liam Scarlett's new Frankenstein

So, folks, since many of us have been moaning for cinemacasts of mixed bills, it's time to get going to the movies.

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Is it normal for the Royal Ballet to duplicate productions (The Two Pigeons, Within The Golden Hour) or am I just reading it wrong?

Looking forward to Liam Scarlett's full evening ballet and The Two Pigeons, but not a very exciting season for me. Effects of the funding cuts? I thought with Hofesh Shecter's appearance this season we'd see a bit more variety next season but nothing. Still no choreographer on the main stage who isn't, you know, male, or the opposite of struggling to find work.

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No, it's not especially unusual for a work to appear on two different programs. This season I believe that's the case with Song of the Earth.

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The way I look at it, it's not two different programmes, it's a long run of Two Pigeons with a choice of Ashton starters!

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Two Pigeons--plus "Ashton starters"--Fantastic!

Edited to add: I'm intrigued by the revival of The Invitation too.

Keith Money's photos (really photo essays) of Seymour and Gable in both of these ballets--Seymour especially--made a huge impression on me as a child.

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No, it's not especially unusual for a work to appear on two different programs. This season I believe that's the case with Song of the Earth.

Don't think duplication like this has happened for a good many years, not since the company opted for fixed triple bills. Certainly in the early seventies various combinations of one-act works used to be programmed, so that with luck you could opt for an evening which consisted of all your favourites.

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I'm assuming Osipova will get the cinema broadcast of Juliet.

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The way I look at it, it's not two different programmes, it's a long run of Two Pigeons with a choice of Ashton starters!

A great way to think of it.

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Interesting that they're doing Giselle again on the cinema schedule -- they just did it a couple years ago.

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If it gets different casts before the cameras, I have no objections. I am surprised that there is still no sign of Ashton's Cinderella. How long has it been absent from the repertoire?

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If the recent performances are anything to go by the company need the second run of Song of the Earth to get it right. There are new younger casts dancing in the corps and it has not quite jelled. I think that the same will apply to the Two Pigeons as the company has not danced it for thirty years and unlike the position before Gailene Stock became director of the school when Pigeons was performed quite regularly at the school's opera house matinee there is no one in the company under thirty five who will have any experience of dancing it.

On the face of it the season is not very exciting but that could change once the casting is announced. I think that if Romeo and Juliet has lots of new casts using young dancers like Hayward, Nagdhi, O'Sullivan,Clark and Hay people will be reasonably happy.The same applies to the casting of Nutcracker and Giselle. I suspect that the decision to programme Nutcracker and Giselle may have something to do with the fact that Sir Peter Wright who mounted both productions will celebrate his ninetieth birthday next year.I hope that it means that the management want to get some of the younger dancers into the rehearsal room with him.

I shall be disappointed if Two Pigeons is not treated as the preserve of the under twenty fives. It is a real test of stamina, artistry and style but it does not need a whole pile of mature dancers pretending to be young.It was made for young dancers and it would provide the perfect opportunity to give a group of very talented younger dancers the chance to show what they can do without being subject to comparisons with past performances real or imagined as those old enough to remember dancers like Wall,Seymour,Gable and Barbieri in the work will be so grovellingly grateful to see it again.Fourteen performances with the opportunity for the company to get Monotones I and II right is fine by me as is the opportunity to see Rhapsody again. None of the works which are due to be performed with Pigeons are mere fillers and both versions of that programme will take a considerable amount of coaching, if only because the company dances so little Ashton.

As to the rest of the schedule I am pleased to see that the Winter's Tale is being revived but amazed that the management has decided to bring back Raven Girl which as far as I am concerned provides ample evidence of the limitations of MacGregor's "genius". They may need all those Nutcrackers to cover their losses. By the way I understand that his Woolf Works is not selling too well. Scarlett is talented and Asphodel Meadows is the real thing but at present he seems to be trying on a lot of other people's choreographic clothes. Currently he is trying out different aspects of MacMillan's choreographic territory. It would be nice if Frankenstein proves to be a break through work for him. I wonder if the full evening of Wheeldon will provide sufficient contrast.The revival of the Invitation is overdue and welcome. I think that whether or not this proves to be a good year for the company and its audience will depend very much on the casting decisions that management make. If we get casting according to suitability rather than seniority then I think most people will be happy.O'Hare has shown an unfortunate tendency to proximate casting seemingly favouring principal dancers however unsuitable over more junior ones which is the only explanation for the decision to cast Matthew Golding as Oberon last season and the announcement that he would appear in the Some's role in Symphonic Variations this season. Fortunately the owner of the ballet appears to have thought that he was not suitable for Symphonic and cast Muntagirov and Reece Clark instead.

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Although I never saw him in the role I understand Mr O'Hare used to dance the lead in Two Pigeons, so luckily for us Londoners he seems to be reviving a ballet that I imagine he has an affection for. Birmingham Royal Ballet has a far better performance record of the work and I went to Brum in 2004 for a few performances when Two Pigeons was paired with Dante Sonata, but they may have danced it since.

As far as casting goes I personally consider suitability to be more important than age: Morera, Nunez and Osipova would all be perfect for the role and if Acosta would take on something new in his final year I'd love to see him alongside McRae and Muntagirov.

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I'll bet that Osipova will get the cinemas Two Pigeons but I'm secretly hoping for Sarah Lamb. Stephen McRae *should* get the cinemas Rhapsody. Oh, what an amazing double bill DVD that would make, if it eventually is released commercially!

Two Pigeons is in the rep of Sarasota Ballet in Florida, by the way.

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It will be interesting to see whether O'Hare stands by what he has said about building the company up from the bottom up when it comes to a ballet that is to be broadcast. If he casts Pigeons according to type, based on the original cast, which he will be able to do rather than by compromise which is often forced on BRB , he will cast someone with the ability to dance like Seymour.This is a case of Ashton choreographing for Pavlova or rather Seymour as a Pavlova substitute. Morera,Nunez and Osipova are all more suited to the role of the Gypsy Girl whose allure is characterized by experience and choreographically by her attack and the obvious strength of her technique. In some ways it is almost soft, lyrical Romantic style Young Girl versus late nineteenth century Italian technique Gypsy Girl. I should be surprised if Lamb were cast in the Seymour role,She is an exceptional dancer and stunning in roles that suit her such as the Sylph and Manon particularly if she has the right partnerbut her Lise was far too serious and I thought that in the Winter's Tale she struggled to convince as Perdita because she was too sophisticated whereas Stix Brunell had no such problem.

If O'Hare is serious about giving the younger dancers opportunities then Francesca Hayward who with James Hay made a stunning debut in Rhapsody in February 2014 might be in the running for the Young Girl.She has since made enthusiastically received debuts in Manon and Alice.The Hay,Hayward debut was one that had everyone who saw it leaving the auditorium at the interval grinning ear to ear and saying things along the lines that their performance would have been stunning as a debut by anyone with far more experience but for dancers that junior it was unbelievable.

As far as casting Rhapsody for broadcast is concerned it will probably end up being a choice between McRae and Muntagirov. The 2014 performances were all very good but quite a few people who saw all three thought that the Hay, Hayward cast had the edge. Hay although

described by Luke Jennings as dancing pretty much at the edge of his technique made everything appear effortless and elegant which is what Ashton would have wanted whereas McRae seemed to emphasize the technical challenge rather than minimizing it and Zucchetti emphasized the effort.

I have just come back from an open rehearsal of Fille with Osipova, McRae and Kay which was so much fun and such a relief after all the earnest ballets that we have had recently. I Iove Song of the Earth but the Shechter is boring and too long. Today I saw a ballet made by a master working at the height of his powers.Everything works, nothing is too long.It is the ballet equivalent of stumbling across an oasis after a long journey through a desert.

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If it gets different casts before the cameras, I have no objections.

Good point.

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Scarlett is talented and Asphodel Meadows is the real thing but at present he seems to be trying on a lot of other people's choreographic clothes. Currently he is trying out different aspects of MacMillan's choreographic territory. It would be nice if Frankenstein proves to be a break through work for him.

I watch a lot of choreographers at the beginning of their careers (indeed, I'm pretty sure we all do) and this does seem to be a stage that many of them go through. It takes time to figure our what it is that you really need to be doing, and often you have to try on a lot of options that don't really work in the long run. It always makes me curious about the ballets that choreographers like Fokine and Balanchine made early on, as they were sorting themselves out. We know them primarily through their "keepers," but what about the stuff they decided to toss?

I wonder if the full evening of Wheeldon will provide sufficient contrast.The revival of the Invitation is overdue and welcome.

Pacific Northwest Ballet presented an evening of Wheeldon a couple years ago (Carousel (A Dance), After the Rain, Polyphonia and Variations Sérieuses) which managed to give a wide view of his work but still seemed like a set.

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The highlights of the season are the Ashton mixed bills, otherwise, a rather boring season. I don't usually go to ballet cinema but I may go for the Ashton mixed bill. Last time I went was Hallberg's debut with Bolshoi in Sleeping Beauty.

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Although I never saw him in the role I understand Mr O'Hare used to dance the lead in Two Pigeons, so luckily for us Londoners he seems to be reviving a ballet that I imagine he has an affection for. Birmingham Royal Ballet has a far better performance record of the work and I went to Brum in 2004 for a few performances when Two Pigeons was paired with Dante Sonata, but they may have danced it since.

As far as casting goes I personally consider suitability to be more important than age: Morera, Nunez and Osipova would all be perfect for the role and if Acosta would take on something new in his final year I'd love to see him alongside McRae and Muntagirov.

Kevin O'Hare was my first Young Man - Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells - January 1990.

BRB have performed Two Pigeons at least 3 times since 2004. It never fails to weave its magic on me.

Re casting and Ashton Fan's comment - sometimes more mature dancers dance younger than young dancers. One of the most convincing 14yo Juliet's I have ever seen was Marion Tait in her final season as a principal dancer with BRB before she moved to the ballet staff (November 1994).

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Casting for the fall season was just announced:

http://static.roh.org.uk/news/Autumn-Ballet-Casting-2015-16.pdf?utm_source=wordfly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2015_May_FOCG_autumn_ballet_casting&utm_content=version_A&emailsource=23743

I suspect people assumed that Osipova would do the live cinema broadcast (with DVD to follow later), but she's not. Instead that will be Lamb and Pennefather

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Perhaps because the Cuthbertson/Bonelli performance is already available, a new Romeo and Juliet DVD was never in the cards.

Will we ever see a Drosselmeyer other than Gary Avis? I found Alexander Campbell a (surprisingly) disappointing Nutcracker last time around, but I can always hope for improvement.

I'm beginning to wonder whether Iana Salenko isn't moving to the company full time.

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It is always interesting to see management's casting decisions transform what appears to be a rather dull ballet season into something that is worth investing in.The casting that will give greatest pleasure here are those performances in which a new generation of dancers begin to appear.The Romeo and Juliet with Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball, who both gave fine performances as Olga and Lensky last season,the performances in which Francesca Hayward dances Juliet, the casting of Anne Rose O'Sullivan in Nutcracker and the casting combinations in the Ashton mixed bill suggest that O'Hare is embarking on a programme of developing the talent within the company.Whether this is,in fact his intention will become clear as the season progresses and the casting for subsequent booking periods is announced..

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I think that a lot of people started out,much as last year, thinking that a rather dull schedule of performances for the autumn season would enable them to save money but as last year the casting has changed everything and it is all turning out to be rather more expensive than originally envisaged.

The Muntagirov, Osipova Romeo and Juliet should be worth seeing as should the Nagdhi, Ball cast and at least the Hayward part of the Hayward, Golding cast.The choice of Lamb and Pennefather as the cast to broadcast would make sense in the case of Manon where they are the best pairing that the RB can muster at present; they are very good, only the Lamb, Muntagirov cast came close last year, but as yet the magic has not worked with them in Romeo and Juliet.

I am pleased to see that Osipova's name does not appear in the casts for Two Pigeons and I hope it stays that way. I don't want to see her in everything nor McRae. Their performances in Fille were very good but the first night cast of Morera and Muntagirov were even better because they had real warmth as well as technical skill. We shall have to see what the various casts do with Pigeons and who ends up dancing the performance that is broadcast.It would be a great shame if the Salenko, McRae cast were to find its way onto DVD as it isn't clear at this point what she is like as an Ashton dancer. The first night cast of Cuthbertson,Muntagirov,Morera and Hirano looks good on paper. As to the other 2016 casts well I still want to see more of the younger dancers get a chance to show what they can do.

I know that mature dancers are often very good at playing young characters and I too found Marian Tait a fine Juliet. The point that I was making was that the repertory generally danced at Covent Garden doesn't give too many opportunities for the junior members of the company to perform major roles largely because the management feels obliged to let virtually every principal dancer show us their Romeo or their Juliet and by the time they have had two or three performances the audience is suffering from R&J fatigue. The answer is not to tack additional performances on at the end because that will mean fewer opportunities for mixed bills which provide spice and variety.The answer is to tweak the repertory as it is the choice of repertory that is the main stumbling block to the company developing its own dancers.It isn't at all clear to me why ballets like Les Rendezvous and Les Patineurs are not programmed regularly.They are ballets which test the dancer's technique and entertain the audience while Facade tests their theatrical skills. Could it be because they are enjoyable or is it because they would make a lot of the new works look vacuous? I suppose it has something to do with the fact that they don't seem to require several pages of programme notes proclaiming their creator's genius.

The greatest mystery of all is why Raven Girl is being revived.It is said that it is going to be revised but the kindest thing would be to put it out its misery.It will be fascinating to see how well it sells. I would not go to see it even if I was paid to do so.

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I am bitterly disappointed that Osipova isn't dancing in Two Pigeons, she would be perfect in the role.

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Well I'm thrilled that a certain Mr Campbell is cast in Two Pigeons and have got my ticket for 5th December. He was a terrific Colas and I am sure he will be the same as the young man in Two Pigeons! (It's a shame he hasn't got a chance to dance Romeo; having seen him dance the role with BRB I know that he is a very fine Romeo indeed).

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