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2015-16 season

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

Yes, especially because she is dancing Sugar Plum, which I find unusual for a guest artist of a major company.

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Bad News and Good News

First the bad news. Osipova is injured and will be dancing none of her scheduled performances this autumn. However her replacement in Romeo and Juliet is Sarah Lamb which means that we will see her with Muntagirov as her Romeo which will soften the blow considerably.Cuthbertson replaces Osipova in Connectomes,Salenko replaces her in Tchaikovsky pas de Deux and Morera replaces her in Acosta's Carmen.I think that quite a few people will be pleased that the company has seen fit to announce the cast changes now.

Now some really good news.The new DVD of La Fille Mal Gardee with Osipova, McRae, Kay and Mosley is to be released on 2nd November and is currently available for pre-order.

Today is the open rehearsal for Romeo and Juliet, the Trocks are at the Peacock Theatre, the opera season has begun and I have been to three opera performances on consecutive nights. Autumn really is here.

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Naghdi and Ball were two of the most exciting things to happen at Covent Garden last year. They were paired as Olga and Lensky and their debut performance was not simply good for dancers with their amount of experience it was as good if not better than many of the other performances in the run.Just like Hay and Hayward in Rhapsody the previous season it showed an incredibly degree of maturity. Naghdi's performance did not come as quite as much of a surprise as Matthew Ball did.I think that he had been out for quite a time with injury in his first year in the company so there had been little opportunity to spot him as an unnamed but talented dancer in the corps who you eventually get to identify through a process of elimination.Saturday is their official matinee but by then they will have already danced the ballet twice as they were given the open rehearsal and a schools' matinee.

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Anyone planning to come over to see performances at Covent Garden during the Spring season will find that casting details for both Winter's Tale and Frankenstein are now on the opera house's website.Wheeldon has given his unscheduled second cast the opportunity to repeat their roles as second cast in this revival which will please many. All three casts will be worth seeing. Frankenstein looks good on paper too.

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P.S. It appears that Frankenstein will not be beamed to U.S. cinemas in May, replaced instead by The Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps this restriction was demanded by San Francisco Ballet, the co-producer of Scarlett's ballet. The especially keen living close to the border can cross into Canada to see it. (I suppose the same applies to Canadians who'd rather see The Sleeping Beauty.)

http://us.rohcinema.com

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I would have rushed to see the Frankenstein. Sleeping Beauty...not as interesting to me. And I'm nowhere near the Canadian border.

(I see, from the synopsis on the Royal Ballet's website, that Scarlett and/or his librettist have substantially revised the novel's plot to make it more ballet friendly. And not just ballet friendly. The novel gets you to sympathize with a figure who murders deliberately and repeatedly; evidently Scarlett decided not to take that on...)

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It seems silly to blackout the entire country. Admittedly, a six-and-a-half-hour flight from Boston to San Francisco is far cheaper than the six-and-a-half-hour flight from Boston to London, but it's not as though a cross-country journey to see Frankenstein was ever feasible for most ballet lovers. Really, how many people would say, "well, I was going to fly to San Francisco to see it, but if I can see it at a nearby cinema instead..."

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Wayne Eagling choreographed a massively popular Frankenstein back in the '80's with Jonathan Cope as the creature. Would rather have seen it revived than another version.

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Last night saw a major revival of Ashton's Two Pigeons at Covent Garden after a gap of thirty years. While.London has not been without performances of the ballet during that time as both Birmingham Royal Ballet and its predecessor company have occasionally performed it in London and the Royal Ballet School used to perform it quite often as part of its annual stage performance the fact remains that the Covent Garden company has chosen to ignore it.We did not even get the final pas de deux during the Ashton centenary celebrations.Its absence from the stage would have been understandable if it was a bad ballet but it is actually a very good ballet with three great roles for the principal dancers.

The first night cast Cuthbertson, Muntagirov and Morera were excellent.I will say a bit more about the ballet and their performance when I have seen some of the other casts. The quality of the performance has set the bar very high for the other casts during this run and makes the neglect of this work in the last thirty years totally inexplicable.

Eagling's Frankenstein has left few lasting memories and would not be on my list of ballets that need to be revived.It had some excellent stage effects but I think that the most important thing about it was that it was the first ballet in which Jonathan Cope was given a role of any significance.He was the monster.

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P.S. It appears that Frankenstein will not be beamed to U.S. cinemas in May, replaced instead by The Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps this restriction was demanded by San Francisco Ballet, the co-producer of Scarlett's ballet. The especially keen living close to the border can cross into Canada to see it. (I suppose the same applies to Canadians who'd rather see The Sleeping Beauty.)

http://us.rohcinema.com

Is this the same SB that was broadcast by the RB a few years ago, with Polounin?

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Probably the more recent performance with Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae. The Cuthbertson-Polunin performance wasn't quite a disaster, but it couldn't be described as a success either, and I can't see the Royal Ballet pulling it out of the vault.

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Most would agree, Cuthbertson was a political appointment, promoted beyond her ability by a management embarrassed by the dearth of British principals, I never felt Polunin was totally at his ease with her. Sarah Lamb is a beautiful Aurora however so I imagine that will be the performance most likely to be repeated.

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Most would agree, Cuthbertson was a political appointment, promoted beyond her ability by a management embarrassed by the dearth of British principals....

You’re entitled to your opinion, Mashinka, but there are many, many people who would completely disagree with you. Yes, Lauren Cuthbertson had a bad day when this Beauty was filmed. Even the best of dancers has an occasional off day. However, on countless other occasions, she has shown herself to be more than worthy of her position as a highly valued Principal of the Royal Ballet

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Cuthbertson gave what I (and others on this site) thought was a fine performance in Song of the Earth last spring in NY. The company as a whole made a mixed impression, but honestly, I don't think of her performance as one of the weak links. Of course, I haven't seen her in classical roles (even on video) and can't judge her overall for myself. I know she has admirers as well as detractors.

As far as bad days go: I have seen Lamb in a disaster of a performance--in what I believe is considered one of her best roles, Aurora. That is, I have always read high praise for her Aurora from fans in the UK, pretty much from the time of her debut...still, the Sleeping Beauty she danced at Kennedy Center some years ago was a trainwreck in Act I and only really beautiful in the vision scene. Even that was, arguably, a touch too Gisellesque. In Act I, I am not just talking about the rose adagio balances (which could only have been more wobbly if she had actually fallen off point) but essentially every sequence in which she had to show any sense of security.

In fact, Lamb had given an interview a day or two earlier talking about how nerve-wracking it was to perform in front of her old teachers who were in D.C. to see her. I assume nerves caught up with her, and I would still be willing to give her Aurora another try--live at any rate. But, yeah, as noted above by Bella 12, even very fine dancers can have off performances. I can only imagine their frustration when an off performance is caught on tape or film.

I could not be more excited about the Monotones/Two Pigeons program. How I wish that was coming to the United States!!!

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Well Two Pigeons and Rhapsody are due to be screened in January with the first night cast from this run due as the cast for the screening.Anyone interested in the critic's response to the revival can find them on Ballet co Forum's web site's links with the daily press for yesterday and today.

I don't think that Cuthbertson's 2011 Sleeping Beauty was her finest hour either. But I have seen her give much better performances and I do not think that I lower my standards when I watch her performances.I will admit that I am averse to the Rose Adagio being reduced to an Olympic event.with Aurora clearly going for gold as it has the unfortunate effect of distorting the ballet's structure and rendering the the third act's grande pas de deux considerably less than grand, I seem to recall that Cuthbertson had the best part of eighteen months off with injury followed by ME before this performance.Perhaps management was at fault as I think it was when Darcey Bussell, fresh from maternity leave, was first night cast of Sylvia. That perhaps was explicable as the ballet had been absent from the stage so long but it did not stop it being a daft decision.

.Each of us have dancers we would prefer not to see and the answer is not to book for them.If someone says that the dancer concerned is very effective in a role the answer is either to go and see them in the role which entitles you comment about their performance or to stay away. If you choose to stay away from that dancer's performances then you are not in a position to comment on them.

.

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In a company like the Royal Ballet with multiple triple bills, no regular pairings and frequent cast changes due to injuries, it becomes impossible to avoid any dancer in the company and therefore when you see someone on a fairly regular basis I don't see any reason not to comment on what you are seeing. I appreciate the casual ballet goer may not be aware of that.

I recently saw Cuthbertson in Afternoon of a Faune in a quadruple bill and earlier this week when I went to the Two Pigeons revival to see Muntagirov. Neither performance was one to cherish.

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The Royal Ballet has announced that principal dancer Roberta Marquez will be leaving the company. Her performance in Romeo and Juliet on December 2 will be her last this season, but she will return next season as a guest artist to perform in an as yet unnamed production. Marquez joined the Royal Ballet in 2004. During the preceding ten years she had danced at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/roberta-marquez-to-leave-the-royal-ballet

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Ricardo Cervera's performance as the Nutcracker on December 12 will be his last with the Royal Ballet after 22 years with the company. It was a role he danced on film many times, and each time the company filmed Anthony Dowell's production of Swan Lake, Cervera and Laura Morera performed the Neapolitan dance. He was also preserved on film as Lescaut, as Tirrenio in Ashton's Ondine and as Wheeldon's March Hare. Cervera will stay on with the Royal Ballet as a ballet master.

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/ricardo-cervera-to-retire-as-a-dancer-from-the-royal-ballet

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Just last night watched a recording of Royal Swan Lake w. Núñez--which for some reason turned up "On Demand" through my television's cable company--and the Cervera/Morera Neapolitan dance was one of the very best things about it...

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"Anyone interested in the critic's response to the revival can find them on Ballet co Forum's web site's links with the daily press..." How do I find this link, specifically to Rhapsody and Two Pigeons?

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[Admin beanie on]

Links to other discussion forums are no permitted on BA! Please communicate any by PM.

[/Admin beanie off]

I've passed on the info originally posted.

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Before I say anything about the current season I think that I should say something about the 2015-16  season if only to put what is happening now into context. The 2015-16 season gave  London ballet goers the opportunity to see how Kevin O'Hare was going to put his plan to build the company up from the bottom into effect and who was going to be given development opportunities in the process. Years ago Fonteyn said in an interview that she did not envy young dancers who had to wait so long for their chance to dance major roles that they became almost impossible to dance because so much was expected of them as performers and so much depended on whether those few performances which they were given, went well or not.Whereas when she had been given her first opportunities in major roles not much was expected of her. Were we now going to see young dancers given their opportunity and how would they do? Romeo and Juliet which opened the season and the Rhapsody programmes .provided some answers.

 

The season opened with Romeo and Juliet. The performances by established dancers were pleasant enough some were exceptionally well danced but none of the performances which  I attended were that exciting dramatically. Would the dancers making their debuts be any different? The answer came when Matthew Ball and Yasmine Naghdi made their official debut in the ballet. This cast grabbed the audience  by the scruff of the neck and forced them to be involved in the drama being played out on stage. It was one of the best performances of the ballet that I have seen in a very long time. It would have been difficult for Hayward's debut as Juliet to have the same impact as she had a very uninvolved Romeo in Matthew Golding.He is tall and strong but he is not much of an actor and he did not seem very comfortable with some of the  choreography such as the pas de trois  immediately before Mercutio, Benvolio and he enter Juliet's home. The critics commented on this performance ranged from saying that Hayward had done everything that a Juliet can do on her own to a hope that she would have better luck with her next Romeo.

 

One of the positive thing about the Monotones Two Pigeons pairing was that the company brought back most of the dancers who had danced Monotones at its previous revival, allowing them to build on their previous experience dancing the ballets. If I had to choose between the two casts of Monotones 2 I think that the cast led by Arestis had the edge over that led by Nunez, if only because they gave the ballet a greater sense of the flow of movement which was originally an essential element of the work than the Nunez cast managed. For me the Nunez cast was too freeze frame in its approach. Perhaps Arestis had been developing her performance over the years since she appeared in it at her main stage RBS performance. Green Monotones looked to have settled in well on both its casts

 

Of course It was Two Pigeons that I was looking forward to seeing most of all.The initial run of Two Pigeons started with one or two odd casting decisions. A friend of mine came away from the McRae, Salenko cast with a very long face and somewhat concerned that the rest of the run might be just as unsatisfactory. She said that while the cast had reproduced the steps they had failed to capture the spirit of the ballet or its style. When I saw them I did not feel inclined to disagree with her. The Choe, Campbell cast was better but Choe, like Salenko, performed the Young Girl as a generic,small scale sweet soubrette role rather than the charming but infinitely irritating young woman who Ashton and Seymour created.Campbell was extremely effective and got better with each performance, his footwork got sharper and cleaner as the run progressed and on occasion he was able to perform David Ashmole's trick of holding the Gipsy Girl aloft one handed. The Cuthbertson, Muntagirov cast were initially outclassed by their Gipsy Girl in the form of Laura Morera who, I believe first danced the role at her RBS main stage performance. She knows, understands in her bones, how Ashton should be danced and that it must not be danced cautiously but with daring and intense musicality.I think that Muntagirov found it difficult. it is not just that he is tall, Ashmole was tall too, but Ashmole was dancing at a time when dancers were expected to dance at a tempo which was far closer to the speed  at which the composer expected his music to be performed than is currently fashionable. Cuthbertson was not the first person who I would have thought of when casting this ballet either. However both dancers improved with each performance and by the time that they came to the streamed performance they were pretty good. Of all the casts who danced the ballet before Christmas I thought that the cast led by Hay and Takada, while not perfect, came closest to capturing the spirit of the ballet as they caught the element of melancholy in the work. Takada  was the first of the girls to get close to getting the epaulement right.The ballet was created on a dancer with wonderful arms and she positively drooped and wilted when Hay ran off after the Gipsy Girl. Hay had no problem with Ashton's clean footwork. It looked wonderful from the outset. With this cast the reconciliation pas de deux really registered as it should.

 

After Christmas the ballet was paired with Rhapsody, This gave the audience the opportunity to see one new cast in Pigeons on the last evening of the run and it was for me by far the best, The dancers were Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Matthew Ball who both gave fine accounts of their roles. Stix-Brunell gave us a far more fully rounded character than any of the other dancers cast in the role had managed. She used her arms well and her epaulement was more expansive than others had been. At times she reminded me of Seymour. Matthew Ball was outstanding as the Young Man. He danced the role as if the choreography had been made on him.

 

Rhapsody gave the audience another opportunity to see Hay and Hayward in the ballet which had brought them to notice in 2014.and to see Choe and Zucchetti and McRae and Osipova.Hay and Hayward were the cast which made the whole thing look elegant and easy.The Choe, Zucchetti cast were less successful than I had expected them to be. Zucchetti seemed to have some trouble with the steps on occasion.  McRae managed to make it all look very difficult while Osipova looked as if she found the ballerina role far from straightforward  at times but then the ballerina is required to do some pretty difficult things as far as  being off balance is concerned.Unless you  are really at home in the style and can dance it idiomatically it looks awkward. At least Osipova tried. I am not sure that Choe did.

 

These two programmes in particular gave some positive indication that the AD intends to do what he said he would as far as developing his dancers is concerned. Some of us were sad that he could not manage to give a few more of the young hopefuls a chance to dance Giselle,although nearly everyone turned up either in the pas de six or as Moyna or Zulme. 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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