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Jane Simpson

Liam Scarlett's Queen of Spades for the RDB

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Scarlett's latest ballet opens in Copenhagen tomorrow - while we wait, the Danish paper Politiken has published an interview with Kizzy Matiakis, who dances the Countess - the photographs are wonderful! Google translate works quite well on the words.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Alexandra said:

Jane, did you see it?

I am curious about this as well (have read it about it on Danceview Times and briefly elsewhere)....would love to read reports.

Edited by Drew

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No, I haven't seen anything in Copenhagen this season (yet ). The Danish reviews have been very good, I believe.

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Yes, the reviews were indeed very good, and of course it is some kind of event, when a wellknown choreographer creates a full-length ballet especially for our company.

I saw it and was impressed but never moved by it. I liked the inventiveness of Liam Scarlett's choreography, though he couldn't keep up the steem all the time, especially the last scene where Hermann goes mad seemed to go on endlessly.

I was surprised, that Scarlett in many ways was so conventional, especially in his pas de deux's: Very much of  "man lifting and supporting woman". Most convincing actually was his ensembles and corps dances, for some choreographers, like Ashton and MacMillan, often the weakest parts. But Scarlett has an eye for creating surprising and "edgy" movements and patterns for a large group of dancers, and they are not only visually interesting but also creating meaning and telling stories.

The decor was perhaps what made the experience such a cold one. A huge steel and glass construction lit up by harsh white or greyish light was moved up and down and around the stage to etablish different locations, but without ever looking like anything but a large steel and glass construcion. 

Andreas Kaas had the leading role as Hermann. He is a very able dancer but his acting still remains, to me at least, somewhat external. He is often pairing Ida Praetorius, and I hope her naturalness and expressiveness will rob off onto him with time. She was an endearing and very touching Liza. Kitty Mathiakis was an impressive Queen of Spades, but the role and the heavy mask-like make-up didn't give her much opportunity to act, neither did the costume leave her much space to dance.

The music was by Tschaikovsky, or so the programme said... Well, in a way it was, it just didn't sound like him. Martin Yates has made a patchwork of mostly lesser known music by Tshcaikovsky, and he has orchestrated, recomposed and chained it together it in his own way, rather heavy handed and very far from the original. Being very familiar with Tschaikovkys music, I had sometimes problems recognizing his music. But as theatrical music it worked out fine. Like Lanchbery's adaptions of Massenet's music works well in MacMillan's Manon without ever sounding much like Massenet. Sometimes adaptions of this brutal kind work better on the stage, than more true- to the-original scores where the length of the individual sections of the music is often at odds with the dramatic flow.

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Thanks for this report...I thought Queen of Spades was a kind of intriguing and even slightly unexpected subject for this kind of full length ballet, so I was rather curious how it came off.

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