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Jane Simpson

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Everything posted by Jane Simpson

  1. 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!
  2. It is the Cranko Shrew - Shakespeare Suite is by David Bintley - The Sonnets is a new piece by Jessica Lang.
  3. Correction, with apologies: the costume designer's name is Mia Stensgaard.
  4. I saw a couple of performances of the new Swan Lake last week: there's a lot to like which makes it all the more frustrating that Hubbe hasn't taken more care to work his plot ideas out properly. I like the basic concept (as I understand it): the King has died and Siegfried is acknowledged as his heir but must prove his worth before he's actually crowned; meanwhile the chancellor, von Rothbart, is scheming to gain power by marrying his daughter to the young prince. (Quite a familiar story from television and film these days.) Hubbe sets some of this up in the opening moments but from then on he leaves so many loose ends trailing that it's very distracting, and ultimately annoying. For instance I think I've picked up somewhere that the Jester represents one side of Siegfried's character, but you would never ever work that out from the staging and the sole purpose of the Jester actually seems to be to fill out the bits of music that are too cheerful and jumpy to be assigned to anyone else. (The problem with every attempt to modify the story is that no-one told Tchaikowsky...) The company is using the Opera House rather than the old theatre for Swan Lake and the new sets look wonderful there. (There are lots of photos and videos on the theatre's website ) They are completely unrealistic geometric structures, beautiful in themselves and completely successful in this context - and I have to say that it will be quite a shock to get back to trees and rocks and things next time I see a traditional production. They move around to suggest different locations but never while there is serious dancing going on. The Opera House has a very high proscenium opening and from the stalls you can look up and up and see the criss-cross structures stretching up into the darkness - it's like looking up in a dark old cathedral. One problem though is that the stage is very deep and some of the action would make more impact if it was played further downstage. The whole evening is beautifully lit (the designer is Mikke Kunttu, and the Elizabethan-ish costumes are by Mas Stensgaard) and if you had the misfortune to turn up some night and find that all the dancers had been stranded in fog at some airport, you could really have a very enjoyable evening just listening to the music (very well conducted by Vello Pähn - I love his phrasing in the overture and the way he keeps up the tempo - no dirge-like Act 2 pas de deux here) and watching the scenery. Most of the choreography is attributed to Hubbe and Silja Schandorff 'after Petipa and Ivanov': the Act 1 pas de trois, most of Act 2 and the Black Swan pas de deux look more or less untouched (though some of the pd3 looks bizarre to my Royal Ballet trained eyes); the prince's solo in Act 1 is by Erik Bruhn; and the national dances in Act 3 have been entrusted to two of the dancers. The Hubbe/Schandorff sections are respectable enough, and rather more than that in some of Act 4; Oliver Starpov's Russian Dance would make a perfect gala number some time, and Gregory Dean's Neapolitan pas de trois is witty and interesting. The RDB is stretched by a big piece like this and everyone, principals included, is kept very busy - for instance on both the nights I was there one of the Neapolitan princess's near-interchangeable escorts was a dancer new to the company this season and the other one was Alban Lendorf. Jon Axel Fransson and Jonathan Chmelensky alternated as Von Rothbart (a big dancing role) and Benno - Fransson goes for everything and is exciting to watch even when he doesn't quite make it, Chmelensky is quieter but his von Rothbart was possibly slightly the more scary. The corps de ballet of swans was outstandingly good - one of the highlights of the evening. I saw two casts in the leading roles: Ida Praetorius with Marcin Kupinski and Caroline Baldwin with Andreas Kaas. All except Kupinski were making their debuts. Praetorius got most of the pre-opening publicity - she is clearly being promoted as a future ballerina and it's easy to see why. Her dancing is lovely but she's still very young and her inexperience in building such a major role showed somewhat in Act 2 - much against expectations she made a much stronger impression as Odile. Both she and Kupinski might perhaps look better with different partners - Kupinski with a more sophisticated Odette and Praetorius with someone whose acting style was a better fit with her own. Baldwin was a surprise in the opposite direction - I'd expected her strong Odile but was pleasantly astonished by her Odette - lovely clear, simple dancing and and excellent rapport with her partner. Kaas was wonderful, starting with a beautifully controlled and elegant account of the Bruhn solo and following that with as touching an account of Act 2 as I've seen in a long while. Completely in love from the first moment, he never took his eyes off Odette and partnered her with such tenderness and wonder - it was as if he knew how to tame a wild hawk and guessed that the same thing would work here, persuading her gradually to trust him. It's a very young man's interpretation and I guess he may well have grown out of it even by the next run of the production, but I'm really happy that I saw him at this stage! I have another cast to see later on in the run and am looking forward to it despite the shortcomings of the staging. (posted also on another board - sorry if that's against the rules!)
  5. First reviews: darkness triumphs and (spoiler alert) Siegfried marries Odile. But it looks magnificent. Eva Kistrup Vibeke Wern (in Danish but Google translate gives you the gist)
  6. More photos of a different cast - Susanne Grinder and Sebstian Haynes - ahead of tonight's premiere: http://m.aok.dk/#scene/backstage-paa-svanesoeen-her-er-det-kongeliges-nye-store-satsning
  7. I shouldn't worry too much about the Danes' taxes, Natalia - apparently the company had a hefty donation to make the production possible. Actually I think the set looks wonderful rather than weird and am very much looking forward to seeing it in the theatre!
  8. Mostly Ida Praetorius, as Odette, with Holly Jean Dorger as Odile and Marcin Kupinski as Siegfried. The pianist is Alison Smith (I think).
  9. The new production of Swan Lake opens on Friday and lots of photographs have just appeared on the company's website: http://kglteater.dk/det-sker/forestillinger/sason-2014-2015/ballet/svanesoen#Billedgalleri The first runthrough shows J'aime Crandall and Alban Lendorf in the leading roles, the rest show Holly Dorger and Ulrik Birkkjær. There are also several brief videos of rehearsals - the latest one makes me very happy as in the background you can hear the music for the end of Act 2 being played really fast - no dreary slowing down for Odette's last entrance. The conductor for the first part of the run is Vello Pähn, who was also in charge when I saw the Peter Martins version in Copenhagen a few years ago and produced the most exciting reading of the score I can remember.
  10. This? http://svanesoen.tumblr.com/ They seem to be adding to it all the time now.
  11. Natalia, I believe that when Nureyev first mounted Act 3 of Raymonda for the touring Royal Ballet it was exactly as it had been danced in the full-length version he made for them and had only one solo in it. When he re-did it for the Covent Garden RB in 1969 he added 3 more solos from elsewhere in the ballet, and it's been given like that ever since, so far as I know.
  12. The Royal Danish Ballet is preparing a new version of Swan Lake to replace the one made for them by Peter Martins. First night is March 13th, and they will livestream an insight evening on Tuesday 24th February, 18.50 UK time. Watch it here: http://video.kglteat...ksted-svanesoen (if you click on the link now there's a button which will give you the screening time in your local area) They did this with Manon last year and I thought it worked very well. It may also give some clues about who's going to be dancing - they've published a list of 6 Odette/Odiles and 6 Siegfrieds but only a few of the pairings have so far become evident - e.g. J'aime Crandall and Alban Lendorf will dance together. The company has also put a mini-site about the preparations on Tumblr: http://svanesoen.tumblr.com/ One interesting thing that's emerging is that although the main production is credited to Nikolaj Hübbe and Silja Schandorff, it looks as if the choreography for the 4 princesses and their attendants in Act 3 is being done by members of the company. (Apologies if I've already posted this somewhere else on the site - I know I meant to do it but can't find it now...)
  13. Actually I've just remembered that Natalia said that it was in a post-performance Q&A session that Aschengrren said that.
  14. The Joyce Theatre has put Erik Aschengreen's pre-performance talk on YouTube: Haven't had time to watch it through yet but I assume somewhere in there is the bit about a 2018 Festival!
  15. Thanks for report: From Siberia to Moscos is one of the Bournonville ballets that I am most curious about...Any indication how much they have to 'go on' other than libretto, music, and jockey dance...? Frank Anderson and Dinna Bjørn made a reconstruction of the ballet for the State Ballet of Georgia a few years ago. Margaret Willis wrote a long article about it for the ballet.co magazine, including some details of what they had to work with and how it was done. Also there are a couple of clips - about 10 minutes in all - on YouTube, hard to find as they are titled 'Napoli':
  16. I saw it this afternoon. We don;t see much of the changes except Madge is danced as a man dressed in a suit, and the whole thing ends with a passionate kiss between James and Madge. Sebastian Hayes is a remarkable dancer. Amy Watson was replaced for all performances. Thank you - agree about Sebastian Haynes! Especially as he's only a few months out of his teens.
  17. Did anyone see the new version of La Sylphide? And did Amy Watson recover from her injury in time to appear at the Joyce at all?
  18. The Joyce Theatre has announced the casting for the RDB dancers' programme in January - it's reported here: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Joyce-Theater-Announces-Casting-for-The-Royal-Danish-Ballet-Performances-113-18-20141215 The only thing that isn't clear is which Madge appears at which performance: in London, Sorella Englund will dance the Gudrun Bojesen cast and Sebastian Haynes with Susanne Grinder, but there's nothing to show they'll also arrange it like that in NY.
  19. According to his official facebook page, Daniil Simkin will be dancing the lead in Lander's Etudes with the RDB in Copenhagen on January 6th. ( It sounds as if it may be a one-off, needed perhaps because it's the week when the usual casts are dancing in London.)
  20. It would be so much easier to answer this question if one could just say 'look at this - and now this - see the difference?' - the best demonstration of this I ever saw was in Ondine one season when Johan Kobborg danced the leading role in the last act divertissement, probably as well technically as it's ever been done, but dancing it as a generic showpiece, and then Ricardo Cervera did it in the second cast and it looked totally different, absolutely unmistakeably by Ashton and full of wit and character. I think it's very sad that Cervera has been so underused, but good news that he's now starting to work as a coach/repetiteur in the Ashton repertoire.
  21. Yes - and I'd love to see Alban Lendorf as Colas
  22. The RDB is reviving Hubbe's production of A Folk Tale as its Christmas attraction this season - it opens on Dec 6th and the casting has just been announced. Some very interesting debuts in leading roles - Gregory Dean and the young corps de ballet dancer Sebastian Haynes as Junker Ove (the hero), and the even younger Tobias Praetorius as the nice troll, Viderik. And at the opposite end, on some nights you could catch Gudrun Bojesen and Alban Lendorf dancing in the pas de sept!
  23. The third cast had a fine debut from Gregory Dean as James - his acting was more feverish and impassioned than Lendorf's slower burn and I thought Dean's Act 2 was just as satisfying as Lendorf's. Madge was Sebastian Haynes, who may just be 20 rather than still a teenager, but has the presence and authority you'd only expect from a much more experienced dancer - for instance the scene where he prepared the poisoned scarf was quite mesmerising. Dean seemed slightly closer to Hubbe's new plot than Lendorf did - I thought his first reaction on seeing Madge by the fire definitely showed that he recognised him from earlier in his life - and he also did the ending differently: he howled with anguish (silently, of course) as the Sylph's body was carried away and ran to Madge for the kiss which kills him - but it looked to me quite definitely that he kissed Madge rather than the other way round, as I believe Hubbe and Birkkjaer played it. So a new scenario to figure out... In the second cast, Maria Bernholdt as Madge threw herself on to James's dead body as the curtain came down: Haynes just stepped over him , completely impasssive. So evidently Hubbe has let the other casts find there own way through instead of insisting they follow his own path. Alexandra Lo Sardo was Lendorf's Sylph - light and beguiling but with some rather unexpectedly four-square phrasing where I'd expected her to dance around the music rather more. The third cast Sylph was Amy Watson, and I'm afraid I found her badly miscast - her own undoubted talents and those required for this role aren't at all a good match. Eva Kistrup has much more detail in her review of these two casts: http://danceviewtimes.typepad.com/eva_kistrup/2014/10/making-stars.html There's still a lot more to be said about why Hubbe chose this approach - he says in the programme book it was entirely a personal decision, to cure his own obsession with James by killing him - and about the decor. Plenty of people seem to like both, by the way. We saw the same cast in Etudes at both of these performances as the first cast needs both Lendorf and Dean. Holly Jean Dorger was the Ballerina and I liked her a lot, especially in the Sylphide section - there's something about the quality of her dancing that really pleases me. (Eva doesn't agree!)
  24. Somewhat difficult as there is no colour in any of the costumes, but I took notice this evening - she starts in very light grey like all her friends, then changes into very dark grey to match James's kilt, and then in her wedding procession she's in mid-grey like Gurn's kilt Can also say that the ending has been different in all 3 performances so far.
  25. First reaction: neither shock horror nor excited enthusiasm - puzzlement and impatience, rather - what I saw onstage just doesn't match what Hübbe has said he is trying to do. But it was already different from opening night, apparently - e.g. the bit Anne described, where James rests his head on his mother's shoulder, simply didn't happen. More tomorrow, when I've seen another cast and had time to read the programme note and get back to a proper keyboard. (Though meanwhile I have to say that seeing Alban Lendorf''s dancing in the second act against a plain white background is quite something!)
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