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Ashton Fan

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Posts posted by Ashton Fan

  1. I do wish that the ROH's marketing department would buy themselves a thesaurus as they are working the words "excited ", "exciting", "thrilled"and "thrilling" to death. The truth about the forthcoming ballet season is that the two new works make it interesting and the works selected for revival come as no surprise at all and even when their casts are announced are unlikely to excite or thrill. With the casting which has been announced for the first booking period the season remains an interesting one rather than an exciting one. In my view the 2021-22 season as a whole is far too serious and would have benefited  from considerably less earnestness and a bit more frivolity in the mix. A revival of Fille even if only for eight performances would have been a great improvement.

    The 2021-22 season is essentially a conservative one much of which is  designed to generate income. It holds few surprises because most of its contents were originally programmed for the 2020-21 season. Kevin has promises to keep in terms of premieres and major debuts in Swan Lake. The Dante Project was supposed to be premiered this season and was intended to be the last work which Watson appeared in as a dancer and company member. At the same time a  number of younger company members several of whom have recently been promoted to the rank of principal were prevented from making their scheduled debuts in Swan Lake by the pandemic which is why the ballet is being revived. I understand why Romeo and Juliet and Nutcracker are being programmed but not why there are quite so many performances of either ballet. I can't help thinking that another revival of Coppelia would have been in order if only to provide a choice of ballets at Christmas. The 2019 revival was very successful and left most people who attended those performances wondering why Coppelia had been out of the repertory for so long.

    Even if I end up disliking it I am intrigued by the thought that Wheeldon is making a ballet based on " Like Water on Chocolate" to me it seems as improbable and potentially as foolhardy as making a ballet based on Rostand's Cyrano Bergerac. The best news  for me is the Ashton mixed bill and the fact that it does not include Marguerite and Armand. The return of Scenes de Ballet is welcome but I do wish Kevin would permit us to see a much wider range of Ashton's output rather than a selection of works which simply reflects his own likes and  dislikes. Daphnis and Chloe would be at the top of my list for revival closely followed by his revivable works from the 1930's including Apparitions and A  Wedding Bouquet.

     

     

  2. I don't want to put people off watching the streamed performance of this mixed bill. It is,I think, one of those programmes you will either love or hate according to your taste and expectations about dance. Those who are curious but unsure about whether they should invest in a ticket to watch the streamed performance of this programme can get a taster on You Tube in the form of rehearsals of the two works by Pite both of which I am pretty certain show the dancers due to appear in the streamed performance. All you have to do is search for "The Royal Ballet rehearses Crystal Pite's The Statement and Solo Echo".

     

  3. I strongly suspect that Kevin's taste runs to serious dance works rather than anything even daring to hint at fun and frivolity. I have little doubt that this first programme  reflects his personal taste. I think that Within the Golden Hour was almost unavoidable because it was not going to need as much time to be stage ready as a new work would have required. The problem is it is little more than a solid piece of choreography that comes in handy when you are putting together a mixed bill. It is essentially a useful ballet rather than a work with hidden depths which reveals more about itself with repeat viewings and at the moment for me,at least, it is suffering from over exposure.  I do wish Kevin had given more thought to the mood likely to be generated by the juxtaposition of the works selected for this programme. If he had done so we might have been spared quite such a depressing evening. Perhaps he felt that a familiar Wheeldon, a world premiere and two company premieres by living choreographers on a programme packaged as "21st Century Choreographers" with its evidence of creativity and promise of more would be sufficiently inspiring to dispel any sense of gloom. Well it did not work for me.

    The all too familiar Within the Golden Hour was followed by a family row for three dancers by Kyle Abraham and two works by Crystal Pite. The first of Pite's offerings was The Statement which struck me as something akin to a cartoon for dancers, the second was Solo Echo in which the choreography seemed  to have little connection with the music which accompanied it. The dancers did their best with the works they had been given to perform. All four works had atmospheric lighting which simply added to the general gloom. Although I am sure that the current crop of earnest critics would not agree with me but I could have done with a large dose of dance fun and frivolity. I am afraid I left the theatre thinking how much better an all Ashton mixed bill of Les Patineurs, A Wedding Bouquet and Facade would have been for all of us. 

     

     

  4. Sarasota's latest programme provided an opportunity to see three Ashton works long neglected in London. We should have had the opportunity to see Valses Nobles et Sentimentales as part of a mixed bill which was due to be staged in the Linbury last summer but Covid put paid to that. This made the opportunity to see a streamed performance of Valses Nobles et Sentimentales even more welcome. This ballet is one of a number of neglected works which Ashton  revived towards the end of his life. I remember seeing it at Sadler's Wells in the late 1980's and I never understood why the SWRB did not keep it in its active repertory.

    Seen in isolation, which is how I saw it in 1987, I did not realise how much of a watershed the war had been in terms of Ashton's stylistic choices. Valses Nobles, together with Symphonic Variations and Cinderella can,and perhaps should, be seen as a manifestation of Ashton's post war statement about the central role which classical ballet and the ecole de danse played in his concept of dance. Valses Nobles was the second occasion on which he had used this particular Ravel score but where in his 1935 ballet for Rambert he had created a narrative work in 1947 there is no obvious story and the relationship between the dancers is elusive and hinted at, and what really matters is the dance. As the streamed performance gave me the opportunity to watch the ballet more than once I began to see any number of choreographic ideas that Ashton would use again in later works often to entirely different effect. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to see the work again and even more grateful to see it more than once.

    I almost feel that it is unfair to write about The Walk to the Paradise Garden as the only cast ever seen in it in London were the dancers for whom it was made. This is a considerable advantage for any dancer but the original cast had other advantages both Wall and Park were well suited in height and both had considerable experience in handling tricky lifts, not only in making  them look normal and natural but in using them to expressive effect. Before I saw the performance I had seen a comment about the performance which suggested that the essence of this ballet was the Bolshoi lifts which it contains. But that is not what struck me when I first saw it in the 1970's. What I saw was a short and very effective narrative work.  I am sure the technical challenges which the lifts used in the ballet present are the last thing Ashton intended the audience should be aware of in performance.  I hope this is not seen as being unfair but to make this ballet work the dancers need to have complete technical mastery of the choreography so that the entire piece appears spontaneous and effortless . The  audience should never be aware of any of the challenges the choreography presents in performance. I was pleased to have seen the piece again. I should certainly like to see it revived at Covent Garden say with Hayward and Bracewell.

    Finally Facade a ballet about dancing made for the Camargo Society first performed in !931. It wears its years well and it is always a pleasure to see it. Its neglect at Covent Garden is perplexing as it works with audiences who know a great deal about dance and those who know nothing. Perhaps the powers that be at the Royal Ballet are suffering from a bad case of earnestness and deem this ballet too frivolous. Thank goodness the Webbs are not of that opinion.

     

  5. I am saddened by Scarlett's death but equally I am certain that everyone has the right to a safe workplace where they will be free from bullying and sexual harassment. The Royal Ballet/ RBS investigation seems to have been a protracted affair. We heard that Scarlett had been banned from the theatre and  many months later a formal announcement was made that the company was severing ties with him. I think that the fact that they did not drop his staging of Swan Lake may well say more about the amount of money spent on it than anything else. I don't think that the decision to sever ties with him would have been taken lightly.

    I think that the company would have found it very difficult to deal with the matter in any other way for two very basic reasons both of which must have loomed very large in the minds of all engaged in the process of investigating the allegations. First the reputation of the school as a safe place to undertake vocational training and second recollections of the length of time it took to dislodge  Ross Stretton when serious allegations were made about his conduct and his casting methods. I don't think that anyone in the company's senior management team would have been ignorant of the circumstances surrounding Stretton's departure. They would know that David Drew had gone out on a limb to tell the board what they did not want to hear about Stretton and that it did not seem to be enough to prompt any sort of action or enquiry by the board . They would know that It seemed to have taken Lady MacMillan's threat to withdraw the MacMillan repertory to make Stretton's position untenable. If there was evidence to support the allegations made against Scarlett and if things had really changed since Stretton's time and management now took its obligations to its dancers seriously then a slap on the wrist was not going to be an adequate response.

    As to the nature of the allegations I seem to recall that when the Times first reported on the matter it referred to allegations that young male dancers were being asked for intimate photographs in exchange for roles in Scarlett's ballets that would usually go to more experienced performers. Now remember that RBS students work with the ballet company from time to time sometimes to dance and sometimes in walk on parts to gain stage experience. Whether those students are from White Lodge or the Upper School as an educational establishment the RBS is in law in loco parentis to its pupils and has a legal duty to protect them. Its child protection duties apply to its students whether they are in the school buildings or in the theatre, This is why the director of the school was so quick to announce the result of the investigation in so far as they related to the school. It must have come as a great relief  to him that no child protection issues had been raised in respect of the school or its pupils. As far as the company was concerned it had to act decisively if it was to make it clear that certain types of behavior were not acceptable and would not be tolerated whoever was involved.

     

  6. Perhaps I am being naive but this stage I interpret the Royal Ballet's silence  as reflecting nothing more significant than the fact that the death of anyone in their mid thirties is unexpected. While I am sure that the management team has prepared any number of tributes for the deaths of major figures in the world of British ballet I don't think they would have anticipated this death. As far as company members are concerned it is just possible that most of them are still processing the news and coming to terms with it and as Janet has pointed out twitter does not provide the opportunity to say much, let alone anything nuanced.

    Scarlett had shown real promise as a choreographer while still at the Royal Ballet School. One of the unusual things about his works from a very early stage was his ability to get his dancers on and off the stage in choreography that was interesting in its own right. The exits and entrances  he devised  for his casts never looked like the logistical exercises they can often appear to be in works created by young choreographers. He was working within an recognisable classically based tradition and yet he had an increasingly identifiable voice and as he showed in his work for the school he had the ability to make works which showed young dancers of different ages and thus of different levels of expertise to their best advantage. At the age of twenty six a special choreographic post was created for him and he seemed to be on track for a bright future as he made well received ballets for his home company and companies abroad. Then allegations were made about his conduct and the golden future disappeared.

    The Royal Ballet School and the company were sufficiently concerned by the allegations made concerning the choreographer's conduct  to undertake an investigation into them. This was no more than you would expect any employer or any institution engaged in training children and young people to do in such circumstances. The internal enquiry revealed no child protection issues in connection with his conduct towards the RBS students who had worked with him on various projects. The Royal Ballet chose to sever its ties with him and he lost his post as resident choreographer which indicates, to me, that there were significant concerns about his conduct towards company members or at least some individuals in its ranks.  Various people have commented on the lack of criminal charges arising from the investigations but I think that does no more than indicate that the actions which the enquiry revealed did not cross the line from misconduct into criminality.

    I have no idea what employment law is like in the US but in the UK it is perfectly possible for an employer to find that  an employee is guilty of misconduct sufficiently serious to amount to breach of his employment contract where the behaviour complained of does not amount to criminal activity. The employee has a remedy in law, if he feels that he has been treated unfairly, and that is to take his former employer to the Industrial Tribunal. As to why so little was said at the time about the enquiry's findings it seems more than possible to me that giving any sort of detail would have made those who had complained of his actions almost instantly identifiable and opened them up to harassment from the press, in a sort of double victimisation. 

    I think that most members of the company will mourn the loss of a young choreographer with such obvious talent and potential regardless of what they think of him as an individual. His death seems such a waste.

  7. I am sorry to learn of Liam Scarlett's death as he was a young choreographer who during a short career managed to create a number of striking dance works which plenty of people many years his senior who describe themselves as choreographers would have been pleased to have made. I can't help feeling sorry for his family. His death must have come as a real shock given his age.

    As far as the Times' headline is concerned I wonder what happened to the old idea that you should not speak ill of the death? But of course the paper is now a part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and has been for many years. Perhaps the only surprise is not the headline but that it took so long for the Times, which once had a reputation as a journal of record and a publication where serious journalism was undertaken , to find its place in the gutter along with Murdoch's other tabloid rags. 

  8. Reading through the names  does not suggest to me that there is any great need to worry about the long term viability of the company. The dancers named are largely performers who have probably come to the conclusion that having reached a certain age and without any realistic possibility of further further promotion or of dancing in the foreseeable future the offer of voluntary redundancy represented an offer they would have been foolish to refuse. As the redundancy is voluntary the  payment that each dancer will receive is likely to be quite generous and very useful for anyone who has been planning what they will do when they stop  dancing. As far as the company as a whole is concerned it may well make things more secure for the apprentice dancers  of 2020 and may, perhaps, make it easier to offer apprenticeships in 2021.

  9. A new recording of de Valois' production of the ballet is due to be issued on the 23rd October 2020. The cast in the recording is headed by Nunez and Muntagirov with Avis as Dr. Coppelius. Although Coppelia was the first nineteenth century ballet the Vic Wells company ever danced it has had a somewhat patchy performance history since the company acquired its royal charter and became the Royal Ballet with lengthy periods of neglect followed by enthusiastic rediscovery for relatively short periods. Last Christmas gave audiences the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the work and once again raised the question why Coppelia does not have the regular place in the repertory it deserves.The cast selected for the streamed performance are excellent, even if Nunez is perhaps a trifle mature for the role of Swanhilde at this stage of her career, and does not bring the same freshness to the comedy of the second act that Hayward did on the opening night. Avis makes the role of Coppelius his own rather than trying to follow Helpmann's interpretation of the role while Muntagirov is charm itself and makes Franz's solo look ridiculously easy.

  10. The event held in October 2019 has been placed on the Foundation's website. It is of interest because a large part of the afternoon was devoted to coaching a section of Foyer de Danse which dates from the early 1930's when Markova was working in London and appeared at Rambert's Ballet Club. There is a film of this early Ashton work made by a ballet enthusiast which has tantalised people for years because it is clearly incomplete and many have thought it was too fragmentary to work on. On the basis of what was shown last October it seems that Ursula Hageli has solved many of the problems with the film . Using a computer she was able to slow the film down and found that by doing this the  choreography fitted the music. In her opinion, presumably based on the handful of bars which were left without choreography, the only sections of the stage action which are missing are the dancers' entrances and exits which were not filmed. However as the work was made for Rambert's Mercury Theatre which had an exceptionally small stage and a limited number of options as to how to enter or leave it devising something to provide stage action to fill those bars  of music should not prove an insurmountable challenge preventing the work being revived. The biggest obstacle is likely to be Kevin's limited enthusiasm for such works. As to whether it would be worth reviving the ballet? It was still in Ballet Rambert's active repertory when the company visited Australia in the late 1940's which suggests that it would be worth seeing restored to the stage.

    The second part of the event was devoted to a gala piece which Ashton made for Park and Eagling in 1975 which they only danced about three times and about which they admit to remembering very little. It is still of interest.

  11. While I am not a great Cathy Marston fan the Cellist may be of interest as it was made on Cuthbertson, Ball and Sambe all of whom are on top form in their created roles. My problem with it in the theatre was that I thought it could have done with some serious editing and that Marston had wasted a large number of talented dancers who seemed to have little reason to be on stage except to populate it as moving scenery and occasionally to act as props. My main interest in this DVD will be in Dances at a Gathering which again provides an opportunity to see a lot of the company's dancers but this time used to considerable effect. I was lucky enough to see the Royal Ballets original cast in the work and the impact of those performances has remained with me ever since. When it was announced that D A A G was replacing the previously advertised new ballet by Liam Scarlett I bought tickets for every performance which I could attend and I was not disappointed by either cast. This is a recording that I am likely to buy. It is due to be issued on the 22nd January 2021.

    There are rumours that last season's revival of Coppelia which was streamed to cinemas with a cast led by Nunez and Muntagirov will find its way onto DVD. I hope it proves to be true  because while I would have preferred to see a recording of the performance given by the first night cast led by Hayward, Campbell and Avis a new recording of Coppelia is to be welcomed.

  12. While I am not a great Cathy Marston fan the Cellist may be of interest as it was made on Cuthbertson, Ball and Sambe all of whom are on top form in their created roles. My problem with it in the theatre was that I thought it could have done with some serious editing and that Marston had wasted a large number of talented dancers who seemed to have little reason to be on stage except to populate it as moving scenery and occasionally to act as props. My main interest in this DVD will be in Dances at a Gathering which again provides an opportunity to see a lot of the company's dancers but this time used to considerable effect. I was lucky enough to see the Royal Ballets original cast in the work and the impact of those performances has remained with me ever since. When it was announced that D A A G was replacing the previously advertised new ballet by Liam Scarlett I bought tickets for every performance which I could attend and I was not disappointed by either cast. This is a recording that I am likely to buy. It is due to be issued on the 22nd January 2021.

    There are rumours that last season's revival of Coppelia which was streamed to cinemas with a cast led by Nunez and Muntagirov will find its way onto DVD. I hope it proves to be true  because while I would have preferred to see a recording of the performance given by the first night cast led by Hayward, Campbell and Avis a new recording of Coppelia is to be welcomed.

  13. These are the latest Royal Ballet performances to be made available to a worldwide audience during shutdown.

    Romeo and Juliet is being shown today at 7pm London time and will be available for a further fortnight.

    Now I know that I often feel that MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet is in danger of being done to death and that I would appreciate it much more if it were rested for several seasons and replaced, say by Ashton's version, but this is a performance that I shall be watching as the leading roles are taken by Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball. It was a revival of this ballet a couple of seasons earlier which made London audiences sit up and take notice of both dancers as potential company principals. The ballet is strongly cast and if I recall correctly Juliet's Friends at this performance included at least one dancer who was almost certainly making her final appearance in that role.

    Sleeping Beauty is being shown on 24th July at 7 pm and will also be available for a further fortnight.

    The cast is led by Fumi Kaneko and Federico Bonelli. It goes without saying that this is a ballet which gives the audience the opportunity to see a lot of the company in action. This performance is of great interest as Kaneko was replacing a senior dancer at short notice and had, I think, only made her debut as Aurora a few days earlier with a different partner. Kaneko is another dancer to watch and whose career is likely to be of interest.

     

     

     

     

     

  14. The latest Royal Ballet DVD will be issued on the 17th July 2020. It contains performances of three ballets which entered the company's repertory towards the end of the 1960's. Concerto has an interesting  cast which includes Hay and O'Sullivan in the opening section and Naghdi and Hirano in the central section of the work. The performance of Ashton's Enigma Variations has the best cast that the company has mustered in years with Saunders as Elgar, Morera as Lady Elgar, Gartside as Jaegar and Hayward as Dorabella. In fact this revival was exceptionally well cast and coached with only one dancer in three casts whose presence on the stage I would question. It came as a pleasant surprise to discover that the company had three Troytes in its ranks. Finally to round off what in the theatre was a good old fashioned style mixed bill full of contrasts rather than three ballets with some sort of uniting theme there is Nureyev's Raymonda Act III. This was one of Nureyev;s earliest stagings of versions of the Petipa classics and was heavily influenced by the activities of Russian folk dance groups of the period.

     I have not seen the recording because I was in the theatre when the performance streamed . This means that I have no idea whether the recording suffers from an over busy camera but on paper the recording  provides an excellent opportunity to see a good cross section of the company in ballets which for years were staples of its repertory.

  15. I don't see how anyone can do anything other than guess about when companies might be able to perform again. I believe that the experience from 1919 in Minneapolis and Saint Paul makes it clear that shutting down early means you come out of a pandemic much quicker and with much less. economic damage than you do if you delay shutdown. As both the US and the UK were slow to lock down we are likely to be stuck with the virus for much longer than say Germany which acted very promptly. Until we know what the real extent of the infection is and its rate of reproduction in our respective countries we can't really start talking about how and when companies will resume performing. What is clear is that until we know that the rate of  "R" is well below one anyone talking about when the theatres might reopen is asking a question very similar to "How long is a piece of string? "

    I suspect that places of public entertainment where people gather in large numbers and sit close together in confined spaces will be the last to reopen quite simply because they seem designed to be infection hot spots. Public Health authorities will be reluctant to see them reopen until they are satisfied that the virus is well and truly under control. It is one thing to gradually ease restrictions on the range of shops which can reopen with social distancing if they are thought to attract a limited number of customers drawn from a relatively small geographic area quite another to allow places which can't really impose social distancing because of the way they function and were designed to reopen . It becomes an even bigger problem if they tend to attract audiences from across a wide geographic area as this brings the danger of importing fresh infection. However pressing their financial needs no company is going to want to be accused of creating an infection hot spot by reopening prematurely. Of course it is not just the audience drawn from a wide geographic area sitting close together that presents the potential for spreading the virus and boosting its reproduction rate the working conditions of the performers also present opportunities for it to spread as they scarcely allow for social distancing in any form. Dancers cannot keep six feet apart when rehearsing or performing and nor can musicians sitting in the pit. Watching what happens in Germany and Italy and comparing the two when it comes to announcing that they are reopening their opera houses and when they actually succeed in doing so might give a clue as to what we might expect.

  16. Having pulled stumps on the ballet season some weeks ago I am surprised that the ROH has taken so long to officially abandon the remnants of the opera season. It will be interesting to find out when the management anticipates being able to open the doors again and what form the opera and ballet seasons actually take. At the moment i can't see much happening before Christmas. Given the number of dancers who were prevented from making major debuts in Swan Lake by the shutdown or made unscheduled debuts but never had the opportunity to dance with their advertised partners I suspect that "Lac" will be back next season and that the rest of the repertory will be popular rather than novel or e. A late start to the season will give plenty of time to decide what form "Lac" should take. I should be very surprised if its text was the one devised by Scarlett. The simplest solution would be to use either the text used by Dowell or the one used in the production which preceded it.

     

  17. I wholeheartedly agree with your concerns about the wisdom of donating ticket money to the ROH. I suspect that it will be more than a handful of regulars who are faced with the problem you described.

    There are quite a lot of regulars who seem to be just hanging on at present. The economic landscape is likely to be very different when the lock down is eased . Jobs in some sectors will be lost while those like teachers who work for the state could easily find that the government decides that the aftermath of the lock down presents a wonderful opportunity for salary and wage cuts. Such action would make no sense economically and would further reduce employment and the governments tax receipts by damaging the economy as a whole but it would certainly fit the ideological outlook of much of the current UK government.

    As far as the ROH is concerned I anticipate that tickets for both opera and ballet will cost considerably more next season than they did this season. Even if the ROH organisation is unable to persuade its donors to be more generous than they are at present it is quite possible that ACE will be anxious to reduce its subsidy so that it can prop up less high profile and less financially well connected arts organisations much further north than London and the South East. Any increase in ticket prices will of course make the ROH even less socially diverse than it is at present. I suppose how it chooses to handle ticket price increases will depend on how socially exclusive it feels it can afford to be seen to be. No doubt some donors would be happy to pay more and perhaps eliminate the state subsidy in exchange for greater social exclusivity.

  18. A cursory glance at the Royal Opera House website makes it pretty clear that the opera and ballet seasons have been brought to a premature close. I don't expect any early announcement of what the 2020-21 season will look like for either company as I imagine that both companies are currently revising their original plans and devising seasons which will sell without any effort on the part of the marketing department as its objective will be to deal with the losses which the truncation of the season has caused. The ROH has been trying to persuade people to donate the money that they have spent on tickets for the cancelled performances up to the end of April rather than asking for it to be refunded. It will be interesting to see how much luck they have with that, if only because of the sums involved.

    Alex Beard who runs the ROH organisation has written to the favoured few saying how much the organisation values its loyal audience members which is a complete reversal of the organisation's recent stance of treating its regular audience as a group who made unreasonable demands of it. The individual in charge of audience relations and marketing, who has since moved on, created the impression that it was an organisation whose main concern was to cater to the needs of the occasional visitor rather than its regular audience. In fact she gave the impression that the target audience were tourists or families celebrating granny's birthday who wanted the  ROH experience of wining and dining at the opera house but who beyond knowing whether they were going to an opera or a ballet on the evening they selected were not  much interested in what was being performed or who was appearing in it. We shall see how the appeal for donations turns out in the light of recent experience with the organisation.

     

     

  19.  I am not sure that I gained a lot from seeing Bathilde and the Duke of Courland arrive on horse however authentic that may be theatrically and socially. It was interesting to encounter a sympathetic Bathilde rather than the cold and aloof creature one is used to seeing in Bow Street. I know that this is an attempt to capture something of the flavour of the ballet as a nineteenth century creation and it is almost certainly authentic but I am not sure that Hans/ Hilarion's characterisation as a peasant clod adds much to the mixture. However I suppose that if Bathilde is to be played more naturally and sympathetically rather than as an unfeeling aristocrat then someone else has to be presented as an unsympathetic character. It was a pleasant change to see the peasant pas de deux danced as just that rather than being hacked about to provide opportunities for more than two dancers. The thing that struck me most about the first act was that the mime sequence used in the reconstruction is shorter and simpler than the version which the Royal Ballet has been performing since the 1960's. According to the company's performance records  its current version was introduced in the production which Ashton and Karsavina staged in 1960. This mime sequence which the company has retained in subsequent productions is the version which Karsavina said was performed during her time with the Mariinsky. In it Berthe not only has the opportunity to warn Giselle of the threat which her love of dance poses for her but to provide the assembled peasants with a full account of the way in which the Wilis force unwary men to dance themselves to death. In the mime sequence Berthe demonstrates the confrontation between an unwary traveller and a Wili playing both characters. I can't help wondering when Ratmansky's version of the mime sequence became the norm ?

    I found the second act extraordinarily effective and was more than happy to see the loss of the pressage lift which is little more than a twentieth century technical trick which adds nothing to the ballet aesthetically or dramatically.  The lift which replaced it is far more attractive and aesthetically in keeping with the rest of the choreography. I felt that when I saw Ball perform it when he took over as Albrecht mid performance at Covent Garden not so long ago. I didn't feel then that I had been cheated by not seeing what has become the Giselle cliche lift  or in this streamed performance. Its replacement looks far more stylistically appropriate in a ballet in which those performing the choreography should be more concerned with the creation of atmosphere and mood than having opportunities for technical display. I have to say that I was pleased to see a production which fell back on the use of nineteenth century stage technology with Giselle showering Albrecht with flowers from a tree rather than all but handing them to him. While there were elements which did not entirely convince me such as the cross formation of the Wilis which, as I understand it, has its source in Justament's notebooks I should love to have the opportunity to see the production live. I hope that it is one of the productions which the Bolshoi bring with them next time the company visits Covent Garden. It was good to have the opportunity to see a Romantic ballet text treated with respect and to have the opportunity to go on Ratmansky's artistic voyage of exploration.

  20. It is pretty clear that there are more potential candidates for promotion among the ranks of the First Soloists than there are likely to be vacancies for Principals at the end of the season. The company seems to have largely lost its dead wood through retirement. It is going  to be very interesting to see which dancers the management has decided have gone as far as their talents can take them. As the company does not seem to be touring abroad this summer perhaps Mr O'Hare will decide that he has no need to promote anyone at this time and that he can afford to defer what is likely to be a difficult decision for another season while he tries people out in a wider range of the core repertory than has happened so far. He is under far less pressure to make appointments than he would be if the company were visiting somewhere such as Japan, where the promoters demand principal dancers must be cast in leading roles as a contractual term.

     

  21. On what I hope proves to be a happier note. The Royal Ballet is increasingly becoming Kevin O'Hare's company rather than the one he inherited from his predecessor. It is usual for appointments to follow on from departures and retirement but some unusual things have been happening in the company as far as long serving personnel are concerned. It is almost unheard of for dancers to leave early in a new season but that is what both  Alistair Marriott, Principal Character Dancer,and Jonathan Howells, Ballet Master and Character Artist, chose to do making it necessary to modify the casting for Coppelia which had already been announced. With their early depart it is just possible that Kevin may find that he has enough money to fund more than one new Principal dancer at the end of the season.Here I am assuming that Hallberg's appointment as Guest Artist is not going to be a permanent feature in the life of the company.

    Kevin will almost certainly appoint someone to replace Soares who announced that his appearances as Onegin were to be his last with the company.The question is whether he will appoint a second Principal, even if he has no immediate need to do so? There are several dancers who in  recent months have been given the opportunity to reveal their potential for promotion to the company's top rank. While Clarke has consolidated his position as an extremely useful and adaptable dancer which explains his recent promotion to First Artist, dancers like Magri and O'Sullivan have been cast in roles which have not only expanded their personal repertory and range but have seen them performing key roles in ballets which are central to the company's core repertory.  It seems to me that the revival of the long neglected Coppelia has expanded the group of potential candidates for promotion. It is going to be interesting to see who will have proved to be successful when the promotions are announced at the end of the season. 

     

  22. Since his time as a student at the Royal Ballet School Scarlett has been seen as a choreographer of considerable promise and on the basis of his choreographic talent he was able to retire from dancing in his mid twenties and take up an official choreographic post at the Royal Ballet which was created for him. It has now been announced officially that he  was suspended from his company post in August last year and that his activities there and at the school are under investigation by an outside organisation. The investigation which concerns allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying are ongoing. He has been banned from the Opera House and the Royal Ballet School. Strangely although he had been banned from the Opera House last August it was only announced that "The Cellist" mixed bill was no longer going to include a new work by Liam Scarlett comparatively recently. Presumably at that point,the announcement was made for the practical reason that it isn't really possible to create a new work, if the choreographer is banned from entering the building where rehearsals are to take place.

    The investigations have not been completed  but I think that It will be interesting to see how much further the company feels it needs to distance itself from Scarlett, now that the broad nature of the allegations are known. There are revivals of his production of Swan Lake and his ballet Symphonic Dances scheduled in the coming months. While I am sure that the company is capable of reviving them in his absence there is the question of whether it will wish to be seen to do so. If they are keeping him at arm's length and denying him access to the building and the dancers will they want to be seen to be paying him royalties for these revivals ? Of course there is no problem if the allegations are found to be without substance.  But will the company or the Royal Opera House organisation want to run the risk of the enquiry finding that the allegations have substance to them at  very the time that his Swan Lake is being performed in Bow Street ? There is always the possibility that other former students and dancers will come forward and make their own allegations now they know that an official enquiry into Scarlett's activities and behaviour is under way.  The investigation is already said to concern his activities going back over a period of ten years. The company was able to drop Scarlett's  new ballet without explanation or comment when the investigation was not public knowledge  but from now on its decisions with respect to his existing ballets scheduled for performance this season are likely to come under scrutiny and may well be the subject of adverse comment. It is going to be interesting to see how the company decides to handle the situation . It is possible that it is just too late to do anything about the version of Swan Lake the company will dance this season. Symphonic Dances is likely to prove much easier to lose.

  23. The closer you get to the performance dates the more likely it is that you will find tickets appearing on the ROH website. In my experience the ROH puts tickets for resale on its site as soon as they come in. So while it may be true that returns are included in the Friday rush the point to note is that they are not held back until the date of the next rush. I see that the performances you want to attend are midweek ones so while I think that tickets can come in at anytime the days when you are most likely to strike it lucky are probably going to be the Monday and Tuesday of the week in which the performances are due to take place and the day of the performance itself.

     I hope this helps.

  24. It would seem that the ROH no longer uses the services of authorised ticket agents as it once did. Unlike the old one the current version of the website makes no reference to any authorised ticket outlets and states very clearly that tickets can only be obtained from the ROH box office. I shall be very interested to know if you get a more positive response from  the Ballet Co Forum website.

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