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Ashton Fan

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  1. I have always understood that the controversy about whether or not Marie Petipa was given a solo to dance in the Prologue of the Sleeping Beauty, and whether she was much of a dancer at all, has more to do with the dancers' strike of 1905 and the part she is said to have played in it than anything else. The official view of her written by those who stayed in Russia and experienced both the abortive revolution of 1905 and then went on to live and work through the 1917 revolutions portrays her as the villainess of the dancer's strike and the person who was responsible for Sergei Legat cutting his throat. The official version of the events of 1905 is that Sergei Legat who in these accounts is portrayed as the more talented of the two Legat brothers both as a dancer and artist and a man fully committed to improving conditions for the company and society at large was pressurised by Marie Petipa not to participate in the dancers' protests about their working conditions and that she almost certainly did this at the instigation of the theatre directorate. We are then I think required to understand that by putting pressure on Sergei Legat not to participate in the strike she precipitated his suicide a few days later. From there it is but a short step to turn Marie Petipa into an untalented performer and a barely competent dancer. I seem to recall that Fyodor Lopukhov was quite happy to state that Marie Petipa could not dance. In the twentieth century pantheon of Russian ballet villains she seems to have been perceived as only marginally less villainous than the arch villain Nicolai Sergeyev and this still affects her reputation as a an artist. Any question along the lines of " If she was that poor a dancer how did she come to occupy the position she held in the company and to perform the roles she was given?" would probably be given the answer that it is obviously that case that family connections account for it. After all her father was running the company for which she danced. But that is only a satisfactory answer if you are willing to accept the official account and don't see the obvious flaws in it which begin with why would Petpa have entrusted prominent roles in major new works to an incompetent dancer? I am sure that some interesting material about Petipa and his ballets will be published this year but somehow I don't think that the students of the history of the Sleeping Beauty are about to rehabilitate Marie Petipa as a major Mariinsky performer but it will be interesting to see what, if anything, has altered in the official version of the history of Sleeping Beauty.
  2. JMcN Thank you for your comments about Bracewell. I have no doubt that he is an exceptional Romeo and I hope to see him in the role when the ballet is next revived at Covent Garden. There is a marked difference between MacMillan's dramballets and the nineteenth century classics however far "after Petipa" a production of Lac may be. MacMillan's dramatic three act ballets do not expose the dancer's basic classical technique as cruelly and unrelentingly as choreography by Petipa. Ashton and Balanchine does. Romeo is in many ways more a test of the dancer's stamina than his classical technique. While I like a Romeo who can actually dance the role well it has not been unknown for a dancer whose technique has become a bit iffy to cover technical defects, sloppy landings and other misdemeanours by acting and emoting. I can think of one senior dancer at the RB who has been doing this for some years. I hasten to say that I don't think that Bracewell falls into the category of dancers who emote and sprawl their way through a role like Romeo, far from it, everything I have seen him do so far has been very good. He seems to capture the essence of the style of a role and add a little extra to it. He is clearly a gifted and versatile dancer. On Thursday night he was an exceptionally elegant and involved Siegfried giving every choreographed gesture and movement its due weight and real meaning. On Friday night he was leading the Mazurka the section which I think many experience as the low point of act 3 but he lifted it in the way that I recall Alexander Grant and Monica Mason did with the Czardas dancing with real verve ,energy and style.
  3. Swan Lake cast changes at Bow Street. It has been known for some time that Willian Bracewell will replace McRae at all performances. McRae has been out through injury for much of the season.I saw what is now the Bracewell, Takada cast last night. Bracewell was pretty impressive at what was only his second performance as Siegfried. On last night's showing he has good technique, is a secure unobtrusive partner and does not waste a minute of his time on stage. He actively responds to what he is being told in the mime passages and even makes what can seem merely to be "arm and hand gestures I have been taught" into gestures which have meaning in the context of the narrative. I have seen him in smaller roles but not in anything so long,exposed and demanding in terms of stamina and technique . I fear yet another name to add to the list of dancers whose performances have to be booked, if at all possible. The new information concerns Cuthbertson who is also now out through injury. She was replaced by Takada at what should have been her first performance in the run. It is now clear that she is out for the entire run of Swan Lake at Covent Garden. She is replaced on Saturday 2nd and Friday 8th June by Lamb. She is replaced by Naghdi on the evening of Monday 18th June.
  4. #mnacenani, I seem to recall that while the prince claims to be bored by pretty much everything that might excite others in his aria sung at the party which he hosts he proclaims on several occasions "chaque un a son gout" which suggests that he accepts that each one has their own tastes and their own interests. In the current context his assertion suggests that he would accept wholeheartedly that we are none of us equally interested in the same aspects of ballet, its style, its choreographers, an individual company's repertory or held in thrall by the same dancers. It is that lack of agreement which can make discussions on a site like this so interesting. I don't know what knowledge you have of the various versions of Swan Lake staged by the Royal Ballet and its predecessor companies over the years but to put it mildly their designs have all had exceptionally long shelf lives even in those cases where the ballet's text has been adjusted or radically revised over time. This, I think, explains the interest being shown in the glimpses of the new production we have been given. Anything and everything that suggests that the new production retains a reasonably recognisable text including the traditional mime and stages the pas d'action as sections involving interaction between the main characters and has not acquired a jester is likely to be welcomed by most of those who have tickets for the initial run of performances, On Thursday we shall know whether or not we have a production that we can live with. Staging an entirely new production of one of the nineteenth century classics involves a massive investment of time and money. Even if the production needs substantial adjustment and there is ample choreographic patching material to hand in the Royal's archive we shall be seeing the designs for years to come. As I haven't seen the designs in use on the Covent Garden stage lit as intended I don't feel able to comment on the mood or style conveyed by the designs except to say that they do not look particularly dark or grim to me. I am intrigued by the words "German Goth" I don't pretend to understand what CharlieH means when he uses them. Does he mean Gothic, Gothick or something completely different?
  5. The insight event is well worth watching and it is difficult to resist Liam Scarlett's obvious enthusiasm for Swan Lake as a ballet and the task he has been given to stage the company's new production of it. Whether or not he has succeeded will be a whole lot clearer next Thursday. Scarlett says that he has created new choreography for sections of the first act but makes no mention of the pas de trois in that context; that he has retained the Ivanov choreography of the second act; that he has provided new choreography for the divertissements in the third act but has retained the Ashton Neapolitan Dance which he enjoyed dancing and thinks is a perfect combination of steps and music and that he has restored the original Tchaikovsky score to the fourth act. It is a section of his choreography for the fourth act which is shown being coached on the recording. Anyone who has difficulty accessing the insight event using the link provided above may find that going to the opera house's website clicking on the section headed "what's on" finding the section devoted to performance dates and casts for the new production and scrolling down to the end where the insight event is mentioned and film of the event has been posted gives easier access. I could make that one work whereas when I used the link posted above the site was more than a little reluctant to respond and give me access to the recording.
  6. The choreography of the pas de trois provides a fine classical dancer, whether he is established or on his way up, with the opportunity to show what he can do and his performance can on occasion provide the highlight of the evening as far as the male dancing is concerned. In the days when the Royal Ballet definitely had first, second, third and fourth casts and you could say with absolute certainty who would be dancing the secondary roles in a ballet purely on the basis of who was dancing the leads Michael Coleman invariably appeared in the first cast's pas de trois for years. In those days when the audience barely needed the information because the company had a fixed system of casting the company told you who would be dancing in all the secondary roles. Today when the casting is far more fluid we are told nothing about the casting of the secondary roles until we arrive at the theatre and pick up the cast sheets. Of course it gives the management greater flexibility and enables it to cast dancers who suddenly show that they are ready for bigger and more challenging roles at the point when it will do them most good as far as their development is concerned rather than leaving them waiting for months for the chance to take the next step in their careers but it can be frustrating as far as the audience is concerned. I have known people torn between two casts in the past make their decision on which cast to see on the basis of who was dancing in the pas de trois or Neapolitan dance in the case of Swan Lake, who was dancing Myrthe in Giselle and who was dancing the Bluebird, Florine and Lilac Fairy in the case of Sleeping Beauty. I imagine that the cast on the first night will be particularly impressive and that the same cast or one which is comparable will appear in the streamed performance. If the last revival of Sleeping Beauty is anything to go by we are likely to see interesting casting in the secondary roles in this ballet until the end of the run. I can't help wondering what part, if any, Scarlett may play in the casting of the lesser roles in his production. Among the junior ranks of the company, by which I mean those below the rank of Soloist, the men to watch out for who will probably be given something interesting to do at some point during the run are dancers like Sissens, Yudes, Serrano, Dixon, Braendsrod, Richardson and Donnelly among the women Chisato, Gasparini and Stock seem most likely to be given their chances. There is an Insight Evening tomorrow at which we should find out quite a bit more about what the production is likely to look like and if it follows the usual format we will see one the casts being coached .
  7. The Royal Ballet has just announced that William Bracewell who transferred from Birmingham Royal Ballet to the Covent Garden company at the beginning of the current season is to dance with Takada in the company's new Swan Lake replacing McRae who is injured. It is sad for McRae to miss out on the opportunity to dance Siegfried in this run of performances but a wonderful opportunity for Bracewell to show the London audience what he can do. Bracewell danced a wide range of roles when he was at BRB and it is interesting to see that management has chosen him rather than Campbell or Hay to dance with Takada. During the course of the season it would seem that Bracewell has been getting used to the house. I have seen him dance Polixenes in The Winter's Tale. in the male pas de trois in Manon act 2 and the Wayne Eagling role in Elite Syncopations and he has made his mark in all of them. I had thought that we might see him as Benno during the initial run of Swan Lake alongside Campbell, Hay and Clarke. Scarlett has expanded the role of Benno and who now dances in the pas de trois so that the role could become something of a stepping stone to bigger things for junior dancers. The announcement certainly shows that Kevin is prepared to cast junior dancers when he thinks that they are ready for new challenges.
  8. Marguerite and Armand was created as a star vehicle and far from typical of his output. There are still many who believe that it should have been left undisturbed after its original cast stopped dancing it which is what Ashton wanted Unfortunately it has become the default Ashton ballet of choice at Covent Garden. It means the company can say it is staging Ashton ballets without having to make too much effort to do so. I don't think that is why Iain Webb has staged it. Mr and Mrs Webb take Ashton very seriously indeed. If only one or other of the directors of the Royal Ballet companies took the man's works as seriously as the Webbs do. It is said, at present, to be the most frequently revived of Ashton's ballets which I find incredible. Can there really be that many dancers of a certain age in search of a vehicle? While I am willing to believe that there is the occasional performance where the vehicle "goes" there are many when it resolutely refuses to do so.
  9. As has been said elsewhere when the ENB last revived their MacMillan production of The Sleeping Beauty it looked more like a Royal Ballet production than the performances seen at Covent Garden did. However much has changed in both companies since then, When ENB last revived this production the company had a number of former members of the Royal Ballet on its staff who knew how the work should go. If I recall correctly both David Wall and Alfreda Thorogood were involved in coaching the company's leading dancers. Wall is dead and other members of the artistic team such as Whitten and Gielgud have moved on. The team staging this revival and coaching the dancers is a new one and it will be interesting to see what difference, if any, this makes to what the audience sees on stage At Covent Garden the company is benefitting from a generation of dancers trained at the Royal Ballet School under Gailene Stock's; casting seems less haphazard than it once did and the presence of a Music Director who believes that Tchaikovsky is a major composer and seems by some miracle to have persuaded the orchestra of this has transformed things. This made the company's last revival of the work something other than a dutiful,somewhat dull revival undertaken through a sense of duty and the need to fill the coffers.Koen Kessels also eccentrically seems to believe that Tchaikovsky's tempo markings should be taken seriously which meant that at the 2016-17 revival the ballet was transformed from a slow, solemn monument to classicism into a work of lightness and speed which the casts performed with real enthusiasm . ENB is offering London audiences five casts this summer. Cojocaru and Caley open the season on the 6th of June, followed by Takahashi and Arrieta, Alexandrova and Robison, Dronina and Hernandez with a single performance to be given by Kase and Corrales at the matinee on the final Saturday of the run. It will be interesting to see what the revival looks like with the current artistic team in charge. It is always best for London ballet goers when both ENB and the Royal are firing on all cylinders artistically. London ballet goers are likely to find it difficult to squeeze in all the performances which are taking place during the 6th -16th June as the Royal Ballet will still be performing its new Swan lake and Birmingham Royal Ballet will be appearing at Sadler's Wells with Romeo and Juliet and a mixed bill during the second week of the ENB's run. But it is great to be spoiled for choice. If only the same could be said of the opera.
  10. This educational series covered the development of ballet in Britain in one episode and had another episode devoted to Ballet Today which included sections from MacMillan's Concerto and Ashton's Fille.Thinking about it you could see the series as an extended advertisement for the two Royal Ballet companies. Now my money is on Birdy Last being the dancer cast as Lise. That film really would be worth seeing as there are quite a few people who think that she was the equal of Nerina in the role. Indeed there are those who think that she surpassed Nerina. Perhaps the episode will turn up on the internet at some point. Unfortunately the NYPL is rather too far for me to attend in order to view it.,
  11. Although I should like to see the Royal Ballet stage Nureyev's Kingdom of the Shades I am not in general a great fan of Nureyev's full length stagings of the nineteenth century repertory. They tend to be crammed full of more choreography than they can sustain with expanded male roles which distort the structure of Petipa's original stagings. Nureyev obliterates vast sections of the original text in favour of interpolated tracts of choreography so full of technical challenges that they are reduced to fiendishly difficult exhibitions of technical skill akin to show jumping courses rather than the demonstrations of elegant ease which Petipa intended them to be. Please correct me if I am wrong but I thought that the POB entered the twentieth century with very little to show in the way of active historic repertory apart from Coppelia. Giselle was staged for it in the 1920' s nearly fifty years after the company had last danced it and Lifar staged act 2 Swan Lake for it. As so much of the nineteenth century repertory which is danced today originated in Russia I am left wondering whether the POB would have acquired such an extensive Petipa based repertory if Nureyev had never been its director. Granted that all of Nureyev' a productions are "after Petipa" stagings and some are so far removed from his ideas that Petipa would struggle to recognise the ballets staged in his name the fact is that we only have the luxury of arguing about the form which the POB's stagings of the nineteenth century classics should take because Nureyev staged them there in some form.
  12. While it was wonderful to see Dante Sonata restored to the company's repertory during his tenure as director I have never understood Bintley's failure to revive more of the ballets which were restored to the stage during Sir Peter's directorship after years of neglect such as The Prospect Before Us which was staged to mark the centenary of De Valois' birth and turned out to be a much better comic ballet than its years of neglect suggested it was. It must have taken a great deal of time and effort to restore it and yet although the company received a SWET award for it, the ballet has, I think, never been revived . There are plenty of other examples of important ballets revived by Sir Peter and ignored by Bintley such as Massine's Choreatium ,Joos' Green Table and Ashton's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales. It often seems to me that much of BRB's reputation for being a fine custodian of historically significant repertory is based almost entirely on Sir Peter's work as director. I hope that whoever is appointed as director is sufficiently interested in the company's history to revive the historically significant works which Sir Peter worked hard to stage. One thing is certain Bintley's successor is going to need even more skill and luck than a new director usually requires, if only because of the financial challenges he/she will face as a result of the swingeing cuts to its financial support which the company has sustained. The cuts are going to present a real challenge to the new director but they have produced one benefit. They have prevented the company staging Stanton Welch's version of La Bayadere for which, having read a bit about it on this site, I think all BRB 's followers should be truly grateful. I wonder whether those responsible for appointing the new director will want another choreographer- director simply because Bintley's work has come to dominate the company's repertory in a way that some feel has not been entirely beneficial for the company , There is the suggestion that the initials B.R.B. now stand for Bintley's Royal Ballet rather than Birmingham Royal Ballet. As far as potential candidates are concerned I question whether Robert Parker would really want to leave his post at Elmhurst barely five minutes after he took it up. Given the company's financial position I imagine that the appointment panel will be looking for someone with a bit of experience in running a company rather than someone with no experience who is likely to command a great deal of goodwill within the company. I can think of one young energetic former artistic director with a proven track record as far as choice of repertory and dancer development are concerned who seems to have time on his hands at present. The question is whether he would want to run a company so closely connected with the Royal Ballet ?
  13. I think that you have to remember that when Western Europe rediscovered ballet as a significant art form in the early years of the twentieth century the rediscovery was prompted by Diaghilev's Ballet Russes which for the main part presented new works rather than historically significant repertory. The only company in the West which maintained a significant amount of nineteenth century repertory was the Royal Danish Ballet. The POB performed Coppelia but it had last performed Giselle in the late 1860's. The newly kindled interest in ballet in the West was essentially an enthusiasm for new works. Although today a lot of companies in the West have a repertory which includes a mixture of twentieth century ballets and versions of some of Petipa;s ballets this was not the norm in the 1930's. When the company which eventually became the Royal Ballet acquired its nineteenth century repertory in the 1930's the ballets which De Valois selected for her young company were all works which had historically important scores as well as good choreography. The idea was that these works would develop the company technically and artistically and be a means of maintaining the company's technical standards long term. They were not intended to dominate the company's repertory as it had been established to be a creative company rather than a choreographic museum. As the intention was to establish ballet as a serious art form and Minkus' music tends to support the prejudice that nineteenth century ballet and its music are sweetly vacuous ballets with scores by Minkus were the last things that De Valois and her music director would have wanted to stage and that is before you get into the practicalities of the diminutive size of the stage at Sadler's Wells and the fact that the company did not have the resources to stage a ballet like La Bayadere. I think that the first that the West saw of La Bayadere was the Kingdom of the Shades scene which both major Russian companies had as part of their touring repertory . That is the section of La Bayadere which Nureyev staged for the Royal Ballet in the 1960's.For years it was the only bit of that ballet which the company danced. As far as I am concerned I should be quite happy if the company were to revert to dancing it with its full compliment of thirty two shades and dump the Markarova staging. But that is another story.
  14. Thank you very much for this. I don't think that the BFI has got the Ballet for All series in its archive which is a shame if the other six parts are of comparable quality to this one . Coppelia has a pretty impressive group of dancers appearing in it from an incredibly young Margaret Barbieri as Franz in the French version of the ballet to Brenda Last and Nicholas Johnson in the leading roles in the Russian version of the work. The dancers involved seem to me to be representative of the Royal Ballet Touring Company at the end of Ashton's directorship. Any footage of Brenda Last is welcome, She was one of those dancers who lit up the stage as soon as she set foot on it and always seemed to give the audience her personal guarantee that they were in for a hugely enjoyable evening. She was outstanding for her precision and speed in the Les Rendezvous pas de trois and is still the best Lise I have ever seen. She certainly had a great deal of experience in the role as she danced it over a hundred times. Somehow I have the feeling that this programme has a greater claim to careful scholarship and accuracy than the more recent series about the evolution of ballet performed at the opera house some bits of which were unfortunate to say the least. Thank you again for a chance to watch it.
  15. Call a ballet Swan Lake and the tickets for it sell themselves is, I suspect, an almost universal truth. Now while it may be true that there are some people who have not darkened the doors of Covent Garden to see a Royal Ballet performance of Swan Lake since the Dowell production was premiered simply because they loathed the Sonnabend designs their dislike was not reflected in reduced box office receipts. The fact that some regulars have not bought tickets for the Royal Ballet's Lac for the best part of thirty years has simply meant that more tickets have been available to the general public and visitors to London than would otherwise have been the case. Something similar happens at Christmas with what has become the company's perennial Nutcracker . The fact that a considerable proportion of the regular audience is heartily sick of the Nutcracker is not reflected by a drop in box office receipts as the tickets are bought by a wider range of the public than would usually be the case. At an artistic retreat for ballet company directors held a couple of years ago Kevin said that the company does not stage the Nutcracker each year to fill the company's coffers but because it attracts an audience at least 40% of whom are first time ballet goers. I assume this means that he is able to demonstrate to Arts Council England that he is not simply staging ballet for a cultural elite and this enables the company to meet targets which A.C.E. has set for it.
  16. Only a few weeks to go before we discover what the Royal Ballet's "reimagined" Swan Lake looks like, It will be interesting to see just how far "after Petipa" it proves to be and how accepting of it the Covent Garden audience will be. It does seem strange to embark on a completely new, possibly exceptionally Petipa-lite, production of an iconic ballet created under Petipa's directorship in the year when we should be marking the bicentenary of Petipa's birth. Perhaps Kevin feels the need to put his mark on the company's nineteenth century repertory by staging new productions. If the production fails to please it is likely to be a major problem for him as those who disliked the Dowell production directed most of their ire at the designs and had few problems with the text being danced apart, perhaps, with Bintley's waltz,. With this production we are promised, among other delights a new fourth act. I think that most people had assumed that the 2018-19 season would see further performances of the new production with some really exciting debuts and remedial tinkering with the text where needed, The fact that the new Swan Lake is not being danced next season raises the suspicion that management anticipates that there may be rather a lot to remedy. Mind you it is not as if there are no alternatives and no patching material readily to hand. The company has a very fine alternative act four created by Ashton for the 1963 production as well as at least two versions of the waltz by him in the form of a pas de douze created for the Covent Garden company and a pas de six made for the old touring company as well as several versions of divertissements for act three. Of course if Kevin had wanted to do something which would mark his directorship out as something special artistically he would have tried to get someone to reconstruct the waltz using the original floor plan.
  17. Hayward was promoted to principal at the end of the 2015-16 season. Naghdi was promoted at the end of last season. Hayward made an extraordinary debut in the Collier role in Rhapsody during the 2014 season with James Hay taking the male lead in the ballet. They danced it beautifully. Hay made his role look like a wonderful piece of choreography by dancing the ballet rather than displaying each of the steps. Hayward also emphasised the flow of the movement and as she can do quick changes of direction as if they are normal and pose no challenges the result was an object lesson in how Ashton 's choreography should be danced. They repeated this approach when it was last revived and I think that a lot of people regret that it is not their account of the ballet which appears on DVD. In the period between her 2014 debut in Rhapsody and her promotion to principal she made a very successful debut as Alice dancing with Muntagirov as Jack and made the whole confection palatable; an extraordinary debut as Manon dancing opposite Watson and a somewhat less outstanding debut as Juliet dancing opposite Golding . At least one critic wrote to say that her Juliet showed what a single dancer could do with Juliet on her own but that she needed another Romeo who was more responsive. It will be interesting to see who she is cast opposite when it comes back next season. During the 2016-17 season Hayward made her debut as Lise with Sambe as her Colas; danced the Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time and followed that up with her debut as Aurora. In these latter ballets she was partnered by Alexander Campbell. Her debut as SPF was one of the events which was covered in the BBC documentary about staging the Nutcracker which was first shown at Christmas 2016. I think that it can still be found on the internet. At the end of the 2016-2017 season she made her debut as Titania with Sambe as her Oberon. A session of Leslie Collier coaching them was included in the Insight event about the Ashton Mixed Bill staged at the end of last season. It can be found on the internet . The audience who attended the single performance of Ashton's Dream which Hayward and Sambe gave came out at the end of it grinning like Cheshire cats. An acquaintance of mine who is exceptionally hard to please simply said of her performance that she is "The best since Sibley" which is the highest praise you can bestow on anyone in that role. Sambe was extraordinary as Oberon as he delivered both Ashton's speed and dynamics and Oberon;s thought process. Hayward has recently made her debut as Giselle dancing with Campbell replacing Sambe who was originally cast as Albrecht . While I think that her mad scene is work in progress her second act was extraordinarily satisfying and moving with Campbell managing to be a wonderfully unobtrusive partner. Hayward seems to be searching for a more internalised breakdown than is found in a traditional rendering of the mad scene. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when she has found what she seems to be looking for. In a recent interview Naghdi said that she had been searching for her mad scene and was pleased to have found it before her debut. Both Hayward and Naghdi were brilliant in Balanchine's Tarantella when it was staged recently. Naghdi is, I think, a more diamond sharp dancer than Hayward who seems to flow although this could be as much to do with who has been coaching them as anything else. Naghdi and Ball really came to notice when they were cast as Lensky and Olga in performances of Onegin which included Osipova as Tatiana. This joint debut was followed up by an equally outstanding joint debut as Romeo and Juliet. If I had to point to other differences between the two women I would say that Hayward has speed where Naghdi has admitted that she had to work on her speed when she was cast as Aurora . During the 2016-2017 Naghdi made her debut as SPF and as Aurora with Ball as her partner on both occasions . I have to say that I have never seen such an assured and charming debutant Aurora. Sections of the two dancers being coached by Kevin O'Hare can be found on the internet. Naghdi appeared with Ball as the lead couple in Emeralds when Jewels was staged recently and again they gave a very fine account of the choreography. Their most recent joint debut was a few weeks ago as Giselle and Albrecht and again it was exceptional. Naghdi gave a far more traditional account of the mad scene than Hayward who I felt was searching for something different. Naghdi said recently that she only worked out how she would play the mad scene very late in the day. It would seem that management is trying to balance the roles out between its two newest female principals. Naghdi has been cast as Odette/ Odile whereas Hayward has not been cast in the leading role in the first run of the company's new Swan Lake. I assume that she is destined for the Neapolitan Dance and the Pas de Trois in the streamed performance of the ballet and that she will make her debut as Odette/ Odile when the production is revived. In the meantime there is much to look forward to. Hayward is dancing with Bonelli as her De Grieux in the her current revival of Manon with Naghdi due to make her debut as Mistress in the next few weeks. As for next season Les Patineurs and Two Pigeons are being revived so there is plenty of scope for hope as far as new roles are concerned . The great thing for most of us is that the two new principals are not alone there seem to be plenty of talented dancers female and male at every level of the company. The Hayward, Naghdi debuts as Giselle came within less than twenty four hours of each other. As a long time acquaintance said to me in the not too distant past we would have been extremely grateful if in a single season we had seen one debut of the quality of those Giselles given by Hayward and Naghdi but now with the number of talented dancers at all levels in the company we have almost come to take it for granted that debuts will be exceptionally good.
  18. Morera has been off sick for a couple of weeks now. I hope that it is nothing serious. While it is truly disappointing that she is unable to dance on opening night Hayward, her replacement, made a very auspicious debut with Watson when the ballet was last scheduled. We will get quite a lot of opportunity to see her with Bonelli as he is scheduled to replace Watson who was due to dance with Hayward later on in the run. Cast changes are an essential part of life's rich pattern as far as ballet going is concerned. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes when illness or injury overturn casting pairings which generally appear pretty permanent you get to see something which is unplanned and special. We shall see tomorrow whether we have been given an unexpected winning ticket in the Royal Ballet's dancing lottery. .
  19. The Guardian review is now available but it only covers the Hayward Campbell performance. Perhaps members of the press felt that two debuts within less than twenty four hours was too onerous a burden. Anyway the Guardian report is not behind a paywall nor is the Dancetabs review nor the review in the Telegraph.
  20. The current run of Giselle performances promised London audiences two eagerly awaited debuts with both Hayward and Naghdi dancing the title role for the first time. As it turned out it there were also two unscheduled debuts in the role of Albrecht by Benjamin Ella and Alexander Campbell. Ella, replacing McRae who is injured, made his debut dancing with Takada as his Giselle while on Friday night Campbell, replacing Sambe,made his official debut with Hayward as his Giselle. In fact the Friday night performance was Campbell's and Hayward's third performance of Giselle as they had already danced the ballet at the Friends Open Rehearsal and at the Taylor Family performance for school children. On Saturday afternoon Naghdi and Ball made their scheduled debuts in the leading roles of Giselle and Albrecht. Debuts in major roles like Giselle are always of interest but two important debuts within twenty four hours is unusual at Covent Garden. There is a very positive review in the Daily Telegraph of the Friday night performance by Hayward and Campbell and a less enthusiastic one in DanceTabs by Jann Parry of the performance which the same cast gave at the Taylor Family matinee for school children. She seems to have problems with Campbell's Albrecht who is not sufficiently blue blooded and noble for her tastes. He is on the short side and looks more like a demi-character dancer than a nobleman but as he gave a masterclass in unobtrusive partnering in act 2 I have no complaints. I wonder what her response would have been if the originally announced Sambe had danced the role as he is also short and on the stocky side. As far as press coverage is concerned I suspect that most of the papers which still cover ballet will publish their reviews early next week and report on both the performance given by Hayward and Campbell and that given by Naghdi and Ball. Although whether or not they will be given much column space is another question.
  21. Mnacenani, The information given under the heading "Credits" states that it is the Vikharev reconstruction. I can't help wondering not only who is going to stage it but who is going to coach it and what performance style will be adopted? I seem to recall that in her autobiography Tchernichova had some pithy things to say about the pedagogues' shocked disbelief when faced with this reconstruction in 1999. It was to the effect that most of the coaches who had criticised Vikharev's reconstruction for radically departing from Konstantin Sergeyev's "authentic" Sleeping Beauty had criticised Sergeyev's production for its lack of authenticity when it was first staged in 1952. At that time the very people who were now claiming to be shocked by Vikharev's staging were fully aware of the changes which Sergeyev had made to the ballet's text in order to create his "authentic" version.
  22. Hayward and Campbell danced at the Friends Open Rehearsal of Giselle. As it is not the done thing to write about such performances in any detail I shall restrict myself to two comments. Much as I like Sambe and believe that he has enormous potential seeing Hayward and Campbell dance together at the rehearsal left me wondering why they had not been cast together initially and feeling very pleased that I have a ticket for their official debut. It would be interesting to know precisely what Kevin's views on partnerships are as he seems simultaneously to believe in them and not believe in them depending on the dancers concerned. Casting rarely seems to follow any obvious logic such as always pairing inexperienced dancers making their debut in major classical roles with an experienced partner as Naghdi and Ball, up until now, have generally been cast together in joint debuts with no one worrying about their shared lack of experience. I understand the need for dancers to be flexible and capable of dancing with a wide range of colleagues but I don't see the logic in not allowing other dancers to achieve a similar level of familiarity and trust with each other comparable with that currently enjoyed by them. Dancing with someone whom you trust implicitly gives far greater scope for full out "risk taking " dancing and artistry than dancing with someone whom you are not entirely sure about and you are learning to trust does. In case anyone feels the need to correct what I have written here in the light of the casting announced for the company's new Swan Lake I have noticed that Ball is due to dance with Osipova and Clarke is dancing with Cuthbertson.
  23. Perhaps it just feels like it, but with the exception of the MacMillan cash cows,Kevin seems to need to have significant anniversaries to justify reviving major works by dead twentieth century choreographers connected with the company. As far as commemorating Robbins and Nureyev are concerned he does arguably have the beginning of the 2018-19 season in which to redeem himself. He may feel it politic to do so simply because staging a new production of Swan Lake with less of the original choreography than we have become used to seeing, and very little of the Ashton choreography as an alternative text may prove to be something which does not achieve the success he mus be hoping for. I shall wait until the next RB season is announced before I start to complain about these lapses. Mussel I don't think that the ROH has yet become the House of McGregor-Wheeldon -Scarlett. I believe that "pleasure" awaits us in the 2020 season. Wheeldon and Scarlett do at least continue to create works which use classical dance vocabulary, indeed Scarlett has said on more than one occasion that he considers the movement which McGregor creates to be dangerous for dancers. Going back to the original topic the choice of repertory at POB for the coming season. I had imagined that at the very least the company would have decided to revive a couple of Nureyev's stagings of Petipa's ballets and some of the nineteenth century works with which Nureyev was associated as a dancer such as Giselle. I imagine that the repertory selected represents the sort of works that Dupont liked appearing in and the sort of works she would have liked to have danced. Now up to a point a director is permitted to stage works by choreographers they admire but if in doing so they abandon their company's heritage and ignore the need to provide development opportunities for the dancers for whom they are responsible they are guilty of dereliction of duty. As others have said it raises the question of exactly what sort of company Dupont wants the POB to be. May I ask is a petition likely to have any effect ?
  24. Dear Mashinka, You liked the Markarova production a lot of people I know did not for the reasons I have given. I did not say that the text which Markarova selected was bad simply that it was derived from a different tradition. I agree with you about the designs which were good. As far as the current Sleeping Beauty is concerned I think that the main problems with it are the sluggish speed at which the ballet has been performed in successive seasons, some Auroras concentrating on the Rose Adagio at the expense of the ballet's second and third acts and their role's over all trajectory and the casting and coaching of the Prologue Fairies. At times their casting has suggested suggested that they were selected by drawing names out of a hat.At least at the last revival the presence of Mr Kessels in the pit ensured that the ballet was danced at a speed which reflected Petipa's musicality. As far as my hopes for the new Swan Lake production are concerned I hope that it will have designs which create an appropriate mood for the ballet, ensure that it is visible throughout the theatre and that it is danced at a speed and in a style which reflects both Petipa's and Ivanov's musicality thus ensuring that in act two the corps de ballet and Odette look as if they are appearing in the same ballet. I also hope that Scarlett's choreography is not too at variance with the rest of the text being danced and that if it is too awful it is replaced in double quick time by either the original choreography or Ashton's.
  25. The short answer is "Too long". In fact Bjornson's designs with overly fussy costumes, a listing palace and the flight of stairs down which Aurora made her entrance just before embarking on the Rose Adagio only "graced" the stage from 1994 until 2003 when Dowell's production was replaced under Stretton's directorship by one staged by Markarova. Unfortunately this production did nothing to endear Stretton to the local audience. He had staged Nureyev's Don Quixote for the company ignoring the fact that its not the sort of ballet which plays to the company's strengths and that de Valois had declined Nureyev's offer to stage it for the company some forty years before.That had been bad enough but with his new Sleeping Beauty produced by Markarova using Konstantin Sergeyev's choreography Stretton was seen to be ignoring the ballet's local performance tradition. The company was given a version of the ballet based on revisions to the text made in the 1950's that are part of modern Russian performing tradition which not only ignored the fact that the ballet had an important local performance tradition dating back to the Diaghilev company's staging at the Alhambra in the 1920's but its significance to the Royal Ballet's sense of identity and its understanding of its history and development. For the Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty is not just a classical ballet it is THE classical ballet.
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