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About mjbelkin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Avid balletgoer
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  1. I'd always assumed that the black swans in the final act were a sign of Seigfried's betrayal.
  2. Thanks for the heads up - it shall be on my Christmas present wish list.
  3. I saw this at the cinema when it first came out - we're lucky enough to have an arts cinema near us - and its a really good, understated film. Its really touching when Pierrepoint says that he likes to treat them as people once the deed is done.
  4. Can I add The Italian Job and The Ladykillers to the list of pointless remakes - the originals are such classics.
  5. I think that Prokofiev's score for Cinderella is a lot harsher, and I'm no fan of the Royal Ballet's production with male dancers playing the ugly sisters. I found the recording by POB with Sylvie Guillem was a better production, but still not one I'd go to see often.
  6. It saddens me to see that a number of people find Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet boring - I get so absorbed in what's happening, I can't watch it without ending up in tears. I love everything about it, from the beautiful score by Prokofiev, the wonderful fight scenes and set pieces, the humour in Mercutio's dancing, and the beautiful pas de deux. And the way Juliet's dancing matures from the innocent child at the beginning to a woman facing the biggest decision in her life at the end, when she sits motionless on the bed. I love it, and I'm not ashamed to say so.
  7. Deborah Bull, former principal with the Royal Ballet, now artistic director of ROH2 is one of the most articulate dancers I've heard. She also has the rather impressive accolade of winning a debate at the Oxford University Union Debate on why the arts in the UK should receive funding.
  8. I'm now reading "A History of the World in 6 Glasses" by Tom Standage. Its quite an interesting take on world history, starting off with beer in the neolithic, then moving on to how wine became important in the classical period. I'm now on the section on spirits, and the part rum played in the slave trade. Very interesting. My only criticism so far is the use of BCE/CE for dating rather than the traditional BC/AD dating scheme.
  9. Me too, and I'm usually a huge fan of MacMillan's ballets - his Romeo and Juliet, and Manon usually have me in tears by the end. I think that Mayerling is trying to tell too convoluted a story, with too many people having too many affairs, and what is it with the opera singer in the middle?
  10. Hi all, I saw the Bolshoi's production of La Bayadere at the Coliseum, and although far from an expert in these things, I thought I'd let you know how I found the production. To start with, this is another ballet that has been 'revived' from its original staging, with costume and set designs inspired by the original 1877 designs. Now while I don't have a problem with reconstructions, there was at least one dance/character that should not have been revived in the old style - a group of 6 children wearing black tights and long black gloves, dancing in a very non-pc style. Drop the gloves and tights (imo). The designs were a mixed batch, with some fabrics used seeming too heavy for the designs. I am more familiar with the staging by Makarova on the Royal Ballet, and so expected a longer final act in the temple, but aside from that most of the dancing was beautiful. Maria Alexandrova dazzled as Gamzatti, handling the bravura dancing in Act II brilliantly and beautifully. Nikolai Tsiskardidze as Solor dominated the stage in his solos, and made an elegant counterpoint in his partnering with Alexandrova. The only disappointment of the evening for me was Maria Allash as Nikiya. Her frame is so skinny, that where the mime requires the arms held up and slightly out (in supplication of the gods), her elbows are too prominent and angular and ruin the line. I also found that her dancing just wasn't as strong as Alexandrova's, and in the Kingdom of Shades act she seemed unable to hold a couple of balances, slipped off point early, and even had a fumbled hold with Solor. This is not what I've come to expect from the Bolshoi. I haven't seen Allash dance in anything else, so I don't know whether she was just simply not performing at her best, but I was disappointed with her. The role of Nikiya, while missing out on some of Gamzatti's flasier dances, still requires strength, poise and musicality from its dancer, and to be honest I did wonder whether Allash would actually still be dancing by the end of the ballet. The 'dance with drum' showed Bolshoi dancers at their athletic best, reminiscent of the Grigorovich directorship, and was exhausting just to watch. The speed and energy with which it was performed was just simply amazing. Chinara Alizade dancing as Manu (with the jug) was a delight. Of course the highlight of the evening was watching the near perfect corps in the Kingdom of Shades. Yes, there were one or two wobbles, but they were still amazing to watch, as they made their way across the stage, each one appearing at the top of the slope, before working their way to the stage. This is a stunningly beautiful entrance for the corps, and they didn't disappoint, with near perfect timings.
  11. Thanks for that I saw Mukhamedov dance it when the Bolshoi first toured the UK in the '80s, and now I want to see Carlos Acosta - he looks like he has the same fight in him
  12. I think when I finish reading it, I shall be heading towards something a bit lighter.
  13. I'm currently reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins - fascinating.
  14. Romeo and Juliet is one of my favourite ballets - I love the crowd scenes, I love the sword fights, I love the ensemble dances. Can you tell I'm a fan of it? And the part in Act 3 where Juliet just sits motionless on the bed while the music roars around her - the stillness is so expressive.
  15. I saw Miss Guillem in every role she essayed with the Royal Ballet and IMHO she never met the interpretative standards met by her predecessors and often distorted the choreography. Then we should just agree to disagree, after all, the world would be a pretty dull place if we all liked the same thing
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