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mjbelkin

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Posts posted by mjbelkin


  1. 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.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. Go to You Tube. In the search-space, type two words: Acosta Spartacus

    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 :jawdrop:


  5. P.S. Mjbelkin and dirac -- If you've read Dawkins' The God Delusion, may I recommend Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters. Also, Anthony Gottlieb has an essay discussing (critically, but fairly) Dawkins, Sam Harris' The End of Faith, and Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great. It's in The New Yorker, May 21, 2007. I've read Harris, a great debater who takes just one side of the debate. I haven't read the Hitchens. I still can't forgive him for his arrogant, strident, and (IMO) delusional claims to be an expert on Iraq and Middle East expert earlier in this decade.

    I think when I finish reading it, I shall be heading towards something a bit lighter.


  6. 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.


  7. I'm guessing then that you have never actually watched her dance - she has near perfect technique and a great dramatic presence. In Manon, she displays great exuberance and playfulness at the start of the beginning, and slowly descends with the character into the miserable wretch who gets shipped to New Orleans.

    It is a stunning performance that shows a great understand of Manon Lescaut, not just the choreography.

    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 :sweatingbullets:


  8. Miss Guillem's ease, was the begining of the slippery slope. In 19th century ballets I believe they should never be used as they are inharmonious to the choreographic whole. I do however blame Artistic Directors who seem not to know the meaning of their title and that vulgar element of the audience that want to be entertained.

    Yours po-facedly.

    I'm guessing then that you have never actually watched her dance - she has near perfect technique and a great dramatic presence. In Manon, she displays great exuberance and playfulness at the start of the beginning, and slowly descends with the character into the miserable wretch who gets shipped to New Orleans.

    It is a stunning performance that shows a great understand of Manon Lescaut, not just the choreography.


  9. And someone just voted -- but didn't post. :)

    You, and only you, know who you are. Shame on you! :unsure:

    Yes, that was me, but maybe I felt that any comments I had to make had already been made, or maybe I felt to intimidated to post a comment.

    I think that high extensions should only be used where the choreography can support them, and only when the dancer can perform them with ease - seeing a dancer stretch themselves to match fellow dancers' high extensions is never comfortable, and Sylvie Guillem can make them appear as easy as scratching your nose.


  10. I've long been sorry that there haven't been more Royal Ballet releases on Opus Arte. I had hoped that Opus Arte would release the RB's telecasts of La Fille mal gardée and Sylvia, but they never materialized. Now perhaps they finally will.

    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one frustrated by this. You would think that if they have gone to the effort of filming a ballet and screening it on television, then why don't they release it on dvd?

    For a while I had both Sylvia and La Fille on the media centre hard drive, but then my other half made it go bang very loudly, and we had to get a new one :angel_not:

    I listen to the music in the car, and aside from a few snippets, I haven't been able to watch it :)

    Please, Opus Arte/RB, release them :beg:


  11. 4mrdncr - which college were you at? My brother was at King's, many years ago, and I managed a brief stint working at Downing. WHich RB performance did you see?

    Giannina - you've hit on another favourite of mine, museums. I can spend hours in the British Museum.


  12. Hello everyone :dunno:

    My name is Melanie and I live in Cambridge in the UK.

    I'm originally from London, and still go back regularly to watch ballet at the Royal Opera House. I mostly see the Royal Ballet, but also usually get to see a couple of performances by the Kirov and the Bolshoi when they tour. I've got tickets for La Bayadere and Don Quixote for the Bolshoi at the Colisseum (usually home of the ENO).

    My favourite ballets have to be the two MacMillan productions Romeo and Juliet, and Manon, both of which usually reduce me to tears at the end.

    I look forward to chatting with you all.

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