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2006: Highlights and Lowlights

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It's that time of year again! :thumbsup:

In terms of ballet, what were the best things about 2006? The worst?

I'll start.

My first highlight would have to be Tina LeBlanc's amazing Swan Lake at SFB towards the beginning of the year (I'm wanting to say January). Despite not having the ideal body type for the role, she pulled out all the stops and gave a wonderfully nuanced performance with subtle differences between Odette and Odile.

Another highlight for me was SFB's all-Robbins program, which was wonderfully put together. Even Dybbuk was enjoyable, despite the fact that I panned it last time, while Glass Pieces was simply exhilerating.

Lowlight #1 was Wheeldon's Quaternary, with an abrasive score and repetitive choreography that seemed to drag on and on, despite some commendable dancing.

My other lowlight was POB's performance of Rubies in its otherwise excellent DVD production of Jewels. Too prissy for my taste; it seemed the dancers just didn't get it.

What are your highlights and lowlights for the past year?

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I have had so many highlights this year, starting in January at The Lowry with BRB's revival of Sir Peter Wright's Sleeping Beauty. All the performances I saw were great but the two by Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao were magical and unforgettable. Fans of BRB are so privileged to be able to see Marion Tait continuing to perform and her Carabosse is the one by which I tend to judge all others. How great to see both Vicky Marr and Samara Downs giving such great performances.

In February, NBT revived David Nixon's Madame Butterfly. Chiaki Nagao and Darren Goldsmith were heartbreaking together.

March saw, for me, a magnificent performance of Manon by RDB in Copenhagen. Caroline Cavallo and Andrew Bowman through their hearts and souls into the performance - again unforgettable. This production also gave me one of the lows - the costumes in the brothel in Act 2! Another highlight in March was BRB's revival of David Bintley's Seasons and Carmina Burana. Vicky Marr was magnificent as Fortuna and she and Tyrone Singleton set the stage on fire "In the Court of Love".

For the past couple of years, BRB has split into 2 for mid-scale tours to smaller venues in the North-East and South-West of England. Again this year, the tours provided real ballet-highs (with apologies to Soutj Pacific!). Carol-Anne Millar was magnificent as Pineapple Poll in the North East. In the South West, Robert Parker became Apollo and with Angela Paul or Elisha Willis set the stage alight in That's Life (Nine Sinatra Songs). Nine Sinatra Songs was so enjoyable, with so many of the dancers shining in their allotted song - especially Vicky Marr and Tyrone Singleton.

In July, we were privileged to see Agnes LeTestu and Jiri Bubenicek in Las Dames aux Camilles. It was one of the most moving performances I have seen in my life. My friend and I just couldn't speak for an hour after the end of the performance, which had earned a long and loud standing ovation.

Setember saw NBT performing the world premiere of David Nixon's Three Musketeers - lots of thrills and spills and some great pdd. Patrick Howell was born to be D'Artagnan!

BRB were performing Romeo and Juliet in the Autumn - 2 performances particularly stand out - Robert Parker/Nao Sakuma on the Saturday night in Sunderland and Chi Cao/Ambra Vallo on the Friday night at Sadler's Wells. It was great seeing younger dancers getting a chance in various casts - Joe Caley as Benvolio; Alexander Campbell as Mercutio; Tyrone Singleton as Benvolio and Paris; Jamie Bond and Jenna Roberts as the eponymous star-crossed lovers.

On the 8th December, Birmingham was sprinked with magic dust as Carol-Anne Millar, Chi Cao and Nao Sakuma led a sparkling performance of the Nutcracker.

My final 2 performances this year were in Leeds on 23rd December - NBT Christmas Carol. I especially enjoyed Chris Hinton-Lewis as Scrooge with Midhaela Paolacci and Patrick Howell as an emotional and evocative Belle and Young Scrooge.

2006 has been a wonderful year - roll on 2007!!

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