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Rupert Pennefather leaves Royal Ballet

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I think that this has come as more than a bit of a surprise to a lot of people.It is unclear whether Pennefather is giving up dancing or merely moving company. It is particularly sad as this year's casting suggested that the management had finally recognised that he and Lamb brought out the best in each other. They gave the best La Sylphide that I have seen by non Danish dancers in an unscheduled performance occasioned by a n injury to Rojo. A performance that led people sitting around me to say that they had seen other casts but this was the one that had shown them why it was an important work and an essential part of the repertory. Then there was their Manon which was head and shoulders above anything that the casts that performed in Moscow were capable of delivering. For a dancer who has been plagued by injury he has chalked up a considerable number of great performances. He will be missed as he was exceptionally good in the princely roles. A prince who is an impeccable partner,dances with elegance and refinement knows how to use stillness and is not afraid of it and knows that princes don't sweat.

Now of course the question is who is going to replace him and dance with Lamb in Romeo and Juliet? There are quite a few people here who hope that it will be Golding because that might mean that Francesca Hayward will be given someone other than Golding for her debut as Juliet. I don't think that there is anyone here who understands what the Artistic Director sees in Golding.Indeed there are plenty of people who say that they accept with resignation that have to buy tickets for his performances in order to see the dancers he is partnering. I think everyone recognises what Muntagirov can bring to the company and so far he has delivered the goods.All his performances have been extremely good but the outstanding ones have probably been his de Grieux with Lamb , his Jack with Hayward as Alice and his Colas with Morera as Lise. A Colas who "charmed with his youth" and who together with Morera gave an altogether warmer performance than the one that McRae and Osipova delivered .

The jury is still out as far as Golding is concerned a decent Basilio but other than that what?The charitable have ascribed his lack of success to the roles that he has been given.But after a whole season that does not hold much water.Perhaps someone could say what his New York Oberon was like.I know that his debut here wasn't that highly regarded so it was a bit of a surprise that it was thought good enough for New York.But then if last year's tour to Moscow and the company's New York residency is anything to go by, it seems that O'Hare is more concerned with showing off the big names than showing the best casts and giving audiences the best performances. But then as he hired the man, no doubt he believes that he is worth showing off. And of course if he wants to keep his "stars" he has to keep them happy.But then there is no accounting for taste. I think that most people hope that Muntagirov rather than Golding represents the. future as O'Hare sees it.

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Of course the biggest question is whether Kevin O'Hare will adopt the cheque book solution to this loss or the develop from within solution? The casting of Hayward as Alice and Manon and Naghdi and Ball as Olga and Lensky last year suggested the existence of a development plan of some sort.Evidence of the existence of a plan received a boost when we discovered that Hayward and Naghdi are both due to make their debuts as Juliet this season while Ball is to make his as Romeo. The information that ballet casting details will in future not appear in the house magazine but would be available before booking opens has added to the expectation that management is serious about developing its own dancers rather than recruiting from outside the company, as the explanation given for this was that it would enable management to take more account of dancers' development when casting ballets later in the season.The idea that the company is interested in developing its own dancers is important not only because the company has been recruiting really talented young dancers from the school for years and then doing little or nothing with them but because of the case of Xander Parish who gave a face to the problem.

Parish whose height,might have at one time, have guaranteed him the opportunity for promotion spent several years in the company doing little more than basic corps work. Then he was given the opportunity to go to the Mariinsky and dance there. During his time there he has danced a wide range of roles including the prince in Swan Lake, Albrecht,Romeo and Apollo considerably more than he was likely to have danced here. I suspect that O'Hare will not want to be held responsible for a similar failure to identify and use talent that is under his nose . He will have factored into any plans that he has made the fact that Acosta is retiring this year and Watson, barring injury,will retire in a year or two.It is to be hoped that the plans will not be driven off course by Pennefather's sudden departure.

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Rupert Pennefather's promotion to principal was always regarded as being a political decision because of the scarcity of British dancers in the RB's top ranks. Personally I'd prefer someone from outside rather than promotion of someone distinctly underwhelming simply because their passport says they are British.

Of course, there is always the possibility of reinstating Putrov and Polunin. Both are steeped in the Royal Ballet's reformance culture and know the rep. The tried and tested is always a safer bet then the unknown. Parish is something of an enigma as outstanding dancers can catch the eye even in the back row of the corps de ballet, but Parish was never of that ilk, but having now seen him dance Apollo, I would say Fateyev hasn't succeeded in making a silk purse out of a pigs ear. Pennefather was similarly ineffective in that role.

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Putrov is a fascinating case.First Marquez was hired to dance with him then she was no longer dancing with him.Bit by bit he seemed to work his way through the female principals who were small enough to dance with him. Eventually Sarah Lamb was the only person who was dancing with him and then there was the Cinderella matinee during which he nearly dropped her twice during the ballroom scene. I don't recall exactly what he was due to dance or who was due to dance with him after that performance.Although I know that he danced Colas a short while afterwards and that Helen Crawford danced Lise although she had not originally been cast to dance the role at all. Soon after these performances he left the company.

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Ms Mason managed to mislay a number of dancers during her tenure from Sylvie Guillem down, a tendency that was noted by the London fans.

A wiser director would have sent Polunin on a sabbatical and changed his contract to that of guest. He's done some growing up in the intervening years and has the star quality to act as a consolation when Acosta departs.

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