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Munich: "Manon" Masterclass with Dame Antoinette Sibley (12.

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Dancers: Lisa-Maree Cullum (Manon) and Oliver Wehe (Des Grieux)

Second Masterclass in Munich - again sold out, and very very interesting. I try to quote Dame Antoinette Sibley as much as possible as she gave such vivid explanations - I have never seen her on stage, but wish now I had, as she created such a special atmosphere in this rehearsal!

Wearing medium height slippers, she fully danced out some steps, marked others, but really swirled around the studio! Very British (if I may say so), with some understatement and a good sense of humour. She began with a "charming anecdote" of how she learnt she would dance Manon (I am sure many of you know it...), stressing how particular this role has always been for her as she used to be known as a very classical dancer - "all these fairies and princesses, you know" - it was great to be a "real woman".

Last night of summer season 1973 at Covent Garden - she and Anthony Dowell danced "Sleeping Beauty". Always worried about the difficulties, she had a little routine: Before the music started, she went on stage to do some of the difficult steps. "Then I would go back to my dressing room and pretend not to be doing anything. And then there was this book" (she showed it to us): Carmen and Manon Lescaut. She opened it and found a note from Sir Kenneth MacMillan that this was some holiday reading for 7 March (?) 1974. She was thrilled but did not know which one she was going to dance - Carmen or Manon. Somehow she got through the Rose Adage. Anthony Dowell watched her from the wings, so after the Rose Adage, she asked him if he also got that book. He rushed to his dressing room, she went out for the next adage. "And by the end of act I, we found out that we were dancing Manon and Des Grieux!"

Parts of rehearsal:

- the one (and only) solo variation of Manon

- Manon's Leitmotiv - same steps, executed totally different

1) When she's on stage first time, everyone is attracted to her, laying hands on her - she slowly realizes her effect on the others, but becomes claustrophobic - SHE want's to have control

2) When she enters Madame's etablissement at the side of Monsieur GM

She's totally over the moon - now she is where she wants to be. She is the centre of attraction, and she is fully self-confident

3) Coming from the ship and almost dying

She's been kept in the dark for a long time, she can't stand the light, she's clinging to Des Grieux, broken.

- Bedroom pdd when Des Grieux is packing - Ivan Liska picked out this to make sense of what is going on in this scene - it's become my favourite as there are so many different moods in it, but the dancers seemed to have some difficulties to put the right feelings into the steps.

Bedroom pdd

Des Grieux

- knows they have to get away quickly

- is tormented: He's the most sincere man on earth - and now the police is after him

- but he believes he and Manon will be off to a new life with all the money they got from gambling and cheating.


- "is more simple: She thinks she's done her part - she's helped to get a lot of money, so they can escape, but all she really wants now is to go to bed with Des Grieux." So she's the active one, while he's fully aware they have to get away quickly

The big "problem"

- Manon's love for jewellery - she wants both, jewellery and Des Grieux, while

- Des Grieux thought he got rid of that, that she would start a completely new life with him - the jewellery reminds him of the worst time in his life

Filling steps with life:

At first, Manon's not conscious of the jewellery - bracelet, earrings, collier. All she wants is to get Des Grieux into bed - while he wants to get away. When she's wrapping her arms around the poster of the bed, she's totally forgotten the bracelet. But Des Grieux notices it, stared furiously at it: What's this? And Manon only then looks at her arm - "Oh, that's my bracelet. It's beautiful, isn't it?" She looks at it, gets totally carried away, totally self-centred, forgets about Des Grieux for a moment, dreaming of the good life - he brings her down to earth again when he takes her arm. And that makes her furious: "Why are you hurting me?" But as she knows he adores her, she teases him, she knows she'll get him where she wants to.

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Thanks for your kind words - I am always a bit worried because as soon as I start to think of it, I get carried away and write and write... wink.gif

Next Munich masterclass will be end of January, with Marcia Haydee coaching for "Taming of the Shrew" - and I guess there will be something in it as well...

[ December 19, 2001: Message edited by: Sonja ]

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