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Steven McRae


MissMonk

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So I found myself here cause I had some unusual questions about ballet and forums are a great place to look and for fun I put in "Steven McRae" in the search box because he's my fave dancer, and I'm just curious...am I missing something? I read any and all posts that came up in the search and while I know everything is subjective,  a lot that came up was just so negative (particularly from one person's frequent reviews who obviously believes they know everything).

I personally find him to be an amazing talent. He's expressive, he's technical, he's versatile, has great musicality and he has the most amazing extensions and flexibility for a male and yet people are pointing this out as a bad thing. Maybe its just cause of my age bracket and I didn't grow up in the "good old days" of Dowell or Fonteyn. 

Its not just McRae, its other top dancers too. I'm just wondering if I'm just missing something that others are seeing. I love watching him dance, my fave partner for him is Sarah Lamb. Though she can seem a bit distant and cold at times but I love watching the Romeo and Juliet they did a few years ago. And Rubies last year was so energetic and you can tell that they were having lots of fun. I think what I love the most is this youtube video I had found of Symphonic Variations filmed in 2005.

Just thought I'd ask, and to see if any one else likes him or actually has something positive to say, cause it seems not which is really odd.

P.S. I thought Frankenstein was fun.

 

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There aren't very many of us who see much in London: most reports here are from NYC, with some from DC (people who live there plus East Coast commuters), and a few from Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and So. California, especially when there are visiting companies at Segerstrom.

Most discussions about the Royal Ballet take place on boards in the UK, but we have a few posters who pop over the pond to give their impressions.  

When there are only a few voices, they tend to be consistent and come across more strongly than if there were many, and that's true of posters and critics. For one thing, we're not a fan board. You may be missing something, and you may not be missing something.  If you haven't seen the company for many years/decades, you would be missing a change in style at the Royal Ballet, mostly because there aren't a ton of videos, although there are superb ones.  (For me, anything with Nadia Nerina or Svetlana Beriosova is a joy.).  The same is true for many people who've started to watch NYCB in the last decade, and there are lots of people who rightly tell me what I missed before the late '70's, when I started to see the company.

If people post opinions with descriptions, you can compare what you see to what they see, and maybe you'll get an insight.  If not, then you can decide how to take someone's opinion.  I would suggest, "not personally," because if you're a friend or relative, discussion boards will never be a safe space, and if you're a fan, it doesn't matter if other people don't like the same things. 

I like McRae a lot, but not in the one thing I've seen him with Lamb, "Rubies."  But I'm pretty sure he's not losing sleep over my opinion.

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I saw Steven McRae when the RB came to NYC and he danced Oberon in The Dream. I thought he was very elegant. I also liked him in the recent Nutcracker transmission with Sarah Lamb as SPF. I have videos of him La Fille Mal Gardee (IMO a bit mismatched with Osipova) and Rhapsody (liked that a lot). I didn't like his Rubies with Sarah Lamb though. I thought it was a bit too prim, not reckless enough.

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13 hours ago, MissMonk said:

 

I personally find him to be an amazing talent. He's expressive, he's technical, he's versatile, has great musicality and he has the most amazing extensions and flexibility for a male and yet people are pointing this out as a bad thing. Maybe its just cause of my age bracket and I didn't grow up in the "good old days" of Dowell or Fonteyn. 

 

I'm in the age bracket that saw Fonteyn/Nureyev/Dowell at their height, but regards to Steven M. I agree with all you say.  He is remarkable and I'm also unable to understand the negativity.  Speaking as a London based ballet goer I know there is a faction of RB fans that have a problem with guest artists and McRae has danced regularly with Salenko and occasionally with Obraztsova which doesn't endear him to that faction.  I prefer to acknowledge the general audiences that greet his performances with deafening ovations rather than those others.  Personally he's always first choice when I book for ROH.

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Thanks for the replies guys. Its nice to hear something positive, not just about Steven but others. I feel a lot of reviews and critics seem to be missing the point which is to dance. But you can't please everyone.

13 hours ago, canbelto said:

I saw Steven McRae when the RB came to NYC and he danced Oberon in The Dream. I thought he was very elegant. I also liked him in the recent Nutcracker transmission with Sarah Lamb as SPF. I have videos of him La Fille Mal Gardee (IMO a bit mismatched with Osipova) and Rhapsody (liked that a lot). I didn't like his Rubies with Sarah Lamb though. I thought it was a bit too prim, not reckless enough.

I somehow located the La Fille mal Gardee from 2012 with Roberta Marquez and I absolutely adore it. I like Natalia, she's talented and fun but Roberta as Lise,  you can just tell by her expression how much she embodied the character and she matched well with Mcraes Colas.

3 hours ago, CharlieH said:

Me too. What's there to not love about McRae? I've admired him since he was a corps member, standing out in occasional solos. I first noticed his amazing talents in the small role of "Fire" in Homage to the Queen.

He does stand out. I had gotten the 2009 Romeo and Juliet with Carols Acosta from the library and the mandolin dance came on and as you know they wear weird face make up but you could just tell it was Steven by how he danced. I love that about dancers.

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Alastair Macaulay (the lead dance critic for the New York Times) loves McRae. I think Macaulay may have even said that McRae was the RB's best principal man at one point. In my opinion, Edward Watson is the male RB principal who seems to get a lot of unnecessarily negative attention.

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Ed Watson is a strange fellow. Well i mean he's fine but I mean he's obviously very talented and he is at the top at the RB but you really don't see him in much, or maybe i'm just not looking enough. I don't think he does any of those extra curricular activities like galas and guesting. I loved his Maylering though.

On a side note of seeing dancers...is it a new practice that there are so many casts for each show done? I remember looking at cast sheets a few years ago and it was like 3 casts of mostly principals in the main roles and I love that they give the up and comers a chance, that's how McRae got where he is but i'm starting to feel as if being principal really dosen't mean much anymore.

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Just now, chicagoballetomane said:

I saw McRae perform Don Q with Iana Salenko in Chicago a few years ago and he was incredible. His Act 3 variation absolutely blew me away with his speed, attack, and virtuosity. I actually ended up enjoying McRae/Salenko better than Golding/Osipova, primarily because McRae was so enjoyable 

If you like McRae, try following him on Instagram -- he often posts brief videos with various partners, including Salenko. And he is always super-gracious in lavishing his praise on all of them. 

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On 12/31/2017 at 8:09 AM, MissMonk said:

On a side note of seeing dancers...is it a new practice that there are so many casts for each show done? I remember looking at cast sheets a few years ago and it was like 3 casts of mostly principals in the main roles and I love that they give the up and comers a chance, that's how McRae got where he is but i'm starting to feel as if being principal really dosen't mean much anymore.

This is entirely down to the company that you are viewing. The RB is a large company with a comparatively big budget and lots of talent needing opportunities. Smaller, regional companies often depend a lot upon their principals to 'put bums in seats', and to maintain a sense of quality throughout the season. Although the audience often has favorites they depend upon seeing at Mariinsky, Bolshoi, POB, RB, NYCB, etc., being treated to an up-and-coming dancer as a substitute can often be a wonderful surprise.

It was interesting to hear that you liked Frankenstein, btw. The ballet generally went over well with audiences in San Francisco (SFB co-produced Frankenstein with the Royal Ballet). Critics don't love the ballet, but it does speak to the younger audience and that is a big deal these days.

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On 12/30/2017 at 3:45 AM, Mashinka said:

I'm in the age bracket that saw Fonteyn/Nureyev/Dowell at their height, but regards to Steven M. I agree with all you say.  He is remarkable and I'm also unable to understand the negativity.  Speaking as a London based ballet goer I know there is a faction of RB fans that have a problem with guest artists and McRae has danced regularly with Salenko and occasionally with Obraztsova which doesn't endear him to that faction.  I prefer to acknowledge the general audiences that greet his performances with deafening ovations rather than those others.  Personally he's always first choice when I book for ROH.

I am noticing that people aren't quite liking the guest artist thing. I wouldn't think he would have a choice. Whoever does the casting makes the decisions. At least in the normal world thats usually how it goes. I'm jealous you get to go regularly to the ROH. I only get to see whats in the theater and when people take illegal videos which I dont support but greatly appreciate. I'm relatively new to ballet, only watching the last few years and out of the company's the RB really is at the top. Its the only one i actually like to be honest. Its fun being able to identify the dancers on screen.

6 hours ago, pherank said:

 

It was interesting to hear that you liked Frankenstein, btw. The ballet generally went over well with audiences in San Francisco (SFB co-produced Frankenstein with the Royal Ballet). Critics don't love the ballet, but it does speak to the younger audience and that is a big deal these days.

I did. I gave my computer a standing ovation. It of course needs some tweaking but what Liam Scarlett did was amazing. It was beautifully put together and the score, which is usually my biggest thing was just moving. The PDD at the end with Victor and the creature was awkward to watch the first few times but then it was just a delight. The only thing I didn't like was the creatures costume. It was for the most part ok but it looked like McRae was dancing with half a wedgie for 2 hours. By the time Victor is dead i couldn't help but think he deserved what he got. He had created this creature and then turns him away. Its so sad, like rejecting your own baby, except a baby of course wont murder 3 people but eh what can you do.

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I think that, amongst some RB fans, there is still an element of sniffiness about 'colonial upstarts' and 'pushy Australians' that has worked against McRae.  I'm a reasonably regular attendee and he has grown on me over the years - the amazing technique was unquestionably there from the start but his initial 'tits and teeth' approach to all roles has softened to include some decent acting of late.  I would always be happy to see him in bravura roles like Don Q or Fille.  However, I do find his incessant use of social media, including some pretty obvious brand promotion and the constant inclusion of his very young children to be a little unwise and offputting.  But he's far from the only dancer letting us watch as he admires his body in the mirror each morning.....

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Alas, I only know McRae on video.  I thought his work in Fille was excellent, and I was very interested in his Oberon -- I know the Balanchine version much better, so it took me awhile to get a sense of what this one was heading towards.  I was less excited by Rubies, but I think with that it had to do with the coaching -- they kept going on and on about the Broadway aspect, which I've notice in UK dancers generally gets translated as music hall, which has a different feeling.  It wasn't dark enough for me -- there are certainly happy moments in the work, but there's also a level of threat that they just didn't seem to touch.

Thanks for poking the fire here, and jump-starting the topic.  In general, if you don't see something, the best thing to do is speak up.

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