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Ashton Fan

ENB Sleeping Beauty Summer 2018

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As has been said  elsewhere when the ENB last revived their MacMillan production of The Sleeping Beauty it looked more like a Royal Ballet production than the performances seen at Covent Garden did. However much has changed in both companies since then, When ENB last revived this production the company had a number of former members  of the  Royal Ballet on its staff who knew how the work should go. If I recall correctly both David Wall and Alfreda Thorogood were involved in coaching the company's leading dancers. Wall is dead and other members of the artistic team such as Whitten and Gielgud have moved on. The team staging this revival  and coaching the dancers is a new one and it will be interesting to see what difference, if any, this makes to what the audience sees on stage

At Covent Garden the company is benefitting from a generation of dancers trained at the Royal Ballet School under Gailene Stock's; casting seems less haphazard than it once did  and the presence of a Music Director who believes that Tchaikovsky is a major composer and seems by some miracle to have persuaded the orchestra of this has transformed things. This made the company's last revival of the work something other than a dutiful,somewhat dull revival undertaken through a sense of duty and the need to fill the coffers.Koen Kessels also eccentrically seems to believe that Tchaikovsky's tempo markings should be taken seriously which meant that at the 2016-17  revival the ballet was transformed from a slow, solemn monument to classicism into a work of lightness and speed which the casts performed with real enthusiasm .

ENB is offering London audiences five casts this summer. Cojocaru and Caley open the season on the 6th of June, followed by Takahashi and Arrieta,  Alexandrova and Robison, Dronina and Hernandez with a single performance to be given by Kase and Corrales at the matinee on the final Saturday of the run. It will be interesting to see what the revival looks like with the current artistic team in charge. It is always best for London ballet goers when both ENB and the Royal are firing on all cylinders artistically. London ballet goers are likely to find it difficult to squeeze in all the  performances which are taking place during the 6th -16th June as the Royal Ballet will still be  performing its new Swan lake and Birmingham Royal Ballet will be appearing at Sadler's Wells with Romeo and Juliet and a mixed bill during the second week of the ENB's run. But it is great to be spoiled for choice. If only the same could be said of the opera.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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You have just made a very valid point, AF, ENB used to have a superb teaching/coaching staff and if we are to believe recent complaints from the company members (I do) the high standard that pertained under Wayne Eagling no longer exists.  That has made the fact I'll be missing most performances less hard to take.  It was Alexandrova I most wanted to see, but as I'm abroad for much of May and June, I'll either have to give up the one 'good' ticket I managed to get for Swan Lake or miss my one Garsington opera for this year if I want to see her.  Something of a dilemma.

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It has been announced that Julio Bocca is to work with the company on this revival as guest repetiteur.  My general impression is that the current team tends to favour technique at the expense of the other elements which contribute to the successful revival of a nineteenth century classical ballet. The  company's recent  Le Corsaire seemed  to be treated by many of the dancers appearing in it more as an opportunity to give a display of their technical skills than anything else . I do hope that this does not prove to be the case with this revival.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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