Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Dance of the Blessed Spirits was the subject of one of the Ashton Foundation Masterclasses with Dowell, back in 2016, the film of it is available via the Foundation web site. 

http://www.frederickashton.org.uk/rediscovered.html

 

If only they would get round to performing this at Covent Garden....

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Lynette H said:

Dance of the Blessed Spirits was the subject of one of the Ashton Foundation Masterclasses with Dowell, back in 2016, the film of it is available via the Foundation web site. 

http://www.frederickashton.org.uk/rediscovered.html

If only they would get round to performing this at Covent Garden....

That is gorgeous. Thanks for posting the link! I'd like for someone to get around to performing this a few more times in NYC. (Ahem, like at ABT's fall season ...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I found Program A's collection of solos and duets to be somewhat of a mixed bag. First and foremost, all of the dancers were fabulous. Calvin Richardson & Joseph Sissens were new to me and I'd be happy to see much, much more of them. It was great to see Lauren Cuthbertson, Edward Watson and Marcelino Sambe again but my favorite of the night was Sarah Lamb.
 
I first saw Lamb almost 15 years ago when the Royal brought their Sleeping Beauty to DC. She danced Florine at one performance and Aurora at another. To say that I saw a very different side of her in the Wheeldon and especially McGregor's Qualia pdd would be a huge understatement. She was fierce and thoroughly modern. The best I can describe her is as a combination of Ferri - like physique with Whelan - like sensibility and plastique.
 
The inconsistency was in the choreography. I loved Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Concerto & Within the Golden Hour. I liked Qualia and found Obsidian Tear somewhat interesting. For me Asphodal Meadows was less interesting and I never need to see jojo or Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manor of Isadora again ( If Rojo couldn't make me like it when she did Waltzes her 10 or so years ago I doubt that I will ever like it). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, nysusan said:
I first saw Lamb almost 15 years ago when the Royal brought their Sleeping Beauty to DC. She danced Florine at one performance and Aurora at another. To say that I saw a very different side of her in the Wheeldon and especially McGregor's Qualia pdd would be a huge understatement. She was fierce and thoroughly modern. The best I can describe her is as a combination of Ferri - like physique with Whelan - like sensibility and plastique.
 
The inconsistency was in the choreography. I loved Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Concerto & Within the Golden Hour. I liked Qualia and found Obsidian Tear somewhat interesting. For me Asphodal Meadows was less interesting and I never need to see jojo or Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manor of Isadora again ( If Rojo couldn't make me like it when she did Waltzes her 10 or so years ago I doubt that I will ever like it). 

Did you see Lamb in the cinema broadcast of Age of Anxiety?  She was very affective in an edgy, tension filled part.

I will take all of your Brahms Waltzes and trade you Within the Golden Hour.  I have loved it for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Watching the pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto performed by Lauren Cuthbertson and Nicol Edmonds as the third piece in "Program A: An Evening of Solos and Duets" further validates my unshakable belief in the importance of seeing ballet live. Showcasing incredibly gorgeous lines, Cuthbertson looks stunning in person wearing the orange tunic costume, and dances magnificently. Having become familiar with Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major by attending numerous performances by NYCB of Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, I consider the Andante—performed solo here by one of the Royal Ballet’s pianists, Kate Shipway—among the most hauntingly beautiful music ever created. Of course, one must see Concerto in its entirety before making comparisons between the versions of the two choreographers. Without a doubt, however, there are different ways to successfully choreograph ballets to great music, particularly if not commissioned. (Interestingly, MacMillan used this work by Shostakovich in 1966, only nine years after its composition.)

Although extremely impressive in all four pieces he appears in, Joseph Sissens amazes most in Frederick Ashton’s splendid Dance of the Blessed Spirits, dancing to the sublime music by Gluck.

Almost a sea change occurred in my reaction to Ashton's Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan over the course of two evenings. Perhaps I unnecessarily compared it to the extended, fabulous Dances of Isadora; nevertheless, on Tuesday evening Five Brahms Waltzes (about ten minutes long) seemed underwhelming. By contrast, on Wednesday it enthralled me with its own brand of exquisite if ornate beauty. As rapturously performed by Romany Pajdak there is a hint of madness in this dance—yet it is fiercely and thrillingly divine! The careful, wonderfully executed juxtaposition in dance by a soloist between beautiful poses on the one hand and rapid coverage of the stage on the other is always profoundly exciting.  

As one would expect with such an illustrious company as The Royal Ballet, all the dancers in the first program are indeed excellent. Nonetheless, it is not unusual for these kinds of programs to be of a patchy quality.

 

Edited by Royal Blue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Some interesting comments about a programme which to me looks more like a ragbag of odds and ends devised to display examples of the works of choreographers   currently working with the company than a serious attempt to construct a programme of dance works which will display the company's dancers to best advantage.It is not as if the company has no such works in its back catalogue that could be pressed into service but that is almost certainly the problem. The works I am thinking about including Ashton's Thais pas de deux and The Walk to the Paradise Garden would definitely fall into the category of  "heritage" works and the danger with them is that they might show up the quality of the most recent pieces chosen for performance. I have no criticism to make about Kevin's choice of dancers all of whom I would pay good money to see in pretty much anything. I am far from convinced by his choice of repertory particularly when it comes to excerpts from McGregor's dance works which don't seem to me to lend themselves to being presented out of context. The same could be said of Scarlett's ballets.  

I find nysusan's comments about the Five Brahm's Waltzes to the effect that if Rojo could not convince her about the piece no one could, rather odd. Rojo was undoubtedly a talented dancer but I have never thought of her as providing a  benchmark against which to assess other dancers' performances in any Ashton ballet for the simple reason she seemed unable or unwilling to dance his choreography idiomatically. I thought  her totally miscast in Five Brahms Waltzes. She was  a fine interpreter of dramatic roles created by other choreographers  but her performance of Ashton's evocation of Isadora Duncan was far from being her finest hour artistically. I thought that she had only been cast in it in 2004 to give her something to do during the Ashton centenary celebrations. She had not improved when I saw her dance it again some years later. The main problem for me was that I was never really convinced that she could dance Ashton idiomatically and in Five Brahm's Waltzes  lnstead of just getting on and dancing the choreography she seemed intent on trying to act being Isadora. The ballet created on Lynn Seymour was devised as an evocation of Duncan's dancing and first danced in full at a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Rambert Company. Both Ashton and Rambert had seen  Duncan dance indeed Rambert had been such a great Duncan enthusiast that when she was a medical student in Paris she had given Duncan style dance recitals. Ashton gave her a preview of the work and Rambert is reported to have burst into tears saying "That's exactly what it was like".

When the piece was danced by Seymour nothing in the dance text was exaggerated, there were glimpses of the iconic Duncan gestures and poses but no exaggerated freeze framing and the whole piece took just under seven minutes to perform whereas when Rojo appeared in it she took the best part of ten minutes to get through it. She overdid the famous Duncan gestures and poses and took it into head to insert obvious pauses between each of the waltzes. I don't know whether it is true that the pause she inserted  between the fourth and fifth waltz went on for a full minute but the pause seemed interminable and by slowing it down she managed to make the whole piece seem ponderous while simultaneously failing to give the appropriate weight to the movement which Ashton had choreographed.

Watching the ballet for the first or second time it can seem disconcertingly odd as it has little or no connection with Ashton's classicallyt based ballets which are for the most part the ballets with which we are most familiar. It is only when you have the opportunity to see Five Brahms Waltzes in the context of the reconstruction of his wartime ballet Dante Sonata premiered in 1940 that you really become aware of Duncan's influence on his choreography although the surviving fragment from his ballet The Wise Virgins also reveals her influence. At the end of the war Ashton switched to a more overtly classically based vocabulary and style and Duncan's influence dwindled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deeply grateful, above all, that the pas de deux from Concerto with Lauren Cuthbertson in the female role was brought across the pond. Moreover, I loved greatly Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan with Romany Pajdak, and Dance of the Blessed Spirits as performed by Joseph Sissens. In consummate alignment with the marvelous music and choreography, the set design, costumes, lighting, and color scheme enchanted in all three works.

The outstanding performances of the four dancers I did not mention by name previously—by the order in which they appeared, Calvin Richardson, Sarah Lamb, Marcelino Sambé, and Edward Watson—made (together with those of Pajdak and Sissens) the other five items in the first program of the Ballet Festival more appealing. Three of these eight dancers from The Royal Ballet on this visit to New York are principals; the rest come from the lower ranks. What a hub for ballet must London be right now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/8/2019 at 1:04 PM, sandik said:

Did you see Lamb in the cinema broadcast of Age of Anxiety?  She was very affective in an edgy, tension filled part.

I will take all of your Brahms Waltzes and trade you Within the Golden Hour.  I have loved it for years.

 
Sandik, I will gladly make that trade!
 
And, by the way, having thought about it a bit, I dont' think I've seen Lamb at all between the DC Beauties and these performances at  the Joyce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/9/2019 at 11:03 AM, Ashton Fan said:

I find nysusan's comments about the Five Brahm's Waltzes to the effect that if Rojo could not convince her about the piece no one could, rather odd. Rojo was undoubtedly a talented dancer but I have never thought of her as providing a  benchmark against which to assess other dancers' performances in any Ashton ballet for the simple reason she seemed unable or unwilling to dance his choreography idiomatically. I thought  her totally miscast in Five Brahms Waltzes. She was  a fine interpreter of dramatic roles created by other choreographers  but her performance of Ashton's evocation of Isadora Duncan was far from being her finest hour artistically. I thought that she had only been cast in it in 2004 to give her something to do during the Ashton centenary celebrations. She had not improved when I saw her dance it again some years later. The main problem for me was that I was never really convinced that she could dance Ashton idiomatically and in Five Brahm's Waltzes  lnstead of just getting on and dancing the choreography she seemed intent on trying to act being Isadora. The ballet created on Lynn Seymour was devised as an evocation of Duncan's dancing and first danced in full at a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Rambert Company. Both Ashton and Rambert had seen  Duncan dance indeed Rambert had been such a great Duncan enthusiast that when she was a medical student in Paris she had given Duncan style dance recitals. Ashton gave her a preview of the work and Rambert is reported to have burst into tears saying "That's exactly what it was like".

 

 
Ashton Fan, thank you for your insights on Rojo's inability to dance Ashton idiomatically. Unfortunately the RB has been here so infrequently recently, and my long ago memories of the RB in the late 60's/early 70s are fuzzy enough that I doubt I could distinguish between idiomatic or unidiomatic Ashton. I considered Rojo to be a great dancer the few times I've seen her and so since I disliked her in the Brahms Waltzes, I assumed I wouldn't like anyone else in it either.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I think that it is quite reasonable to assume that if the Royal Ballet's Artistic Director casts a dancer with considerable name recognition in a role in a ballet when the company is on tour that you are indeed going to see someone who is thought to bring something special to the work they are performing and that dancers whose performances are preserved on DVD are thought by management  to deliver exemplary accounts of the roles and works they have been recorded performing.   Unfortunately that is not always the case . Other factors seem to come into play when such decisions are made . Seniority frequently seems to trump suitability in casting decisions while the decisive factor often seems to be which dancers' performances are likely to produce the highest sales.  All of this may be understandable but it can cause confusion when it comes to deciding whose performance to see or whether a particular work is worth seeing again after you have seen a disappointing performance given  by a well known dancer.  At present Ashton's ballets seem to be under greater threat from bad casting decisions than MacMillan's are.

 

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/10/2019 at 5:37 PM, Royal Blue said:

 Three of these eight dancers from The Royal Ballet on this visit to New York are principals; the rest come from the lower ranks. What a hub for ballet must London be right now!

According to the London Times,  Marcelino Sambé  has just been promoted to principal!  London Times

I saw yesterday's program B and it was marvelous.  Sambé danced a pdd with Cuthbertson and the audience went absolutely crazy.   I was so pleased to see so much of Cuthbertson on the program as she totally blew me away.   Teuscher/Bell pdd did themselves proud in a new Gemma Bond piece.   Can't wait to see my next performance (program D)! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a haunting, powerful performance of Maurice Béjart's somber Song of a Wayfarer by David Hallberg and Joseph Gordon Tuesday night at The Joyce Theater! Marking another milestone in Gordon's blossoming career, it was exceptionally intense and poignant. At its conclusion, the audience applauded warmly, but not in any unusual or excessive way. However, after the curtain came down for good, the applause remarkably would not cease for a considerable period. Although the two dancers did not take another bow, they came out on stage a little while later—In their regular clothes—at the end of the program.

Kenneth MacMillan’s Elite Syncopations divertissement, a lighthearted yet thoroughly delightful ballet boasting some brilliant performances—including one by ABT’s Cassandra Trenary—incongruously followed after a pause, in the third program of the Ballet Festival, Béjart’s rigorous piece. Irrespective of what occurred with the audience’s reaction to Song of a Wayfarer, in this instance a second intermission during the evening seemed warranted.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you about the need for a second intermission. Songs of a Wayfarer and Elite Syncopations made for an odd pairing, though both were wonderful. Joseph Gordon has really developed into a thoughtful, mature dancer. I wasn't the biggest fan of him when I started coming to NYCB because of his extremely youthful face, but now he's one of my favorites at the company. Besides him and Hallberg, my favorite performance of the night was Sarah Lamb in the Macmillan. I thought Bond's piece was fine, although I can't really remember much of it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just returned from “Program C” tonight at the Joyce Ballet Festival, which I enjoyed much more than last week’s Program B.  Gemma Bond’s piece “Then and Again” opened tonight’s program, and I thought it was terrific.  Bond really knows how to move her dancers around the stage, and her choreography was not repetitive, forced, or trite.  Unlike other emerging choreographers, I think Bond actually has something to say, and does so in a clear and expressive manner, and without the need for repetitive steps.  The lighting design was also used to great advantage, as the dancers’ shadows played on and off the back wall, filling the stage with intangible movement.   

If there was a highlight of the evening, probably it was “Song of a Wayfarer” with Joseph Gordon and David Hallberg.  These two very different principal dancers, each at a differing point in his career, made those variables work for the piece, with Gordon as the young artist struggling against the blows and vagaries of Hallberg’s capricious spirit of Destiny.  It was quite moving, due mostly, I think, to the presence of Hallberg, who dances so rarely in NY nowadays, and still has such impeccable technique and gorgeous lines.  At the end, as Hallberg’s Destiny pulled Gordon into the upstage darkness, I could only think that this too has happened to Hallberg, his destiny pulling him elsewhere, leaving NY behind him with only a kind of darkness left in his wake.  Gordon and Hallberg took two curtain calls (!), with many standing in appreciation. 

The final piece, MacMillan’s “Elite Syncopations,” was reduced in size to six dancers and six rags, but was still a joy.  Capturing the slyness and elegance both of ragtime and early 20th century dance, it proved a real crowd-pleaser and an upbeat way to end a wonderful summer evening.  The cast included ABT’s Cassandra Trenary, who had performed earlier in Gemma Bond’s “Then and Again.”  Trenary is one of those unusual dancers with the ability to move easily between dance styles, and this piece really suited both her affinity for modernism as well as her sense of playfulness.  She looked right at home. 

Disagree strongly about the need for an extra intermission during this program.  One 20-minute intermission was far too much as it was!  But with so many people racing outside for a cigarette break, I assume that one, at least, was a necessity in this situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found the piece with David Hallberg and Joseph Gordon to be intense and moving. I don't think I've ever seen a Bejart piece before, and I liked it more than I thought I would. Of course, it depends on the right casting, and the pairing of young Gordon with the older, worldly Hallberg was inspired. I would have loved to see this again, but concluded I couldn't spend on another ticket when I only wanted to see one piece on the program. I found the Gemma Bond piece pointless and forgettable. I enjoyed Elite Syncopations, which I'd never seen before either, and especially enjoyed the Royal Ballet dancers and our very own Cassandra Trenary, showing a sophisticated and confident stage presence. 

I'm sorry I missed last week's programs (I was out of town) and look forward to the final program, on Saturday. 

On a side note, being at the Joyce in August reminded me of last year's Sarasota Ballet visit. Very fond memories! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What part did Trenary dance in Elite Syncopations?  Was it a pas de deux or what was originally Monica Mason's role dancing the  Calliope Rag? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Josette said:

What part did Trenary dance in Elite Syncopations?  Was it a pas de deux or what was originally Monica Mason's role dancing the  Calliope Rag? 

It was a solo. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, cobweb! It must be the Calliope Rag!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes, Trenary did Mason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although the choreography in Program D of the Ballet Festival on Friday night was of variable quality, there was much of musical interest during the evening, a greater consistency of tone than in the previous program, and all four dancers—Sarah Lamb, Edward Watson, Robbie Fairchild and Maria Kowroski—excelled in their roles. The three-part Cristaux presented after the intermission was particularly engaging, and offered Lamb the opportunity to cap her enchanting work during the past two weeks with a dazzling performance.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments on Program D, Royal Blue. Same! I would not look forward to seeing any of these pieces again. The dancers, however, definitely yes. After seeing programs C and D, I especially wish I could see more of Sarah Lamb. Robbie Fairchild looked great, but it just made me sad we're not seeing him at NYCB any longer. I also much enjoyed the music of Dan Gillespie Sells, who is new to me.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did anyone see Robert Binet's "Dialogue Dances"? I've seen some of his creations in Toronto; wonder how the work comes across to a New York audience.  Not sure which program this was in.  Dancers included Xiao Nan Yu (NBOC Principal Dancer who retired following the performance), Hannah Fischer, Skylar Campbell and Spencer Hack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed Program D yesterday, but agree that the choreography was uneven.   That being said,  I absolutely loved all four dancers in everything they performed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I attended programs B and C and then program D twice. Of the 3, I think I enjoyed Program D the most simply because of the dancers. I couldn't get enough of the four of them, especially Sarah Lamb and Edward Watson. I'd only see Watson once in 2015 and loved him.

Overall, the programming as a whole did not blow me away, but reminded me of how little we actually see these dancers here.  I am overdue to return to London again to see as many performances of The Royal Ballet as I can jam into a long weekend. It was a treat to see Robbie Fairchild in NYC, as I hadn't seen him since Brigadoon at City Center in 2017 after he retired from NYCB. As David Hallberg is barely at ABT anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him dance with Joseph Gordon in the Bejart piece. At this point, I'll take anything in which I can see him.

Of B and C, I was very impressed by Marcelino Sambé and Lauren Cuthbertson in "Two Sides Of" and Cassandra Trenary. I attended an event at which Trenary noted how much she loved MacMillan, so I was excited to see her in "Elite Syncopations" and she was great. Both of the Bond pieces that I saw were elegant and enjoyable, but not particularly memorable. The last piece in Program D was "Cristaux" and it reminded me of a magic show with the glittering crystal costumes, music and lights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, nycvillager said:

I attended programs B and C and then program D twice. Of the 3, I think I enjoyed Program D the most simply because of the dancers. I couldn't get enough of the four of them, especially Sarah Lamb and Edward Watson. I'd only see Watson once in 2015 and loved him.

Overall, the programming as a whole did not blow me away, but reminded me of how little we actually see these dancers here.  I am overdue to return to London again to see as many performances of The Royal Ballet as I can jam into a long weekend. It was a treat to see Robbie Fairchild in NYC, as I hadn't seen him since Brigadoon at City Center in 2017 after he retired from NYCB. As David Hallberg is barely at ABT anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him dance with Joseph Gordon in the Bejart piece. At this point, I'll take anything in which I can see him.

Of B and C, I was very impressed by Marcelino Sambé and Lauren Cuthbertson in "Two Sides Of" and Cassandra Trenary. I attended an event at which Trenary noted how much she loved MacMillan, so I was excited to see her in "Elite Syncopations" and she was great. Both of the Bond pieces that I saw were elegant and enjoyable, but not particularly memorable. The last piece in Program D was "Cristaux" and it reminded me of a magic show with the glittering crystal costumes, music and lights.

Welcome to Ballet Alert!  

I only saw two of the programs (B and D), but loved them both.  As you say we get so little chance to see the Royal Ballet in the states, so while the choreography took second place to the dancers, I was fine with it. 

Like you, I was very taken with Sambe and Cuthberson.  Balanchine would have had a field day choreographing for her.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...