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Royal Ballet 2022-2023 season

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I admit that my initial response to the announcement of next season's bill of fare was to identify the performances I feel no need to attend . Somehow  I think it unlikely that the casting ,when it is announced, is going to make me change my mind. about the extended version of Crystal Pite;s' Flight Patterns which I fear will damage a  theatrically powerful and tightly constructed work by over extending it; the revival of Woolf Works or the triple bill of contemporary works which includes a new work by Wayne McGregor, a revival of Wheeldon's Corybantic Games and Anastasia Act III. All in all this part of the season's programme does not seem that attractive. As far as the rest of the season's repertory is concerned it is restricted to four established works, Mayerling which is apparently not being staged because Lady MacMillan wants to make money but to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the choreographer's death; the now inevitable Christmas Nutcracker which only became a seasonal fixture during Dowell's directorship; a revival of Sleeping Beauty and a  revival of Cinderella. I think that all four works have been allocated  far too many performances . It will interesting to see at what point the demand for tickets dries up. Personally I think that management would have been well advised to revive a fifth ballet such as Fille or  stage a really interesting mixed bill with a genuine bonne bouche in the form of a revival of Apparitions or Daphnis and Chloe.

I don't think that I am being churlish when I say that it seems to me that the  choice of repertory this season reveals even more starkly than usual Kevin's weaknesses as director of the company. He is much better than his predecessors in developing his dancers and giving them real career development opportunities allocating roles with less concern about dancers' place in  the company's hierarchy than in the past  but  at the same time he is far weaker in his understanding of the importance of the company's twentieth century  repertory of which he is merely the temporary custodian. He says the right things about Ashton  and the Ashton repertory, "He made us who we are",but when it comes to repertory choices you can't help thinking that he sees the Diaghilev and Ashton masterpieces in the store cupboard as a barrier to further and greater creativity, if only because of the deman they make on time in the studio and on stage. There have been far too many occasions on which Kevin has given the impression that he sees the bulk of the  company's twentieth century repertory as disposable works which do not require regular revival to keep them in pristine condition ; to   maintain the chain of transmission and sustain a performing tradition as part of a living experience within the ranks of the company.

I don't want to be misunderstood I am relieved to learn that  Cinderella is to be performed after more than a decade's absence, it means that the stand off over the designs  has been resolved and that with any luck we shall not be faced with  coarsely inappropriate designs as we were with the new production first staged in the 2003-4 season.My rapture at the announcement of the new Cinderella production is however somewhat modified by a lack of faith in the rights owner's ability to capture that elusive quality of magic and mystery which can make Cinderella  so compelling in performance. With any luck the new production will have designs which capture the mood of the ballet which Ashton created rather than evoking the world of pantomime. I know that everyone has to start somewhere but I find it rather worrying that neither of the designers involved in this important new production  seem to have any experience of designing for ballet.Somehow that seems something os.f a weakness.

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I seem to recall the late chairman of the Royal Opera House Board complaining that the name of the building put people off attending performances there so perhaps the failure to arrange  a gala or other celebratory event is part of a deep laid plan devised by him or there again it could be  yet another oversight. One of the problems may be that Alex Beard who is responsible for the day to day running of the organisation has experience  of working for arts institutions such as the Tate Gallery rather than theatrical institutions which are expected to mark state events and stage the occasional gala.It would not be the first time that an important event has escaped the notice of the powers that be at the ROH..My recollection is that Kevin managed to overlook the Fonteyn centenary or, putting it another way, nothing was announced when when the 2018-19 season was originally published and the event suddenly appeared in the schedule at quite short notice. I think that the thing that strikes me most is the sudden apparent obsession with marking anniversaries. Does the fact that we are to mark the thirtieth anniversary of MacMillan's death mean that we are now to mark that event at five yearly intervals? Then there is the weird programme to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Friends organisation which, as far as I am aware, includes nothing originally supported by the Friends

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