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Season Opener - Tryst/Gong/Carmen


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This is for those who like instant reaction as opposed to considered thought - it was FAB!:D

Golly, it was so nice to be back and see everyone - great way to start the season with a triple bill as loads of people were in it, they all looked happy too. It was wonderful to see Tryst again, I really like it. Gong was peculiar but interesting. Carmen was still vile and vulgar, I kind of love to hate it now though...

Lasting impression for me was Johannes Stepanek who was fantastic - but I am sure there are no surprises there if you have ever read any of my other reviews!;)

Considered thought will come tomorrow, I'm too tired now!

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It certainly was great to be back at the House after the summer break-Tryst was still lovely to watch, I especially like the patterns the dancers create on the stage (they were very clear from the slips!) and the way the sequences ripple through the lines.

Gong was quite interesting to watch-lots of bright colours and fast movement. There were also some bits without music which was different, and the first time it happened I didn't expect it, and looked at the conductor to see what was going on-he was standing with his arms folded waiting for the next bit of music to come in! Oh, and the boys all had earrings on which made them look a bit like pirates!

Lastly Carmen-this was my first full run through of it, and I didn't really like it any more than the extract I saw before. It simply looks ugly lot of the time, and some of the costumes are made of the most bizarre fabric! Kind of coloured tin foil! :D

All in all a great evening and I can't wait to see it again on Friday!

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A fuller account!

Tryst is gorgeous. Having seen Polyphonia twice since the first time I saw Tryst, I can see Wheeldon's style and patterns etc more, and would love to see more of his work - I wonder if we will get more at RB now? The costumes are lovely, dark grey with a flash of colour across the chest - I want one! Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope looked very good - every time I see Darcey I can't get over just how beautiful she is! Their pas de deux is very measured and precise and they take some amazing poses (and get into those poses in amazing ways!). The corps was very good, I still especially love the end with them all in lines and the movement being repeated by each line. The steps look simple (probably aren't though) but the effect is mesmerising as the canon through the dancers progresses. I was impressed by a kind of sissone ferme change I have never seen before - the dancers changed alignment in the middle - it fascinated me! There are some lovely pictures of Tryst in the programme.

Gong was impressive, a bit peculiar! The earrings were distracting... and I am not sure about the coloured leggings with the tutus - I would rather have them in unitards I think. The girls looked like fireflys, darting around dressed in the bright colours, they reminded me a bit of the fairies in The Dream! (The colours of the costumes were interesting - 3 different types - pastel, deep and fluorescent - on first look I thought it was odd, as if some had faded, but actually I think I liked it) I very much liked the flexed wrists when the dancers turned in chaines or pose turns, it made them look blurred so the colours bled across the stage. I didn't like the flexed ankles so much, they made the dancers look stiff and a bit puppet-like. There were two pas de deux which were performed without music which was unexpected, I thought the music would start after a couple of steps but it didn't - it was interesting and gave the dances a different focus, I think. I really need to see it again! One thing I would be interested to know is which ABT dancers it was set on last year. Darcey Bussell was in burgundy, Alina Cojocaru in hot pink, Jane Burn in purple, Marianela Nunez in pale blue and Jaime Tapper in green, Ricardo Cervera in orange, Nathan Coppen in lilac, Martin Harvey in gold, Jose Martin in brown and Edward Watson in green (I hope that is right! I should have written it down!)

Carmen wasn't as bad as I remembered it but I expect more because I was pleased to see the dancers rather than because I have changed my mind about the production. I feel so sorry for Zenaida Yanowsky that it makes her look so ugly, I just can't understand how a choreographer would want beautiful people to look ugly! She still managed to look serene and lovely though.:D I think my favourite part is with Escamillo and the soldier boys, the cigars and the streamers etc. But maybe because I like all the dancers, as what they dance is often vulgar. I am sort of getting how this kind of dancing expresses the emotion differently, but I am not sure I like it. However, I am almost looking forward to seeing it again, I think this is one I am going to love to hate! It's cartoonish, trashy and brash. A lot of it makes me pull my "disgusted" face but a lot of it makes me smile too.

I did learn two things about it though - the first that the soldiers are mostly bellowing things like "how beautiful" at Carmen, the second that the silver ball which is on the stage is not actually a sphere - a portion of the back is missing as if a slice had been cut off it. (I wonder why? Easier to carry?) I am still mystified by the polka dot cupcakes.:confused: ;)

Anyway, great to be back, the dancers look in good form and the new additions to the company I saw last night seem to fit in well. Hurrah, the season is open at last!

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Hiya, very much enjoyed the reviews! Unsure about Gong - the music is beautiful (the opening notes reminded me of the opening notes of Miss Saigon!) and the bright lollipop colours are fantastic. I had a hard time telling which dancer was which though, Darcey aside of course. :-) And I didn't think much of the choreography - maybe I sat in the wrong place (on level with the stage). I don't know, it felt very bland to me, though the shapes the dancers made with their arms (at the Mixed Bill Insight Day we were told by Tina Fehlandt they had names like 'flame') were quite interesting. And there's this picture I will always have of Alina Cojocaru near the start of her pdd in silence, where she's facing the stage, posing in arabesque, eyes to the stage so her upper body and arms are framed by the hot pink tutu - it's just one of those perfect still moments.

Carmen didn't have the same impact on me as before - I think the shock value's worn off and it doesn't seem quite so funny or witty, but still it's enjoyable and I agree, very trashy. But I like the way they convey the emotion in this - the music is so powerful, it almost demands brutal choreography. But then again I have yet to see any other versions. I disagree about Zenaida Yanowsky though - I think the role of M is the most beautiful part of the piece (with some of the best music). I wish I'd written down some notes from the Insight Day. Pompea Santoro from Cullberg Ballet and the original M gave such an illuminating rehearsal with Brian Maloney. She has such a wonderful vocabulary and warm personality, and explained some of the movements so clearly (though I think she said that Ek didn't want to spell out any specific meanings). But the best part was when she took questions from the audience and someone asked her to dance! So she did the solo/pdd for M and Jose with Maloney, and it was just about the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life!

Anyway will go back next week - it's Brian and Tamara that I'm waiting for! And the updated casts for Gong are up on the ROH site (and Mayerling too - lots of changes!)

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Originally posted by sylvia

I had a hard time telling which dancer was which though, Darcey aside of course.

I thought it was well lit and made a nice change from some of the murky dim stuff we had last season! (Stand up, Por Vos Muero) I was in the slips - maybe it was different from up there.

Interesting that you are going off Carmen just as I am slightly warming to it... I agree, Brian Maloney is good, very stylish and I like him a lot. He would be better though if he didn't have to wear a shiny silver costume with braces and have dubious facial hair.;)

I am looking forward to Tom and Tamara in Carmen - I didn't see them last time. Also I am sure Bennet Gartside as Escamillo is something to behold! And I can't wait to see the second cast of Gong - Johannes is cast (yay!) and Zenaida too (in the "Darcey" role - I am still interested to find out who danced Gong at ABT, if anyone knows - maybe I should ask on the ABT section? Wait, I just did a search and someone said that it wasn't consistent with a tall dancer or a particular style for a certain "colour" etc - is that correct?)

Thanks for the tidbits about the insight day, Sylvia. fascinating stuff!

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Stupid of me Lolly, I keep getting them mixed up because they look so similar. It was Thomas Whitehead at the Insight day, and it's Tom I want to see with Tamara, but yes of course I enjoy Maloney's dancing too!

I thought Gong was very bright at the start but then it got considerably dimmer later on. I don't use binoculars and I have terrible eyes - if I sit any further back than row A in the stalls, I usually have to resort to squinting!

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It was a great performance last night...

I love Tryst more each time I see it, it is so beautiful. The end is so quiet and lovely, the canon is so compelling, anticipating the movements as the sequence becomes shorter until the dancers are doing a simple arm movement. You know how after watching some things you just have to burst into applause straight away? Well this is one of the other kind - where you have to take a moment to come back into the real world... I am so glad I will get to see it again. I think once more will not be enough though - I really hope they keep this one in the rep.:)

Gong was good - this was the second cast. I watched Zenaida Yanowsky a lot, she is so lovely in everything! The costumes didn't flatter this cast of boys at all (I was just thinking, "Johannes in GREEN? And Tom in LILAC?!" all the time...) and there is a nasty mustard shade of yellow for one of the girls. But the overall effect is wonderful, when they are all on stage together it looks impressive. I still think they look like fireflys, in some exotic enchanted forest! But they do look like puppets in other places, it is odd.

Carmen is growing on me, unexpectedly! Zenaida looks great in anything so I enjoyed watching her as M, I am not so sure anyone else could pull it off though. Jonathan Cope had fun with Escamillo, golly, can he jump! I think the soldier boys come off better overall than the girls - the girls have some really odd things to do, but the boys look like they have pulled together and made their own small army! The boys look cute in their grey uniforms whereas the girls look trashy in their bright shiny dresses! From my closer vantage point I also realised when the boys light their cigars, they strike their matches on strips sewn into their trousers! (These details fascinate me!) Brian Maloney as the gypsy was superb, I am hoping he is dancing in the second cast as well (I can hope anyway!)

Well, my favourite piece from this bill is definitely Tryst and favourite dancers from last night are Zenaida Yanowsky and Brian Maloney. It is still great to be seeing everyone.:)

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Oh, maybe they were wool! They look like felt-type stuff. Or they could have struck them on a zip I suppose - I assumed it was a strip to strike them on but I may well be wrong - I wasn't THAT close! Before I had thought they struck them on the floor and thought maybe a marker on the stage was an abrasive patch. But it was definitely on the trousers. The trousers come to the knee, then they taper down with leg-warmer looking things which may or may not be all one piece. I will have to ask someone now, I am intrigued!;) Even more surprisingly, I haven't seen anyone not light theirs on the first try! Also surprised that the fire department aren't biting their nails in the wings, watching the dancers throw their lit matches off stage as cigar smoke drifts around...:eek:

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The answer to the burning question (haha!!) is that there are little strips in the trousers - I sat close enough to see them and heard the strike.

Back to the dancing! I saw Wednesday's performance so this is a bit delayed I know.

I can't say enough about Tryst, I think I have probably said everything I want to say about it and I don't want to bore everyone with my raving about it! One thing I did notice is that from different angles it looks very different, so from right or left, high in the auditorium or stage level, it changes and you notice different things. I think it is because a lot of it, especially the end canon, is perfomed very directly to the corners, so unless you watch from the centre, the lines are different. It's fascinating! I so want to learn this ballet. So Tryst justs keeps on being beautiful and compelling - I do hope that isn't the last I see of it although I can't imagine it will be.

Gong gets more inconsequential upon further viewings - this was the third time for me. I do like it, it is very enjoyable but there is so much I would rather see. It doesn't take Darcey Bussell and Alina Cojocaru to dance it either. But it is pretty - I thought the end looked like the fireflys running towards the fading light. I shouldn't mind seeing it again, but I don't think I would be sad if I didn't.

Here is the shock - I actually ENJOYED(!!!) Carmen.:eek: I think this is down to the SUPERB job Tom Whitehead did as Don Jose, he was just wonderful. Tamara Rojo was good - I didn't notice her presence as much as Sylvie Guillem forces you to... which was nice as I was afraid about seeing her dance such ugly things! She managed to look quite dignified at times! The programme notes said that the ballet is seen from Don Jose's point of view, and that just didn't come across with Massimo Murru and Sylvie, as Sylvie steals any show (and in Carmen she just grabs it by the scruff of the neck and drags it off...) - but with Tamara and Tom that definitely did, the relationship and roles within it were highlighted. I was so sad at the end when he was shot! Tom really was good. Bennet Gartside was funny as Escamillo, fab jumps, and his hip wiggling walk was great, and I noticed all the soldier boys do it too! (Obviously couldn't take my eyes off Jonathan Cope when he did it in the other cast!;) ) Sadly no Brian Maloney as the gypsy - it was Jonathan Howells instead, he was pretty good though.

So Carmen gets better, presumably as the shock factor wears off (worryingly I didn't pull my disgusted face once) but it could be because of the fantastic performance given by Tom...:cool: Isn't it funny how opinions can change?

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Striker strips on the trousers? Now that's cheating!

Having never had an opportunity to see "Tryst", it seems interesting to me that Wheeldon seems so willing to explore the idea of multiple "fronts", so that choreography looks different from different viewing points. "Scenes de Ballet" is the same sort of way, with its diagonal fronts. He's obviously experimenting with his craft, and still shows great promise!:cool: Now, if only he'd settle on some other composer than Ligeti....

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Hmm, I'm not sure I explained the corner thing very well! I meant that the croise and ouvert alignments were very strict, so with the super-crossed 5th positions it looked quite regimented. So it is a dancer's corner rather than corner of the stage thing - does that make sense? Maybe you have to see it...;) The ballet changes because of the way the dancers move in the canon (probably canon is the wrong word... I'm not very good at this! They repeat the movements while other dancers are standing still, and the repeats get shorter, ie until just one motif is left) So if you are at the side the dancers are facing, it looks totally different to if you sat at the other side, where you would see the dancer's backs. BUT! They do change around! (like in that sissonne I was raving about, which goes from one ouvert to the other) So there is no best side to watch it from. The dancers all stay in the same place in relation to each other, and when only some of them move and the others are still, the steps either take them back to where they were, or the dancers who were still then move and the pattern is sustained. Maybe someone else can do a better job of explaining this!:cool: Also, from one seat I completely missed Jonathan Cope's entrance - which he makes by walking slowly across the front of the stage! Duh! I must have been mesmerised by Darcey's undulating torso in her bourrees I should think.

I'm going to get the CD next week, then at least I can imagine it! I keep getting fixated on certain ballets. This is the second time it has happened to me now - firstly with In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and now Tryst. I just LOVE them.:)

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