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Subject: "Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1736
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Jeannie

06-06-01, 03:39 PM (GMT)
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"Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01"
 
  

The Royal Ballet is looking up! This is the best, most satisfying performance of the
Royal Ballet that I've seen in ages...bearing in mind that I last saw them, in London,
during the 1996/97 season. Nonetheless, I've faithfully followed this troupe -- my "first
love" in ballet -- since I first saw them "live" in the early '80s. What seemed to be a
steady downhill progression has been halted; I've never seen them look so splendid.
Three cheers! Today's technical and artistic level of the soloists, as well as that of the
small ensemble in RENDEZVOUS, definitely give me cause to smile!!

Four ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, considered the 'architect' of British ballet in the
20th C., were performed:

LES RENDEZVOUS - Pure delight! After reading about and seeing photos of the 'daffy'
new designs, I was afraid; however, sitting up in 2nd tier, the day-glo-polka-dotted
dresses on the girls and striped jackets on the guys did not look *so* horrible. The flat
backdrop of tall cedar trees with a huge sun-disk in the middle (which changes colours
at most segments of the ballet) was OK. My only peeve with the designs is that I
fondly remember the gorgeous ones that were replaced, inclding pink-and-white
debutante dresses and huge gated entrance to a park. Those designs were hard to
top but the new ones aren't as offensive as I imagined them to be.

Best of all was the dancing. Miyako Yoshida and Johan Kobborg captured the dainty,
playful spirit of the leading couple, and tackled the quick, difficult technical demands
with aplomb. The audience cheered like crazy during their respective segments of the
finale (her dizzying chaine turns and such). The dancers of the zippy Pas de Trois --
my favorite segment of the ballet, since I first saw it with ABT and Saddler's Wells
video -- were magnificent! Jaime Tapper, Justin Meissner and Jonathan Howells did this
dance justice. The corps was adorably cute, as befits the style of this frothy piece.
performances; the drums-and-cymbals portion of the final number, in particular, was a
disaster, musically! I felt sorry for the dancers trying to mark time. Thank goodness
that they are well trained to "count" in their heads and can ignore the orchestra.]

With this ballet alone, I would have been 'plenty-satisfied'...but more was to come.

THAIS pdd - I was crying at the end...a sure sign that the dancers took me into their
world. This was 4-5 minutes of sheer artistic pleasure...the incredible technical
demands of this adagio-style pdd (tricky lifts and what-not) were beside-the-point.
The petite Leanne Benjamin and the tall-blonde-handsome Adam Cooper were
brilliant...and they have the "it factor" as a pair. Her feathery bourrees at the
beginning and end of the piece made the audience around me gasp. The word for this
pas de deux: SEAMLESS. As if floating in a dream.

SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS - Considered Ashton's abstract masterpiece -- and, to some,
"the" masterpiece -- this sublime ballet was given a first-class rendering. The women
are all first-rate: teen-aged sensation from Romania, Alina Cojocaru, danced the
central 'Margot Fonteyn' role; the other two female roles were danced by RB
superstars Tamara Rojo of Spain and Sarah Wildor of England. moment...the newly-appointed 'upstart kid' in the central Fonteyn role...but Cojocaru
certainly lived up to it!] The three men were also fine although I found the central
man-- Nigel Burley--a bit too stocky for my taste. The other two men (Johan Persson
and, especially, Yohei Sasaki) seemed far more pleasant-of-line and danced more
smoothly.

Cojocaru seems to have no bones, she is so feathery-light. An almost-unreal,
pencil-thin "ballet torso"...making Rojo and Wildor seem a bit too wide-of-torso, in
comparison.

The dancing was wonderful...better than any of the casts that I saw at Covent
Garden in May '96. The arm movements of the ladies were spot-on, the fleet-footed
steps were in unison, etc. The sudden shift to a "sunny mood" in the last movement
was done with finesses & not jarringly (as I recall from '96 and at ABT years ago).

MARGUERITE AND ARMAND - Let me get to the best part: Sylvie Guillem and Nicolas
LeRiche danced and acted brilliantly. What a joy to see this magical couple with such
magnetic 'real-woman-and-real-man' chemistry!

Now the bad part: What a DUD of a ballet! Lordie...the video of Fonteyn/Nureyev
makes it look better...but this is (to me) so cheesy and cheap, that I find it hard to
believe that it was choreographed by the same man who created the first three works
of the evening. The horrendously-cheap-looking abstract stage setting (of poles and
simple ornaments, with dirty-looking drapes) seems like a cast-away from some Martha
Graham Greek Tragedy.

My heart skipped a beat when LeRiche ran in with the cape...I could only think of
Nureyev in the video! However -- and I know that this is close to blasphemy, so my
apologies if I offend you -- Guillem made me forget Fonteyn. With young face,
gorgeous feet, long pencil-thin torso (making a convincing tuberculosis patient!) and
subtle masterful acting, Guillem was born to be Marguerite...only that I wish that it
were some other ballet on the Traviata theme...not this hogwash.

Guillem/LeRiche salvaged M&A--the only low-note in an otherwise FANTASTIC evening
of ballet.

Welcome Back to the USA, Royal Ballet!!!!


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01 lara 06-06-01 1
  RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01 kylie9 06-06-01 2
     RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01 Wendy Glavis 07-06-01 3
         RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01 Kevin Ng 07-06-01 4
         RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/6/01 Jeannie 07-06-01 5
             RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01 Jeannie 08-06-01 6
                 RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01 Marie Madelaine 08-06-01 7
                     RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01 smw380 09-06-01 8

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lara

06-06-01, 07:36 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks so much for the review! I have been waiting with bated breath to hear something.

I wish I had just followed my impulse and flown to the east coast for this. darn.

lara


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kylie9

06-06-01, 09:52 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01"
In response to message #0
 
   r -- and I know that this is close to blasphemy, so my
apologies if I offend you

not at all. i hate that concept of artistic response being subjected to a religious insularity, but i want to add my imput on fonteyn and this ballet. there really is something to get out of this ballet. but it's in a sort of a different language...more like poetry, the object being sweeping emotional sensibilities rather than, say, great prose that is more erudite. i'm a great lover of guillem and am jealous that you have seen her in this ballet, so i've no doubt it was great. but taking fonteyn's performance, of which i've seen more than once, as a performance in itself, not as a contrast comparison to ANYONE, there was a harsh honesty, a realness within the poetic style of the time, that was dramatically overwhelming. (balletstyle was more sensitive and gracious then) and her interpretation was based on the role of an aging (as well as dying) courtesan... i think the costume too, was created to fit her figure, or rather was inspired by her figure. and while she did not have the banana arch, her feet were precise to expressing ashton's choreography, which have alot to do with detail.

fonteyn and guillem happen to be the 2 ballerinas that have had more of an impression on me than any other (though i've loved MANY ballerinas) so i'm certainly glad you loved guillem, and this is not an objection to that. i just wanted to point out the qualities to the ballet, as well as fonteyn, because there really WAS something THERE.


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Wendy Glavis

07-06-01, 12:36 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01"
In response to message #2
 
   Thanks for the review, Jeannie. I really enjoyed hearing how things were going in Washington.

More, more!


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Kevin Ng

07-06-01, 02:43 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/5/01"
In response to message #3
 
   Jeannie, thanks for your wonderful review. Look forward to hearing from you about the cast changes and La Fille later in the week.


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Jeannie

07-06-01, 02:54 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - Ashton Mixed Bill, 6/6/01"
In response to message #3
 
   Thanks, Wendy & all!

Alexandra started a Wednesday (June 6th) thread over on BalletAlert!, to which responses are beginning to come in.

In a nutshell (re. June 6th), I continue in Seventh Heaven about the healthy status of the Royal Ballet. It's as if the magic of my childhood is back...as I grew up in Puerto Rico, watching films of "Margot and Rudy" on TV and dreaming about the glories of the The Royal Ballet, which I finally had the privilege of seeing 'live' on tour at Wolf Trap (near Wash, DC), ca. 1979/80. So, this week is a delight of riches for me. Last night was no less brilliant than Tuesday's opener. In LES RENDEZVOUS, I'd say that the corps has 'gelled'. For me, Gillian Revie was good but with half the sparkle & brilliansce of Miyako Yoshida. I was very impressed by the Pas de Trois once again; Laura Morera was a delight. THAIS pdd (Benjamon/Cooper) was, once again, a huge 'hit.' SYMPHONIC VARIATIONS was even better than on opening night, this time led by Miyako Yoshida. M&A is far from my favourite Ashton Ballet...but, once again, Sylvie Guillem and Nicholas LeRiche turned in passionate performances. Tonight (Thursday) will see the last offering of this Mixed Bill...mainly with the casts of the Opening Night, with the huge exception that Guillem's Armand, this time, will be Jonathan Cope. I'm looking forward to comparing the two pairings. **I am also looking forward to the "surprise" special pdd by Sibley/Dowell. Washington is in for a treat tonight!

FILLE MAL GARDEES commence tomorrow night (Friday), with Miyako Yoshida's Lise. I was sorry to see, in the printed programme, that Jane Burn will not be dancing Lise on Saturday afternoon; it's Mara Galezzi in her place. Anyone know why Burn is out?


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Jeannie

08-06-01, 03:30 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01"
In response to message #5
 
   Last night (Thursday) was total magic! The highlight, of course, was the touching performance of Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell in Ashton's 'Soupirs' (a 1980 piece d'occasion pas de deux). With great agility and emotional power, this veteran stellar pair surprised an enraptured Kennedy Center audience. Sibley was a beautiful sophisticated lady in bueish-purple dress with asymetrical hem, in flowy fabric. She wore heeled shoes but, nonetheless, displayed a gorgeous high arch in bourees. He was the perfect cavalier in an all-black outfit. Lots of twirls, swoops, backbends...with Ashton's characteristic quick-shifts in direction. The audience went 'bnanas'...instant standing ovation from every tier/level of the theater (I could see this because I was seated in the uppermost tier).

The rest of the performance was also very postitive. I will sorely miss the bubbly gaiety of 'Les Rendezvous' after tonight's final performance. Miyako Yoshida & Johan Kobborg were spot-on, just like opening night; the corps was even better tonight...especially the ensemble of twn corps men in that lovably eccentric Pas de Dix, with a Spanish flavor. They were PERFECTLY synchronized...dropping to the floor at the end in perfect unison. Ole! 'Thais' yet again wowed the audience...Benjamin-Cooper floated as on a cloud. 'Symphonic Variations' was yet again a triumph...although, this time, my eye seemed to focus solely on the (to me) most powerful female dancer of the trio: Tamara Rojo. How odd that Rojo is dancing one of the 'side girls' and not the central Fonteyn role...not that I have anything against the lovely Alina Cojocaru in the cnetral role. 'Marguerite & Armand' was the one slight disappointment for me, compared to the other two night. I adore Jonathan Cope's line and physical radiance...but (to me) he was missing the emotional spark...there was no magic between himself and Marguerite-Guillem. Consequently, I felt that Guillem gave a very different performance from that of other nights. I left the theater somewhat hungry...but memories of Sibley/Dowell in 'Soupirs' more than made up of the flatness of the final ballet. **I'm telling you...this RB season in DC has been a huge 'hit' so far, all in all. Now on to FILLE MAL GARDEE!!!


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Marie Madelaine

08-06-01, 08:27 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01"
In response to message #6
 
   Thanks for the review, Jeannie. I don't think I'll *ever* get over having bought tickets for tomorrow rather than last night, and missing my last and only chance to see Dowell. I'm still glad to hear he and Sibley were so magical, though. I wonder why their duet wasn't announced until the last minute?

Looking forward to La Fille tomorrow, but still a little sad.


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smw380

09-06-01, 09:14 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Review: RB in Wash, DC - 6/7/01"
In response to message #7
 
   I was there Thurs. night and the President of the Kennedy Center, who used to work at the RB, said that he personally asked Dowell and Sibley to dance, and they agreed. I don't think it was set until just a couple of days before.

Also, before they began, there was a voiceover by Dowell saying that Ashton had begged them not to stop dancing, even if it meant changing the choreography to meet their 'fading abilities.' Dowell concluded, 'Well, Sir Fred, we've taken you at your word.' And then they danced so beautifully that I wept through the whole thing and all the curtain calls.


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