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Subject: "Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Toeshoe

04-10-01, 08:57 AM (GMT)
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"Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
 
   I feel its time the regular ballet goers of The Royal Ballet, had a question time with Ross Stretton.
I for one feel that to book for ballets without a cast list is not on, balletomanes have there favorite dancers, and why not, many have been attending performances at the Opera House for many years, and this is our right to know who is dancing what.
Also I for one would like to know why the first soloists are not being used.
Were are the men, why guests artists.
Lets bring Stretton out of the cupboard yto explain himself.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Toeshoe 04-10-01 1
     balletomanes fight back Christian 04-10-01 2
         RE: balletomanes fight back Lily 04-10-01 3
             RE: balletomanes fight back Paul A 04-10-01 4
  RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Gaterina 04-10-01 5
     RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Tim Powell 04-10-01 6
         RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Toeshoe 04-10-01 7
             RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Ann Welsh 04-10-01 9
         RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton eugene merrett 04-10-01 8
             RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Claire S 04-10-01 10
                 RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton jAYNE 04-10-01 11
                     RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Sonja 04-10-01 13
             RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton Paul A 04-10-01 12
                 Ross Stretton Brendan McCarthymoderator 04-10-01 14
                     RE: Ross Stretton Steven 04-10-01 15
                         RE: Ross Stretton Toeshoe 04-10-01 16
                             RE: Ross Stretton Bruce Madmin 05-10-01 17
                             RE: Ross Stretton grace 05-10-01 18
                             RE: Ross Stretton Viviane 05-10-01 19
                             RE: Ross Stretton Fuzzyface 05-10-01 20
                             RE: Ross Stretton Tim Powell 05-10-01 21
                             RE: Ross Stretton Jane S 05-10-01 22
                             RE: Ross Stretton Tim Powell 05-10-01 23
                             RE: Ross Stretton Viviane 05-10-01 24
                             RE: Ross Stretton Steven 05-10-01 25
                             RE: Ross Stretton Anneliese 05-10-01 26
                             RE: Ross Stretton Viviane 05-10-01 27
                             RE: Ross Stretton Steven 06-10-01 28
                             RE: Ross Stretton Richard J 06-10-01 29
                             RE: Ross Stretton Viviane 07-10-01 30
                             RE: Ross Stretton Richard J 07-10-01 31
                             RE: Ross Stretton tony newcombe 07-10-01 32

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Toeshoe

04-10-01, 09:06 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #0
 
   Sorry about the spelling mistakes feel so angry, just banged the posting out.


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Christian

04-10-01, 10:30 AM (GMT)
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2. "balletomanes fight back"
In response to message #1
 
   Don't worry - we all feel the same. The british are a long-suffering lot, and would not usually condemn someone before they have really got going, but I think we can all see the way the wind is blowing. The tradition has been excised - sarah Wildor was thelast RBS trained principal around - and Stretton shows no sign of being even remotely interested in where the RB has been - only where he wants to take it.

If only they had given Wayne eagling the job.

With (another) ballet director who has no sense of, nor interest in, the balletgoing public (let's gets rid of a world-famous dancer who can fill the House to the rafters and everyone loves), his own dancers ... what hope is there for the company? They don't CARE what people want - that's at the root of the problem and the only answer i can see, my friends, is to vote with your feet. Don't go.


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Lily

04-10-01, 12:15 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: balletomanes fight back"
In response to message #2
 
   It really seems that the wind has blown us a bad smell! I think that his new job might have gone to his head and he is going headlong into the unknown which is dangerous for him, the dancers and the ballet going public.

Does anyone know what the dancers think of Mr Stretton?

If they think he will have a detremental effect on the RB like us ballet goers, surely they will speak up won't they?

Variety is the spice of life and if we all looked the same and acted in the same way whether in reality or on the stage, life would be horribly boring - take heed Mr S


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Paul A

04-10-01, 12:22 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: balletomanes fight back"
In response to message #3
 
   Why is this season so anodyne? Three booking periods in and I haven't booked for anything.

There is a marvellous heritage - let us see it.


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Gaterina

04-10-01, 12:36 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #0
 
   How about this as an example of what Australian ballet goers has to put up with.
The cast is not displayed until about 1 week before the actual performance. There is no chance of buying tickets to see your favourite dancers.
The ballets for next year has not been announced yet.
The only consolation is that dancers other than just the principals are regularly casted in principal roles as last year, the number of principals had been reduced to approx 5 dancers.


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Tim Powell

04-10-01, 01:22 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #5
 
   I had adopted the stance to wait and see with Mr.Stretton but I fear that the omens are worrying as others have posted in this thread.
He is neither maintaining the heritage nor does he seem to be heading in a clear cut direction of his own. The repertoire is far from exciting with rehashed bits from ABT. ABT also dominates in his visiors, I rate Corella and Stiefel very highly and would like to see Malakhof as well but guest artists should add variety and interest not just appear because the company has too few adequate principals nor should they dominate. Picone, whom we know well from his ENB days is also from ABT. I for one want to watch the Royal Ballet as itself not another ABT or indeed ENB type of company although I am very happy to watch them for what they are and each does an excellent job.
As far as the dancers go I guess we must wait and see but the fact that we have so little advanced information makes it very
difficult to maintain the interest we have in them.


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Toeshoe

04-10-01, 01:41 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #6
 
   Bruce, now is the time to interview Stretton, is this a near future possibility?
So many are anxious about the future of The Royal under his.
directorship.
It would help to know his plans for the company, also his future plans for casting,as it seems many of us are not booking for performances at the moment,because of not knowing who is dancing the roles.
Alast thought he is not using many dancers, I see that Yanowsky newly promoted has nothing to dance, this is all so depressing.
PLEASE Bruce be our represenative, Strettons intentions must be made known, also he should be told how the ballet public feel about the changes he has made to date.


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Ann Welsh

04-10-01, 01:47 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #7
 
   I wonder what Bruce Sansom is making of all this. The company need him back if only to act as its very articulate spokesman, as seen during the earlier ROH troubles.


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eugene merrett

04-10-01, 01:43 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #6
 
   I am bit lost by the comment that casting info is made only a week before the performance. My Friends guide has the casting schedule for all main roles?

Can someone help me?


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Claire S

04-10-01, 02:16 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #8
 
   >I am bit lost by the
>comment that casting info is
>made only a week before
>the performance. My Friends
>guide has the casting schedule
>for all main roles?
>

This was an example of what happened with the Australian Ballet under Ross Stretton.

I was particularly shocked to see the lack of casting for the Enduring Images bill. I understood about Onegin because of the control of the owners but why could we not get castingfor Remanso? We did the last time it was on at Covent Garden. As we did with the Forsythe pieces. I agree that it will be hard to maintain interest in the dancers if, as a balletgoer, I can't get to see them unless I rush into London and queue for day seats.

And Ann, I couldn't agree more about Bruce Sansom. I always admired him not only as an artist but also as a person who seemed as considerate of his audience as he was of his partner.

I assume Judith Mackerill and/or Ismene Brown will be interviewing Ross Stretton when the season launches. It will interesting to hear how he reacts to these criticisms -but it is also rather sad that the new era is starting in such a negative way.


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jAYNE

04-10-01, 02:26 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #10
 
   Maybe Stretton is just a stopgap while Bruce Sansom completes his training with with Sanfran, or is this wishful thiking on my part, I hope not.


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Sonja

04-10-01, 02:55 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #11
 
   This thought (or wish?) has come to my mind as well... It's not easy for a former dancer to cope with all the "political games" an AD has to face, this we have seen here in Munich - but at least I guess he would be someone who KNOWS the dancers' points of view and is respected by many of them...


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Paul A

04-10-01, 02:50 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Ballatomanes What to ask Stretton"
In response to message #8
 
   Eugene no. The advance casting does not give details of all main roles (although this is not a new problem this season). Main roles to me include Myrthe, Hilarion, Lilac Fiary, Blue Birds, Mercutio et al - as we used to be told. Such completeness helped make informed decisions.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

04-10-01, 05:26 PM (GMT)
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14. "Ross Stretton"
In response to message #12
 
   I suspect that Ross Stretton has to think beyond the regular ballet audience. Because social inclusion is at the heart of government's policy towards the arts, the ROH needs to attract new and younger audiences to justify the public funds it receives. The onus in delivering new audiences will more likely rest on the Royal Ballet than on the Royal Opera.

We need to suspend judgement on Ross Stretton, notwithstanding the issues of Sara Wildor, casting, programming etc. The litmus tests of ultimate success or failure will include:

1. New audiences coming to see the Royal Ballet
2. New choreography; not just the international rep with which Stretton became familiar at ABT, then brought to Australia, and is now bringing here Ė but a substantial track-record in encouraging in-house choreographers at Covent Garden
3. Sensitivity to contemporary British culture similar to that he showed to Australian culture during his years at AB. He did some very good things there - and collaborated in innovative ways with other dance companies.
4. A company culture more supportive of creativity by the time he moves on.

While I can't say I'm thrilled about the start that Ross Stretton has made at the ROH, we do need to give him time.


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Steven

04-10-01, 05:53 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #14
 
   Why?

I don't see any reason to give him time. Surely the onus is on him to deliver.

And what does giving time actually mean?

In the case of a ballet company it means giving money, when there's no indication of what to expect.

I'm certainly not about to spend Royal Opera House prices when all they are giving in return is the title of a ballet and its starting time.


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Toeshoe

04-10-01, 06:56 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #15
 
   Rubbish Brendan, I agree with Steven, and I am sure most of the balletgoers will.
With the Opera House prices for seats, youngsters unless they are mad about dance will not come to CoventGarden, they prefer to spend their money on movies, disco's etc, it has been tried many times over the years to bring in this so called new audience, it fails everytime, AND WHO ARE THEY?
Young people do go to see the ballet and get hooked, have you looked around the audience, you will see many youngsters, go to the stage door after a performance, you will see them waiting to catch a glimpse of their stars ang have a few words with their dancers, have their program signed.
Yes and they know whats what in dance, they need a cast list before they book, and they want to see all of the dancers given a chance to dance, not just the chosen few, OR SHOULD I SAY TWO!!!!!


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Bruce Madmin

05-10-01, 03:27 AM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #16
 
   Thank you for starting this - a very interesting thread that has sprung from nowhere and shows just a little of the strength of feeling that is about. And if we represent anybodies views better than most I think its the customers view (of course!)

I interviewed Stretton when he was first appointed, as did others, and I'm sure we will again when the time is right for all concerned. He actually took over properly in mid-August and must have been going through a hell of a learning curve. For now I'm sure he will want to concentrate on the start of the new season and I also suspect that there will be more turbulence.

I'm reminded of BRB in the early 90's. They were run by the excellent Peter Wright who is often referred to as the best Artistic Director the Royal Ballet never had. Tremendously respected. He retired and David Bintley took over. Dancers changed - some loved ones retired or moved elsewhere and new dancers came in. Casting information all but dried up for a year because of all the changes. I remember writing to Bintley and complaining most vociferously too! And then it all settled down as the new team became established. So on casting its all happened before and if it doesn't snap back I will become very, very critical.

Artistic Directors are as different as we are, and therefore it should not come as a surprise that they look at dancers differently to their predecessors. They see things in a new light and put different emphasis on this and that. If they don't feel attracted to a dancer in the same way as the previous AD did, then who is right and who is wrong? By broadly common consent the RB is not thought to have progressed much over the last couple of decades - its been rather lacklustre on the rep front and most people want better in the future. But nothing is created instantly and it won't be until years 2 and 3 that we really see what Stretton's vision is about. It could be worse, it could be better, but it needs to be his vision, not somebody elses. He can't be put in the straightjacket of imposing no change.

He certainly needs to be aware of his customers and what's on their mind though - especially when he is keen on growing new and younger audiences he would be very wise to tune in to concerns on the Internet. We for our part though need to record what bugs us but also appreciate that he is trying to get to his vision soonest and it can't all happen one weekend - change takes time and in any event its a two-way street in which he needs to learn more about his inheritance as well.

We also need to remember that as a group we would probably promote half the RB's Senior Soloists to Principal each and every year! Real Directors have no such luxury.

I do share many of the concerns noted here, but want to see more of what he is building yet. I think though that he is to be thanked in one respect. RB and its core audience are about dramatic ballet and he is bringing a brand new full length 20th century dramatic ballet to the company in his first year. So when was the last time this happened to RB? I also think that he is more customer aware than Dowell - though I never actually interviewed Dowell so can't speak with particular authority (as if I did on anything anyway!).

So... I think we need to say whats on our mind.. hopefully in a reasoned way... appreciate that Stretton is trying to create a better RB... and that change often involves some pain and turbulence.

Finally happy for people to argue back, but probably not good form to start "Rubbish Bruce" or "Rubbish anybody"! Ta.


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grace

05-10-01, 05:48 AM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #17
 
   brendan & bruce - for what it's worth (which is nothing...) please may i pat you two on the back? (voices of reason that you are)


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Viviane

05-10-01, 11:06 AM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #18
 
   I'm only a modest and distant observer
All news and 'guesses'about what's going on in RB is very worrying, indeed.
(The fact that the new Artistic Director of RB was NOT English amazed me the most!)
But we all know that changing the AD of a company brings a lot of alterations.(large and small ones) This has always been so...and I always feel so sorry for the dancers who have to leave.
Leaving because you don't match within the ideas of a new boss must be hard. In their short career a change of AD can have devastating results.
At this moment -in my opinion- the only mistake that's have been made is that the ballet-season is starting too late and with confusion about some castinglists who are not made public yet. This opens plenty of reasons for speculations.
Indeed Bruce & Brendan : Let's see them dance and talk again afterwards !


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Fuzzyface

05-10-01, 01:14 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #19
 
   Just a small point. The FIRST director of the RB wasn't "english" either!


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Tim Powell

05-10-01, 04:29 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #20
 
   On the point of nationality of directors it should be noted that Frederick Ashton was born in Ecuador and Norman Morrice in Mexico.


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Jane S

05-10-01, 04:35 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #21
 
   And Kenneth MacMillan in Scotland


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Tim Powell

05-10-01, 05:06 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #20
 
   In terms of nationality two other directors were not born in England either.Ashton was born in Ecuador and Morrice in Mexico.


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Viviane

05-10-01, 06:19 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #23
 
   Oh dear ! Think I was not 'subtle' enough in what I have said, or the way I explained it but I'm sure you all understand ?
Although someone already tried to explain to me that a lot of UK-inhabitants have sensitive toes concerning regional questions I agree I still haven't fully understand it !
And more...if I'm saying I was amazed about the choice, this has nothing to do with the choices made earlier in history...


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Steven

05-10-01, 07:11 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #24
 
   Viviane, I don't know where you're from, but I'm afraid with that word regional you've done it again!

Ireland and Scotland (and for that matter, Wales - a place that doesn't score too highly on the ballet map) are not regions. They are countries.

Ireland is a matter all unto itself, given that it is a separate island and the majority of it is a separate state from the United Kingdom.

Scotland and Wales are part of the United Kingdom, and also share the island of Great Britain with England. However, they are not England and it is causes offence to say they are (no matter how unwittingly). Nor are they regions of England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom. To add to the confusion, both countries have their own languages, but in both of them the majority of people speak English.

Neither Mexico nor Ecuador could be considered part of England by any stretch of the imagination.

Australia also is not and never has been part of England or the United Kingdom, but to make matters especially confusing, they do have the same Queen. (The difference being that they voted to keep her while we were never given the chance.)

Does that help?


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Anneliese

05-10-01, 08:41 PM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #25
 
   What he's trying to say, Viviane, is that you should have said "British" or "A citizen of the United Kingdon". These folk from the regions get awfully twitchy when they hear the word "English"!

Give the poor lady a break!


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Viviane

05-10-01, 09:44 PM (GMT)
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27. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #26
 
   Oh Steven, you made me laugh !
I should be more careful before skating on thin ice...and choose my words better...(or better : keep silence !)

Anneliese, I think I'll be eternal grateful to you


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Steven

06-10-01, 10:21 AM (GMT)
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28. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #27
 
   I'm glad I made you laugh, Viviane - that was what I intended, not to lecture you! Please don't keep silent. That would be the worst possible response for everybody.


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Richard J

06-10-01, 10:42 PM (GMT)
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29. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #28
 
   The English style was bred in a company started by an Irish dancer, who nurtured the choreographic talent of one born in Ecuador (though he started his choreographic career in another company which had been set up in London by a former Polish dancer). Like the Irish dancer, the Polish dancer had learnt much from Diaghilevís company (originally Russian, but by then gathering in dancers from here and there), as did another dancer with East European ancestry, though she was brought up in North London. In the years following the 1917 revolution there were inevitably quite a few Russian dancers working in the West, though one of Diaghilevís dancers with a Russian name wasnít Russian at all; in fact she was an Essex girl called Hilda. The Russians could pass on their craft; one who had a school in London was even referred to as a princess. English dancers were also able to learn from a noted Italian teacher (who had also been very influential in Russia) when he opened a school in London.

Meanwhile the English style developed, with the spotlight on a ballerina who had been born in Reigate (so she was English) though she had started her dancing in Shanghai under the careful eye of a Russian teacher who had been born in St Petersburg. Other dancers joined the scene, including one destined for a great choreographic career. He was born in Scotland, but his family moved to England where he joined a dancing school in his (by then) home town of Great Yarmouth. He later joined the Irish dancerís English school, where he was nurtured in the English style. This style was now developing well, as the ballerina who had set out with a Russian teacher in Shanghai had also been nurtured in the same school, and now had an Australian partner, who had studied with Pavlovaís company in Australia. He also played his part as a choreographer, especially when others were serving in the forces during the second world war. After the war he ventured into the film world when he performed with a Scottish dancer who had studied in Africa before training at the Irish dancerís school (she came from the same town as the Scottish-born choreographer). The Australian provided choreography for the film, one of the best English dance films ever, which was directed by a Hungarian.

Meanwhile, a Norwegian dancer joined the Irish dancerís company, having previously danced with the Polish dancerís company, and (before that) with London Ballet which was run by a choreographer who was actually born in London. This choreographer had studied with the Polish dancer (and joined her company) before launching out on his own to form London Ballet together with another dancer who was born in Barbados. The Norwegian dancer starred in Gala Performance for London Ballet; in this production she created the role of a French Ballerina. She later became one of the most noted character artists in the Irish dancerís English company, for which she was also one of its principal teachers. Sadly, she has recently died; she will be fondly remembered by all who saw her. (The choreography of the London-born dancer seemed to go out of favour with English companies for a while; he was valued, however, in America. Now the English are catching up and finding out more about his work).

During the post-war period, the Irish dancerís English company was favoured with a royal title. The English style was in its heyday, and the performances of the Canadians, South Africans and Australians (as well as the English) trained at its school gained an adoring public. Demand for ballet performances was expanding, and an English dancer who had been trained at the companyís school decided to team up with a dancer born in Alassio to form a company in Bristol, which eventually found a home in Glasgow. The rest of that story is rather controversial at the moment.

Meanwhile the leadership of the company with the royal title passed through the hands of the choreographer born in Ecuador to the choreographer born in Scotland, and on to a choreographer born in Mexico who had studied ballet in England before working with Martha Graham in the USA.

Eventually the company was led by an Englishman, London born and bred, and trained at the companyís school. Unfortunately, the theatre was by now falling to bits, and was rebuilt at great expense. The finances then fell to bits, and the place had to be sorted out by an American, who didnít stay around longer than he had to. In such an uncertain world, people asked whether the English style could survive.

Now that the baton has passed to an Australian, he will soon find out more about the legacy he has inherited (or, to put it another way, what he has let himself in for). Presumably he will recognise the importance of the companyís school. He might also consider that a company without a resident choreographer is a company without a heart. He will also have to grapple with the mantle of defender of the English tradition, while giving the company fresh impetus with new choreography from around the globe. This will not be easy. Many of the ballets were left by their creator in his will to those who first performed them. This is unlike the situation in New York, where the controllers of Balanchineís work are gathered under one roof, and approved Balanchine rehearsal directors can hot-foot it round the world to make sure that authenticity is maintained. The English situation (like the English themselves) is more diffuse. Also, the English tradition of years past grew out of a society that now hardly exists, if at all. The genteel ways of the English middle classes of the first half of the twentieth century influenced all of the arts, engendering neatness and refinement in contrast to some of the qualities of various other national traditions. An art form which relies on the constant recreating of a performance, such as music or dance, has to be subject to sensitive re-interpretation, even though the world in which it was created is no more. Tradition is important, and those who can pass on tradition must be listened to, but tradition doesnít mean preserving in aspic or being insular; those involved in the early development of the English style were certainly not that.

(PS And now there is even a degree of argument about the interpretation of BalanchineÖ.)



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Viviane

07-10-01, 01:44 AM (GMT)
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30. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #29
 
   Thank you Richard for your answer in 'fairy-tale'-style
I hope this will have a happy ending...or better : a happy continuation.

I have tried to fill in all the names, but have 1 question...

>English dancers were also
>able to learn from a
>noted Italian teacher (who had
>also been very influential in
>Russia) when he opened a
>school in London.

I suppose you are talking here about Cechetti ?
Do I have it right that his London school was across the street where Porselli is ?



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Richard J

07-10-01, 08:02 AM (GMT)
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31. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #30
 
  
>I suppose you are talking here
>about Cechetti ?
>Do I have it right that
>his London school was across
>the street where Porselli is
>?

Viviane - thanks for the comment; I'm glad you enjoyed the story! Yes, it was Cechetti I had in mind. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet simply states that, in 1918, he opened a ballet school in London with his wife. More than that I don't know. However, there are various books on Cechetti (e.g. by Beaumont)which might help you. Also, there is a book by Alicia Markova - "Markova Remembers" - which gives a fascinating picture of the dance scene in London in her early days. This might give further information; I don't have a copy to hand.

Happy reading! Richard


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tony newcombe

07-10-01, 01:14 PM (GMT)
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32. "RE: Ross Stretton"
In response to message #31
 
   RE: Ross Stretton.

When does your term of office end!


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