Last night saw Munich's first ballet masterclass I can think of: Sir Anthony Dowell rehearsed Des Grieux with Bavarian State Ballet's (BSB) first cast for the role, Oliver Wehe.
Since I never saw Sir Anthony dancing on stage, I cannot judge or comment that aspect - but from what he performed last night, we got an idea of his stage presence and charisma!
Rehearsal included the two main variations of Des Grieux, first one when he first sees/meets Manon, and the second one before the gambling when he is tormented as Manon wants both, him and the jewellery.
Oliver Wehe is a very fine dancer who has the "right looks" for Des Grieux - but something so far I have found lacking in his performances. Sir Anthony picked that instantly: "Don't do it too classically. You are not dancing Sleeping Beauty!" And boy, what a difference it made when Oliver tried to forget about the positions and "just went for it"!
Some comments and ways of explaining still stick in my memory - most of all "I found it helpful..." or "I found that particularly difficult" or "I used to do it that way..." - I am not sure, but I think this is also mentioned in the book of Darcey Bussell?
We also had some good laughs about some comments, for example at the end of first variation: "You put your head down - and then you PRAY that they will applaude. New York has always been great - they gave me a good time to rest and breathe!"
Or, right after he killed the gaoler: "I did not feel like standing there for ages and then - all at a sudden - think: Oh, now I have to do a double saut de basque!"
At the end, I felt as if Ivan Liska (AD of BSB) took Sir Anthony a bit by surprise as he asked him to flick through the scene just after Des Grieux has killed the gaoler - he seemed not really prepared to do this, but after a short thought, he went throught the whole scene with such energy, got fully into the role and seemed to forget about the audience (though probably being fully aware of us...) - so everyone applauded frantically after this short performance!
Next event in this series will be a masterclass with Dame Antoinette Sibley, rehearsing Lisa-Maree Cullum in the part of Manon. 12 December - and I am really looking forward to this!