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Subject: "RB Plans a cause for concern" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2606
Reading Topic #2606
gd

28-03-02, 03:14 PM (GMT)
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"RB Plans a cause for concern"
 
   What a cruel disappointment the newly announced RB season is. It confirms certain suspicions that many have had about Stretton and the direction he is taking. The season is itself particularly over weighted with full-length evenings, a sure sign that the ROH is reverting to its opera first policy; the opera season is particularly glittering, with an array of pieces to satisfy most. The same cannot be said of the ballet.

It is a great many years since all three of the big Tchaikovsky ballets were programmed for the same season… what can that tell us? Incidentally, the choice of Makarova as producer of the new production of Sleeping Beauty could be a mixed blessing… after all, most would agree that the RB text for this ballet is the most ‘authentic’, if you take the museum version performed by the Kirov. But if Makarova removes the Ashton choreography from the RB Beauty, it will be nothing short of a scandal, and ballet lovers in the UK must make their opinions felt. Still, she may not be that foolish…

The question of the MacMillan celebrations is also vexed, for while few will criticise the revival of three of his full-length evenings, many will be disappointed at the single one-acter, admittedly a masterpiece. Some will argue that MacMillan’s finest work was in these short pieces and one cannot help feeling that the management of the RB has taken the financially expedient course of action by relying on three-act works. Incidentally, there was a MacMillan ‘festival’ recently in Japan with pieces not seen in London or, indeed, the UK for many a year… shame on you Mr Stretton for letting others steal a march on MacMillan’s own company.

The paucity of triple bills is also a worrying trend and of the three on offer, one contains a revival of an as yet untested piece for the company (Carmen) and the repetition of another, Scenes de Ballet (hurrah for that). The most interesting evenings can be mixed bills and as yet Mr Stretton does not seem adept at creating a balanced menu.

The Royal Ballet is moving away from its old three strand approach: 1. Classics 2. Heritage (i.e. English) repertoire 3. Others, to the new version of 1. Classics (INCLUDING English works) 2. Foreign acquisitions 3. New works. Stretton has given the impression that after this season he will have ‘done’ MacMillan, after the next season Ashton will have been ‘done’ also. This is VERY worrying, given that this is a sure fire way of killing the works of our greatest choreographers – regular performance is the only way dancers can begin to have the pieces and the style in their blood. Look at Royal Danish Ballet, when a disastrous Director threatened the very thread of continuity which has kept Bournoville alive. If Royal Danish didn’t do Bournoville, if NYCB didn’t do Balanchine then there would be an outcry, for, rightly, it is to these companies and their repository of style and knowledge that ballet world turns. But in England, no-one moans if the Royal Ballet doesn’t perform Ashton. If they don’t, then who will? And what is it being replaced with?… euro-pap works or trite pieces of dull yet correct choreography. Le Parc is a yawn which lead one respected ballet-goer on seeing the plans to acquire it to comment dryly ‘they’ve been snoring through that one at the Garnier for six years’.

Finally, the question of de Valois. Is it not time for Stretton to stop invoking the spirit of Madam to justify himself ? – to omit to perform any of her works in tribute (and they are good works in themselves), is nothing short of scandalous, but the claim that the Ashton, Macmillan, Bintley triple is in homage because the three were her ‘chosen’ choreographers is laughably tenuous. For Stretton, Madam’s ‘drive for modernity’ has become a Blairite mantra – he should avoid it before others begin to draw more similarities between him and our Prime Minister… all show and no substance? Some could say that that sums up some of the plans for next season.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Tim Powell 28-03-02 1
     RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Richard Jones 28-03-02 2
  RE: RB Plans a cause for concern alison 28-03-02 3
     RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Paul A 28-03-02 4
         RE: RB Plans a cause for concern AEHandley 28-03-02 5
             RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Jane S 28-03-02 6
  RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Bruceadmin 02-04-02 7
     RE: RB Plans a cause for concern katharine kanter 02-04-02 8
         RE: RB Plans a cause for concern Steven 02-04-02 9
             RE: RB Plans a cause for concern katharine kanter 03-04-02 10

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Tim Powell

28-03-02, 03:43 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #0
 
   Gerald may I say that I support your posting with some force.
The sooner we get Bruce Sansom in place the better.
The man Stretton shows no understanding of or respect for the RB heritage which is part of his brief. He does not show a very sure hand on the development side either. The new ROH musical director has paid some attention to ballet conducting but he like Stretton says that he is watching and learning as he goes despite the fact that we are paying full prices.
These are worrying times for those who love what we have and are hungry for a fulfilling future.
We will see some great dancing and some interesting works next season but they will not be part of a company moving with confidence, courage and judgement in any direction whatever.


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Richard Jones

28-03-02, 04:51 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #1
 
   He does
>not show a very sure
>hand on the development side
>either. The new ROH musical
>director has paid some attention
>to ballet conducting but he
>like Stretton says that he
>is watching and learning as
>he goes despite the fact
>that we are paying full
>prices.

This is exactly what the problem is. "Some attention to ballet conducting...and learning as he goes"! Is the ROH the premiere house in the UK for ballet, or is it a venue for a conductor's workshop? On another thread (re ENB R & J in Liverpool) I have commented on the playing of the ENB's orchestra at last night's R & J in Bristol - even the Bristol Evening Post critic was moved to refer to the playing as "efficient rather than memorable". Music does matter for ballet! Read the comments of dancers of the past - Karsavina on Monteux for example.

Meanwhile the Royal Opera seems to go from strength to strength - the playing for Bartok's 'Bluebeard' was excellent. Stretton seems to be prepared to 'wait for something to turn up' - comparisons with both Mr Micawber and Nero come to mind.


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alison

28-03-02, 04:52 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #0
 
   Gerald, excuse me, my brain may be addled at the end of a hard working day, but what Ashton choreography is there in the current Beauty? I don't remember seeing any attributions in the cast sheet.

Oh, and to be fair, there are 2 one-act MacMillans scheduled, although I agree that's not really enough.


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Paul A

28-03-02, 05:00 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #3
 
   Re Beauty the Ashton waltz and awakening were in the previous (1976) production. Were these put back into the current production - they weren't there when it was new in 1994.


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AEHandley

28-03-02, 06:21 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #4
 
   I'm fairly certain that Aurora's first variation (immediately preceding the Rose Adage) is Ashton. It certainly bears no resemblance to the Kirov version (not the current 6 hour heritage marathon, haven't seen that, the one they were doing for years and years before that) and I would be heartbroken if it were lost - it's one of the high spots of the ballet for me! I also loved the awakening pdd when it was shown last August.


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Jane S

28-03-02, 06:34 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #5
 
   It's Aurora's variation in the Vision Scene that is by Ashton. Also in the current production, the Prince's variation in Act 2 and the Sapphire variation in Act 3 are Ashton; and the entree and coda in the Act 3 pas de quatre are 'Dowell after Ashton'.


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Bruceadmin

02-04-02, 09:25 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #0
 
   Thought I'd move this to a more appropriate forum. Specific comments on Geralds thoughts go here. For general comments and thoughts on the new season, or to respond to the myriad of other contributions, we have another thread:
http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2592.html


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katharine kanter

02-04-02, 07:20 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #7
 
   Ladies and Gentlemen,

Unless I've wandered onto the wrong thread, allow me to confess to some surprise that the astonishing proposals from the ROH (see excerpts from the Ballet.co magazine below), have not led to more comment.

"- There will be new facilities for ballet as well as opera, including feedback facilities and clapping monitors so that the management can assess for example, how well a new star or new production has gone down with the paying public. “It’s a radical new development which will bypass the power of a narrow clique of critics with their entrenched views, and put us directly in touch with our customers.”

The screens are easy to operate with just a few simple buttons, so that users can select which particular statement about a production they agree with, or pick a favourite dancer from a list provided.


- But there are more ambitious plans to get the audience to rate the dancers, for example on criteria such as fitness, stamina and athleticism, in order to demonstrate the strides being taken in this respect. Results may even be published after the show


- In a final development the audience response will feed back automatically into a new bonus scheme being introduced for the dancers. Dancers who perform well will see more money at the end of the month, though overall the scheme will be cash neutral.

- The new screens, which include Sony Playstation and real-time soap opera updates for those bored with what's happening on stage, should be in place part-way though next season."

end of quote


The Roman Coliseum. The dancers are the Christians, and the audience the lions ? Sony Play Station - hello ? Nero, are you there ? Thumbs up? Thumbs down ? And how does Caligula's horse's ass rate on the clapping monitor ?

Rereading those proposals, one cannot help but think that whoever is in charge of the scheme, has gone mad, in the full clinical sense of the term, and wants the rest of the planet to go mad as well.

Bonus schemes for performers based on a clapping monitor ? Does the girl who tears off her costume impromptu get louder appluase ?

And what are we to think of an audience VOTING on dancers' fitness and stamina ? Pass the anabolic steroids please.

And I love that bit about bypassing "the power of a narrow clique of critics with their entrenched views" - in other words, get rid of people like Clement Crisp, who actually know something, and turn the theatre over to mob rule.

The French Revolution's foul little Jacobines, turned loose in the art world.

This is a shockingly immoral waste, and it must be stopped. If Alfredo Vilar has got money to throw out the window like that, let him give it the orphans of Ruanda and Burundi. It will be much better spent.


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Steven

02-04-02, 10:29 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #8
 
   Katherine, your concerns are admirable but I think you've been "had".

In keeping with the Roman theme I'd say Beware the Ides of March, but I think the Kalends of April would be more appropriate!


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katharine kanter

03-04-02, 09:11 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: RB Plans a cause for concern"
In response to message #9
 
   Mr. Stretton's new levels of intellectual fitness must have got to me !

Steven...you are no doubt right !

All I can say in my defence is

- Robert Hossein, a showman here in Paris, has had monitors installed very like the ones described, in the theatres where his plays are put up, and he has the audience vote on the outcome...

- and Calixto Besteiro's production of Un Ballo in Maschera is put up in three or four major cities, opening scene with twelve people sitting on the .....taking a ....

the line between satire and reality can become blurred...


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