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Subject: "Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruceadmin

21-04-02, 11:43 PM (GMT)
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"Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
 
  
English National Ballet, Tour de Force, piano tour featuring
    Dances from Napoli (Bournonville)
    Facing Viv (Cathy Marston) - a world premiere
    Grand Pas from Paquita (Petipa/Deane)

Plowright theatre, Scunthorpe
19 April 2002

I've always enjoyed the ENB mid-scale tours, now entitled "Tour de Force" apparently after a rather apt David Dougill review. As far as I'm aware Dougill was the first newspaper critic to mention Christopher Hampson as well. I remember that the first time I saw ENB 'somewhere different' was in Swindon. It was also my first seeing of Swansong, Christopher Bruce's ballet about political torture, and it really brought home how you can combine the traditional and the new in one exciting evening and place it before an audience who would probably not have thought of going to a big theatre miles away... but hopefully would after.

Nobody would accuse the Plowright Theatre in Scunthorpe of being large. Six girls in tutus fully cover the width of the stage - but it IS a stage and magic happens when the lights go down. The stalls (no extra tiers here) gently slope up but sight lines seem to be OK. Drinks in the bar are cheap and you don't get your change on a silver salver either - such convenience! A mixed crowd from local dignitaries through to toddlers - a pleasant feel.

I was up for the premiere of Cathy Marton's new piece (Facing Viv) but the evening was topped and tailed with popular and 'proper' ballet. Dances from Napoli looked delightful in its sunny David Walker designs that complement the gentle and buoyant footwork and tambourine fun. Bournonville's choreography is innocent and natural and seems to spring almost from country dance as much as from ballets formal style. Yet again I took a mental note to go and see the Royal Danish Ballet, custodians of Bournonville work, sometime. Perhaps this decade!

The evening ended with the Grand Pas from Paquita, fun again but formal Petipa choreography and what everybody really thinks ballet ballet is. It looks a million dollars too with its La Scala-inspired backdrop and sparkling costumes. Simone Clarke and Shi-Ning Liu led this out. Simone particularly has always registered with me for her brio in Soloist roles, and it's nice to see her taking this strongly technical piece in her stride with a ballerina's calm authority. Shi-Ning is all eagerness - a real puppy dog at times!. It's a terrific piece to end on and sends everybody home happy.

In the middle of the evening was Facing Viv, Cathy Marston's take on the relationship between TS Elliot (The Waste Land poem) and his first wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood who suffered from mental instability and violent moodswings. Three couples, in various shades of grey, explore what they had by way of misunderstanding, withdrawal, pain, hurt and of course great love. The choreography is episodic rather than a continuous narrative, Marston's work often being like mosaics where the pieces are cast before you and you see them combine in different ways that grow topsy turvey and never form a neat rectangle! The movement is utterly compelling, be it on the ground, hunched, entwined or aloft. I draw comparisons to Macmillan pas de deux, emotion laid bare and which can put a big lump in your throat. Marton's work is based on dancers' innate athleticism and pushed very hard at that. But nothing here is undancerly or even unballetic.

The dancers (Cindy Jourdain, Gary Avis, Simone Clarke, Trevor Schoonraad, Sarah McIlroy and Jesus Pastor) were duly stretched and did Cathy proud. I'd particularly mention Cindy Jourdain who has a magnetic stage presence for somebody still in the corps.

It is a rather different from the ENB we have become used too, but just as Swansong in Swindon all those years ago had moved the audience with the unexpected, so Facing Viv drew prolonged applause for its different take on bodies moving. I just wish that Facing Viv could somehow make it on to the programme for the company's mixed bill at the Royal Opera House in late May.

I can't help but feel gratified that ENB have effectively given full company resources to two (Christopher Hampson is the other) of my favourite choreographers and who are such great hopes for the future of British dance at the highest levels. Sadly Birmingham and the Royal in London appear more confused about developing our native talent. Hard not to be very encouraged by ENB at the moment for such investment in new choreography and for touring to both large and small venues, all of which are surprisingly unique in British ballet at the moment. They should not be alone in this. But enough of the politics - just make sure you see the Facing Viv tour.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe Bruceadmin 22-04-02 1
  RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe alison 22-04-02 2
     RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe Bruceadmin 22-04-02 3
         RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe Sharon 23-04-02 4
             RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe Bruceadmin 23-04-02 5
  RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe alison 25-04-02 6
     RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe katharine kanter 25-04-02 7
         RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe alymer 25-04-02 8
     RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe Mike 25-04-02 9
         RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe alison 26-04-02 10

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Bruceadmin

22-04-02, 00:04 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #0
 
  
A couple of Facing Viv pictures have just come in from Asya Verzhbinsky (our photographer in residence as you will recall). They'll make their way onto a proper review page but I just had to quickly post them up...



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alison

22-04-02, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #0
 
   Thank you for that review, Bruce. Sounds fascinating - I shall definitely try to see it in Cambridge (it *is* that tour, isn't it?) this week.


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Bruceadmin

22-04-02, 01:58 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #2
 
   >try to see
>it in Cambridge (it *is*
>that tour, isn't it?) this
>week.

Yes it is - I ought to change the Listings entry to make it clear. And make sure you go!


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Sharon

23-04-02, 05:45 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #3
 
   who are the dancers?


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Bruceadmin

23-04-02, 08:03 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #4
 
   (for Facing Viv) I list first cast. Not sure on other possible casting, but its unusual to get casting for very small tours like this of course. It's a mixed bill and I wouldn't overly worry about it unless you are planning to go a few times.


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alison

25-04-02, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #0
 
   I went up to the matinee in Cambridge yesterday to see it, and thought it was a very good bill, although I suspect some of the children in the audience might have not known quite what to make of "Facing Viv". I thought it was very well done, but would very much like to have a second look at it, to get a deeper feel for it, preferably with a bit more background (The Waste Land is one of the many bits of Eng. Lit. that I haven't got around to reading yet). Certainly it makes a change to have a bit of solid meat (all right, Bruce, soya if you prefer ) in the Tour de Force bills - they had been getting distinctly sickly in recent years. Sarah McIlroy was also dancing the lead in Paquita, again with Liu, and again seems to me to have improved in some indefinable way recently.

It was lovely to see Dances from Napoli again - I seem to have missed out on it on previous tours, and think the last time I saw it was with London City Ballet some considerable time ago (probably when Matz Skoog was balletmaster there). But can anyone tell me just how they fit into the third act of Napoli? Are they cut out in one big chunk, so to speak, or cobbled together from various sections? And do Gennaro and Teresina dance any of them in the full-length production? I was wondering whether the sections were divided up among the 9 dancers to give them something to do in this version, but since I only ever saw the full Napoli once and that was nearly 13 years ago I can't really remember what it was like.


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katharine kanter

25-04-02, 02:01 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #6
 
   Have never seen "Dances from Napoli", but would venture a guess that if it's the thinggie that Peter Schauffuss put up ENB some years back, it may well be the Pas de Six from the Third Act.

If so, the choreography is actually an interpolation into "Napoli" by Hans Beck, who was Bournonville's most gifted pupil, and ballet master at the Royal Theatre until 1910 or thereabouts.


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alymer

25-04-02, 06:57 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #7
 
   Yes, it is the pas de six from the third act of Napoli followed by the Tarantella, and was staged by Dinna Bjorn. If it's given in the context of the full length ballet then Gennaro and Teresina generally dance one of the solos and in some productions the Flower Festival pas de deux is added They also take part in the Tarantella.
Some of the variations are, I believe, genuine Bournonville but come from a largely forgotten ballet called Abdallah. Bruce Marks and his wife, the Danish ballerina Toni Lander, attempted a re-staging of Abdallah some years ago.


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Mike

25-04-02, 10:09 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #6
 
   I went to Tuesday evening's performance in Cambridge, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The stage seemed so tiny after ROH and Coliseum, surprisingly, I noticed this even more than seeing the Russian National Ballet's Nutcracker earlier in the year at the same venue, from similar seats. The cast would appear to have been the same as that seen by Bruce in Scunthorpe last week. I took along some non-regular ballet watching friends, and was intereted by how much they enjoyed the Marston piece. Personally, I thought it was a most unusual and thought-provoking piece, and was glad to see Cathy Marston on stage to take the curtain calls at the end. The audience seemed most appreciative of all 3 pieces, although there seemed to be around half of the seats remaining unsold, certainly on the balcony. Good to see ballets such as these touring to some of the smaller venues outside London - I always look forward to the annual ENB visit to Cambridge, as it gives me an opportunity to introduce some of my friends to ballet.

Whatever happened to the RB's 'Dance Bites' tours? I well remember an excellent evening of lesser-performed pieces here some 3 or so years ago.


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alison

26-04-02, 01:08 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Review: ENB 'Facing Viv' bill in Scunthorpe"
In response to message #9
 
   I believe the decision to discontinue Dance Bites was taken by Michael Kaiser while he was in charge.


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