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Subject: "Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02" Archived thread - Read only
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26-05-02, 10:18 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail AnnWilliams Click to send private message to AnnWilliams Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
   The RB's Trilogy triple bill hasn't been an unmixed success with the critics. Wheeldon's 'Tryst' has disappointed some; others have been luke-warm over Tudor's 'The Leaves are Fading' and even Ashton's late masterwork 'A Month in the Country' has not emerged entirely unscathed, yet I found this the most rewarding RB triple bill for several seasons.

I thought Christopher Wheeldon's 'Tryst' was a stunning work, which started strongly and got better. James MacMillan's richly-layered score was a pleasant surprise after some of the comments I had read here. It helped that MacMillan conducted it himself, with a tactful deference to the dancers (is this rare with composer/conductors?). Wheeldon's debt to Balanchine is unmissable, in particular the central pas-de-deux, which owes much to 'Agon'. But Wheeldon's own voice is the strongest here - boldness and confidence are becoming his trademark and they sweep aside any doubts about 'influences'. Jean-Marc Puissant's designs are exactly right for the piece, from the simple minimalist set aided by Natasha Katz's subtle but effective lighting to the equally simple practice-like costumes - the latter no doubt adding to the 'Balanchine' effect. Wheeldon keeps his 21 dancers in a wedge-shaped block within which he moves individual dancers with dazzling random logic - two dancers will step suddenly sideways to the right while somewhere else, and slightly after them another two or perhaps three or maybe just one will step in the opposite direction - there is a constant pattern of random-seeming individual movement, and one unforgettable moment has all the dancers in silhouette against a lighted background performing these almost auomated looking movements. It's a tribute to Wheeldon's unique choreographic talent that even this movement never looks less than purely classical.

The cast of 21 dancers is led by five couples, all given pas-de-deux. The principal couple at yesterday's matinee was Belinda Hatley and Martin Harvey, both dancing with polished assurance. Hatley in particular looked sleek and confident on her first appearance after a prolonged injury-induced absence. I have always admired her. She has to be one of the RB's most adaptable dancers, as much at home in Ashton's dappled works as she is here in Wheeldon's streamlined 'Tryst'.

Anthony Tudor's 'The Leaves are Fading' to some beautiful Dvorak music has not been highly rated by anyone this time around. 'Dated' and even 'Mimsy' are words that have been bandied about, but I love this quiet and beautifully detailed work. All it needs is to be hacked from the jungle of chiffon threatening to engulf it in its present design form which is...uh...dated and mimsy - even the men are in chiffon! The fussy backdrop likewise must go. Nicola Tranah opens the work as the wistful Older Woman and Leanne Benjamin and the mesmerising Edward Watson are the lead couple. I simply love the choreography for the man here, shy and bold at once and Watson just goes for it. He's an amazing dancer and I wonder why the RB have kept him under wraps for so long. Why is it that he is only getting proper stage exposure now? The result of his rawness is that he is an uncertain partner, and yesterday he looked strained in the demanding lifts in Tudor's work, and also seemed to get puffed far too quickly. More regular partnering work in major roles should soon sort these problems out. Benjamin was a miracle of lightness in her role, but by now I expect that of her- she deserves more challenging roles and I hope Stretton can find them for her. I loved all the other dancers in this piece too, but if I had to single one out I'd go for Ricardo Cervera. His sparkling and powerful dancing is always eye-catching, but I hadn't noticed until now how musically responsive a dancer he is.

(A Footnote: I note in the programme that 'Leaves' was presented 'By arrangement with the estate of Anthony Tudor and The Anthony Tudor Ballet Trust'. How ironic that a choreographer like Tudor should have a Trust to protect his scant output, whilst Ashton, a recognised genius, has nothing whatsoever to protect future performances of his prolific work).

A double disappointment awaited me in Ashton's 'A Month in the Country'. First was the news that Ivan Putrov would not be dancing Belaiev because of injury - Putrov was the reason I had booked for this performance in the first place - and secondly was Muriel Valtat's curiously flat performance as Natalia Petrovna. But Ashton's bomb-proof structure survived these two major attacks and I enjoyed 'Month' anyway. The Chopin music is irresistible, and the choreography is by turns touching, comic, and mysterious - for example, there's a wonderful moment early in the ballet where, for no apparent reason, Natalia, her son Kolya, the tutor Beliaev and the ward Vera, all gloriously dance in a syncopated turning line as if in a West End hoofing show. It's quite a lovely moment.

Jonathan Cope replaced Putrov with distinguished grace, undoubtedly added to by years of familiarity in the role. I mean no disrespect whatsoever to Cope here - his dancing is as excellent as it ever was, but his acting remained as it ever was - nothing special. If I think about it, over the years only Dowell was really special in this role and that's undoubtedly because Ashton created it for him. (I saw Dowell in the role only in the last gasps of his career, and he was still wonderful in it, despite the frightful blond wig he had chosen to wear).

Muriel Valtat is another matter entirely. Her dancing was exquistely detailed, and entirely appropriate to the demands of Ashton's work, and her acting was adequate, but somehow dull and uninvolving. Part of the problem may have been her face, which was both insufficiently animated and blandly made-up. The only other dancer I've seen in the role is Sylvie, and she was a blazing oil compared to Valtat's limp watercolour. But I hope Valtat will be given to the opportunity to dance this role again because, in the end, she is far more suited to it than Sylvie is.

Special mention must go to Bethany Keating's sparkling (and sparky) Vera. Her lovely, seamless footwork in her opening solo would have pleased Ashton. She promises much, and so does Victoria Hewitt as Katia, the knee-sitting, cherry-stuffing maid. Let's hope 'Month' doesn't stay out of the RB's repertory too long.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '0... sylvia 26-05-02 1
     RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '0... alison 27-05-02 3
  RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '0... Margaret 26-05-02 2
     RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '0... sylvia 28-05-02 4
         RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '0... alison 29-05-02 5

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26-05-02, 11:01 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail sylvia Click to send private message to sylvia Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
In response to message #0
   Just some highlights from the matinee and evening performances yesterday...

Tryst It's like a different ballet when you get a little perspective. Are the critics sitting in the stalls for this one, because if they are they don't have the best seats. When I was in the stalls circle last week the 22 dancers did look a bit structureless, but from the amphi I thought Tryst was just exceptional. The set with it's off centre floor is much more striking. It's no longer "just a light show" as I heard one audience member complain - the lighting and moving parts feel seamlessly integrated with the music and choreography. The complex patterns the dancers make, the way these and their movements intertwined with MacMillan's music (which I love) provoked such a strong reaction in me. The transition into Darcey and Jonathan's languid pdd is surprisingly smooth. They didn't remind me of birds as Dougill from the Sunday Times suggested but swimming in a deep blue sea. They were fluid, appearing almost boneless in the curves they made with their bodies. I was so disappointed to have missed Harvey and Hatley in the matinee - could someone tell me how they compared? The insight day a few weeks at first I thought was useful in explaining some of the motivation behind the ballet. I usually like to understand the whys of what I'm seeing. But I've had a change of heart - there doesn't have to be any meaning to it. It's just wonderful to sit back and watch and time absolutely flies.

The Leaves are Fading Another ballet that looks better from above. Leaves has felt so one-note I thought I couldn't be surprised anymore, but I was wrong. In the matinee I was completely wowed by Nunez and Gartside in the 3rd "married love" pdd. I think Marianela gave new meaning to the word "melting", she was so captivating in Gartside's arms. Kobborg and Cojocaru were lovely and joyous in the evening performance in the central pdd. Also want to echo Ricardo Cervera who's lively dancing seems to stand out in everything.

A Month in the Country I think Jonathan Cope is the new superman of the RB in replacing an injured Ivan Putrov in the matinee, after dancing Tryst/Month the night before, and Tryst/Month in the evening to come. I love the wya he dances Beliaev and especially the open way he uses his arms in his solos. And there's nothing like Guillem and Cope together on stage. Oughtred had a bit more spark to her Vera than Keating who but it really is good to see the younger dancers having a go.

Another great day, but so sad for me because most of the RB jet off to Australia tonight. No more ballet for me until the summer season. Whatever will I do for the next 6 weeks?!

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27-05-02, 01:41 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
In response to message #1
   >Tryst It's like a different ballet
>when you get a little
>perspective. ... When I was in
>the stalls circle last week
>the 22 dancers did look
>a bit structureless, but from
>the amphi I thought Tryst
>was just exceptional.

I'm glad I saw it from above as well, then. I thought it looked really good and although I wouldn't have called the music "danceable" the choreography did seem to fit to it very well. There was an awful lot to take in - a complex and unknown score, so much happening with the dancers, not to mention the lighting and scenery changes - that I couldn't really absorb it all at a first sitting, but I shall be interested to see it again in the autumn.

I was
>so disappointed to have missed
>Harvey and Hatley in the
>matinee - could someone tell
>me how they compared?

I can't compare because I haven't see the first cast, but how good it was to see Hatley back on stage after such a long time - virtually since the beginning of the season. I thought she looked a little nervy at the beginning, but then I'm assuming that this was effectively her first time back on stage, in which case it was understandable. A lovely dancer, and let's hope she'll make up for lost time casting-wise now she's back.

>The Leaves are Fading Another ballet
>that looks better from above.

Oh dear, what does it look like from below? I'm sorry, I still felt as though I was being suffocated by chiffon. Hoping not to see this one back in the foreseeable future.

In the matinee I
>was completely wowed by Nunez
>and Gartside in the 3rd
>"married love" pdd.

I thought Nunez was very good in it as well.

>A Month in the Country I
>think Jonathan Cope is the
>new superman of the RB
>in replacing an injured Ivan
>Putrov in the matinee, after
>dancing Tryst/Month the night before,
>and Tryst/Month in the evening
>to come.

You forgot a full-length Romeo on Thursday as well! A trouper.

No more ballet
>for me until the summer
>season. Whatever will I do
>for the next 6 weeks?!

Well, you could always try ENB next weekend at the ROH, or at the Albert Hall

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26-05-02, 11:19 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Margaret Click to send private message to Margaret Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
In response to message #0
   I too attended the matinee on the 25th and enjoyed it again reading your post, which captured much of what I felt. I was also unsure how I would react to Tryst and found it really interesting. Good too to have the composer conducting. I do feel I need to see it again as I am sure I missed a lot, there was so much to take in.
I liked 'The leaves are Fading' when I first saw it earlier this year - it looks so effortless. Why does the programme not record which dancers are dancing together, apart from the leading couple (I do agree about them, I particularly liked Watson and would love to see him in more roles).
'A Month in the country' has always been a favourite of mine and I enjoyed it - though I did not get the same impression of Muriel Valtat, as Ann - it seemed a very touching performance to me. I did hear that she and Jonathon Cope had not been able to rehearse together, so maybe she was feeling a little unsure of herself.
I agree, Ann, a most rewarding afternoon.

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28-05-02, 05:24 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail sylvia Click to send private message to sylvia Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
4. "RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
In response to message #2
   LAST EDITED ON 28-05-02 AT 05:42 PM (GMT)

Just wanted to post that there are rehearsal photos of Tryst online on the ROH website. Very nice ones too! Good to see that Johan Persson has been busy throughout his injury.


And in case anyone missed them there are a couple on the reviews page


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29-05-02, 12:58 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: Royal Ballet's 'Trilogy' triple bill - matinee 25 May '02"
In response to message #4
   What a lovely picture of Belinda !

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