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Subject: "ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Lynette

12-01-00, 04:08 PM (GMT)
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"ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000"
 
   The Nutcracker has finally been put away for the season, and English National Ballet are now moving on to other productions at the Coli. There are only three performances of the Triple Bill before a short run of Coppelia. It’s a very interesting mix: the Kingdom of the Shades act from Bayadere, Glen Tetley’s Sphinx, and MacMillian’s Rite of Spring. Mindful of the difficulty which sometimes exists in selling mixed bills, ticket prices were very reasonable, with the top price just under 20 pounds. Interestingly, it was the stalls and dress circle that were full, with the upper circle much less so - it’s as if much of the regular audience decided to trade up for the occasion.

The opening item was Bayadere. ENB spent much of last year on the road, touring their mega production of Swan Lake around the world. One might expect therefore, that the corps should be fiercely drilled by now, and that the Kingdom of the Shades scene, a stern test of any company’s strength, would enable them to demonstrate this. However, although their lines were straight, and groupings tidy, there was a good deal of visible nervousness and wobbling. The ideal uniformity of movement on the long entrance passage was lacking, both in terms of timing and of posture, with legs held at different heights. More than twenty of ENB’s sixty-five dancers left at the end of last season, and the corps do not quite seem to have gelled since then. However, after the opening scene the corps did gain in confidence, and got a good reception. The grandeur of the dance and design comes across despite any shakiness, and it is still a pleasure to see this production again.

The three shades were Perego, McIllroy and Erina Takahashi: the last seemed the happiest and sunniest of the three and looked as if she was confident in and enjoying her dancing. The lead couple were Oaks and Edur. She was in fine control of all her balances and her dancing is very clean, clear and polished. She was aided by some fine partnering from her husband, as ever, the perfect prince. Edur’s own dancing was calm and unhurried as usual, but his jumps and turns were, for him, a little underpowered, as if he was keeping something in reserve.

It would be understandable if he was, since the next item featured Edur in a particularly strenuous lead role. ENB have featured Glen Tetley’s Sphinx on their smaller tours in the past, and this looked a very confident and practised performance of a very taxing work. Sphinx features only three dancers - in this performance, Daria Klimentova in the title role, with Edur as Oedipus and Gruzdyev as Anubis. I wasn’t familiar with Klimentova, although she has been with ENB for a while, but on the basis of this performance I will definitely look out for her in future: she was marvellously sleek and feline and quite lusciously pliable. The underlying narrative of the Sphinx’s attraction to a mortal (Oedipus) appeared quite slight, with Tetley more interested in the possibility of pushing the dancers as hard as possible with lift after lift. It was fascinating to see Edur, the classicist, inhabiting quite a different type of role and a different and more jagged vocabulary. Gruzdyev if anything looked happier in the fierce contortions of Anubis than in the more classical roles he has taken in the past.

The final item was MacMillan’s Rite of Spring. I hadn’t seen this before - I don’t recall the Royal including this in the repertory in the last eight years. The sheer scale of it was a shock with more than forty dancers on stage. It doesn’t seem like anything we’ve come to think of as typical MacMillan, either in subject matter (no steamy grappling between the sexes) or in dance language. But then the ‘MacMillan’ we perceive today is the result of the fare we are usually offered: he’s a more varied choreographer than endless repeats of Manon would have us believe.

In Rite, although there is the occasional use of recognisable classical steps, the body language is bent, twisted, undulating, as the dancers stamp and pound their way through their rituals. It’s not pretty and its not intended to be, but it is creepily powerful. (The only MacMillan item that it did remind me of, though not directly, was his early, quirky Dances Concertantes - an off-centre piece, that, though more classical than this, seemed to point to more radical directions never fully explored).

The corps seemed much happier in this than in Bayadere, and coped well with the difficult rhythms.
This production features new designs by Yolana Sonnabend - simple all in ones with dappled colours of pastels, browns and reds for the various groups, and a simple abstract backcloth. Nothing to detract from the drama itself. As the circle is formed to select the victim, you are aware that it is the audience that completes the circle and somehow participates in, and colludes in the ritual: when Tamara Rojo twists and turns looking for escape, it is us she looks at, and finds none. A tremendous performance from Rojo whose huge wild eyes were as eloquent as the rest of her, but also a very fine performance from the company as a whole, who came together strongly to project a single character as a primitive community.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000 Barbara 13-01-00 1
     RE: ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000 Eugene Merrett 14-01-00 2

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Barbara

13-01-00, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000"
In response to message #0
 
   Lynette

I much enjoyed your review. I am currently living out of London and just had one night there on Monday. I was faced with the difficult choice of either going to a performance at the new Covent Garden, which I haven't seen yet, but then facing my 300th Nutcracker or going to the Coliseum. I chose the latter and was very glad I did. I thought it was a really interesting triple bill, and I really enjoyed the chance to see Rite of Spring in particular. I hope Lady MacMillan was pleased with what she saw on stage.

Also, I have been following the ticket price debate on this site, and was absolutely delighted to end up with a wonderful front stalls seat on Monday for £19.

Definitely one very happy customer!

Barbara


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Eugene Merrett

14-01-00, 03:10 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: ENB Triple Bill, Coliseum, 10/1/2000"
In response to message #1
 
   It is worth contrasting ENO superb program with that of the ROH MacMillan.

The ROH TB was poorly chosen - Concerto has been seen too many times before (3 successive seasons now!), Rituals was a rather esoteric and puzzling ballet which I could not make any of. Gloria was a real welcome although. There was none of the dramatic one act ballets like "the invitation", "las Hamanas" or "My Brother, My Sisters"

In contrast ENO gives us a magical Shade Scene (the best 30 minutes in classical ballet in my view) and an very interesting Rite of Spring. Sphinx was pretty good as well if rather overlong!It is embarrasing for the ROH to be shown up in this way.

But I was a bit disappointed with Rite of Spring. I think the choreography lacked bite and excitement. The orchestra was also significantly underpowered. If you hear Rite of Spring in concert you will not know what hit you!!!


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