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Subject: "MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #455
Reading Topic #455

14-01-00, 03:42 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Lynette Click to send private message to Lynette Click to add this user to your buddy list  
"MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000"
   The reopening season at Covent Garden includes two mixed programmes each devoted to a single choreographer. The Ashton programme, which doesnít open until March is already sold out: however the MacMillan Inheritance programme, which opened on Wed 12th , still has plenty of availability. Odd in some ways, as the view from the ROH always seems to have been that itís Ashton who doesnít sell well. But then there are twice as many Macmillan bill performances.

This programme is an attempt to show a more diverse view of MacMillanís work. It includes Gloria, not seen since 1993, whose central pas de deux made such an impression at the opening gala last month. It also includes a revival of Rituals - a work not seen since 1975.

The opening item was one which has been in the repertory for some time now, the plotless Concerto, to the music of Shostakovich. It offered a chance to see dancers new to some of the leading roles. Jane Burn was paired with Justin Meissner in the opening movement: she lacks the fluidity of Sarah Wildor in the role, and the two of them didnít seem to be dancing together. The slow pas de deux which forms the central section with its gorgeous unhurried bends was performed by Mara Galeazzi, who used to dreamily float through this accompanied by Michael Nunn. She was partnered on this occasion by Urlezaga, and the chemistry wasnít quite the same. Urlezaga is very strong, and this combination could be very good, but they need a little extra tenderness. Christa McDermott looked in fine form in the final section, and the three red couples also looked strong, particularly the men (Cervera, Howells, Sasaki).

Rituals was made in 1975, MacMillanís response to experiences on a tour of Japan. It is set to Bartok (Sonata for two pianos and percussion). Its three movements show short narrative scenes on Japanese themes - a martial arts exercise, a puppet theatre, preparation for childbirth. The costuming and make-up is quite dramatic, stylised and self-consciously exotic. The dance draws on Japanese motifs without ever quite leaving its ballet base. I would be quite fascinated to hear a Japanese view of the production; I would like to know whether the result appeared superficial, and how successful the integration of Japanese art forms and the ballet seemed from a different cultural angle. I had slightly mixed feelings. The opening scene gave the Royalís men plenty to do, though the narrative of neophytes leaning from the master wasnít that clear. The second scene featured Bruce Sansom and Chloe Davies as two puppets, manipulated by a row of puppeteers: quite eerie and unsettling. It was very quiet, contained, and sinister with Sansom and Davies convincingly floppy and yet sustaining some intricate balances. The final section featured Gillian Revie as an increasingly distraught Mother bossed around firmly by Deborah Bullís Midwife.

Rituals was undeniably interesting and quite different. I donít suppose most people would assess it as one of his major works. It is perhaps a little odd that the Royal chose to revive this when there are other short Macmillan pieces that havenít been given by the Royal for some time, like Song of the Earth, that would be interesting to see.

No complaints though, about the closing work, Gloria, which was by far the most popular item of the evening. This lament for the dead of the first world war shows MacMillan at his most emotional and yearning. It hadnít been in the repertory since 1993, but the leads were all taken by dancers who were experienced in the roles (Cope, Benjamin, Saunders). It was a very fine performance from Benjamin, very finely detailed, with some unobtrusive and sensitive partnering from Saunders. The dance is much more ĎMacMillaní than the other pieces, with women lifted and passed around among groups of men or slid along the floor. The most touching moment for me was the sense of loss as all the corps slowly filed away into the darkness at the back of the stage. The music (Poulencís Gloria) strongly sets and reinforces the mood. A powerful performance from the entire company in this piece, in which they looked very much at home.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/20... gerald dowler 14-01-00 1
  RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/20... Bruce Madmin 16-01-00 2
     RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/20... Rosie 16-01-00 3
         RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/20... Bruce Madmin 16-01-00 4

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gerald dowler

14-01-00, 05:07 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail gerald%20dowler Click to send private message to gerald%20dowler Click to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000"
In response to message #0
   The Macmillan Triple Bill is very much worht seeing - one ballet from the 60s, 70s and 80s (added to which the Ashton Bill 30s, 40s and 50s make a very interesting view of six decades of British choreography).
Rituals was well received by the audience and, unlike many critics, I feel deservedly so. It IS different and rather strange, but it probably works now a lot better than in 1975 when minimalism, noh theatre, kabuki and all things Japenese were totally alien. I feel that there is much to enjoy and be stimulated by. It isn't typical Macmillan but it deserves to be revived - let's not carp about what should have been revived - we could all supply a list !
Concerto better danced than the last 2 revivals (many didn't see the Coliseum revival because of Hochauser's exhorbitant prices) and Gloria as sublime as I remember it.

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Bruce Madmin

16-01-00, 10:46 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000"
In response to message #0
   My take on the MacMillan opening - now off to read what Lynette and the other critics said!

It's been MacMillan Week in London with, on Monday, English National Ballet (ENB) presenting Rite of Spring and, on Tuesday, the Royal Ballet (RB) opening an interesting triple bill of his less story-orientated works. It included Rituals, a piece not seen in 20 years and Gloria, which was last danced some 7 seasons ago.

The evening opened with Concerto, as plotless a ballet as you could find and with something of a neoclassical Balanchine look, though that sounds possibly disrespectful of what MacMillan has achieved - it's a sublime work - or can be. Concerto has been back in the repertoire for a while now but first night dancer gremlins were around with the exceptions of Mara Galeazzi (Second movement pdd - so ethereal) and Christina McDermott (third movement). Despite what looked like too little rehearsal time this is still a strong ballet and got the night off to a pretty good start.

My recollections of Gloria from the early 1990's were not so happy - mainly because I don't like the music (Poulenc) and chorus much. (Ashton's Daphnis and Chloe is similarly denied me because of the music. My problem I know!)

Gloria is a requiem for those involved in the First World War and includes images of solders and angelic sprits (thankfully sans wings) set in a desolate battlefield. In part it briefly becomes almost music-hall but mainly this is a moving piece where the audience is requested not to applaud until the end.

Like practically everybody else I thought the pas de deux from Gloria that featured as part of the opening Gala celebrations looked so good and, in seeing the complete piece again, I secretly hoped for a Road to Damascus vision.... Well my thoughts are now more rounded, but no big vision materialised I'm afraid.

As choreography I love the pdd, which again featured Leanne Benjamin and Christopher Saunders, and the pas de trois which included Jonathan Cope in the mix and was as inventive and 'right' as Macmillan nearly always is. But it was Cope in his solo work that absolutely knocked me out - the sheer magnificence of the man. Such a presence on stage and yet so deft in his movements. He is a lovely partner but I hope we can see more of him on his own.

I can't think of anybody who looked more "of the spirit world" than Leanne Benjamin, who danced so smoothly in, around and over Saunders. Leanne has a special gift with MacMillan choreography and it's a shame that she arrived at the RB too late to work with him at Principal level.

Rituals was created 25 years ago and was only being seen for the 19th time - I for one am really grateful that it has not been lost. The piece is specifically about Japanese rituals and covers combat/wrestling, puppetry and religion, or Celebration and Prayer as MacMillan called it. They are all played as totally separate scenes to a Bartok score that features pianos (2), drums and wind. The music is well chosen and just sets the scene without being totally Japanese - we are one stage removed.

The RB boys, led by Shi-Ning Liu and Nigel Burley did a great job of being Japanese and going through all the motions of life in a training camp. Bare buttocks everywhere of course! As in Rite of Spring, MacMillan here commands a totally different dance palette and this is heavy, purposeful, often slow and committed movement but all done with finesse.

The Puppet scene represented 2 life-size puppets who are manipulated in a love duet by an array of puppeteers each fussing over various of the limbs. Chloe Davies and Bruce Sansom were the puppet couple who needed to be rigid, wooden and yet malleable and capable of coming to some kind of life. I found this scene the most novel and enthralling of the three, and of the evening indeed.

The last scene, of Celebration and Prayer, I am less sure of and the meaning was less clear perhaps. Somehow the RB girls did not look so Japanese as the boys had earlier. After the excitement and interest of the previous scenes this seemed much more muted and I suspect that I will get more from it next time.

Overall the MacMillan programme worked well and personally I like the fact that it concentrates on the non-narrative works. Hopefully it will also alert more people to the view that MacMillan was a choreographer of some considerable span. While his 3 act dramatic works are rightly highly praised we can hopefully all appreciate his much broader contribution to 20th century dance.

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16-01-00, 06:45 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Rosie Click to send private message to Rosie Click to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000"
In response to message #2
   Apart from a couple of open rehearsal during the days when being a 'Friend' didn't cost an arm and a leg ,my visit to the Opera House on Jan 14
was my first in 12 years !!!
Sat as we were over the pit in the balcony stalls
some of the stage area was out of sight.
However even this could not spoil such a wonderful
Does anybody agree with me that facially at least
M Galeazzi has a look reminicent of Makarova ?
I fully expected not to like Rituals only ever
having seen photos but from curtain up it was stunning. The first part I found most pleasing
although I have to confess that all those
naked buttocks at close quarters was quite
demanding !!!
The best by far was Gloria . Does anyonr recall
it being broadcast around the time of it's creation ? This was when I first caught sight
of it . Reading Edward Thorpe's biog of
Macmillan I've gleaned that it was a Granada
Production .I'd love to have a copy .
Being out in the sticks as we are we rely
heavily on video performance inbetween
'live' visits.
Moving sideways a little!!
If one pays 3 quid for a glass of wine
shouldn't one receive a GLASS of wine .
Not a half of one . Obviously one dosn't
go to the theatre to get sloshed and a
certain mark up is to be expected , we
however were not the only members of the audience
to comment on this . Such a shame ,a minor
quibble to what was a fine , fine evening

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Bruce Madmin

16-01-00, 08:28 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Bruce%20M Click to send private message to Bruce%20M Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
4. "RE: MacMillan Inheritance Triple Bill, Royal Ballet, 12/1/2000"
In response to message #3
   >my visit to the
>Opera House on Jan 14 was
>my first in 12 years !!!

Rosie - don't leave it so long next time!

And I'd be happy to sort out a full glass of wine too!

Thanks for posting

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