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Subject: "NBT Carmen, 21/3/200" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #602
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24-03-00, 05:07 PM (GMT)
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"NBT Carmen, 21/3/200"
   NBT are back at Sadlerís for two weeks, and itís Londonís first opportunity to see their production of Carmen, which has already toured extensively. NBT are in a perhaps slightly uncertain phase at the moment: they had a very definite image and style under the directorship of Gable, and a very devoted following. Obviously their new AD, Stephano Gianetti, wants to make his own mark on the company, and it will be interesting to see how this turns out, though fans may regret some of the departures. Gable created the scenario: the choreography is by Didy Veldman of Rambert, who usually works in a rather different idiom to NBTís. There are no pointe shoes in evidence, and the dance vocabulary is not balletic, but has a much more off centre, contemporary feel. It sat on NBTís dancers with varying levels of success - Charlotte Broom as Carmen seemed completely at home in it, but some of the men didnít quite have the fluidity the style demanded. In purely technical terms, I can imagine the dancers of Rambert, Veldmanís own company, moving through it in a cleaner, clearer way. But NBT is about theatre as much as dance.

However, itís probably not Rambert that many of the audience might have thought of as an obvious reference point, but Adventures in Motion Pictures, whose retelling of the classics in contemporary guise has proved so popular. The designer of Carmen is Lez Brotherston, who has also worked on many of AMPís (and NBTís) most popular works. His work here again is striking stylish. Carmen has been relocated to the present day in the dingy industrial outskirts of Rio. She still works in a cigarette factory: Jose is a policeman: Escamillio a rock star in leather trousers (ÖerÖhasnít this already been doneÖ). Brotherstonís sets are simple but remarkably stylish. Costumes are everyday street style.

The work rattles along at a great pace and its narrative is admirably clear and easy to follow. Veldman is an experienced choreographer, but has never made a full evening narrative work before. The first and third acts are taut and crisp: the second act seemed to sag slightly, with the scene in the bar rather too drawn out, but does conclude with a good pas de deux for Carmen, Jose and a bed. There is a tremendous performance from Charlotte Broom, effortlessly dominating the stage and her men, always slithering from their grasp. Daniel de Andrade as Jose was perhaps less convincing at first, but he did become more compelling as the work progressed. Christopher Giles as the rock star played the role way over the top: possibly the only way to go. The women in the company seemed to have got into the spirit of the work rather more than the men: somehow the men looked resolutely English, as if they were out for a night on the town in Leeds or in the West End - but not, somehow in Rio. They needed a bit more flash and passion to be persuasive.

The music takes a little getting used to at first - mentally, you keep waiting for the singing to begin, and it never does. But the narrative (and Broom) rapidly grabs all your attention. Itís an enjoyable and inventive production, both in design and in dance terms. It was hugely popular with the audience. It may not be the direction that NBT head from here, but it will be interesting to see what Veldman comes up with next.

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  RE: NBT Carmen, 21/3/200 Bruce Madmin 25-03-00 1

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Bruce Madmin

25-03-00, 08:28 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: NBT Carmen, 21/3/200"
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   Anotehr take on Carmen. I could have started a new thread, but often think its best to cluster entries. Anybody got any more thoughts on Carmen?

After the success of their Dracula run last year NBT are back at Sadler's Wells with 2 weeks of Carmen - popular tunes, popular story and popular ballet. Well not quite popular ballet as such - it's actually danced in bare foot style, which is pretty unusual for a dramatic work from a ballet company. It's actually very unusual for any full length story work and the only other piece which immediately come to mind is Christopher Bruce's recent God's Plenty - but little else I think over the last couple of decades I think?

The Carmen choreography is by Didy Veldman of Rambert - her first full length piece - and I think she made a really terrific job of it. I liked it when I first saw it, but since then mods have been made here and there and the dancers all seem very settled-in and very comfortable. But what really does it for me is the different aesthetic - a joy to see bare feet illustrate something they don't usually: a popular story.

Veldman's style appears very straightforward but she has a good knack of finding a movement to express and capture the moment. Of course MacMillan developed this into a fine art and Veldman is on the same trail I think. I particularly like the pas de deux which seem so free and inventive - the absence of pointe shoes make them all the more real.

Perhaps it's her Dutch manner and also the influence of Patricia Doyle (the Director) but there is a wonderful directness in her showing of character and shorn of embellishment the story is incredibly easy to follow and you find that you concentrate on it rather than trying to figure out where you might be in the plot and who is who (and please don't smile and think good grief does this man really have difficulty in spotting lead characters like Carmen and Jose! It's the lesser characters which often cause the grief). I'm probably just slow on the general uptake but I do welcome this clarity of presentation. And I don't miss the pointe shoes for an instant.

Charlotte Broom was the lead and Daniel de Andrade the 'doomed' Jose - they premiered the piece originally and are both accomplished actor/dancers. Broom vamps her man as few ballerinas could but also beautifully conveys the 'struck by love' party girl who succumbs to a true love for all of a night or two before the restlessness returns.

In tone this is a million miles away from the Roland Petit version that shocked audiences in the late 1940's and 50's with its incredibly overt sexuality. The Veldman Carmen is still the story of a very surprising woman, but in its different world its more plausible in the telling and all the better for that.

Carmen is one of my favourite dramatic works of recent times - straightforward, respectful of what audiences appreciate and yet engagingly different. Veldman herself dances the lead on the 28th and 30th March, but what I hope more than anything is that this is not the last full length dramatic piece from her.

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