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Subject: "Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #646
Reading Topic #646
Bruce Madmin

13-04-00, 01:05 PM (GMT)
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"Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
 
  
First night of RB New World bill and I went home very happy indeed. I started happy too... now you probably don't need to be too perceptive to see where this is heading do you? Yep the new bit in the middle was not a happy experience. Actually it was pretty dire.

Serenade opened the evening - it's hard to think of a more accessible piece of abstract Balanchine. Created in 1935 for students, it was the first work he choreographed for American dancers and is loosely based on lessons he gave them. But any rehearsal studio associations are long lost and what you have is the most smoothly flowing testament to the female dancer.

The costumes - amazingly uncredited - are long flowing dresses in the lightest of blue chiffon. They float and swirl with the most gorgeous fluidity, complementing the movement and music just perfectly. Such marvellous integration is rare and overall it brought out similar feelings of contentment to that engendered by Ashton's Symphonic Variations that we have all (in London) been enjoying so recently.

Darcey Bussell led things out, has the perfect body for such abstract works and moved just beautifully. The very best of Bussell I think. She was supported by Jonathan Cope and it made one think again what a shame it has been that these two dancers have not been able to work more together. If you love dance and you love women you really have to see this piece.

The Crucible by William Tuckett was getting its premiere on the night. It's based on the Arthur Miller play about the American witchcraft trials in the 17th century though in a note Tuckett says that he concentrates on the central relationships rather than trying to cover the complete story. I suppose it was a nod at simplification but having 17 named roles in the program (what did Balanchine say about Morthers-in-law in narrative works?!) and some totally OTT costume designs by Ralph Steadman one was left thrashing around trying to make some vague sense of what was going on on stage. Many of the costumes seem to come with built in head gear and bristle with crosses and other paraphernalia - rather like the episode in Black Adder when the exceedingly religious relatives visit. Recognising the dancers underneath was a hell of a challenge but gave some amusement I suppose.

Along with the majority of the audience I don't particularly know the story and the synopsis packs in so much detail it's rapidly forgotten. The result was that while perhaps a few got much of it the rest of us went into whatever we do when there is something unfathomable on stage. Shuffle, try and fathom it again, look for some interesting choreography, play spot the dancer, think about what other dance one has coming up and generally try to count down to the interval and a stiff drink.

Tuckett seems to be trying to spell out a story but the choreography is strange at best and seems disjointed, undancerly and rather cold - it comes over more as movement and motion to me. The pdd didn't really seem to show so much invention, but to be brutally frank I felt so unconnected with the piece it was hard to concentrate. And yet there were Irek Mukhamedov and Sarah Wildor on stage together with some of the Royal's best dramatic dancers.

I got to pondering why this piece was being put on the main stage at all. The new ROH has two other smaller performance spaces, everybody knew they were coming and everybody said won't it be great because we can try new ideas and grow choreographers without running the huge risks of putting them on in the main house. Well it's a great plan but where is the action?

I find it rather depressing that in a new millennium and in a new house the choreographers that RB are backing seem only to indulge or repeat themselves when given such big chances and fall into traps that have been known about since the year dot. Surely it's time to invest in other young choreographers as well and ones who are liable to create works more attuned to the public's imagination. The ones that immediately come to mind are (and in no particular order) Didy Veldman, Cathy Marston, Christopher Hampson and Christopher Wheeldon. None of these is particularly afraid of the new either - but they all seem to share an instinct about pleasing the audience. It's a shame Tuckett was not in disguise and able to sit in amongst the audience and observe first hand a throng of people ill-entertained, see the shaking of heads and listen to the choice words of regret as people shuffled off for the stiff drink.

Despite the depression I have not given up on Tuckett - he is trying to do new things (if too much and on the wrong stage) and he has produced some lovely 'straight' pieces. And I suppose that even David Bintley can get the telling of a story horribly wrong at times...

Thank goodness for The Concert by Jerome Robbins. I'm always amazed that somebody so connected with NYCB also did work for Hollywood and Broadway. Balanchine appreciated Broadway though and Ashton did more than a few commercial pieces for shows and reviews when he was learning his trade. Such contact only seems to have enriched all concerned and perhaps that is one key to bringing through new choreographers. Whatever, Robbins knows how to tickle the audience and I have not had such obvious fun since SFB brought over Mark Morris's Sandpaper Ballet last year.

It's set to Chopin and with piano on stage Philip Gammon strides purposefully and sternly out to prepare - a lovely piece of acting in its own right. What follows is a kaleidoscope of images - dummies, dancing girls, painfully shy boys, butterflies, rowing couples, murder and love. It's all quite mad and at the end Gammon chases the butterflies with a huge butterfly net - quite surreal I suppose. It was led out by Sylvie Guillem and Luke Heydon. Guillem looked incredible in her one piece (as always) but it was her sense of comedy and fun that percolated through and it was so nice to see her as more part of an ensemble piece where everybody mucked in.

One would not go to see The Concert for its dance particularly - there is precious little and indeed this is much more the movement and motion that I complained of earlier. But it's silly and irreverent and gave the audience such delight.

I've never seen The Concert before, but some others thought the humour was rather less subtle these days - it's a cry often heard when old pieces return. All I can say is that I really enjoyed what I saw and I was returned to happy bunnydom again. What a roller coaster of a night.



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Julia 13-04-00 1
  RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Penny 13-04-00 2
  RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Jane S 13-04-00 3
  RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Bruce Madmin 13-04-00 4
     RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Katherine 13-04-00 5
         !RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Eugene Merrett 13-04-00 6
             RE: !RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 alison 14-04-00 8
     RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Stuart Sweeney 14-04-00 7
         RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00 Michael Llewellyn 19-04-00 9
             RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00 Ann Williams 19-04-00 11
                 RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00 jhanner 19-04-00 14
  RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Karen 19-04-00 10
     Holmes connection? Stephanie Wragg 19-04-00 12
         RE: Holmes connection? Bruce Madmin 19-04-00 13
         RE: Holmes connection? Francis Timlin 19-04-00 15
             RE: Holmes connection? alison 20-04-00 16
                 RE: Holmes connection? Francis Timlin 20-04-00 18
     RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00 Dame Blandine 20-04-00 17

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Julia

13-04-00, 01:11 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #0
 
   I was also there and think that Bruce has got it spot on!

I did have the luck to see the Concert when it was first done by the RB, with Seymour and Michael Coleman and I do agree with those who felt the humour now is less subtle. But let's see what happens when everyone has settled in to the roles and maybe doesn't have to try so hard. Anyway, I was still laughing aloud at much of it, so they can't have done all that badly.

Maybe Tuckett should take a hint from Robbins - you are no less a choreographer if you do something lighthearted, and there's plenty of room for someone who does.


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Penny

13-04-00, 02:13 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #0
 
   Absolutely agree with you Bruce particularly about the costumes for the Crucible. I had a very difficult time trying to spot Kobborg and began to think he must be injured. I was really hoping to find some merit in this as new work should be encouraged but alas it was not to be. Choreography did nothing for Mukhamedov and I felt a pang of sadness for him dancing? moving ? his socks off in this confused unnecessarily busy piece of theatre. I think Turn of the Screw was better. Loved Guillem in The Concert - she was delightful, her French gamine charm very suitable for this piece.


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Jane S

13-04-00, 04:28 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #0
 
   And a little cheer for Nicola Tranah, who came on at no notice whatsoever to do the 4th movement of Serenade when Christina MacDermott hurt her leg in the 3rd movement and couldn't continue. Confusion all round, not least for Nigel Burley who was doing the partnering!


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Bruce Madmin

13-04-00, 05:08 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #0
 
   er... can I encourage some pro Crucible views to come out if possible. It's seldom that things are just one way and there will be those who loved it and can talk positivly as to why.


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Katherine

13-04-00, 06:14 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #4
 
   The Crucible: I liked it (sort of), but don't have time to say why! Will post more tomorrow.


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Eugene Merrett

13-04-00, 11:58 PM (GMT)
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6. "!RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #5
 
   If anyone still believes in the box office pull of Triple Bills then they should have been at the ballet today. It was half full despite having two well known works on the program and a lot of advertising.

I can't put my finger on but I think there is something in missing in the RB Serenade. It looks so much better when done by the NYCB. I think the dancers in New York have more energy and technical competence. Only Yanowsky looked good for the RB. Gillian Revie and Nicola Trannah are clearly no Balanchine dancers!

I am inclined to disagree with the opinion about the need to emphasize English style. It certainly does not work for Balanchine.

I had a sudden emergency in my place of business so I had to leave right after Serenade. That is a pity as I would have loved to have seen The Concert.

I was very surprised at the narrow size of the seats in the Amphitheatre. They were quite uncomfortable. I can tolerate this for short ballet but no way for a five and half hour opera! (The previous amphitheatre seat I had was an aisle seat)


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alison

14-04-00, 01:04 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: !RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #6
 
   50 minutes in one of those narrow amphi seats left me in such discomfort I couldn't even do my ballet class properly the next day! They are appalling, especially considering we're having to pay a lot more for them.


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Stuart Sweeney

14-04-00, 01:12 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #4
 
   LAST EDITED ON 19-Apr-00 AT 08:28 AM (GMT)


I enjoyed 'The Crucible' and found that it held my attention. When I looked in the programme and saw that it was 51 minutes, I was surprised that it was as long as that. I have to confess that I like German Expressionism, thus Steadman's expressionistic and sometimes cartoon based sets and costumes were fine with me and overall the work reminded me of the style of 'The Green Table'. I loved the sheets of perspex with abstract designs that drifted skywards at the end of the piece. Charles Ives is a fascinating composer for me and i thought that Tuckett used the music well in creating the dark atmosphere of obsession and intolerance.


The Thursday cast with Yanowsky standing in for McDermott was very strong with Cope playing the bewildered central male figure in a naturalistic fashion and Kobborg and Sasaki getting some fast and furious steps to perform with aplomb. Yanowsky and Tapper as the wife and the maid also danced very well.

The opening 2 minutes or so, performed behind the screen were a mistake in my view, as it was almost impossible to see what was happening. In general, a read of the story outline beforehand was essential to understand the plot . Some would say that the story should be clear from what happens on stage. But is a first time viewing of 'The Nutcracker' clear if you haven't read about the story beforehand?

'The Crucible' is a bold and risky enterprise that delivers a powerful message with interesting dance, but could do with a bit of tightening in the final section, as well getting that screen up sooner at the start. It received warmer applause than for 'Serenade' (mind you the Thursday ROH crowd were even more passive then usual, throughout the evening). I look forward to seeing it again. My 82 year old Mum also enjoyed it. But I can see that we are going to be in a minority on this one, both on ballet.co and in the Press.

Julia - William Tuckett, like Robbins, works in a variety of styles and his 'Puirt-a-beul' is a delightful light piece inspired by folk music and dance, while his 'When Angels Fly' for Mukhamedev and Asylmuratova is a dreamy, romantic piece. Similarly, Robbins' 'The Cage' is as dark and sinister a piece as you could see.

I agree with Eugene's comment on 'Serenade' that Yanovsky was by far the most successful of the three leads. However I thought that the corps did very well.

'The Concert' was jolly good fun and, intriguingly, was often more slapstick than the Trocks. Luke Heydon was great as the man with the cigar - he should be a Principal Character Artist soon, surely? And it was good to see Sylvie enjoying herself so much.


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Michael Llewellyn

19-04-00, 01:52 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00"
In response to message #7
 
   Serpreenade ran beautifully tonight, with the corps well attuned thanks to Karin von Aroldingen. Zenaida Yanowsky was in commanding form, dancing touched with grandeur yet full of subtle detail and so much improved from two seasons ago. She was well partnered by Inaki Urlezaga, who lifted with confidence and style and was as ever most attentive. However the star for me was the wonderful Jaime Tapper substituting for Tranah who wa supposed to replace McDermott. Here was dancing of exquisite poise and radiance.

I felt the Crucible was completely ruined by the designs; inside there was a ballet which could well be very moving if the cast had been dressed in period clothes, restoring the dignity of the play. I wish Irek and the cast had spent the 50 minutes doing Winter Dreams instead- I managed to cast it completely from the various lost souls in hideous outfits - the worst being those for Conley and Drew. That would have made a much more attractive programme and doubtless sold more seats.

The Concert was pure joy, with an excellent cast led by Guillem, Heydon and Valtat matching the well-remembered 1975 trio of Coleman, Seymour and Derman


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Ann Williams

19-04-00, 09:00 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00"
In response to message #9
 
  
Michael

I completely agree with your comments about last night's performance of both Serenade and 'Crucible'. I am always moved by 'Serenade' - for me it goes beyond classicism and becomes something else (I hesitate to say 'religious experience', but that's nearly it)and last night it was pretty heavenly. As you say, Jamie Tapper was exquisite and I'm excited about her future with the RB. One thing, though - surely the skirts were even longer than usual? They were almost floor-length when I thought they are usully mid-calf length.

The great shame about 'Crucible' was that there was actually some lovely choeorgraphy in it, Tuckett's best for a long time. But those costumes were ludicrous. The friend I was with argued that they were necessary to recreate the atmosphere of inflamed hysteria surrounding the famed Salem incidents, but surely that could have been done more subtly.

I have to confess I was disappointed with 'The concert', possibly because it had been over-hyped as a 'comedy'. I thought the joke was too thin and stretched and the choreography wasted the talents of everybody, particularly Sylvie G. (though she seemed to be enjoying herself hugely).

But it was a wonderful evening and I'm not grumbling (particularly since we paid only 8 for standing tickets and then got two superb seats in the front row of the stalls circle!).


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jhanner

19-04-00, 01:46 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 18/4/00"
In response to message #11
 
   I quite enjoyed parts of the Crucible but the costumes were so hideous that it was a triumph of will to see what was going on. I am glad that I am not the only one reminded of Blackadder by those ridiculous hats.....

I honestly think that if the designs had been less "in your face" (and I understand a point was being made about the hysteria of the time), a lot more people might have enjoyed it. There were some good pieces of choreography and it is a shame that the design detracted from the dancers. Wildor in particular gave a v.good performance as the highly sexed and manipulative Abigail.

However, the choice of Arthur Miller's play which has a reasonably detailed story (before you even get into all the underlying themes) was always going to make for confusing watching. And even know I am familiar with the play, I did find it v.confusing.

Enjoyed the rest of hte night - Serenade was good and showed Bussell off well. Concert was fun as have never seen it before and it was a nice finish after the Crucible


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Karen

19-04-00, 07:01 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #0
 
   "The Crucible" is a play by Arthur Miller about the Salem witchcraft trials in 17th century Massachusetts. It was made into a movie a couple of years ago, and one of the young girls was played by Lian Holmes, daughter of Anna-Marie and David Holmes. (You HAD to know there was a ballet connection somewhere, didn't you?) The "incidents" were started by a bunch of hysterical teenage girls, who accused several people of practicing "witchcraft". A number of people were hung, burned or pressed (rather gruesome - they were put into a pit, and rocks were piled on top of them until they died. The whole episode only lasted a couple of months, but has become legendary in American History. If you ever go to Boston you can go to Salem (it's a nice, old town) and see the sites for yourself. I could see Martha Graham doing something along this line - or maybe Anthony Tudor, since he did so many "psychological" ballets. It sounds like it was overwhelmed by the decor.



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Stephanie Wragg

19-04-00, 09:28 AM (GMT)
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12. "Holmes connection?"
In response to message #10
 
   Sorry, must be dense this morning, but what is the Holmes connection with ballet?

Also, I read a few comments about the amphitheatre seats. I didn't realize they were so uncomfortable since I watched Manon from center row B and was quite well afterwards. After the cramped conditions of the balconies at the Coliseum and the Oxford Apollo, it was truly bliss.

How was the choice of music for the The Crucible?


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Bruce Madmin

19-04-00, 10:41 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Holmes connection?"
In response to message #12
 
  
>How was the choice of music for
>the The Crucible?

I think the Ives choice is very good - atmospheric and full of foreboding. How Ives managed to do this and sing such popular stuff as well (like the Ugly Bug Ball for example) I just don't know - what a span!!!

I got more from the Crucible at a second and closer viewing. There s lots of interesting stuff in there - if only it was not so vexing to folks at a first viewing.



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Francis Timlin

19-04-00, 08:26 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Holmes connection?"
In response to message #12
 
   Anna-Marie Holmes is the Artistic Director of Boston Ballet.


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alison

20-04-00, 01:00 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Holmes connection?"
In response to message #15
 
   ... or is that was? Or hasn't she quite retired yet?


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Francis Timlin

20-04-00, 05:20 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Holmes connection?"
In response to message #16
 
   She is AD in Boston through June 2001. No replacement has yet been named.


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Dame Blandine

20-04-00, 03:00 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Review: RB New World bill. 12/4/00"
In response to message #10
 
   The "incidents"
>were started by a bunch of
>hysterical teenage girls, who accused several
>people of practicing "witchcraft". A
>number of people were hung, burned
>or pressed (rather gruesome - they
>were put into a pit, and
>rocks were piled on top of
>them until they died. The
>whole episode only lasted a couple
>of months, but has become legendary
>in American History

A very similar thing happened in Ekaterina Eleftherou's school in Bexhill when the ISTD syllabus was first introduced in 1906. Only one girl survived to tell the tale, by eating her own tap shoes. I know, for I was that little girl.


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