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Subject: "RB's New Works programme 30/6/00" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #790
Reading Topic #790
Ann Williams

01-07-00, 12:31 PM (GMT)
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"RB's New Works programme 30/6/00"
The second programme of the RB's 'New Works' at the Linbury last night I thought proved more rewarding than the first; it's five decent works threw up two exceptional ones - Poppy Ben David's 'Siren Song' and Christopher Wheeldon's 'There Where She Loves'.

I understand Poppy Ben David is still a student at the RB school, but her 'Siren Song' showed a very mature cofidence and talent. Set to a score by the unknown (to me) Benjamin Marquise Gilmore, four dancers - three women and one man - dance a teasing fantasy of control and submission. The man seems to control at first, but the women soon have him where they want him. Ben David uses a mostly classical vocabulary to illustrate her steps, but doesn't allow the strictures of classical dance to hinder the narrative flow, and she uses some wonderfully inventive movements to push it forward; there's a breathtaking movement where the three women lie across the man's back and raise and lower themselves in turn, so their beautifully arched backs form a sort of waving fan. Naomi Reynolds, Tomoko Furuya and Gemma Sykes were the women and Ivan Putrov was the man. With his big, easy leaps and neat turns, he's a star in the making.

Christopher Wheeldon's ' There Where she Loves' to Chopin music and additional sung score by Kurt Weill was beautiful, its seven movements making a satisfying whole. Wheeldon's own lovely designs added to the brilliance. The women were dressed in his beautiful flowing green-shading-to-lavender dresses, the ever-elegant Zenaida Yanowsky being flatterd the most.. Jamie Tapper, Bruce Sansome, Nigel Burley, David Pickering and the man with the most satisfyingly muscular thighs in the RB, Martin Harvey, danced the first movement with flowing precision and style. Sansome still looks about 21 ( you have to wonder what the picture in his attic looks like..) Outstanding dancers in the other movements of Wheeldon's quietly classical piece, with its flowing lifts and surprising drama, were Alina Cojocaru, Jane Burn, Sian Murphy, Naomi Reynolds and Leana Palmer. The final movement 'I'm a Stranger here Myself' to a Kurt Weill score sung excellently by the soprano Meryl Richardson and the mezzo Elizabeth Sikoras accompanied by Phillip Gammon on the piano, was danced with wit and style by Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope. Bussell was unexpectedly brilliant as a relucant lover, but this oddly bland dancer is capable of delivering surprises. I'm always touched by her strange mixture of boldness and vulnerability and, for me, she seems to have the grandeur and glamour that signals a real ballerina.

I chatted in the interval to two other fans, who both thought Tuckett's 3:4 the best piece on the programme. Hmm. I'm not so sure. I liked it, but it seemed to me to be the usual Tuckett schtick arranged differently. There was no apparent story this time, just a series of steps with some lovely lifts. Zenaida Yanowsky, who grows more authoratitive with every appearance, was superbly partnered by Carols Acosta and Jonathan Cope accompanied by a beautiful Schubert string quartet, so it all made for a very pleasant 14 minutes.

The longest piece on the programme at 29 minutes was Jacopo Godani's Aeon's Run to an electronic-sounding score by Diego Dall'Osto (who?). It used 8 dancers, four men and four women and was very, very Forsythian. Very. Sudden lighting changes, sudden silences, that sort of thing. Godani provides some very sinuous and athletic movements for the women in particular, but the piece just screamed 'In the Middle'. I do think, though, that despite its obvious references, it was a slick and entertaining piece and I'm sure we'll see some more original work from this promising choreographer.

The opening piece, Ad Infinitum by Vanessa Fenton, was the shortest at only 6 minutes. Set to a Rakhmaninov score, it showcased the promising young Romanian dancer Alina Cojocaru partnerd by Martin Harvey and Thomas Whitehead, who both show considerable promise themselves. But, as I'm writing this, I can recall very little of the piece, which may say all that is necessary about it. I can at least recall that I enjoyed it, and that I was very impressed with Cojocaru.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: RB's New Works programme 30/6/00 cra 01-07-00 1
  RE: RB's New Works programme 30/6/00 Jane S 01-07-00 2
  RB's New Works programme 29/6/00: Review Bruce Madmin 02-07-00 3
     RE: RB's New Works programme 29/6/00: Review Lynette H 03-07-00 4

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01-07-00, 05:10 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: RB's New Works programme 30/6/00"
In response to message #0
   Agree with most of the above. Benjamin Gilmore is indeed unknown to most of us, as he is a precociously talented 12 year old composer, at the Menuhin school. He appeared in a curtain call on Wednesday night with Poppy Ben David, and certainly gave the audience a surprise when we realised who he was!

For me, this second programme of New Works was far more interesting than the first - to see the fresh and developing talent of Fenton and Ben David against Tuckett in a mature and reflective mood, and the easy grace of the Wheeldon against the Godani's hyperactivity - was very stimulating. Similarly we saw a number of exciting younger members of the RB onstage with the established stars and it made for a much more vibrant mix than the week before.

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Jane S

01-07-00, 06:31 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: RB's New Works programme 30/6/00"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 01-07-00 AT 06:31 PM (GMT)

I saw the second cast in this programme this afternoon, and thought the undoubted star was Yanowsky, in Bussell's role in the Wheeldon - astonishingly powerful dramatically. I was also impressed by Naomi Reynolds in the role Jane Burn danced in the first cast (though I liked Burn as well). And by Cervera in Acosta's role in the Tuckett.

I'm surprised how kind people are being about the Godani, which I'm afraid I thought a sad waste of the dancers' hard work.

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Bruce Madmin

02-07-00, 10:48 AM (GMT)
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3. "RB's New Works programme 29/6/00: Review"
In response to message #0
   As ever I endeavour never to look at others thoughts ahead of putting down my own - so I have not a clue yet how this reletes to other comments in the thread. After I've had a read I'll perhaps square any circles I might need...

Company: Royal Ballet
What: New Works programme: Ad Infinitum, Siren Song, 3:4, Aeon's Run, There Where She Loves
Where: London, Linbury Studio Theatre (ROH)
When: 29/6/00

In short...
Great to see so many new works from RB and presented without fuss or worry about selling the house out. Christopher Wheeldon's 'There Where She Loves' is particularly strong and would do well on the main stage.

The New Works mini-season in the Linbury Studio Theatre at Covent Garden continues - and now with rather more new work then at the start of the run too. My only sadness in the run is that neither Christopher Hampson nor Cathy Marston (both RBS trained) was asked to contribute works.

Ad Infinitum by Vanessa Fenton and to Rakhmaninov. Fenton, a fine and tall dancer in her own right, only joined RB last year after stints with a goodly number of companies in the late 90's. I first noticed her on a Wayne Sleep tour a couple of years back and had heard she was also choreographer, though this was a first opportunity to see some of her work.

Siren Song by Poppy Ben David, inspired by part of Homer's Odyssey. David is at the Royal Ballet School.

3:4 by William Tuckett to some dark Schubert. For a girl and 2 boys there is a quirky story in here.

Aeon's Run by Jacopo Godani. His bio indicates a fair few works stretching back into the early 90's and lists a few collaborations with Forsythe - Godani being a dancer with Ballett Frankfurt.

There Where She Loves is by Christopher Wheeldon to Chopin and Kurt Weill songs. Wheeldon is currently a soloist with NYCB and has produced pieces for a number of American companies and for the RB Dance Bites tour. He has shown much promise as a choreographer though some of the more recent pieces seen in the UK were perhaps less enthralling.

Sets and Costumes
Sets don't really feature in the Linbury. The costumes all looked fine and dandy but nothing stood out particularly.

Choreography and Dancers
What it's its all about really...

The Fenton was very classical and had some tricksy lifts for the 2 boys and girl. At 6 minutes it was a fine length and flowed easily. The lovely Alina Cojocaru was somewhat manhandled by Martin Harvey and Thomas Whitehead - this was tough stuff and I suspect some of the moves will come off better as it is performed more. Want to see more Fenton.

Ben David's Siren Song was a delight that I wish had gone on long past its 8 minutes. Ivan Putrov danced with 3 girls in choreography that was inventive and stimulating. This was ballet-based but more open and with some great work on the floor. I loved the echoing patterns and all the dancers seemed to really be relaxed and enjoying it too. Want to see more Ben David.

The Tuckett featured his 'usual' confused and slightly deranged style. The arms always seem to have lives of their own in Tuckett!. It was less austere than some of his work and the dancers - Yanowsky, Acosta and Cope did him proud. Perhaps I'm becoming deranged too, because I'm starting to thaw...

Godani's Aeon's Run seemed muddy Forsythe and a complete waste of nearly 30 minutes. If you have seen the RB Forsythe pieces then you have seen much of this before, but rather better. I don't think I've ever seen somebody's style kidnapped so overtly - though alas like most copies, it was all more predictable than the originals. Even the music seemed to imitate Thom Willems. If you have never seen Forsythe's work then you might well enjoy this, but if you want a glimmer of originality from your choreographers then look elsewhere.

The Wheeldon was the talk of the evening - or the night I was there anyway. There are 8 songs and Wheeldon has drawn most heavily on the RB resources with a number of principals and soloists being pushed hard in each of them. This was classy musical dance with great sweeps of movement followed by more intimate moments all neatly boxed and none outstaying its welcome. Jamie Tapper impressed once again as did Alina Cojocaru. Bussell and Cope had a pdd of warmth and some athleticism: I'm still amazed and surprised how good choreographers find new movement. Was it ever different I suppose.

Does it work?
Yes, yes, yes - lovely to see RB dancers (particularly the younger ones) being tested in new ways and to see the new works themselves. And many people were on their second, third or forth visit to this little season. We need to see much more in the Linbury (and the Clore Studio also).

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Lynette H

03-07-00, 11:22 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: RB's New Works programme 29/6/00: Review"
In response to message #3
   Not a review, just a few thoughts on the pluses and minuses...

Definite pluses:

The younger dancers given a chance to shine. Alina Cojaru is someone I want to see again, cast in some meaty roles. Very promising and interesting to watch. Also some more from Fenton, please.

Putrov. A little more work on the partnering skills is required, but someone to watch. (He gets one performance in Shadowplay next season).

Seeing some of the more experienced dancers close up, Cope and Acosta particularly.

The Wheeldon. I didnít think the mixture of music would work, but it came off beautifully. A really well put together work, with elegant designs and a carefully chosen cast. Burley looked better in this than anything else Iíve seen him in, and there were lovely contributions from Sansom, partnering Cojaru. Bussell looked elegant, but a little detached. There was one nasty slip (you canít miss these things in a small theatre), but Cope kept her safe as usual. This could go on the main stage. Iíd love to see it again.

Definite Minuses:

Aeonís Run seemed to go on forever. The costumes looked like something out of Star Trek. The dancers worked furiously hard to no great purpose.

Shame there was nothing from Cathy Marston - her contributions to Dance Bites were interesting and memorable.

The season was barely publicised at all by the ROH - there were empty seats in a not particularly large theatre.

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