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Subject: "Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review" Archived thread - Read only
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Lynette H

21-07-00, 10:58 AM (GMT)
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"Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review"
   Itís good to see the Royal Ballet School back for an annual performance at Covent Garden after a gap of several years. In the period of the rebuilding, the students were rather hard done by in terms of their annual performance, with few chances to shine. Itís obviously an important rite of passage in dancerís careers: so many of the programme biographies of Royal Ballet dancers begin with the role they danced at the RBS performance.

The programme opened with a defile of all the students, wave after wave, and was followed by some of the youngest dancers in national dances - the hornpipe, Irish and Scottish dances. This could have been horribly twee and cute but it isnít at all: the coolness, self possession and poise of the children is quite remarkable. Iím pleased to see all the age groups taking part in the performance: it made me feel cheerful about the future, and itís fascinating to see the differences between the different years.

Year 11 students from White Lodge appeared in Petipaís pas de dix. This still had a fairly unpolished air, with some wayward legs and difficulties for the couples in keeping time and spacing correct. The girls seem rather ahead of the boys at this age - rather more poised. They got a further chance to demonstrate this in the extract from Don Quixote - an all-female white vision scene. Leading roles were taken here by Lauren Cuthberson (Dulcinea), Leanne Cope (Amour), and Grace Poole (Queen of the Dryads). Both Leanne Cope and Grace Poole looked much more confident and relaxed dancing alone in this than when they were partnered in the Pas de dix, and all three leads looked commendably in control.

A year or two seems to make much more of a difference for the males. The upper school appeared in a number of items: the first of these, a pas de deux ĎWe are Hereí by Stephen Greenson, was a moody piece with a contemporary flavour. It featured a series of complicated lifts and balances. Ernst Meisner piloted the flexible Jenny Murray quite selflessly through these with little apparent effort and presented his partner with care. It was a very popular item.

Choosing the right works for the performance must be quite an art, finding the right ensemble pieces to showcase all the dances. Often itís been a rare chance to see something thatís not in the current repertoire. The choices of Gailene Stock, who took over as head of the school a year ago, were interesting - Ashtonís La Valse, and a work by an Australian choreographer, Stanton Welsh. With Ross Strettonís appointment as Artistic Director, thereís speculation if we may see work by Australians in future. A Time to Dance was made for the junior company of the Australian Ballet; itís set to Dvorak, and features fourteen dancers in a series of different groupings.

The group dances looked a little like a much younger cousin of some of the Hungarian dances in Raymonda act 3: plenty of stomping, swirling and clapping, performed with great zest. The sections for duos or trois had different flavours, some more purely classical, some more contemporary in feel. The cast looked as if they were having a great time, and the standard was high. Kosuke Yamamoto was something of an audience favourite in the pas de trois not just for his jumps and turns but also for a rather cheeky personality. Satsuki Sejima looked technically very strong in her solo.

Ashtonís La Valse was the final item. I love the opening to this ballet unreservedly - the vast ballroom and the ranks of couples viewed through the film of black gauze, the sense of mystery. The students did a very fine and spirited job, though it was perceptible that Ashton is a little more difficult in the details than some of them imagined. The music (played by the BRBís orchestra) moves towards a hectic and doom laden finale: I didnít think that the sense of increasing oppressiveness came through in the dancing as much as it should have, but it was a pleasing performance nonetheless. At least the students are still being taught Ashton works.

Next yearís scheduled performances run through to June 30th, so it looks as if again next year, the school performance may form part of a season presented by the Hochausers. Letís hope they were persuaded by the warm reception and excellence of the performances to continue presenting this in future.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review alison 21-07-00 1
  RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review Terry Amos 21-07-00 2
     RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review Helen 22-07-00 3
         RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review Lynette H 24-07-00 4

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21-07-00, 12:58 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review"
In response to message #0
   >Next yearís scheduled performances run through
>to June 30th, so it
>looks as if again next
>year, the school performance may
>form part of a season
>presented by the Hochausers. Letís
>hope they were persuaded by
>the warm reception and excellence
>of the performances to continue
>presenting this in future.

Yes, and next year at a more audience-friendly time of day, I hope. A midweek matinee starting at one o'clock means that anybody in work is probably going to have to take a whole day off to go.

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Terry Amos

21-07-00, 09:22 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review"
In response to message #0
   RBS at the Opera House.

I pretty well agree with what Lynette said in her review but, having written it, I decided to post mine as well.

This year the Royal Ballet School were able to revert to what used to be normal practise and ended their year with a week of performances at Holland Park and a matinee at the Opera House. Because 20 of the Upper School students (including, I guess, most of the graduate class) were performing in Japan during the time of the Holland Park season, the dancing at Holland Park was dominated by the Lower School students plus four young professionals from the Royal Ballet. The Japan jaunt was over in time for the Opera House performance on Wednesday afternoon and, in what was mostly a very different programme from Holland Park, the Upper School dominated.

Actually we did see something of the Lower School on Wednesday in some folk dancing and in the Grand Defile, for what looked like the whole school, which began the proceedings. I thought that was a delight and rather hope it is put on every year. It was a bit startling, though, to see that among the younger students, the girls seem far taller than the boys. It did look quite odd although in the older students from White Lodge the discrepancy was less and it seemed to have disappeared with the Upper School students. The top form from White Lodge, who had impressed me at Holland Park, disappointed me in the Pas De Dix (it was a Pas de Six two weeks ago).

The second half on Wednesday consisted of an excerpt from Don Quixote followed by the whole of La Valse. I suppose both were chosen to show how the senior students could cope with corps de ballet work. The front of the stalls is not, perhaps, the best place to judge this but it seemed to me to be excellent with none of the untidiness we saw at Holland Park.

I think it was a mistake to finish with La Valse, which I regard as a ballet to begin a triple bill. It would have been better at the end of part one. Then the whole performance could have ended on a definite high with what was for me the hit of the afternoon. It was ďA Time To DanceĒ, choreography by Stanton Welch to Dvorakís Slavonic Dances. Originally commissioned for the junior company of The Australian Ballet, it succeeds, to quote the programme, in portraying the energy and enthusiasms of youth. You can add that every one of itís dancers needs to have a secure technique, the ability to dance in both virtuoso and lyrical styles plus a strong stage presence, bags of personality and, at heart, an evident enjoyment and love for their art. I thought the RBS dancers were superb in displaying all of these qualities and it convinced me that the School is capable of producing the fine classical dancers our companies need.

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22-07-00, 11:36 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review"
In response to message #2
   I went to the RBS matinee this year for the first time - something I had always wanted to do, as I enjoy trying to spot the stars of the future. It was a very interesting afternoon, and I echo most of Lynette's comments.

I enjoyed the children's national dances - lots of style there. Of the older ones, I particularly enjoyed the dancing of Ernst Meisner, an elegant graduate student with a lot of ability as a partner. He steered the noticeable Jenny Murphy (not Murray, Lynette!) through some very tricky lifts.

In the Dryads scene from Don Quixote, Lauren Cuthbertson, Grace Poole and Leanne Cope all showed pure classical technique. (Grace Poole? Her parents have obviously never read Jane Eyre.)

But for me, the outstanding dancer was Bethany Keating, most visible in the Pas de Deux with Ernst Meisner in A Time to Dance. She is only 1st year Senior School, but she is a joy to watch and reminded me of Antoinette Sibley or Sarah Wildor. More than any of the others, she was *dancing*, beyond the steps. I'd be very surprised if we don't hear more of her.

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Lynette H

24-07-00, 09:05 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Royal Ballet School, 19/7/2000, Review"
In response to message #3
   OOps. Apologies to Ms Murphy. I enjoyed her performance.

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