Thanks to Alison, I got a ticket for yesterday's masterclass at the ROH's Linbury Studio and I wouldn't have missed it for worlds. Anthony Dowell was teaching a pdd from Tudor's 'Shadowplay' based on Rudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book' to two casts - i: Edward Watson & David Pickering, ii: Ivan Putrov & Nigel Burley. The event was being filmed for BBC TV for transmission on BBC2 in December (Nov?) at some ungodly hour like 11.20 p.m. There will be three other masterclasses shown in the same week, including another ballet one - the excellent Firebird event with Monica Mason, so - something to look forward to in the bleak mid-winter!.
The lead role in 'Shadowplay' - the Boy with the Matted Hair - had been created specially for Dowell in 1967, so his teaching was invaluable. He demonstrated a short sequence of steps which would perhaps take up no more than 30 seconds on the stage, making both pairs repeat each segment of the sequence several times over until they got it right. And my goodness, seeing the choreography broken up so minutely made you realise how extraordinarily complex and difficult Tudor's choreography is. One tricky handstand with the head resting on the floor, face towards the audience gave both Watson and Putrov real trouble but Dowell himself made it look easy; he is still amazingly supple. I felt myself warming to him for the first time because he seemed to be loving every minute of what he was doing, and was able to communicate his enjoyment to both audience and dancers.
Of the two leads, I think Watson is going to be a real star, but I preferred Putrov. Beneath that as yet rather unassuming stage presence there's a hint of a tiger snarling to be let out, and heaven knows they need a tiger or two in the RB's male ranks. But all four dancers did well, and it would have been intriguing to see what Pickering and Burley would have made in the lead role. Interestingly, as we were leaving Alison noticed that Acosta was down for the role on 28 October and we speculated as to who would be able to lift such a big lad (the aptly-named Burley, perhaps?).
These masterclasses are a privilege - get your name down as soon as the next one is advertised (if it hasn't alread been). I would even stick my neck out and say they are worth a trip to London for those who live outside the capital.