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 Post subject: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2003 2:49 am 
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Interview from The Guardian with Sylvie Guillem on her relationship with Nureyev.

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After Rudolf Nureyev escaped from the Kirov in 1961, his mission was to dance everything and taste everything that the world had to offer. Yet during the first years of his globetrotting career, he came to look on the Royal Ballet as a second home. It was here, as a regular guest, that he forged his partnership with Margot Fonteyn. And it was here that his glamour and Russian schooling left their deepest mark.
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<small>[ 10 April 2003, 04:08 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2003 3:33 am 
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Review from The Guardian

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Memorial performances are always skewed, risky events. The person being honoured is too old or too dead to appear on stage; the live performers are competing, haplessly, with a legend; and the audience is viewing everything through the distorting lens of nostalgia. All the above and more apply to the Royal Ballet's current tribute to Rudolf Nureyev.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 3:04 am 
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Review from The FT

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The Royal Ballet's tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, marking the 10th anniversary of his death, is very curious. With the best of intentions - but we know where those lead - the company has contrived to put every foot wrong, including the one in which, during the course of Saturday evening, it repeatedly shot itself.


Nureyev made an unforgettable and beneficial impact upon the Royal Ballet, as dancer, as producer, and supremely as star. And, star-like, he commanded vast admiration. He warmed the s tage, the audience, his fellow dancers, the art of ballet itself, and this was his genius. Having, mercifully, spared us an evening of choreography by Angelin Preljocaj, Monica Mason won our hearts still further with the id ea of a Nureyev tribute as replacement - and this within a few days of her appointment as director of the Royal Ballet.

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And from The Telegraph.

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The Royal Ballet was for many years Rudolf Nureyev's artistic home. It was the company with which he enjoyed his greatest triumphs and with whose prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, he established a legendary partnership. So it is fitting that, on the 10th anniversary of his death, the company should celebrate his career.

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And The Times.

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NOW here’s a curious evening. The Royal Ballet’s tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, on the tenth anniversary of his death, is supposed to remind us of what an extraordinary, dangerous and charismatic performer he was. But what we get is an art-house film and an evening of ballets associated with Nureyev that don’t quite add up to a happy celebration of a great artist.
Still, you can’t argue with the revival of Apollo — any excuse to see that again — or with the roster of exciting men the Royal fielded on opening night (most of them, alas, guest artists). Irek Mukhamedov, Carlos Acosta, Laurent Hilaire, Tetsuya Kumakawa and Johan Kobborg: proof that the art of male dancing, so enriched by Nureyev’s blazing presence, is alive and well.

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<small>[ 08 April 2003, 05:16 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2003 11:57 pm 
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In the shadow of the master
By Debra Craine for The Times


NOW here’s a curious evening. The Royal Ballet’s tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, on the tenth anniversary of his death, is supposed to remind us of what an extraordinary, dangerous and charismatic performer he was. But what we get is an art-house film and an evening of ballets associated with Nureyev that don’t quite add up to a happy celebration of a great artist.
Still, you can’t argue with the revival of Apollo — any excuse to see that again — or with the roster of exciting men the Royal fielded on opening night (most of them, alas, guest artists). Irek Mukhamedov, Carlos Acosta, Laurent Hilaire, Tetsuya Kumakawa and Johan Kobborg: proof that the art of male dancing, so enriched by Nureyev’s blazing presence, is alive and well.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2003 3:02 am 
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A flawed tribute to greatness
By Nadine Meisner for The Independent

The Royal Ballet's tribute to Rudolf Nureyev begins wonderfully and ends very nicely, but in the middle it falls prey to one of the most massive miscalculations ever committed in dance history. Too many hands seem to have been determined to be involved; too many memories intent on asserting their angle on the Nureyev phenomenon.

Inevitably, Nureyev represented different things to different people. Some of these things may be wide of the mark, but Irek Mukhamedov's contribution is an apt prologue.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2003 3:03 am 
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A fascinating piece by John Percival about Nureyev:

What Britain lost
Rudolf Nureyev revitalised French ballet. John Percival for The Independent reveals that he might have done the same in Britain.

The Royal Ballet's special programmes this month, honouring Rudolf Nureyev 10 years on from his death, would have been very different if there had been a successful outcome to talks he had with their management a quarter of a century ago. That was when, unknown to most, the Royal Opera House suggested he might become director of the Royal Ballet. Even his protégée Sylvie Guillem seems unaware of this. In an interview in The Guardian last week she said "he was really sad that they never asked him to be their director".

He was indeed sad, and said so forcefully and often, not just about times when the company ignored him as a dancer after years of eager service. I believe from remarks he made to me on various occasions that not landing the directorship disappointed him. Sir John Tooley, then general director of the ROH, last week confirmed the existence of these negotiations.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 3:08 am 
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Nureyev tribute
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


The aim of this Nureyev programme is not just to remember a legend but to showcase the men dancing his inheritance. This is a tough call for a company that freely admits it is short on male talent.
With Jonathan Cope nearing the end of his career, and a succession of injuries and past defections depleting the ranks of junior principals, the Royal Ballet is pressed to give a dazzling argument for the current state of male dancing.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 1:36 am 
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Rudolf remembered
... but Nureyev wouldn't have thanked them for this lacklustre homage. By Jann Parry for The Observer.

Ten years after Nureyev's death, the Royal Ballet has tried to evoke his spirit in a quirky selection of items and artists to honour him in a mixed bill (until 26 April) rather than a grandiose gala.

The company was Nureyev's first real artistic home after he defected to the West in 1961. It framed his partnership with Fonteyn and enabled him to dance modern choreography as well as bring a new approach to the classics. Although he longed to stage the old Russian ballets he knew so well, the Royal Ballet confined him to edited versions, such as the one-act Raymonda that ends the tribute programme.

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A dance to the music of sycophancy
By Jenny Gilbert for The Independent on Sunday

When Monica Mason announced, only days into her directorship of the Royal Ballet, her plan to replace one of her predecessor's dodgier projects with a tribute to Rudolf Nureyev, the hum of approval was deafening. In the 1970s and 1980s Nureyev had a major impact on the company as dance partner, producer, and, crucially, as its most inspirational star, and on the 10th anniversary of his death it was time to honour that blazing talent.

A doddle, you might think, given the number of roles Nureyev personally illuminated and the fine productions he devised or inspired.

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<small>[ 15 April 2003, 03:40 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet's Nureyev Tribute 2003
PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:46 am 
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I finally managed to catch up with the Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev programme on Saturday night and have to say I consider it a highly noble gesture of Monica Mason’s to pay homage to her former partner. A timely reminder of the greatness of an artist often cruelly disregarded by the House that owed him so much.

The evening started with the one weak link in the programme, a solo danced and choreographed by Irek Mukhamedov to a Scriabin piece that was used by Ashton for Nureyev’s London debut. Frankly this was an embarrassment, poorly arranged and poorly executed.

Those of us that saw Nureyev as Apollo remember that although he wasn’t ideal in the role he was still utterly compelling. Dionysus rather than Apollo as he was aptly described at the time. Carlos Acosta, with his Apollonian physique, is close to perfection in the role and paired with Darcey Bussell who for me is every inch Terpsichore from her beautiful feet to her neo classical fingertips, we get to see one of those rare performances that bathe one in a glow of contentment, knowing that this is as good as it gets. And if Monica Mason could have been coaxed out of retirement to dance Polyhymnia, we would have been watching the definitive performance.

The Divertissements section of the programme using stills and film of Nureyev’s career simultaneously with the dancers has provoked a great deal of controversy and outraged splutterings from the critics. Why? Surely this is a device they experience on an almost weekly basis as more and more contemporary companies experiment with film and video images. So I ask again, why is this technique considered unacceptable when accompanying classical ballet? Personally I thought this was an inspired idea – for Nureyev to dominate the stage in film in the way he dominated the stage in life. Believe me, if Rudolf was dancing, you never noticed anyone else: only Fonteyn held her own against his magnetism.

This section kicked off with the frankly tiresome In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, included because it was commissioned by Nureyev. This is where the film came in very handy, if you didn’t like what you were seeing on stage you could watch the film instead and for this piece that’s just what I did.
The second item was truly inspired: the fascinating “Two loves” pas de trois from MacMillan’s criminally neglected Images of Love. Edward Watson, Ivan Putrov and Tamara Rojo gave remarkable performances of roles they can never have seen. This tortured portrayal of Shakespeare’s longing for the “fair youth” and disgust for the “dark lady” of the sonnets came across with power and conviction, though I’m sorry that the sonnet could not have been read aloud as it was when first seen (by the late Derek Godfrey if I remember rightly). By the way, in the overpriced ROH programme it erroneously states that Images of love was the only role MacMillan ever created for Nureyev. In fact MacMillan choreographed at least FOUR roles for him. Who writes this stuff? A mistake of that magnitude is unforgivable.

Between these two items we were shown a slow motion extract of Nureyev dancing the solo from Le Corsaire taken from the film An Evening with the Royal Ballet made in the mid sixties. It was danced not to the familiar Pugni music but to Les Fetes d’Hebe by Rameau and surprisingly it fitted extraordinarily well. This was an opportunity to luxuriate in the “Nureyev Experience”, remembering once more that unique brand of excitement and exotic romanticism he used to bring to his performances. It was wise to leave the live performance of this work until after Images of Love. When Carlos Acosta danced the same solo (to the familiar music this time), he was actually quite superb, a fact the audience responded to with a torrent of applause. But he couldn’t compete with Nureyev, no one could or ever will and that was the reason we were celebrating his memory.

Next was La Sylphide danced by Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg and what a pleasure it was to watch this couple. Cojocaru dances like thistledown, she was born to dance this role and what a great shame it is that this famous work has never made it into the RB repertoire. Kobborg’s James is a joy to watch, a Dane dancing Bournonville with true Copenhagen flair. For the record, his ronde de jambes en l’air are even better than I remember Nureyev’s as being.

The final work in this Divertissement section doesn’t seem to have pleased the critics at all. Surge by Pierre Darde is a modern piece danced by the Paris Opera Ballet’s Laurent Hilaire. While I agree that having a dazzling classicist like Hilaire in the programme and not seeing him dance a virtuoso classical piece could be described as a tad disappointing, nevertheless his performance in Surge was outstanding as it is a well-crafted piece based on the life of Nijinsky with recognizable quotes from many of Nijinsky’s roles. Hilaire gave a moving account of the celebrated dancer in a solo that needed a blend of manic intensity and compassion for it to work and he succeeded wonderfully against a background of Rudolf Nureyev dancing Nijinsky’s most celebrated work, L'après-midi d'un faune.

The evening ended with Nureyev’s production of the third act of Raymonda. Every time the curtain rises on this ballet a spontaneous burst of applause greets the beautiful glowing set by the late Barry Kay and after thirty-seven years the impact of Kay’s work hasn’t diminished. Sadly on this occasion the beauty of the dancing failed to match the beauty of the settings and although the entire cast exuded enthusiasm, the performance as a whole never rose above the second rate. Raymonda needs a certain style and flair to succeed, all those Slav touches and eastern European nuances which the Russians excel in and the Brits sadly can’t begin to comprehend. Of course they could do it once and that was when Nureyev was there to show them how but now this ballet, for me at least, just doesn’t seem to work. But there was one surprise in store – the male pas de quatre. This short piece has defeated generations of RB male dancers in the past and this time it was actually danced rather well, in fact it wasn’t bad at all so well done chaps! I have to add that the audience didn’t seem to share my reservations and applauded heartily at the end.

I went home thinking of Nureyev, how much he had given us all and how empty the ballet scene seems without him. Very rarely the dance world throws up a colossus capable of energizing not just the art of dance but able to reach out to an audience beyond us enthusiasts. Most would agree that Pavlova was the first and Nureyev the second. Lets hope we don’t have to wait too long for the third.


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