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 Post subject: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 10:25 am 
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Location: London
Press Release

ROYAL BALLET OF FLANDERS presents
Romeo and Juliet (6, 7, 9 May at 7.30pm & 10 May at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)
& Not Strictly Rubens (8 May at 7.30pm)
Sadler's Wells
Tickets £10 - £40. Ticket Office 020 7863 8000

Sadler's Wells presents the London première of Belgium's flagship classical dance company the Royal Ballet of Flanders from 6 - 10 May. The Company performs André Prokovsky's classic version of Romeo and Juliet set to Prokofiev's exquisite score, performed live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Sadler's Wells also hosts a special, one-off performance on 8 May of Not Strictly Rubens, a double bill focusing on the connections between painting and dance.

The Royal Ballet of Flanders combines the impressive talent of fifty dancers with a repertoire spanning grand traditional ballets and sharp, experimental choreography. Established in 1969 the company has been led since 1987 by Artistic Director Robert Denvers. Denvers has recently announced he is to retire in 2005.

André Prokovsky's version of Romeo and Juliet (premièred 1997) is a fast-moving, traditional interpretation of Shakespeare's classic story of star-crossed lovers. The original ballet has been reduced to two acts, concentrating on Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio and Tybalt. Robin Don's abstract set designs form the perfect backdrop to Alexandre Vassilev Renaissance-inspired costumes.

Not Strictly Rubens is a programme of two works: Symposium by the American choreographer Christopher d'Amboise and Not Strictly Rubens created by Flemish choreographer Marc Bogaerts.

Symposium was created for the Royal Ballet of Flanders in 1996. It is based on the work of artist Piet Mondrian and set to music by Leonard Bernstein. Mondrian said, "There is nothing more beautiful than a straight line and nothing more volatile than a shape placed next to it". D'Amboise has choreographed a world of abstract beauty in which a pas de deux is a crossing of lines, a pas de trois becomes a turning mobile of geometry, and visible space between dancers becomes as powerful as the dance itself.

In Not Strictly Rubens Marc Bogaerts has taken Rubens as a metaphor for creative man and the act of creation. He has worked with an artistic team from a wide variety of backgrounds, including Belgium's unorthodox fashion king Walter Van Beirendonck who has designed the spectacular costumes, and dance music phenomenon Praga Khan who has written an original score for the ballet. Not Strictly Rubens had its world première in Antwerp on 20 February 2003.

<small>[ 20 January 2004, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2003 1:49 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The FT.

Quote:
What do you get if you mix Antwerp's most famous historical export, 17thcentury painter Peter Paul Rubens, with the city's current star, the larger-than-life fashion designer Walter von Beirendonck? The answer is a set of voluminous costumes for a new ballet, Not Strictly Rubens (choreographed by Marc Bogaerts and scored by Praga Khan) that manage to recreate the voluptuousness of Rubens' models on whip-thin dancers from the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 2:03 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The FT.

Quote:
For its first London appearance, at Sadler's Wells this week, the Royal Ballet of Flanders has brought what I suppose to be the fastest Romeo and Juliet on record. In two acts, coming in at exactly two hours, it is tempting to call it Alfa Romeo and Juliet.


Yet for all its speed - and I welcome the cutting of some of Prokofiev's more doom-laden, boom-laden moments - this staging by André Prokovsky fulfils its dramatic/ emotional duties well. It is very good to look at: Robin Don has provided a grand marble setting that can swiftly become palazzo or town square or bedroom. Costuming by Alexandre Vassiliev is equally good at evoking period, with bold colours flaring against Don's decor. Visually, then, it is a stylish success, and dramatically no less so.

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And from The Telegraph.

Quote:
The company's Romeo and Juliet was choreographed by Andre Prokovsky in 1997. The three-act ballet has traditionally been the province of the larger national companies, but for the RBoF Prokovsky has choreographed an attractive and engaging two-act chamber version.

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And The Times.

Quote:
IF YOU are going to stage yet another version of Romeo and Juliet, one of the most choreographed ballets in history, you should have something to say for yourself. Yet it’s hard to see what André Prokovsky is saying with his 1997 production of Prokofiev’s ballet, brought to London by the Royal Ballet of Flanders for a week-long season at Sadler’s Wells.
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And finally The Guardian.

Quote:
Andre Prokovsky has made a living out of abridging classic stories for ballet, and with at least some of his sources - The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina and The Three Musketeers - he has travelled an enterprising distance from the familiar canon. With his 1997 Romeo and Juliet, however, he revisits one of the most choreographed plots in history.
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<small>[ 08 May 2003, 04:14 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 6:19 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Romeo and Juliet in miniature
The Royal Ballet of Flanders shows that short isn’t consistently sweet, says David Dougill for the Sunday Times


When the Royal Ballet of Flanders appeared at the Edinburgh Festival last year, they brought us a revisionist production of Swan Lake that was not only astonishingly barmy, but also downright irritating. However, for last week’s visit to Sadler’s Wells, the Flemish dancers offered ano- ther mainstream work, Romeo and Juliet, in a form that did allow us to appreciate their credentials as a well-schooled classical troupe.

Now, Romeo and Juliet can often feel like a very long ballet, especially when one has seen it many times. Perhaps Antwerp’s audiences prefer shorter evenings. Certainly, André Prokovsky’s two-hour version fits that bill. It makes big cuts in Prokofiev’s music, edits the action and whips through it at a hectic pace. The dancers coped well with this, but I came out feeling exhausted.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 11:13 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Independent.

Quote:
The best new ballet so far this year has arrived courtesy of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Belgium's only classical company, founded in 1969. Christopher d'Amboise's name is more French than Flemish, but in fact he's American, the son of a famous New York City Ballet dancer (Jacques d'Amboise). We've seen his impressive work before in the UK, and here he surpasses himself with Symposium/ Mondrian, one of several pieces he's made for the Flanders company.

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And another brief review in The Independent is here.

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<small>[ 13 May 2003, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2003 5:08 am 
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Royal Ballet of Flanders
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
6.5.- 10.5.2003
Romeo & Juliet
Not Strictly Rubens

This week sees the first visit of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Belgium’s only classical ballet company to London. The 50 dancer strong ensemble present Andre Prokovsky’s
‘Romeo & Juliet’ and a Mixed Bill titled ‘Not Strictly Rubens’ during their weeklong
residency at Sadler’s Wells.

With a total running time of just 2 hours Prokovsky’s version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ manages to speed through the story without ever appearing to rush. Cutting out the
overture we are taken straight into the lively market place and the narrative begins to unfold. Prokovsky seems to have taken some inspiration from movie story telling. His version jumps straight into the action, on occasion zooms in onto happenings in the bigger picture, for example Romeo and Juliet’s encounter in the ballroom, without ever suggesting to empty the stage to give the protagonists space to dance. He also has created
Mercutio’s death by Tybalt’s sword and Romeo’s reaction to it played out in slow motion
to spine chilling effect. Overall the choreography flows very naturally, giving ample expression to the story told by Prokofiev’s powerful score.

The sets, costumes and lightning design all compliment Prokovsky’s no nonsense approach. Robin Don’s basic set of simple grey marble walls allows for easy and convincing transformation from market place to ball room to bed chamber with just a few
added accessories like a well, or wall tapestries. Alexander Vassiliev’s costume colour coding, red for the Capulets, green for the Montagues, black and white for Tybalt serves
as an unintrusive guide to the story. I have been especially impressed by the simple elegance of the long flowing dresses in the ballroom scene.

Tuesday night saw Aysem Sunal and Joroen Hofmans as the doomed couple. Sunal was
a very believable Juliet, conveying the transformation from innocent young girl to woman in love driven to desperate measures by the circumstances with every expressive
movement. Her performance was matched by Hofman’s portrayal of Romeo.
Alain Honorez as the energetic and mischievous Mercutio and Guiseppe Nocera as the easily provoked Tybalt especially stood out among the all around fine and convincing performances. The entire company are accomplished dancers as well as actors which
is essential for Prokovsky’s compressed and stripped down to essence version to work.

There is only one detail in this highly enjoyable production that I disagree with. Juliet
wakes before Romeo dies of the poison he has taken and the couple embark on a passionate Pas de Deux. Although I understand the difficulty of creating choreography
for Romeo to dance with what he believes to be Juliet’s dead body, to have him joyfully
dance with her and only giving a brief indication of tummy ache twice before he dies simply does not work in my opinion. That said this small flaw would certainly not keep
me from seeing this version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ again.

The Royal Ballet of Flanders’s mixed programme, although titled ‘Not Strictly Rubens’,started with Christopher D’Amboise’s ‘Symposium/Mondrian’ set to music by Leonard Bernstein. According to the painter Piet Mondrian “ There is nothing more beautiful than a straight line and nothing more volatile than a shape placed next to it.”
Inspired by this quote the choreography plays with strict geometric patterns for the
black clad corps de ballet intersected by playful duos and trios that literally introduce
colour in the form of yellow, red and blue leotards. The piece appeared modern, fresh
and clear cut with a jazzy quality, enjoyable all around.

Unfortunately the evening’s main work Mark Bogaerts’s ‘Not Strictly Rubens’ worked
less well for me. Set to an original score by pop and dance phenomenon Praga Khan,
the piece takes us through the 4 stages of Rubens’s creative vision, in 4 colour coded
acts: white, blue, gold and red. The work makes clever use of the only prop on stage,
a large frame covered with a beige elastic material, symbolising a giant canvas.
Lit from behind it allows the dancers to loom behind, moulding it before literally bursting
into the picture. Although there were some interesting ideas in the choreography I found
myself increasingly distracted by the much hyped costumes designed by Walter Van Beirendonck. His fluffy, feathery and bulky creations, which at one point include full
face masks, bare breasts and slips with huge artificially #### for the girls, looked more
and more ugly and irritating to me. By the end of the 80 minutes I was just relieved it was
over. According to the programme notes “ Rubens’ baroque ideals of beauty and humanity are transposed to our own time and expressed by means of modern-day lightning colour and dance.” I am sorry to say that what I saw simply did not live up to
this description. Hopefully the Royal Ballet of Flanders will consider to bring different
works from their repertory for their next visit. I most certainly would like to see this
company again.


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet of Flanders in London
PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2003 5:54 am 
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Posts: 2172
Location: London
thanks Odile - you seemed to have suffered from the costumes, or lack of..


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