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 Post subject: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2002 11:47 am 
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I am a member of the Friends of CG and yesterday evening I found the next season brochure and the advance booking form for the 1st booking period in my mail box.<P>After reading it I realised that as I had suspected in the long run booking tickets for the casts you want is going to be a lot more inconvenient and things are just a bit odd.<P>The only ballets in the first booking period are the mixed bill kicking of the season (New Wheeldon, Mark Morris's Gong, Mats Ek's Carmen) and The Nutcracker (!). Not a hint about Mayerling and Swan Lake wich will be given before Nutcracker. They are both in booking period 2 which strikes me as a bit strange.<P>In the little leaflet that includes the actual booking form there is a special paragraph about 'Ballet Casting'. It basically says that the international renowned choreographers that had agreed to work with the RB in the upcoming season needed time to get to know the dancers before making casting decisions and that therefore no casting announcement could be made for booking period 1. The information would be send together with the booking period 2 information. Since no ballet was being cast soley on its own this might effect the timing of casting announcements generally.<P>Well this year choreographer preferences have not kept anyone from getting cast in practically everything without any regard for the fact that ocassionally dancers could use more than 10 seconds to catch their breath.<P>Of course the point about outside choreographers is perfectly reasonable and valid but let's look at the present situation a bit more closely:<P>The only completely new ballet before Le Parc which is due to be programmed in April 2003 is Mark Morris's Gong. The new Wheeldon is going to be premierd on 18/05/02 just 2 days after the Friends of CG advance booking deadline. Mayerling has not been performed for some time but Swan Lake is a regular.<BR>Stretton seemingly simply wants to keep his options open.<P>Considering this I think it does not show high regard for the general public and the Friends of CG in particular that this mailing was originally meant to go out without any casting info at all for end of October-beginning of November and late December. They have added a tiny piece of paper with at least some info. Of the 7 mixed bill performances Guillem will appear 5 times in Carmen and Bussell 5 times in the new Wheeldon ballet, strategically planned so each night does have either Bussell or Guillem or both. The rest of the Carmen casts are the same we have just seen recently. <P>Starting just before Christmas there will be 15 performances of The Nutcracker with Bussell/Cope, Cojocaru/Kobborg, Rojo/Urlezaga, Benjamin/Tewsley and Yoshida/Putrov having 3 each as Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince.<P>I strongly suspect that this little sheet was added late due to pressure from the commercial people. It can not have escaped them that the current season's mixed bills have sold badly without either Guillem's or Bussell's name attached.<P>Personally I am tempted not to bother with sending my booking form for booking period 1.<BR>The 'Friends' deadline is 16/05/02 and Public booking is opening by mid August.<BR>I want to see Gong but judging from experience it should not be too difficult to get a reasonable ticket for a mixed bill closer to season beginning.<BR>As for The Nutcracker I might pass it up altogether this year unless there is a Clara/Nutcracker cast I am desperate for.<P>What really worries me is the announcement about the general change in the timing for the ballet casting announcements. I suspect that Stretton would like to make them much later than in the past. Undoubtetly a case can be made for this but for ballet only fans among the Friends of CG it renders the advance booking privilege almost useless.<BR>If we go down that road and casting will be available after the booking deadline I might or might not book 1 performance blind for convenience sake and try my luck later when public booking opens. Over the past year I usually booked for several casts in the ballet well in advance, sometimes adding even more tickets later.<P>One way or another the ROH commercial people should be prepared to get in either less money for ballet or much later than they seem to prefer. I had assumed they learned that from the Onegin experience last year.<BR>By the time public booking opened the only dates that had sold reasonably were Saturdays which people clearly booked blind for convenience sake.<P>I guess I am just a bit envious of the opera crowd spoiled with all the info about the star singers they will be able to hear.<BR>Hopefully we will at least be rewarded with some interesting debuts in Mayerling and Swan Lake and throughout the season. If it turns out again that there are only a handful of chosen ones in everything while other talented dancers are being ignored the ROH might as well tell us now.<P><p>[This message has been edited by OdileGB (edited May 12, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2002 1:59 am 
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OdileGB, I haven't even yet received my Friends booklet and form - and the deadline is in less than a week?! They've left very little time for me and the friends I know who received their booking forms only last week. <P>I agree, the excuse about outside choreographers doesn't hold much water, but I'm actually not surprised casting hasn't yet been finalised on for Mayerling and Swan Lake. Perhaps they're still negotiating with guest artists - Adam Cooper's talked about doing Mayerling and Corella and Stiefel may be back for Swan Lake and the like. If so I'd prefer to wait rather than book blind as I had to for Onegin last year. I seem to remember that when the Onegin casts were finalised they sent a letter to all the Friends so they could book early through a special number - a great idea but that phoneline was open only on the day before public booking started and anyway my letter didn't even arrive until a week later so that was a dud. Still I hope they do something along these lines and with adequate notice!<p>[This message has been edited by sylvia (edited May 13, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2002 12:31 pm 
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Odile, I agree that this reluctance to get to grips with castng in reasonable time does seem a bit tiresome. Of course there's a balance to be struck between taking decisions based on experience of seeing how partners get on in rehearsal, and giving as much information as possible as soon as possible to the Royal Ballet's loyal and enthusiastic supporters. But seems like the pendulum has swung a bit too far, at least on this occasion. I guess we can only hope this is one off example.


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 12:55 am 
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<B>Period 1 Ballet Casting</B><P><B>New Christopher Wheeldon Ballet/Gong/Carmen</B><BR>22, 24, 25 October<BR>New Christopher Wheeldon Ballet -- Bussell, Cope<BR>Gong -- tba<BR>Carmen -- Guillem, Murru, Yanowsky, Cope<P>28 Oct, 4 Nov<BR>New Christopher Wheeldon Ballet -- tba<BR>Gong -- tba<BR>Carmen -- Guillem, Murru, Yanowsky, Cope<P>5,6 Nov<BR>New Christopher Wheeldon Ballet -- Bussell, Cope<BR>Gong -- tba<BR>Carmen -- Rojo, Whitehead, tba, Gartside<P><B>The Nutcracker</B><BR>20 Dec(m), 28 Dec(m), 1 Jan<BR>Bussell, Cope<P>21 Dec(m), 27 Dec(e), 2 Jan<BR>Cojocaru, Kobborg<P>23 Dec(m), 28 Dec(e), 3 Jan<BR>Benjamin, Tewsley<P>23 Dec(e), 30 Dec, 6 Jan<BR>Rojo, Urlezaga<P>27 Dec(m), 31 Dec, 10 Jan<BR>Yoshida, Putrov<BR>_____________________________<P>Any comments? Interesting that Stretton is encouraging some partnerships - I think Leanne Benjamin and Robert Tewsley are dancing Swan Lake in Australia as well. And what does everyone make of Yoshida with Putrov? Shouldn't Persson be in there somewhere? Oh well, it's just Nutcracker casting - can't really make anything of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 3:19 am 
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I think The ROH needs to think long and hard about the current value it is giving to the Friends of Covent Garden. It would appear that it has taken the New Labour approach: in the scramble for mass-popularity, it is has abandoned and neglected its core supporters. <P>The casting information is to an extent a thorny issue: but you have to wonder why the RB is allowing choreographers anywhere near their dancers, if those choreographers don't have any idea of the strengths/weaknesses of Rojo, Cojacoru, Bussell et al. Everyone here at Criticaldance.com certainly does, as does the vast majority of the ROH audience. Who are these choreographers???<P>More concerningly, the sort of administrative debacle that has been outlined above (not receiving letters on time etc) is simply inexcusable. You pay handsomely to be a Friend of Covent Garden - you have to wonder if this is how the ROH treats its Friends, what on earth it does to its enemies! <P>The ROH needs to set its priorities, and its logistic and administrative operations, firmly in order. Or it might find that it has no friends left.....


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 8:24 am 
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Sylvia, I think it is a bit surprising that Persson is not down for Nutcracker. I know that he is currently suffering from a serious injury but he has been off for a couple of months already and it will be seven more months before the Nutcracker run starts. <P>Ivan Putrov is an extremly talented young dancer and he ought to be nurtered but I am slightly worried that every opportunity coming up in the full length repertoiry seems to automatically to default to him.<BR>Given the servere shortage of male company members in the upper ranks I do not think it wise to give the existing soloists the impression that there chances of ever progressing is slim.<P>Surely there must be a way to balance 3 things: 1) invite exiting guests, 2) give the company principals something to do and 3) give the soloists a chance at a major role every once in a while.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by OdileGB (edited May 13, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 10:37 am 
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It's on the tip of my tongue to say that Persson, as well as Yanowsky aren't getting enough meaty roles and are being treated more like soloists than principals (well ok I did say it) but I guess now that Stretton's got to know his dancers better I should wait for casting next season before rushing to any judgements.<P>OdileGB, from what I remember from the casts this season it seems like the number of performances each principal gets is stretched enough already - 2, maybe 3 which isn't a huge number IMO. It's probably impossible to accomodate the guests, the principals and the soloists to everyone's satisfaction, least of all the audience. I thought I remembered that soloists had more of a chance in principal roles during the summer but that isn't really the case this time apart from a few.<P>Regarding Putrov, I keep swinging wildly between one opinion and another. His talent is SO obvious in comparison to the other soloists, but he needs a little work in expressing himself in the principal roles. I guess the idea is to keep pushing him in such roles so that he can improve, and well, he did seem to! His debut as Albrecht was a disappointment in my eyes, his 4th a few weeks later just wonderful and he earned more applause than I'd ever remembered hearing an Albrecht get. So I guess they must have the right idea in pushing him forward. I actually can't think of any other male soloists who stand out for further progress at the moment. Probably Cervera, but it was hard trying to think of who could do the big ballets at this moment in time in your other 'junior dancers' thread OdileGB. It'll be interesting to see who gets promoted at the end of this season (when exactly - at the end of the summer season?)<P>Actually I really welcome the guest choreographers because they can cast that fresh eye and pick out dancers who would otherwise not be given a chance so quickly. I was so impressed with Thomas Whitehead in Carmen and Johannes Stepanek in Onegin. It makes me wonder what other talents are hiding in the corps that we don't have the opportunity to see.<P>I'm much too demanding - I'm also all for as many guests as possible because I doubt we'll ever see the likes of ABT in London and how else will we ever see the likes of Stiefel, Corella, etc, etc? So how to solve this? Basically I want more performances but I suspect the RB's overworked enough as it is. I think in November only they're doing the triple bill, Mayerling AND Swan Lake. <P>So anymore thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 10:46 am 
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MariaR, I like you New Labour analogy! Regarding the choreographers most of them along with the people who set the ballets are international this season and next. (Quite a lot from this season actually!) Next season includes Mark Morris, Jiri Kylian and Angelin Preljocaj so I guess I'm not really surprised they're not familiar with our dancers. Probably the only one that would be is David Bintley. Hmmm...so much for nuturing British choreographic talent!


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2002 11:03 pm 
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Sylvia, when I mentioned all those names in the other threat I did not necessarily mean that they can do it right now. I believe part of getting your teeth into a meatier role is proper preparation and coaching.<BR>You said yourself that you were a bit disappointed with Putrov's debut as Albrecht.<BR>They need time to grow into it but how can anyone do this ever if he or she is not given the chance.<P>There are some very talented dancers around in their late 20s who given Stretton's preferance for youth might be in danger of being written off as not worth the effort of further nurtering anymore.<P>As much as I love to see guests like Stiefel and Corella as you rightly pointed out there are some principals in the company that are not getting enough chances at principal roles as it is. I remember reading in an interview with either Nunn and Trevitt that one of the reasons the dancers who left to become founder members of K-Ballet were discontented was that the RB seemed a bit like a 2 class society. Everything seemed to revolve around foreign stars like Mukhamedov and Solymosi who joined at the top from the outside and there was a feeling of there being little chance of progessing through the ranks.<P>It is good so that outside choreographers bring a fresh eye and pick out young dancers who might not otherwise get a chance.


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 1:44 am 
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Just to mention that (due to high demand) an extra Nutcracker has been added for Leanne Benjamin and Robert Tewsley on 31 Dec matinee.<P>And advanced online booking for period 1 is now available <A HREF="http://www.royalballet.org/Tickets/Index.cfm?ccs=125&cs=172" TARGET=_blank>here</A> until 26 June.<P>And for Friends, you should hopefully receive Booking Period 2 booklets (finally!) and forms by the end of this week.


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 3:02 am 
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I received all the ROH bumf yesterday. Not only am I not a friend, I'm not even on their mailing list. Of course they have my address from my personal bookings (they only accept cards) but in the past they have rarely contacted me. They only send me offers/information when they are desperate. I wonder what that says about recent advance bookings?


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 3:53 am 
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Yes, there has been much mailing out!


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 4:13 am 
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In all this talk about casting, I think it's best to consider things from the company's point of view.<P>No company --- and that applies to consulting as well as dancing --- can afford irreplaceable employees. Employees can die or get sick or move on suddenly, but the company must go on. Employees who are truly irreplaceable can also hold the company hostage (I've seen it happen, and it's not a pretty sight).<P>Therefore, companies consciously seek to offer a product that is independent of who is offering it. Ideally, you should see a great show, no matter who is dancing it on a given night. Audience wants stars to admire, but good marketing always seeks to get the audience to come for other reasons.<P>Ideally, a ballet company should have good training all around and many great dancers. NYCB, for example, produced legions of world-class dancers, who became stars as soon as they left NYCB, through this process. If the company you're watching does not have great training and dancers --- if it cannot even fill all its principal roles with dancers you would want to see --- then that company is in serious trouble.<P>On a day-to-day practical level, it is also best for the company to leave casting to the last minute, at least the last week or two. You often just do not know until then who you will have available for what. Dancers can get injured. Dancers can get sick. And dancers can do things better or worse than you originally thought. In making casting decisions, a good AD seeks to balance many risk factors to produce an overall quality show every night. As an audience, you might trust the AD in this process.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 7:58 am 
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citibob, you make a lot of very valid points.<BR>May I suggest the it only does not matter who is dancing if the dancer is suited to the particular role? No dancer not even the very best ones are good in every role.<P>Technically brilliant dancers might not be good actors and therefor not shine in dramatic roles. Even good dance actors might not be good in a certain role that just does not suit their personality. Some might be very good in contemporary works. Although you might get interesting results on occasion by casting a dancer against type I think too little consideration is given to casting dancers according to their suitability to a role.<P>It seems to me that the idea of emploi has gone out of the window. Principals get cast in everything over and over regardless of wether they are particularly suited to a role or not. Since at least part of the audience does not know any better this leads to comments like :...he or she should not be a principal because he or she has not done role x,y,z yet. I think that is a very sad trend.


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 Post subject: Re: Next season casting info or lack thereof
PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2002 1:24 pm 
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I agree with OdileGB about the advisability of casting a principal in every major role. This seems an appropriate place to quote something I quoted in another thread, which is what Karsavina had to say about the changing nature of performances of <I>Giselle</I> in her 1956 book <I>Ballet Technique</I>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The fairly accurate revival of Coralli's masterpiece, well done as it is, yet has lost much of its original style. It took me some time to puzzle out why the same choreography, the same set of steps, are not the same any more in their effect and in their emotional value. It is because the choreography of <I>Giselle</I> has been transposed into another key. Originally composed for a dancer of exceptional lightness, it was in my time reserved for ballerinas with more than average elevation. This seems to be no longer so. Bringing <I>Giselle</I> down to the level of any technically accomplished dancer meant a sacrifice of its sublime feature, its spiritualised lightness. <I>Giselle</I> does not easily adapt itself to the means of a <I>terre à terre</I> dancer. In order to make such an adaptation many rhythms have to be quickened.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>I've seen a couple of principal dancers who simply cannot jump perform <I>Giselle</I>. They may be fine actors, but I don't feel that they do justice to the choreography.


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