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 Post subject: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2001 2:05 am 
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<B>Darcey Bussell makes a magical comeback</B><BR>The Nutcracker Rating: ***** (out of 5) <BR>By Judith Mackrell in The Guardian<BR> <P>The affectionate roar that greeted Darcey Bussell's return to the Opera House on Thursday night would reassure any dancer who had just spent a year off the stage. But it must have been specially comforting to Bussell given that she was making her comeback in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is a cameo appearance compared with most ballerina roles - it's only a 10-minute pas de deux. But the opening section is spiked with some unusually tough lifts, the music accelerates into tricky speeds, and the dance comes right at the end of the ballet, launching its performers into centre-stage virtuosity without any preparation. <P><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,619009,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>clcik for more</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2001 5:22 am 
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<B>Truly sugar plum perfect</B><BR>by Luke Jennings in The Evening Standard<P><BR>It's Nutcracker season again, and last night saw Darcey Bussell's return to the Covent Garden stage after maternity leave. She danced the Sugar Plum Fairy and, after a careful beginning, her performance swiftly gathered confidence. Her partner - as in many past triumphs - was Jonathan Cope, and his solicitude of her was as moving as it was tender. <P>In her solo, nerves suitably smoothed, she hit a balance in attitude of such sensuous perfection that a ripple of shared pleasure ran through the audience. It was an archetypal Darcey moment. <P>But Peter Wright's Nutcracker is a company piece, and last night's performance was studded with good things. <P><A HREF="http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/hottx/theatre/top_dance_review.html?in_review_id=345912&in_review_text_id=439748" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2001 12:57 am 
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Interview with Alina Cojacaru in The Sunday Times.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>She leapt to stardom aged 19. So what’s next for Alina Cojocaru? Well, isn’t it time for a fairy, she tells Clifford Bishop <BR> <BR>Alina Cojocaru walks through the door with one sock flapping from the end of her foot, hugging an old tutu like a comfort blanket. When we meet, the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal dancer is preparing to make her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy, but looks like she is auditioning for the role of third waif in a school production of Oliver! Even by the standards of a profession not noted for big bones and puppy fat, Cojocaru is diminutive. “The first question everyone asks,” she says, “is whether I am eating. Then — I don’t know why — they ask if I have ever been in love.” <BR><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/article/0,,9013-2001570182,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2001 1:01 am 
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And a Review in The Observer re. Darcey Bussell's performance.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Magically, at Thursday's opening performance of the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker, everything worked: tricks, transformations, children's dances, snowflake flurries and the return of Darcey Bussell as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She has been away most of the year, having a baby daughter, but her image on the company's festive poster held out the promise of a sparkling comeback. <P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.observer.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,619337,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2001 7:45 am 
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One we missed from Saturday;<P><B>Top-flight return of a Sugar Plum Fairy</B> <BR>BY DEBRA CRAINE in The Times<BR> <BR> <BR>SEEING The Nutcracker at Covent Garden is always a special event. The Royal Ballet’s production is one of the best in the world, a sumptuous staging that gives glorious physical life to the beauty and magic in Tchaikovsky’s great score. But on Thursday night The Nutcracker was extra special, for it marked Darcey Bussell’s return to the stage after a year away to look after her baby. <P><A HREF="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,2-2001580476,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2001 1:00 am 
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Review in The Telegraph.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>THE Royal Ballet's Nutcracker is the aristocrat of productions, its heart in a warm bourgeois place and its sugar spun with a maestro's hand. It sets right many of the faults for which the first 1892 Nutcracker failed so dismally to reach people's hearts - all spectacle, no drama, and thoroughly undanceable music, was the damning verdict.<P>We know better now about the music, but this Nutcracker has everything else, with Julia Trevelyan Oman's luxuriant designs suggesting a Nuremberg of 200 years ago (the place and time of ETA Hoffmann's story, Nutcracker and Mouse King) and Sir Peter Wright restoring as much original choreography as he could research, along with his own additions, while gently steering the story into more coherent emotional waters.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=005760794236107&rtmo=fVYNVr0s&atmo=rrrrrrrq&pg=/et/01/12/17/btib15.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2001 1:14 am 
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And a review in The Independent.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Yes, the Nutcracker is back at the Royal Opera House – and several other places besides. Once again, Drosselmeyer shows off his rather disturbing magic, Clara and the Nutcracker do battle with mice, and the Snowflakes dance up a white storm of billows and drifts. Here, just as in other Nutcrackers, the homely, bourgeois normality of a Christmas gathering suddenly lurches into the fantasy of the Kingdom of Sweets, where Clara is transported and entertained. Only the Royal Ballet's season of The Nutcracker, however, marks the return of Darcey Bussell from her retirement into parallel domesticity (as the mother of a baby girl) and her transport back into her fairy-tale career.<P><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/dance/reviews/story.jsp?story=110391" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2001 9:41 am 
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I am fresh out of Tuesday the 18th's performance of the Royal's Nutcracker, after standing for over 2 hours, perhaps I am just cranky, but I was a bit disappointed with the dancing, but without a doubt, mesmerized with the set design, lighting, and happy with most of the costumes.<P>The opening scenes and the party scene were delightful, and Christopher Saunders' Drosselmeyer was wonderfully mysterious yet regal. The doll dances were great, brisk and robotic. PRior to the battle scene, Clara's dream takes on the the atmostphere of the nightmare with the dolls scaring her and wheeling her about. This proved successful in setting the mood for the more agressive battle scene. The fighting involved a mixture of the organized combat and background chaos. I personally prefer more chaos, but most professional productions refrain from more violence, perhaps it's for the best. <P>Does anyone know where the angels originate? are they in Ivanov's original? forgive my ignorance, but I find them stiff, and intrusive to the whole of the production, no matter who it is. SFB uses them, as does NYCB i believe. ABT i cannot remember...if they were to use them, I would personally prefer a more floaty costume, that would allow dancing, and wings that are not formed by cookie cutters. I realize that the angel was a life-size representation of the one that topped the tree in the party scene, however, I still do not find any justification for their intrusion. I think that the Transition to Snow would be better served with a solo angel role, a row of identical gingerbread cookies in the shape of angels gets tedious almost instantly. And I do not feel these do justice to this section of Tchaikowsky's score, again, I would like to see more dancing here. The increased level of dancing between Clara and the Prince, and their later incorporation into the land of sweets was playful and worked with the production. Their snow pas de deux had many beautiful moments, I would have liked her highly arched combre (forgive the lack of accents) back that Clara does leaning into the Nutcracker, to have lasted longer...but always a lovely moment nevertheless.<P>The snow costumes and sets were again beautiful. The corps on the whole of the production was on the untidy end of the scale and the snowflakes were no exception. ALthough much of the scene is meant to be a chaotic snow flury, this does not justify, nor is ever a reason for lack of syncronisation among dancers. The first entrance of the snowflakes after their soloist performs, seemed lackluster and I feel this to originate from the downward waltz movement, when the music so graciously provides the ear with the liquid harp and a gust of winds. Upward energetic movement, emphasizing the surge in the sound would suit the music better. If one choreographed a downward movement and then swept into something more vertical, this would do, however Wright's work after Ivanov seems to leave us with a rather even series of steps, unvarying in their stresses of the music and even in the level of height in the dancing.<P>land of sweets in short: again, corps work needs a lot of help. Merlatons had no energy for their jumps (faiee? sp??? somebody help? no dictionary with me...apologize once again for the ignorance-but those were especially pathetic). Also, a note to Wright and other choreographers, how many times has the audience seen a dance ended perfectly with more than one person pirouetting into a kneeling or other land-bound pose? I know I have never seen one in my current memory bank, it is not recommended and not a smart move. IT almost always looks shabby and does not flatter the dancers, even such a difference as height can affect the results, not even the ability of the dancers. This tuesday ending of the merlaton dance was most unfortunate in its final moment of disarray.<P>The arabian dance needs more sultry, seductive, and involved dancing. Vanessa Palmer stood, posed, draped on occasion, and then walked inbetween her three men. Their costumes also need revamping, the pink is too innocent a shade, but if one wants to keep with the pastels then perhaps an icy blue or a lavender of sorts would be better. Something in the blue/purple range, never pink for that role. The Chinese dance was nothing spectacular, as is unfortunately the case. Such fun music, and always so much pantomime and fooling around instead of dancing. Jaimic Tapper engaged the audience as the rose fairy, however again, oftentimes I found the choreography lacking connection with the music. Or rather, lacking a more powerful connection with the music. When she partners the four men, and dancing down the line and back up again (a la rose adagio), it seemed a waste of the music, in which high extensions and sweepings across the stage which paint the notes would enhance the her role. I prefer the music to be painted by the dancer's movement rather than stiffly bottled up in a more rigid structure, such as this series of partnering, albeit short.<P>This was my first viewing of Leanne Benjamin, and sadly I ached for SFB's Joanna Berman or Oakland Ballet's Erin Yarbrough, or anyone that could maintain a permanent aura and presence on the stage. Benjamin could not pick a mood or a countenance to stay with, wavering frequently between the cheery smile, the grave face, and a bizarre open-mouthed gape out into the black abyss that is the audience. It seemd as if she was rehearsing, and when she did something she liked, she would smile, or if not then she was observing herself in the mirror (perhaps the gape?) Whatever sparkle, presence, and engagement that the Sugar Plum Fairy requires, Benjamin did not have it. Choreographically, the lift upstage right wherein she beat her legs and her Prince (Johan Persson) caught her and swung her like an over-sized child, was not attractive. There was also a moment of the parallel passe, center stage, in which Benjamin draped back with her arms in 3rd arabesque, with the exception of some character dancing, a parallel position does not belong on the Sugar Plum Fairy, and if it does, it certainly does not on such a mediocre movement. In a lift, perhaps, but not just a static pose center stage of all places. In his solo Persson dug his right foot into the ground and was practically parallel for his menege preparation, and most of the time he was not in sync with Benjamin, especially in the finale. He kept looking at her and then responded to her steps, he looked down at her feet blatantly, as if to copy her steps because he did not know them himself. Before Benjamin's menege she committed the unforgivable fault of the double preparation by digging her right foot into the ground before beginning to turn, as if she were a horse or some other four legged animal grinding the turf before setting off-An unattractive movement for Sugar Plum.<P>Aside from choreographic and some costume issues (especially Clara's blue bows in her hair, wrong for the color scheme, and annoying to watch bobble through the entire production) I loved the way Wright staged this production. The sets flowed seamlessly one into the other, and the color schemes, and first act costuming were full of the richness of the Staulbaum's home, the mystery of the nightmare, and the sparklings of Clara's sweeter dreams. Properly pastel in the 2nd act, cupcake perfection. The Royal's dancing however, has declined since I last saw them in the states, to my great distress. I love this company dearly and would hope that their men would learn to land solidly, and that the entire corps would work to be together. please. corps. one body. please!


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 1:08 am 
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It appears that we saw the same production yesterday Danzcrayz. And on the whole I agree with your comments.<P>It truly was an amazing spectacle. I sat through most of it in awe of the magical wonderland they created feeling like a child at the theatre for the first time. The set, costume and lighting departments created each scene sumptuously and tricks like the curtain falling and then disappearing received the right amount of gasps from the audience.<P>The Land of the Sweets was visually wonderful as was the snowflakes sequence. But I do have to agree with you that the corps in both these scenes were at times "rageddy" - such a pity when visually all the design elements were near perfect - what a feast for the eyes had the corps been spot on too.<P>I enjoyed both the portrayal of Clara and the Prince. Clara was earnest and showed enough child-like joy to convince me of her character both in her acting and dancing. I enjoyed the National dances - the Russians probably being my favourite and the one I felt best performed - they made it look quite effortless and the Chinese Dancers certainly entertained the young audience. <P>I feel the Arabian Dance is always a tricky one - for children it is probably the hardest to watch. The performers therefore really need to fulfill their choreography and create the mystery which I agree with Dancecrayz that they didn't really do - it was the only time I found myself drifting away from the production.<P>Leanne Benjamin I felt was pleasing as the Fairy. I was too far away really to guage facial expression but overall I feel she did herself justice. Following the plaudits of Darcey Bussells return is a tough act to follow.<P>The Children of the Royal Ballet were deligthful as the Mice and I agree with Dancecrayz that the party scenes were beautifully done.<P>I liked the giant Christmas tree Angels and felt just added to the spectacle of the production - they certainly did not detract from it.<P>All in all the production dance wise was not as tight as it could have been but visually all the effects worked a treat and produced a lovely start to the Christmas Countdown.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 1:40 am 
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Who danced Clara and the Nutcracker in this matinee? In the new RB Wright version these two get much more dancing to do than in most productions.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 1:54 am 
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<B>Wright way to serve turkey <BR>Financial Times; Dec 19, 2001<BR>By CLEMENT CRISP</B><P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The early Christmas cards are upon us, and those relics of the Ice Age, the deep-frozen turkeys moving inexorably towards your supermarket. Another deep-frozen turkey has also loomed into sight: The - forgive the coarseness of my language - Nutcracker. I incline to the belief that almost all Nutcracker stagings are offences against music, dance, civilisation, and the peaceful sleep of children. Sexual innuendo, the musical sensitivities of Attila the Hun, infant performers: these are the desperate matters of most stagings of Tchaikovsky's prodigious score. Plus inadequate choreography. Cheers then, yet again, for the Royal Ballet and its sensitive Peter Wright production, with gemutlich and poetic design by Julia Trevelyan Oman, and its score (as I heard last Thursday when the ballet returned to the Royal Opera House) well played under Jacques Lacombe.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=011219001252&query=ballet" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><P> <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 2:29 am 
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Sounds like Leanne Benjamin was having an off night - not normally guilty of a poor performance! I'd give her another chance, danzcrayz...


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 8:26 am 
I hope Darcy is in the PBS version too!


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2001 6:11 pm 
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The TV version has Miyako Yoshida, the worlds greatest Sugar Plum. For the record, the 18th evening performance had an exquisitely poised Tamara Rojo as SP, and Iohna Loots as a charming but relatively mature Clara. Their respective men, Urlezaga and Putrov, were on spectacular form. Urlezaga spins and turns with superb control. Putrov is already a master at jumping and seeming to hang in the air.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's 'Nutcracker' 2001-2
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 1:00 am 
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Review in The Sunday Times. (Please scroll down the article).<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Elsewhere, The Nutcracker reigns as usual. At Covent Garden, Sir Peter Wright’s venerable production for the Royal Ballet has made its latest return, and with it on opening night came the company’s queen, Darcey Bussell, back from maternity leave, as the Sugar Plum Fairy. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/article/0,,9013-2001593177,00.html" TARGET=_blank> <B> MORE </B> </A>


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