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 Post subject: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2001 1:32 pm 
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<img src="http://www.roh.org.uk/images/stravinsky.jpg" alt="" />

Leanne Benjamin in Fokine's 'Firebird'

Across on ballet.co Brendan McCarthy has written a very interesting report on the Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Study Day. It promises to be an outstanding programme.

http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/1534.html

<small>[ 24 November 2003, 03:04 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2001 10:43 pm 
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<B>Sublime Stravinsky</B> <P>Stravinsky Staged at the Royal Opera House, London *****(out of 5) <P>by Judith Mackrell in The Guardian <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>It's almost as hard to imagine the history of 20th-century ballet without Igor Stravinsky as it is to imagine his absence from modern music. As the Royal Ballet's current unmissable tribute argues, he was the ideal composer for dance.<P>Ballet as an art form is dedicated to tradition but it is also constantly reinventing itself, and dozens of choreographers have heard this echoed in Stravinsky's music. History pulses throughout his scores - in the form of baroque dances or liturgical chants - yet it is endlessly being transformed through the colours and strategies of modernism. Stravinsky's radiant rhythmic invention also makes him a gift for choreographers - forcing a new accent on any step. And while those rhythms provide the securest of springboards for dance, there's always airy space in the music for the steps to fly free.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,479914,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2001 9:53 pm 
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RB Stravinsky Staged BY DEBRA CRAINE in The Times - 'The Royal Ballet's new triple bill is a cracker.' <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,62-121858,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Debra Craine's review</B></A><P><BR>'A Firebird that flies high,' BY NADINE MEISNER in The Independent. <P><BR><A HREF="http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=010430001114" TARGET=_blank><B>Nadine Meisner's review</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2001 9:06 am 
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Jenny Gilbert reviews the Royal's Stravinsky program and the Bolshoi in the Independent <P> <A HREF="http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=69639" TARGET=_blank>http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=69639</A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2001 1:48 am 
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More praise for the Stravinsky programme. I'm going tonight.<P><BR><B>A feast for eyes and ears</B><P>'A SUPERB night of ballet, yet again, in this closing season of Sir Anthony Dowell's directorship. Why haven't we had seasons like this one in recent years?' Says Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>This Stravinsky triple bill is up with the marvellous "Lilac Garden" programme last autumn in terms of pleasure and education - and there is still the alluring bill of Ashton's The Dream and MacMillan's Song of the Earth to come.<P>What unites these programmes is the quality of their music. Rarely does the Royal Opera House pull out its finger on behalf of ballet performance, but this Stravinsky bill has a magisterial and distinguished conductor in John Carewe, who drives the opera house orchestra to play to its best (for a change). The three ballets, The Firebird, Agon and Les Noces, show Stravinsky's massive range.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="Http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=kCx1CxNp&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/5/2/bmstrav0.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><P><BR><B>Fine tribute to Stravinsky</B><P> <BR>By CLEMENT CRISP in The Financial Times<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Igor Stravinsky is the dominant composer of ballet music in the 20th century. His works conceived for dance, and that large number appropriated by choreographers, are a huge fact in any survey of ballet during the past 90 years. The Royal Ballet has had the welcome idea of showing a trio of his pieces made especially for dance, and these cover the entire range of his creativity, from the early exoticism of Firebird, by way of the densely Russian Noces, to Agon, that culminating statement of his relationship with George Balanchine - genius in dialogue with genius.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><A HREF="http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/articles.html?id=010502001364&query=ballet" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2001 12:48 pm 
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I have seen the Royal Ballet's Firebird four times now - they sneak it into so many different programmes because it is such a crowd-pleaser. It really is very good. I can be so adamant about that because I saw the Kriov version last year at the Royal Opera HOuse in London which wa s really very bad. I am used to closing my eyes as Stravinsky's score starts up before the curtain is raised - I feel the music build up and wait for the moment the curtain rises to reveal a magical land. I had taken my mother to the Kirov version - part of the "Ballets of Fokine" programme. I told her what I like to do for this piece.....close my eyes.....except this time I found myself opening my eyes and exclaiming inwardly..."they're playing the wrong piece..". It seemed that the wrong piece of music was being played .....on second thoughts, it was the right piece of music at the wrong speed. I felt irritated all the way through the piece - wrong speed and Yulia Makhalina was not flapping her arms like a real Firebird - thoroughly disappointing. So, seeing the Firebird of the Royal again, I loved it because it was so convincing. Leanne Benjamin is absolutely brilliant in this part - her dramatic eyes and arms have me convinced; I think I could even sit through it one more time. Having said that, the "Indians, Kostchei's wives, youths, Kikimoras........" need sharpening up a bit - I have felt more threatened walking around Hamley's at Christmas....


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2001 11:31 pm 
In the second cast which I saw last weekend, Miyako Yoshida was a moving Firebird. Her jumps were gorgeous, and her arm movements were sparkling. I prefer her acting to Leanne Benjamin in the first cast. <P>In Balanchine's masterpiece "Agon", the second cast like the first cast got the full measure of Balanchine's choreography. The great pas de deux was danced by Christina Arestis and Johannes Stepanek whom I preferred to the first cast. <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited May 23, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 1:31 am 
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Many thanks to Emma and Kevin for your comments. This is a fine programme and the highlight for me is 'Les Noces' - a stunning avant-garde work from 1923, which combines folk dance, embryonic modern dance movement, folk or faux-folk steps in startling ensemble sections.<P>Nijinska had spent the previous few years in Russia, which was producing some of the most startling avant-garde work in the period immediately after the Revolution, before Stalin imposed Soviet Realism over all the Arts. She would have seen the work of the Constructivist artists and its extension to theatre work, as well as the radical dance studios which were active at the time. So 'Les Noces' didn't come out of no where, but nothing can detract from its emotional power and geometric beauty. <P>We owe much to Ashton in a range of areas and not least in his revival of this all-but-forgotten work, which was a great contribution to ballet history, the enjoyment of dance fans and even the development of dance professionals - a leading UK modern choreographer has told her dancers to try to see the work.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 06, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 3:39 am 
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It was interesting for me that I hardly noticed who was dancing what - I mean the corps worked together, moving as one body and the shape created at the end by the dancers as they come to rest on each other is beautiful for the shape itself rather than just the sum of the individual dancers. Of course this impression is partly created by the fact that there are only two costumes - male or female, but in contrast to the other pieces of the evening, the individual personalities of the dancers counted for little to mind against the weight of the choreography. This is not to undermine the dancers at all - more to praise the way they worked together.I was moved by the piece throughout but let's face it - one of the reasons for that is the music, that being what the evening was essentially about - Stravinsky.<P>Stravinsky said of the piece that "individual roles do not exist....only solo voices that impersonate now one type of character and now another." One can also see how totally different the piece would have been if Nijinska had not persisted in making Diaghilev drop Gontcharova's original costume designs which I understand were extremely colourful and "theatrical" and did did not respond to Stravinsky's score as Nijinska saw it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 4:02 am 
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It's an interesting point Emma. In Germany around this time Rudolf Laban was creating a form of modern dance based around 'movement choirs'. Little if anything survives of his work except some stills, which do look rather like the rehearsal images for 'Les Noces' from 1923. I don't whether there is a direct link with Nijinska, but both Laban and Nijinski (to some extent) spent time with Dalcroze whose teachings were one of the roots of expressionist dance. Marie Rambert was pulled in to help with Nijinski's 'Rite of Spring' because she had studied with Dalcroze. <P>Unfortunately the movement choir concept was taken up by the Nazis with the help of leading German choreographers such as Laban and Mary Wigman and thus became a tainted form that was not continued after WW II. perhaps that and the fact that 'Les Noces' was not well received are the reasons that it is such a unique work for us. <P>Given the crucial role that the ensemble work has in the piece, it was a shame that we got a conventional Royal Opera House curtain call for a handful of performers rather than sticking with the whole cast. <P>Can't wait to see it again on Tuesday.<p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 06, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2001 12:57 am 
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<B>Stravinsky Staged</B> <P>by Judith Mackrell in the Guardian <P><BR>Ms Mackrell has a very fine evening at the ballet. Good to see tha 'Les Noces' is still knocking 'em dead.<P><BR><A HREF="Http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4183963,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Judith Mackrell's review</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2001 11:58 pm 
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<B>The Back Half</B><P>Siobhan Peiffer writes on Nijinska for The New Statesman. Thanks to Brendan on ballet.co.uk for this interesting and passionate article that I would never have found. <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Bronislava Nijinska was hailed as the architect of dancing. ....she emerged from her brother's shadow to become the greatest female choreographer of the 20th century.<P>History is full of unlucky artists less famous than they should be. Bronislava Nijinska, the greatest female ballet choreographer of the 20th century, had many obstacles to overcome: she was a woman in a man's field, a dancer in the shadow of her famous brother, Vaslav Nijinsky, and a patriotic Russian who survived revolution and exile. Great dance-makers need a permanent company to produce and then preserve their work. Nijinska never had one.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://www.consider.net/forum_new.php3?newTemplate=OpenObject&newTop=200105210034&newDisplayURN=200105210034" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky Staged Programme 2001
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2001 6:57 pm 
Here is my belated review of this brilliant programme which I enjoyed so much in London last month.<BR>-------<P>The Royal Ballet's Stravinsky triple bill in April was well packaged and showed off the company at its best. "The Firebird", the opening ballet, with the original designs by Natalia Gontcharova, is more authentic than the Kirov's version shown last summer. The final tableau of the wedding, especially, with all its imperial splendour set to the climax of Stravinsky's sumptuous score is a glorious feast for the eye as well as for the ear.<P>The Royal Ballet danced it well in this revival, though there was more resonance in the Kirov's performances. (The Kirov will dance Firebird again in London this summer.) The first-cast Firebird was Leanne Benjamin who had a dazzling jump and the right exotic look for the ballerina role. However Miyako Yoshida in the second cast was more moving in her acting. Her jumps were also gorgeous, and her arm movements were sparkling. Jonathan Cope danced Ivan with the proper weight and dignity.<P>The third work "Les Noces" also has scenery by Natalia Gontcharova. This work is not easy to like, due to the harshness of Nijinska's choreography which has deliberately stripped out any romantic flavour. The robotic ensemble movements for the villagers have a militaristic aggression. However the finale when the bride and groom leave the proceedings and retreat to the bedroom is very heart-stirring. In the second cast Genesia Rosato was a moving bride, while Maurice Vodegel-Matzen had a notable presence as the bridegroom.<P>Balanchine's masterpiece "Agon" has a perfect symmetry and logicality in the choreography which is a marvel. It first entered into the Royal Ballet's repertory in the early 1970s under Kenneth MacMillan's directorship and has subsequently been revived a number of times. Both casts got the full measure of Balanchine's choreography, though of course they couldn't be expected to match some of the stylistic niceties that the New York City Ballet alone can manage (or perhaps "could" manage when Balanchine was still alive). In the first cast Johan Persson was witty in the first pas de trois, though Marianela Nunez in the second pas de trois lacked the incisiveness of Jaimie Tapper in the first cast. <P>The great pas de deux was danced in the second cast by Christina Arestis and Johannes Stepanek from the lower ranks whom I actually preferred to the first cast. Arestis had more volume in her turn-out and was more exciting than the rather bland Zenaida Yanowsky. Johannes Stepanek was a handsome cavlier, though perhaps he had less flair than Carlos Acosta. Overall the Royal Ballet illuninated this Balanchine work with excellent performances.<P>It is really a pity that the Royal Ballet was not allowed by the Balanchine Trust to have this "Agon" filmed by the BBC together with the other two Stravinsky works. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House provided excellent accompaniment under the baton of John Carewe.


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