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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:33 pm 
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Clement Crisp reviews "La Fille Mal Gardee" in the Financial Times.

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:51 pm 
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Further reviews of "La Fille Mal Gardee."

Luke Jennings in The Observer.

The Observer

Jenny Gilbert in The Independent.

The Independent

David Dougill in The Times.

The Times


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:35 am 
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[quote="Cassandra"]I feel this comment by Luke Jennings deserves attention:

"The English, Ashtonian style of ballet is dying at Covent Garden; "

Every generation of dancers makes the work their own - however it is perhaps more the failure to study the Cecchetti method which has lead to the dilution of the English style.


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:29 pm 
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Sir Kenneth MacMillan's "The Judas Tree" will be in rep at Covent Garden from March 23 through April 15, 2010. Hannah Duguid previews the performances in The Independent.

The Independent

Ismene Brown has a lengthy preview in The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Sarah Frater reviews the triple bill of MacMillan's "Concerto," "The Judas Tree" and "Elite Syncopations" in the Evening Standard.,

The Evening Standard

Gavin Roebuck in The Stage.

The Stage


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:18 am 
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Swathes of empty seats at last night’s performance testified to the massive dislike audiences have for the Judas Tree: I suspect a number of people have decided to boycott this programme.


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:49 am 
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More reviews

The Guardian review is one with which I concur, especially with regards The Judas Tree: “Despite some harrowing invention in its choreography, the narrative is muddled and its vicious misogyny remains fatally unexamined.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2010/ma ... ill-review

Over at the Times Debra Craine is spot on with her review:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 074403.ece

Clement Crisp however writes a load of tosh in The Financial Times and rather tellingly doesn’t bother to mention the more worthwhile works on the programme.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/455ace34-3768 ... abdc0.html


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:24 am 
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The current MacMillan triple at Covent Garden takes two of his most upbeat works and uses them as a kind of antidote for the contemptible Judas Tree that makes the unsavoury centrepiece of an otherwise enjoyable evening.

Concerto, the opening work, always looked like a nod to Balanchine in places, though MacMillan’s corps work is never as good here as the American master’s. The solo and pas de deux passages work best, also the contribution of the three couples who dance in counterpoint to the soloists. Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto is one of that composer’s brightest works and just begged for dancing to be added; two rather jolly movements either side of a wistful, elegiac movement that in MacMillan’s hands becomes the spiritual heart of the ballet. This central movement was inspired by Lynn Seymour exercising at the barre and has for me become one of the high points of the entire MacMillan oeuvre as the dancer takes her partners hand in lieu of a classroom barre and performs those same self absorbed movements that so enchanted the choreographer all those years ago. And they enchanted me all over again with Marianela Nuñez taking her place alongside those stellar performers of this part that I saw and admired so much in the past.

If the dancers in the two other movements impressed me less, my main reservation was that the piano playing wasn’t too impressive with erratic tempi and a particularly plodding approach to parts of the first movement, but for a ballet that hasn’t been in the repertoire for some time, the dancers did well in roles that most wouldn’t even have seen before.

The other work of merit was Elite Syncopations, another ballet that has been off the opera house stage for a while. It is pretty much a gift to dancers, as although it has benefited from strong casts in the past, it continues to offer limitless opportunities for individual little touches so that every cast seems able to add a subtle individualism to the roles. Quite unlike the rest of MacMillan’s output, Elite Syncopations is a guaranteed audience pleaser, but it didn’t erase the bad taste left by the work that preceded it.

The central work, The Judas Tree, is detested by a large section of the public and by some of the national critics, put quite simply it should not have been revived at all: if ever a work deserved to be permanently mothballed it is this one. What the ballet is actually about (apart from sexual violence) remains a mystery to me as the religious significance the characters are supposed to have doesn’t ring true unless MacMillan was actually planning to make a blasphemous statement about Christian beliefs.

Set on a building site a woman wrapped in a white sheet is laid on the ground, rather like Cleopatra inside her carpet. She arouses the interest of the men around her with some appearing curious and others displaying baser interest as she dances in a way that is both self consciously alluring and at the same time fragilely innocent. Yes, she is that clichéd character the virgin and the whore, a prostitute seemingly acquired by the men who wraps a white sheet around her head and shoulders to depict the mother of Christ before turning into Mary Magdalene to lead them on. When she is brutally raped by all but three of the men, she was of course “asking for it” – her punishment for being a woman.

The three men that don’t violate the girl are the Foreman and his two Friends, all three are fascinated by her but perhaps regard her as a temptation to be avoided, although the Foreman’s interest in her looks wild and obsessive. As she staggers forward, dazed, violated and brutalized, the Foreman breaks her neck (to put her out of her misery?). In the melee that follows the Foreman kisses the cheek of one of his friends (he is actually Judas you see, and the friend is Jesus) who is then murdered by the other workmen in front of the unresponsive Foreman and the horrified second friend. When the stage empties the Foreman returns with a rope and hangs himself from the scaffolding and while he hangs swaying, the woman returns as if risen from the dead.

There are just four named characters, the Foreman, the Woman and the Foreman’s Two Friends danced by Carlos Acosta, Leannne Benjamin, Edward Watson (the Christ figure) and Bennet Gartside. All four give intense performances and seem committed to the choreography, though I would have preferred to have seen their considerable interpretive skills employed elsewhere.

This ballet is as repellent a work as you will see anywhere on a London stage, treating the savage gang rape of a female as mere entertainment. It is an insult to every woman who has ever been raped to turn the ultimate act of degradation into an amusing on stage incident for the Royal Opera House’s overwhelmingly middle class audience’s titillation. I also object to the way in which MacMillan chooses to portray working class men as being nothing better than mindless rapists.

This is a ballet that never should have seen the light of day in the first place and for the panjandrums of the Royal Ballet to continue promoting this degrading work is totally beyond my comprehension.


Last edited by Cassandra on Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:42 pm 
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Cassandra,

It pains me to say this - but your comments on The Judas Tree are bordering in my view on something the Moderators should take a look at. The whole basis of your post are your own personal / political views on the issue of rape - and you have allowed yourself to become hysterical, your post is a hysterical rant. It's fine for you not to like the piece of course - but then analyse how the execution of the work (choreography, music, design, performance etc) have failed - but to tear the use of any particular subject apart merely for its own sake is not surely appropriate here. You are basically saying that you find the subject of rape distasteful - well yes of course we all find the act of rape distasteful, but art knows no bounds Cassandra. There are rape scenes in film, theatre, plays, literature, opera etc - where have you been? Are you saying you are in favour of censorship in art, and that certain subjects (in this case a gang rape of a female) should not be portrayed in art?

If you feel that strongly about the subject, you should have sat the middle work out, I know you have seen it before, so I am mystified why you would watch it again if it genuinely causes such a reaction.

Your hysterical reaction to the subject matter has caused you to entirely miss the point of the work. It seems to have escaped notice that the woman is effectively an allegorical figure - she reappears at the end even though she has been "killed". In this reappearance she is portrayed in a "state of grace" - calm, dignified, "superior" to the men who have become little more than animals around her. And this whilst the men have (through their own degenerate acts of rape, gang violence, murder of one of their own, and suicide etc) imploded in on themselves as a result of their own disgusting behaviour. The ballets ends not with the men in a triumphant state of victory over what they have done to the woman, but instead they are clearly already on the express train to Hell. To my mind the piece ends with the woman the victor - making the point that the "victim" is morally speaking the victor, whilst the perpetrators of such an evil act are condemned to behave like animals in the gutter. This is not a celebration of rape (as peversely Cassandra you seem to have taken it) but, it seems to me, a powerful condemnation of it. Would we all not want to be in the woman's calm "state of grace" at the end, rather than the men's tortured state swinging from the make shift gallows of the scaffold?

The Judas Tree is not a "repellent" work Cassandra - the act of gang rape is "repellent" yes, but not a work of art that portrays the act. You are getting the two confused. The act of murder is also a "repellent" act, but this does make Shakespeare’s Othello a "repellent work" because it culminates in a horrific murder scene. God knows where such an approach would leave Macbeth! To stick only to ballet, to follow your argument that Judas Tree is "an insult" to every rape victim, also means that Flemming Flint's The Lesson is "an insult" to every child / young girl who has ever been molested, or worse murdered, by a teacher or figure of authority. After all the acts of paedophilia, child molestation and child murder are also pretty repellent, but I don't recall you protesting like this when The Lesson is performed. In that the terror of the girl is graphically portrayed as the teacher becomes more and more deranged. In fact, I recall you rather like The Lesson. You have allowed a personal strength of feeling over the rape issue to colour your posting.

The fact remains that there is a nasty, distasteful, dark side to the human psyche, as has been the case through all human history, and I think art in general should portray that. Gang rape exists (unfortunately) and as such it is right that if an artist wishes to make a work about the subject they should do so. Indeed I think it good that we humans can look into this dark side now and again - as a warning for us all to be on guard. And yes Judas Tree is pretty graphic, but so be it - I don't believe in "prettifying" a nasty subject, show it for what it is. The piece and the lessons we can all take from it are far more powerful that way. Life is not always a "Fille Mal Gardee" - and ballet can and should reflect that the same as any other medium.

Let's be accurate here - there is no evidence for the sweeping statement that the piece is "detested by a large section of the public". It has been constantly revived because people want to see it - it is a powerful theatrical piece, containing some outstanding choreography - and the audience the night Cassandra was there were cheering. And let's stop childish comments like "...treating the savage gang rape of a female as mere entertainment" - this comment is beneath you Cassandra, as you very well know the theatre and art do far more than just entertain us - they also teach us lessons, make us think about issues, educate us, provoke our intellectual and emotional intelligence, and, as in the case of the Judas Tree, challenge our perceptions of morality and inform us what human beings are capable of if we do not all "stand guard".

I actually find it quite insulting that you suggest that the subject matter of the piece is turned into an "...amusing on stage incident for the Royal Opera House's overwhelmingly middle class audience's titillation". What utter nonsense! You really should have taken a step back, and such an ill informed assessment says far more about your views - you seem obsessed by the idea that any portrayal of rape is belittling the issue, treating it as if it is not a serious issue. You are the ONLY person I have ever heard suggest that they think the way MacMillan has portrayed rape in the Judas Tree is as an "amusing on stage incident". The fact is he does not portray it in an amusing way, he portrays it for exactly what it is - vicious, barbaric, violent, disgusting. You Cassandra are assuming that people like me that like the Judas Tree as a piece or extremely powerful theatre find it "amusing" - well no, we don't actually. We find it shocking, powerful, disturbing, emotionally and morally destabilising, but not "amusing". And as for the accusation that people like the work becuase they find it "titillating" I think your hysteria reached such heights there I am unable to comment. No one (apart presumably from rapists) finds rape in any way "titillating" and I think you might want to be a bit careful about trying to suggest the entire "middle class" (which is actually the majority of the population) find such a thing as rape either "amusing" or "titillating".

I'm sorry to say the post to which I have responded says far more about the author's own personal views and "hang ups" on the subject matter of The Judas Tree, than it does about the work itself or the recent performances. I think in future if anyone has a really strong, bordering on hysterical view of a particular subject they are best to sit out any ballet about it and certainly refrain from then attempting to review it!


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:31 am 
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Tahor, thank you for such a lengthy comment on my mere nine lines about The Judas Tree, you appear to have been very much burning the midnight oil when you replied and I sincerely hope that the contents of my review didn’t stop you from sleeping last night.

Firstly I should like to refute your accusation that I am in favour of censorship in art as I most emphatically am not. I belong to the generation that took it upon itself to dismantle the often absurd censorship laws that used to exist in Britain up until 1968 and can remember when every stage event in the UK was first submitted to the scrutiny of the official censor known as the Lord Chamberlain. Though I will admit that the lifting of restrictions has let some very ugly, dare I say evil? – Genies out of the bottle, I nevertheless believe that free expression trumps the alternative. Yesterday a friend who hasn’t seen this programme yet asked if it was worth seeing and I urged him to go because it is important that people make up their own minds regarding works of this sort, though my guess is that his reaction to the work in question would be much the same as my own.

Quote:
If you feel that strongly about the subject, you should have sat the middle work out, I know you have seen it before, so I am mystified why you would watch it again if it genuinely causes such a reaction.


In fact I had seen Judas Tree just once before at the time of its premiere and watched it after a gap of some twenty years last week. I did so mainly because I wondered if after such a time lapse I would still react to the piece in the same way because at the time I was very influenced by the responses of other female ballet goers who were extremely distressed by the ballets content. Three in particular were outraged by the subject matter because they were themselves the victims of rape.

Quote:
I'm sorry to say the post to which I have responded says far more about the author's own personal views and "hang ups" on the subject matter of The Judas Tree,


Perhaps you have a point as listening to harrowing accounts of being raped from women that I knew well certainly gave me strong views on the subject, or should I say reinforced those views as I was exposed to the reality of rape when one of my cousins was raped by two men some forty years ago. The details of her ordeal linger in my mind and my stomach still churns when I remember the degradations they subjected her to.

What I wrote wasn’t so very different from the views of other reviewers, in fact I hesitated to use the ‘M’ word and accuse MacMillan of misogyny, because I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. The fact remains though that MacMillan returned to the theme of rape in his ballets time and time again making the accusations of misogyny understandable for those uneasy with his emphasis on violence (I include psychological as well as physical violence) against women which is a recurring theme in his works.

Finally, if you consider my post should be moderated, I think that the unnecessarily personal tone of your response possibly disregards the rule of courtesy on this board, however I won’t be asking for your post to be removed as surely that would be censorship, wouldn’t it?


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:07 am 
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Cassandra wrote: «I would have preferred to have seen their considerable interpretive skills employed elsewhere”,
and I totally agree with her.

Risking invoking wrath of some Macmillan’s fans on my head I, nevertheless, sincerely believe that the choreographer’s obsession with certain ‘aspects’ reached its peak in The Judas Tree.
I like Macmillan’s devotion to drama ballet, his beautiful and expressive adagios, his skill in choreographing the crowd’s actions – but, personally for me, there is too much emphasis on sex and violence in his ballets. I would prefer to see some movements in Mayerling/Manon/R & J presented in a more ‘polite’ form. For example, I detest the brutal dragging of Juliet’s body by Romeo in the final scene – instead of caressing one whom he loves more than his life. For me it is psychologically unjustified.
The Judas Tree, for me again, is over the top and I just skip it.

“… art knows no bounds…” Really? Yes, if it does not step outside THE ART.
It seems to me that Flindt in his Lesson showed more subtle approach to a sinister subject.

Now you can knife me, Tahor, but we will still remain friends!


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:57 pm 
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The New York Times' critic, Alastair Macaulay, is on a London sojourn and writes about his thoughts on Ashton and "La Fille Mal Gardee."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:58 pm 
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A further installment by Macaulay regarding "Fille."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:06 pm 
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Macaulay weighs in on MacMillan and "The Judas Tree" in the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Royal Ballet: 2009/10 season
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:44 pm 
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Clement Crisp attends a second performance of the MacMillan triple bill on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 and reviews a different cast of "The Judas Tree" as well as devoting a paragraph each to "Concerto" and "Elite Syncopations" in the Financial Times.

Financial Times


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