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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 12:40 pm 
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Choreographics - A Letter to…
English National Ballet School and English National Ballet
The Place, London; May 3, 2013

David Mead


Choreographics - A Letter to…
English National Ballet School and English National Ballet
The Place, London; May 3, 2013

David Mead

“Choreographics - A Letter to…” is English National Ballet’s new choreography project, which this year saw five dance makers from within the company’s ranks each teamed up with a composer from The Royal College of Music. Director of the project, George Williamson hoped the outcome would be thought-provoking experimental work, made in a true spirit of collaboration that saw structural and aesthetic parity between the art forms. Putting inexperienced choreographers with inexperienced composers is always a risk, albeit one with potentially exciting possibilities, and although all the works had promising moments, whether all that happened quite as much as Williamson hoped is questionable.

Each pairing was asked to start with a letter or extract of written word as stimulus, although only Stina Quagebeur’s “Domna” with music by Laurence Osborn made reference to the precise text in either the short video that preceded each piece or in the programme note. In her video, Quagebeur highlighted the fact that she only got the music a month prior to the performance, which she said meant she couldn’t immerse herself in it as much as she would have liked. She also hinted that its late arrival meant she had to start work on the dance before she had it, and then had no choice but to work with it exactly as presented. Even so, it turned out to be the most complete work of the evening.

Based on Philip Larkin’s poem, “The Loved Ones”, “Domna” sees Nathan Young searching for his true love, the slightly sinister looking Jia Zhang, but every time she appears, she is always just out of reach, and always replaced by another. Each of those three other women are different, their approach ranging from cold to clinging. But there is always a hint of menace, none more so when all appear together at the end.

Running “Domna” a close second was Anton Lukovkin’s “Waiting for the One”. A true collaboration involves choreographer and composer talking to each other, each making requests of the other as they strive to achieve a coherent combined work of art. Several of the choreographers made reference to “being given the music,” suggesting that they felt they had to work with it as it was and could not ask for changes. Whatever the reasons, Lukovkin was the only one who admitted asking his composer to make changes. Although he did not actually say whether he then got what he wanted, the results suggest he did.

“Waiting for the One” explores the forming and then breaking up of relationships through three couples. The first section sees them falling in love, each in their own way; the second section focuses on doubts and separation. Alongside them was a single girl, Bridgett Zehr, always there, always looking in, always partnerless, at least until after a rather odd scene that seemed to be taking place in a 1970s disco.

Lukovkin had some strong ideas, but if anything tried to do too much in the time. With all three couples always on stage together, each involved in their own relationship, it was difficult to take in anything like fully what was happening in each. The constant wandering round of the solo girl only added to the busy feel. She exuded so much more when she stood still. ‘Less is more’, as they say.

Makoto Nakamura’s “A Fruitful Death” purported to explore fears and sadness towards death and how people overcome them in different ways, not that you would have guessed that from the dance alone. To a score that sounded like Japanese atonal music, it opens with Junor Souza, Juan Rodríguez and Anaïs Chalendard upstage in hooded cloaks. The men take it in turns to hold and manipulate Chalendard, whose response to the themes is all outward. But pretty soon she goes and lays down upstage, leaving the dance to the two men, who engage in a powerful duet in which their feelings appear much more deep-seated and come from the inside.

Tamarind Scott’s “Work in Progress” is based around pre-performance pedestrian action and clearly owes much to the personalities and experiences of the dancers involved. The warm-up steps slowly morph into individual phrases, each dancer working in their own square of light. Composer Ryan Cockerham’s soundscape starts with the hum of the audience, that sound heard backstage before the curtain rises. Later, it includes snatches of all those phrases any dancer will have heard thousands of times: “calm”, “hold”, “release that tension”, “feel the floor”, “concentrate”, “breathe” and more. Perhaps more than the others, “Work in Progress” offers considerable scope for development and expansion, and it would be interesting to see where Scott and her dancers could take it.

Fabian Reimar’s “[Co][hes][ion]” was about touch and non-contact manipulation. It does not start well. The opening non-contact duet where Ken Saruhashi controls Erina Takahasi’s movements without actually touching her is dreadfully obvious. A later duet between Nancy Osbaldeston and Laurent Liotardo was much smoother, but all told the work had far too many ideas and struggled to hold the attention.

Joining the ENB choreographers for the evening was the winner of this year’s English National Ballet School Choreography Competition, Emmeline Jansen. Her “Hooked” was impressive for one so young, although it has to be said that she probably had more time and more direct support than the ENB dancers. The duet, with fellow student Ashley Scott, takes place between two portable barres that suggest a studio, and explores reactions to different feelings and impulses. The programme note claimed it is abstract, but as it also said, it is “for audiences to find their own meaning,” and for me there certainly appeared to be a hidden narrative among all the angst and heavy breathing.

Some of the choreographers clearly struggled with the tight schedule, but ENB should be applauded for giving them the opportunity to develop their skills. How nice too to see such importance being attached to specially commissioned music; long may that continue.


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:53 pm 
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Ismene Brown reviews "Swan Lake" at the Royal Albert Hall for the Arts Desk.

Arts Desk


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:57 am 
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Swan Lake
English National Ballet
Royal Albert Hall, London; June 12, 2013

Jessica Wilson


English National Ballet’s “Swan Lake” in the round is a visually stunning masterpiece. At the Royal Albert Hall audiences were treated to a dazzling display by the sixty-plus swans danced by the corps de ballet; Matthew Golding debuting as Prince Siegfried, and ENB Artistic Director Tamara Rojo as Odette/Odile, even if the drama was missing at times.

A light-hearted start to the production shows the artists off to the best in the clean cut if well-known choreography. Max Westwell and Adela Ramirez stood out in particular. A couple of stumbles did not detract from the overall sense of fun and joy that served to welcome Golding’s entrance as Prince Siegfried. His extremely long legs help him give the illusion of spectacular height, but there was precise placement and superb elevation too. For James Streeter’s Rothbart it seemed simply to be a lot of (very convincing) bouncing down the auditorium steps and running around the stage perimeter in a cloak which looked a little too long. A shame, as he has so much more to give.

Act II is renowned for its poignant, ethereal quality, and ENB does not disappoint. The seemingly innumerate swans grace the stage causing ripples of delight in the audience at the sheer sight of them moving in perfect unison. Rojo’s entrance as Odette was met with curbed enthusiasm by her swans, protecting her and in turn complementing her extreme control and concentration. Remarkable as it may seem, Rojo rarely altered her facial expression much, appearing pained throughout. It was, though, extremely convincing. She was enthralling, commanding the space and demanding attention both from the audience and Siegfried in what can only be described as a dazzling display. Golding altered his expression even less. His character did not seem to develop, unlike his technical talent that most certainly did. Corps entrances and exits were noisy. Their pointe shoes could clearly be heard on the auditorium steps as they made their way on and off stage, distracting slightly from the illusion. They were no less beautiful, though.

The princesses in attendance at Siegfried’s Act III birthday celebration were the epitome of perfection, each depicting a different quality but all remaining regal in their secure technique. Nancy Osbaldeston and Yonah Acosta performed a delightful Neapolitan complete with tambourines, evoking a sense of mischief and were every inch the perfect partnership for this particular section. Osbaldeston’s bouncy quality radiated through her performance. Rojo was in her element as Odile. She lifted the act with her confident manner. In the much anticipated Black Swan pas de deux, Rojo did not disappoint in her 32 fouettés, turning them to face each of the four sides of the auditorium. Golding seemed to soar above the stage in his solos, floating in his jetés and demonstrating the ultimate in control in his double tours. Here the sorrow of the deceived prince was evident, and heightened by Odile and Rothbart’s success in betraying Odette.

The drama, unfortunately somewhat lacking in previously, continued into Act IV. Here Rojo truly came into her own by portraying a second side of the vulnerable Odette, eventually triumphing over Rothbart. This really was one of those occasions when, as Balanchine said should be the case, one heard the dance and saw the music. It was a great end to a wonderful evening in which the corps should be commended for their helping in the creation of the seamless narrative, carrying the audience though, with Rojo and Golding sitting proudly on top


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:26 am 
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More reviews of "Swan Lake" at the Royal Albert Hall.

Zoe Anderson for the Independent.

Independent

Lyndsey Winship for the Evening Standard.

Evening Standard

Judith Mackrell for the Guardian.

Guardian


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:20 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Adam Jacques interviews artistic director Tamara Rojo for the Independent.

Independent


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:22 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Reviews of "A Tribute to Nureyev" at the London Coliseum.

Laura Thompson for the Telegraph.

Telegraph

Zoe Anderson for the Independent.

Independent

Ismene Brown for the Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Judith Mackrell for the Guardian.

Guardian


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:30 am 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
You can read David Mead's thoughts on the Tribute to Nureyev programme on the new website here


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 Post subject: Re: English National Ballet 2013
PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:28 am 
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Posts: 1639
Location: London UK
The ENB’s tribute to Rudolf Nureyev programme proved to be a bit of a mixed bag with the company apparently ditching their Nicholas Beriosoff (the same one as danced at Paris Opera Ballet) production for a more dubious version by Isabelle Fokine who produces what can only be described as approximations of the originals. Nevertheless the dancers did their very best with this sub-standard material and some good individual performances compensated for the overall sense of seeing something second rate. Of the Petrushkas I saw Anton Lukovkin best portrayed the character’s hopelessness and Crystal Costa made that silly doll almost likeable. For some inexplicable reason the two dancers I saw as the Moor were performing without makeup. This ruined the whole look of the piece for me as the basic story is the conflicts between three puppets and to have one of the three clearly a person rather than a stuffed mannequin made nonsense of the story.

Bejart’s Songs of a Wayfarer was a surprise choice for the evening though in my view it was a highly rewarding choice. Although not a great fan of most of Bejart’s epic full evening productions, I have admired many of his shorter works and this piece to a haunting Mahler song cycle wears its forty plus years lightly. Beautifully danced by an inspired pairing, Vadim Muntagirov and Estaban Berlanga made the work look freshly minted with their beautiful lines and technical crispness. The alternative cast of Francisco Bosch and Fabian Raimair was also well worth seeing: a permanent place in the company repertoire would seem a good idea after performances of such a high standard.

Finally Raymonda, one of my favourite ballets and one I saw Nureyev dance many times with various companies. Many people downplay Nureyev’s extraordinary abilities saying he was yesterday’s man and his technique would be inferior to today’s dancers, but that is total rubbish. ENB has three very good Jean de Brienne’s in Y. Acosta, Gruzdyev and (especially) Muntagirov but none could match Nureyev in this and I looked in vain for those stunning sitting-in-the-air double cabrioles that were one of Rudolf’s signature steps but not one of these three leading dancers of today came close. For Raymonda herself, I had never seen a dancer match the radiance and sheer glamour of Margot Fonteyn, until now that is, as glorious Elena Glurdjidze gave a performance of such richness and warmth that it took my breath away. Raymonda is a noblewoman on her wedding day, rather like Aurora though without any fairies, but Glurdjidze’s innate luminosity gave the character a magical quality that turned her character from stock ballet heroine to a freshly minted interpretation full of passion and intensity: for me the performance of the year so far.

I should mention also the two other Raymondas, Rojo and Klimentova, both good in their own ways though Rojo would be better than good if she didn’t look so sour on what was supposed to be her wedding day.

The final performance struck a sad note with the departure from the company of Estaban Berlanga, a gifted and highly popular dancer. I always felt he was a dancer growing in artistry in front of our eyes and am truly sorry that we Londoners won’t see the career progression ahead of him, nevertheless I wish him every success with his new company in Madrid and hope his new career path returns him to London from time to time.


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