Saturday, April 29, 2006


Almost the same cast as the 15th March.
Giselle and Albrecht: Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson, Hilarion by Bennet Gartside, Myrtha was performed by Vanessa Palmer, Moyna was by Gemma Sykes and Zulme by Sian Murphy.

Tonight's performance was the best ever, especially Act 2.
Dancing the role for the million time, Leanne Benjamin never fail to show a fresh new side of Giselle. One is never tired of watching her portraying the frail and gentle beauty. For the 2 shows that I have seen, Leanne is like a budding flower, constantly unfolding each petal of feminity and innocence. It is poetry in motion. Her dancing in Act 1 was delivered with enormous vitality and life. In her mad scene, she just got better and better, and more convincing then ever. It was heart breaking to see her soul and love crumple into pieces.
Edward Watson is emerging with brilliance with his dancing and acting. In Act 1, he was much better than his opening performance on the 15th March. He left most of his boyishness behind, and brought out a more manly, authoritative character as Court Albercht. During his courtship to Giselle, he maintained and enhanced his cheekiness and affectionate side of a nobleman, which showed the humanity in the character. His continual affections towards Giselle was written all over his face. He embraces her with his soft look towards her direction, when she was across the stage from him. His dance technique improved since 15th March too. Perhaps it must be the opening and first performance vibes that caused him to be nervous and reserved... Nevertheless, tonight's performance was extremely outstanding.

Personally, it was Act 2 that swept me off my feet, and brought the entire house down. Firstly, Vanessa's Myrtha entrance was not exactly the best I have seen, unfortunately. I just felt that her dancing, and her interpretation of the character was not intimidating enough. I still feel a sense of warmth from the Queen of the Wilis. Her technique is quite strong, however, I would not say, its the best. Her landing seemed to be exceptionally heavy tonight, let's hope its 'the shoes'. Both Moyna and Zulme were not as stunning as the other casts, unfortunately, I just didn't feel like they have conquered the stage when they do their solos, which is a shame. However, the corp de ballet was truly remarkable tonight. Their arabesques were extremely strong and their lines and body lines were well-defined. Very very impressive.

Despite a 'weak' Queen of the Wilis and her two side kicks, Act 2 was saved by the leading duo, Leanne and Edward. Both of them danced with conviction and such strong emotions. Each of their solos, were executed with excellent performance and technique. It was PERFECT. They delivered a new level, a new class of Giselle and Albrecht.
Leanne danced her solos and her pas de deux effortlessly, her landings were as light as feather, and her adagio was performed with etherality. On her entrance, when she had to do her spins, she was quick, agile and precise, and coming out of it, she changed the dynamic of the movement creating a new climatic moment.
Edward's solos in Act 2 was breathtaking. His bravura leaps, beats and pirouettes were clean and sustained. He made it looked very very well-rehearsed and well-thought, and of course, without a doubt, effortless too. His acting in Act 2 is better than what he did on the 15th March. He wasn't just dancing the character, he had made the audience believed that he IS Albrecht. One could feel his remorse, and pain and his broken heart when he kneeled at Giselle's grave. His 'heart' may be broken, but through him and his dancing, it has touched the many hearts of the audience. I don't think I need to say much about their pas de deux. Both principles supports each other both physically and emotionally. It felt like time was at a standstill when the two of them did their pas de deux. The connection between them was beyond the ethereal world. It was the most heartbreaking when Giselle exits... and Albrecht left alone on stage.

Their performance was extremely convincing, it did not just touched the hearts of the audience, but left tears in our eyes, ( well, I know the lady beside me and I were touched to tears).

Saturday, April 15, 2006


This is the cast for Giselle 15th March 2006, Matinee :
Giselle: Leanne Benjamin
Court Albrecht: Edward Watson
Hilarion: Bennet Gartside
Pas de Six: Laura Morera / Ricardo Cervera, Samantha Raine / Zachary Faruque, Caroline Duprot / Steven McRae
Myrtha: Marianela Nunez
Moyna: Gemma Sykes
Zulme: Sian Murphy

Overall, it was a successful performance. The opera house were almost full house, apart from perhaps one or two single seats in the amphitheatre, balcony, etc. I guess it is a busy day for the opera house, and covent garden, for it is easter weekend.

To begin with, I do not understand, why is there a need for applause when the principal dancers appear on stage, also, why is it just for a veteran principal and not the newcomer? personally, i find it very disruptive, for the dancers, the orchestra and some of the audience. When Edward Watson appeared on stage (He was the first person on stage) there was no applaud, and when Leanne Benjamin opens the door of her little hut, the auditorium roared with applause. What have she done? She just opened the door, she didn't do any party-trick to gain any applause.. all she did was just gave the door a little push, and out she came...

anyway... back to the review...

It is Edward's first Albrecht. One can sense his nervousness. Although he did mentioned once in an interview that his first performance is usually the best... Nevertheless, he did very very well, for a first-timer. One can see his effort in portraying the role, and making immense effort to act, and it seemed rather obvious that he seems to be under a lot of pressure for this role. He was early on the music. For instance, when he knocked on Giselle's door in Act 1, he did it before the music cues him too. hence, the knocking sound effect from the orchestra came after his first knock. clearly, he did realise his untimely knock, and waited for a moment for his 2nd knock on her door. The same thing happen to Leanne as well, when she was doing a specific sequence in Act 1, she was too early in the music. Hence it made me ponder.... are the dancers TOO EARLY, or was the music LATE?

In Act 1, Edward tried to act out the character of Albrecht, based on his interpretation, it appeared that Albrecht is not as princely as the latter is meant to be, and in fact is quite a youngish fellow... I have to give Edward the credit for portraying Albrecht as an incredibly affectionate lover to Giselle. He is constantly looking at her with admiration and giving her kisses, he shows care and affection almost effortlessly. It was very realistic... as an audience, I was full of envy of Giselle for having such a passionate lover...

Leanne Benjamin was flawless. She demonstrated a very gentle Giselle. For instance, when she had to wipe the chair for Bathilde, her gesture was gentle and extremely subtle, that it portrayed Giselle as a soft, 'ladylike' girl. which personally, was very different to the many Giselle I have seen by the Royal Ballet. Leanne's madscene was quite convincing, however, in the last moment before she fell to the ground, Edward seemed to let her go, instead of her falling from his hands. It appeared that the movement was initiated from his gestures, and not a natural intention... Bennet Garside as Hilarion was amazing in Act 1 in portraying his rough, 'vulgar' character, however his eyes, and face seemed to gentle to be a Hilarion...

In Act 2, Marianela Nunez stole the show. She was an excellent choice as Myrtha. Her icy cold and authoritative presence sends out fear into the audience. her execution of the repertoire was flawless, and spot-on. Bennet Garside was extremely convincing in the 1st Act, however, when it came to the 2nd Act, i felt that he lost his character a little, and focus his energy in his dancing. which was quite ashamed...
Overall, it was an impressionable performance. The corp de ballet was magnificient and portray strong technique and uniformed structures... The only thing that I thought i would say is, Edward needs to be more careful in the way he moves on stage, as in when he puts his partner down, etc, he needs to be aware of how he do it, and the position of where he is in front of the audience. Also, i feel that he could probably use up most of the music by acting and spreading out the music rather than get to the position to wait for the music to come... I do understand that it is his first attempt as Albrecht, which is an extemely great job done, so, what i am saying is just my personal opinion....

Saturday, April 01, 2006


The same pieces that were mentioned in the previous post were performed by the Royal Ballet. The cast were different.
Polyphonia, we had big names for Cast A, Leanne Benjamin, Alina Cojacaru, Deirdre Chapman, Lauren Cuthbertson, Martin Harvey, Federico Bonelli, Valeri Hristov and last but not least, Edward Watson.
In general, the dancers in this cast were fantastic, but not as impressive as the other cast. There were some dancers in this cast that were more outstanding than the cast on 28th March [Cast A: Sarah Lamb, Alexandra Ansanell, Deirdre Chapman, Laura Morera, Gary Avis, Johannes Stepanek, Steven McRae, Jonathan Howells]. To name a few, the sparkles were Cuthbertson, Bonelli, and Watson.
Personally, I would like to give a detailed review of what i felt about these different cast. As an entire cast, Cast A was brilliant... they performed in full dynamic when they were all onstage at any one time. however, breaking down the 10 different sequences, there were some differences. Firstly, the first duet performed by Leanne and Martin, were nothing to compared to Sarah and Gary. Leanne looked tired and struggling to get her extensions up, one could see her collapsing.. out of breath... and martin, seemed to struggle to keep her afloat and lifted. I believe Martin is a strong partner to dance with, however when coupled with a dancer who is worn out and exhausted, and when it is just 2 dancers on the big stage, it is rather evident that they were behind the music and it did not look like they were 'dancing', instead they looked like they were 'moving, doing steps'. Whereas Sarah and Gary showed amazing control and fluidity in their lyrical deut. Sarah was extremely impressive, her lines were defined and his dancing was impressive.
Another sequence worth mentioning, it was from Cast A's Edward and Valeri's deut on 31st March. Both dancers create a most entertaining performance. Most of the choreography was performed in cannon. Valeri lead, and Edward follows. I have to say, Edward shone brighter than Valeri. His execution of the movements were performed with amazing energy. Pure excellence!!! Next sequence that follow, it was the deut between Alina and Federico (Cast A) and Alexandra and Johannes (Cast B). I was utterly disappointed with Alina. I expected the principal dancer of Royal Ballet to be the star of the night, the star of Polyphonia. Unfortunately, she was off her balance, showing off all her high extensions without control. Her weight was mostly behind her. I mean, she is fantastic... however, after watching Alexandra on the 28th March, I was expecting Alina to at least perform her solo to almost equivalent level. Alexandra stole the entire show on 28th March. Her control, balance, and technique was breathtaking and performed with grace. As she stays in an arabesque (for ages) one could feel the audience holding their breath for her. Whereas for Alina, there were no balances, or any breathtaking moments. I guess it wasn't her best night. Lastly I have to mention again. edward watson and Lauren Cuthbertson's duet in the 8th sequence was remarkable. Both dancers, english-trained, impressed audience with their speed, energy and performed the movement with excellent precision. Both dancers performed their roles with lightheartedness and effortless. edward's flexibility was beyond description (he almost hit his own head when his leg was in a la seconde) Watching this partnership was extremely satisfying and I only wished i had a remote control to rewind and watch again and again... However, a friend of mine, who came to watch with me, reckons edward watson looked tired and was not giving his 100%. well, he did seemed a little at the end, but if this was his bad day, I wonder what will his BEST day be. Castle Nowhere: Cast B

Castle Nowhere was performed by the 2nd cast, which was also their opening performance. I was overly impressed. They were better than the 1st cast. The leading roles are performed by Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera. Both dancers deliver an extensive amount of dance expression and chemistry between themselves. The performance was convincing and I begin to love this piece more than I already did. As i have mentioned before, the choreographic vocabulary of Mrozewski mesmerise me, and i simply adore the movements are composed and executed by both cast's lead, Zen and Ed, and Laura and Ric. Both Zen and Ed deliver this piece slightly different from Laura and Ric. Both couples still show the main gist of their characters, but personally, i feel, Zen and Ed are extremely suitable for this piece for the way their body moves and the chemistry between them, and Laura and Ric showed more emotions, but the way their body moves is nothing compare to Zen and Ed's partnership. Hence, if only these 2 couples could combine their strong points, it will be the perfect cast.
Next up, Requiem by Macmillan. It was a star-studded evening. Oh, and I forgot to mention, it was a sold out performance. For Requiem, we have Leanne Benjamin, Darcey Bussell, Viacheslav Samodurov, Carlos Acosta and the new up and coming, promising dancer, Rupert Pennefather. Briefly, Rupert Pennefather had recently received The Outstanding Male Artist(Classical) Award at the 2005 National Dance Awards, and has already partnered Darcey, Tamara, Leanne, Alina, and other leading principal dancers.
Macmillan's choreography is always all tops and nothing negative to say about. Only one thing to mentioned, Rupert replaced David Makhateli, and took on a big role in the Sanctus pas de deux with Leanne. During the Insight Evening, Rupert partnered Mara Galeazzi and encountered some problems in the choreographic aspects of the partnering. Personally, i understand that being a dancer would have to be professional and rise to the occassion, when suddenly one has to partner a dancer which he has not rehearse before. I just felt for Rupert for working so hard with this duet, but not really working with his partner. And i guess the mishandling could possibly be he was too tall for leanne, or leanne and mara is slightly different in height. well, all these are just some considerations and assumptions i thought about... but anyway... back to the review... well done and i applaud the entire company. The performance was marvellous!!!!

am now looking forward to Giselle on the 15th April.