Wednesday, October 18, 2006


5th October 2006, was the opening night of the opening season of the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto was the opening act.
Three plotless ballets boldly put together to welcome back the old patrons, loyal fans and appeal to the new audience.
5th October Cast: Darcey Bussell, Edward Watson, Leanne Benjamin, Johan Kobborg
7th October Cast: Zenaida Yanowsky, David Makhateli, Alexandra Ansanelli, Viacheslav Samodurov
10th October Cast: Darcey Bussell, Edward Watson, Leanne Benjamin, Ricardo Cervera
The opening night was almost a sell-out. The cast for Stravinsky Violin Concerto were on full force. To begin with the corps were strong, on the ball and in terribly good shape. It was most impressive. The piece commenced with Leanne Benjamin did a small number with 4 male dancers, followed by Darcey Bussell and 4 other male dancers. This pattern repeats in opposition, when Edward Watson enters on stage with 4 female dancers, followed by Johan Kobborg and 4 other female dancers. Leanne Benjamin then takes the stage with 4 of the female dancers, and the same pattern repeats for the 3 other leading cast. When Kobborg danced his tiny solo with 4 other boys, he was the only one that made his animated movements with as much naturalisticism as he possibly could, whereas Samodurov and Cerava overdid theirs.
The first duet, performed by Darcey Bussell and Edward Watson, was performed with precision and flair. Bussell handled Balanchine’s style cleverly, whilst Watson’s pliable limbs were joint with a neo-classical style. Both long-limbed English principals dancers of the company, made use of their assets to the fullest. The same duet was also performed by Zenaida Yanowsky and David Makhateli. Yanowsky shone like a diamond in this duet, while Makhateli looked out of place throughout the ballet. The next duet, which was seen during the Insight Evening, was beautifully choreographed and performed by Leanne Benjamin with partner Johan Kobborg on the first night, and with Ricardo Cervera on the following evening. Balanchine was inspired by the relationship between Stravinksy and his wife, Vera, and he created this emotional duet. Leanne Benjamin and Johan Kobborg were splendid, but with Ricardo Cervera, it was emotionally painful and realistic. When this duet lies in the hands of New York City Ballet Balachine-trained Alexandra Ansanelli, the effects were different. She was on the music and delivered the steps with assurance and rapport. She used her back beautifully, however, her partner was oddly uncomfortable and not involved emotionally on his face in regards to this duet.
After the two duet, the dancers come together and prepared the mass Slavic-inspired ballet steps. Watson seemed to be the only one enjoying himself in the mass act.
Personally, I think, to make Stravinsky Violin Concerto work, one would wish that the partners were swap. Zen and Ed, Kobborg and Ansanelli, and the ballet would hopefully be more exciting to watch.

5th, 10th October Cast: Alina Cojocaru, Federico Bonelli, Sarah Lamb, Thiago Soares, Rupert Pennefather
7th October Cast:Marianela Nunez, Jason Reilly (Guest Principal Artist from Stuttgart Ballet), Mara Galeazzi, Valeri Kristov, Bennet Gartside
A huge huge challenge of the repertoire for the Royal Ballet. The almost-impossible lifts, and extensive use of the back were the essence of this piece. Danced, and created to Poulenc’s lyrical music, the dancers enjoyed the music as they tackled the steps. It was a good thing to see the company blossomed into what they are today, and take on new challenges to their portfolio. It must be a good boost of motivation for most. With Jason Reilly as a guest, the dancers seemed to love dancing with him, and the audience loved watching him. Both casts demonstrated different feel and approach to the work, but both did tremendously wonderful on all the performances.

Alina Cojocaru and Sarah Lamb approached the work with more feminity. It was almost like the male counterparts were worshipping the two sacred dancers. Whereas, Marianela Nunez, and Mara Galeazzi’s cast, both female and male dancers were almost on par with each other, making the relationship more complete, giving it a more wholesome feel to it. Both different approach, both wonderful dancing.
With the mesmerising music, and beautiful choreography, the costumes were extremely dated. White lycra on both female and male, with various coloured dots on the bodice and legs. The costumes for the men were not at all flattering.
All in all, the corps for this and the previous piece worked extremely hard, bless them…

Cast: Company
Sinfonietta by Kylian seemed to be one of those works that you either love it or hate it. Well, for me, it was not exactly a hate, but definitely not a love. To begin with, this free-moving piece was made in 2 weeks, but received extensive positive response and made its mark then calling it a masterpiece. Well, a masterpiece, made by a master (Kylian), as many would agree, but I thought the work for the Royal Ballet was unjustified. The choreography was clearly made without much creativity. The main movement that appeared in the 25 minutes piece was simply jetes; and they came in all shapes, sizes and ways of doing it. They were either done with a developpe, or without, and they can be taken with the arms in high V or in another position, alternatively, the jetes are supported in duets. The male dancers were just doing jetes 3/4 of the time. Personally I just thought that the entire piece is a prolonged grand allegro exercise. Perhaps I do not fully comprehend the style of Kylian’s; but I have seen his other works in which I adore very much, but Sinfonietta, despite its international success, it did not work the sparks for me.


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