Posts Tagged ‘Danse a Grande Vitesse’

Mini-review – Triple Bill (Serenade, Sweet Violets, Danse a Grande Vitesse) – Royal Ballet

May 22, 2014

When Clement Crisp has reviewed a ballet, I often think I have little to add to it. But …

I’ve barely managed to see Natalia Osipova since she’s become a regular at the Royal Ballet, but I managed to grab a single ticket for this triple bill, hoping against hope that Sweet Violets would have been trimmed and tightened since its debut. No such luck: it was as incoherent as ever, and while I thought I might be distracted by getting to see the lovely costumes close up, instead I was just … waiting. Waiting for Osipova. And wondering: who in the hell ever thought of putting Liam Scarlett side by side with Balanchine? It was like steak and Wotsits sitting on a plate together, the same jarring experience as the exhibit of Turner and Helen Frankenthaler I saw in Margate. It’s clear when you’re seeing a masterpiece for all time – and it’s ever so clear when you’re not.

Finally we got to “Danse a Grande Vitesse,” which I’d found robotic and dull when I first saw it. But somehow, with a Wotsits appetizer and the brilliant dancing of Osipova, I relaxed into this performance, with the dancers making beautiful curving motions of the trains and gears, with the odd “I am the French goddess of Victory!” moments, with the incessant Nyman score. Suddenly I had a vision: combine the choreography (and funky deconstructed train) of DGV with the costumes and pathos of the other, and you could have Zola’s La Bete Humaine. Blood, sex, death, and fast trains: it would be awesome. Thinking about this kept me highly amused for the rest of the evening – I mean, it would help the Royal Ballet recoup their investment from Violets and mean we might manage to not ever have to see it again! It was a very cheering thought.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014. The final performance will be May 26th.)


Review – dual premiere mixed bill (Balanchine’s “Ballo della Regina,” McGregor’s “Live Fire Exercise” plus Danse a Grande Vitesse) – Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House

May 14, 2011

Last night was a fabulous evening of mixed short productions at the Royal Ballet – not just a world premiere (Wayne McGregor’s “Live Fire Exercise”) but a new Balanchine (“Ballo della Regina”) for the Royal Ballet, plus a remounting of “Danse a Grande Vitesse” (from 2006). To think that this wealth of investment in dance comes on top of a brand new full-length ballet earlier in the year (Alice) – I’d like to thank Monica Mason and whatever magic she has that has made this kind of money show up to grace our stages with new art. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

For “Ballo della Regina,” I’m pleased to report that the Royal Ballet has chosen a delicious, tender and exuberant Balanchine to add to its repertory. I was spoiled with Balanchine back in Seattle; I find the Royal Ballet is suited to its disciplined style. Marianela Nunez was (save one bobble) graceful and delicate turning by an unusual lifting and dropping of the toes (rather than a pirouette); Sergei Polunin was strong and effortless when partnering her. I was struck by the contrast with the Dutch National Ballet’s von Manen bill of the night before: his “Adagio Hammerklavier” seemed to have the Balanchine style but was utterly lacking in emotional connection. Yet in this piece, Balanchine had Polunin not just making constant, intent eye contact with Nunez while executing the complex signature hand-turnings; he also at one point leaned forward for a second to rest his cheek against her arm. It was a tiny, human gesture that perfectly captured what was missing the night before; a connection between the two leads that spoke of universal humanity rather than just being bodies in space.

Of course, what I will take away from Ballo was the just brilliant work Polunin did in the air. The height! The daring! I don’t even have the words for all the different crazy things he did with his legs and the way it all looked like he was born to spend his life springing off the ground as if, perhaps, in his other life he might have been wearing blue tights and a red cape. “Ballo della Regina,” perhaps; I dub this ballet “Ballo della Rex*.” It was unmissable and I felt like my whole night had hit such a high that if I saw nothing else it would have all been worth while.

Next up was Wayne McGregor’s “Live Fire Exercise” in its world premiere. It started with a big video on stage showing animated trucks and equipment moving around on a desert landscape; then a ball of fire exploded upwards and the dance begun. At first, watching the initial pair of dancers clinging to each other and struggling, I thought perhaps here we had a response to the Japanese tidal wave and the Fukushima disaster; I was excited to think he’d went for something so topical and so contrary to his normal technophilia. (And no, I didn’t read the program notes – I think I should be able to understand ballet without having to be told what’s going on. If you have to spell out what happened that extensively, you’re doing it wrong. I’ll go back and see what he said it was all about once this is published.)

But as the dance went on, the movement seemed to disintegrate into … random movement with no context, simply one pose after another, as if Cunningham had taken the wheel and people were no longer at the center of the event. The dancers slid across the slick stage on flat feet; they occasionally seemed frantic; the girls were held upside-down; at one point a woman slapped the stage with her hand. The ball of fire seemed to have no connection with anything; it was only interesting when the dancers stood so close to the projection that they became silhouettes. At one point one of the men covered his partner’s eyes with her hands; and truly, it was all too terrible to bear watching. The fire ended, the screen went to black and white, the little video trucks drove away … and it was over. Such a let down. Much like David Bowie, I feel like Wayne McGregor has run out of new ideas. Maybe he’ll get lucky and Lady Gaga will do a piece with him – God knows she’s got innovation to spare.

This over, my speechless companion and I decided to head into the night, skipping Danse a Grande Vitesse, which I found dull when it debuted and didn’t care to see again. It was a beautiful spring night; I’d seen Sergei Polunin rise to the stars in “Ballo:” it was now time for visiting and relaxing and drinking some nice wine and trying to put “Live Fire Exercise” behind me.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, May 13th, 2011. Performances continue through May 25th. Travelzoo has a deal using the code PZOO for selected dates of this ballet – 24 quid amphi tickets for 10 pounds. I’d say it’s totally worth it just for Ballo alone, and to be honest I do like the Michael Nyman score for “Danse a Grande Vitesse” so you’ll probably feel like it was worth it in the end.)

*With a better control of the language, Ismene Brown calls this “Ballo dello Re.” Ah well, I really ought to learn Italian.

Review – Three Short Works (Voluntaries, The Lesson, Infra) – The Royal Ballet

November 27, 2008

Last night was my long awaited trip to the Royal Opera House to see Wayne McGregor’s new work, “Infra.” However, it was not the only work on the program; it was the final work on the program, which was rather a compliment, as my experience has been that mixed rep ballet sandwiches are usually stacked “nice/boring ballet” “the thing that makes you feel weird” “the big winner with the crowd scene that sends you home feeling energized.” “Chroma” got the “weird” placement, with the missible “Danse a Grande Vitesse” the supposed “feel good” finale, but it seems that the Royal Ballet were feeling more confident this time that McGregor could be the anchor for a show. It was a shame in some ways, but as there was nothing in the evening I really didn’t like, I mostly just minded that I wound up getting home after 11 PM on a weeknight.

“Voluntaries” (choreographed by Glen Tetley) was something I’d seen before, but I was still happy to see it what with Marianela Nunez leading the cast. The costumes are a horrible 80s look with big open chests for the men and the women in white, but it’s cool to hear the awesome Poulenc organ music blasting across the house while the women are being thrown around. To me the piece has a really primeval feel to it, with the big, sparkly, universe/sun cir
Webcowgirl’s Theatre Reviews › Create New Post — WordPresscle on the back of the stage and the woman looking like they are being offered up as sacrifices; but though a lot of contorting goes on, I think it’s my conclusion that this work just doesn’t thrill me. Nunez was full of energy, lithe as can be, and amazingly muscular, but … I guess I wanted her to have an opportunity to do more and be carried around less.

“The Lesson” (choreography by Flemming Flindt) was a ballet I’ve actually been very interested in seeing since I first heard about it. What a story – wicked ballet master manipulates and kills student! My uncle said it seemed like an upscale Sweeney Todd, though it wasn’t quite – it was more of an Expressionistic piece, a comic Grand Guignol ballet, with a movie-like set of greens and blues and greys and yellows. Johan Kobborg did a great job of being a psychotic teacher – it’s actually one of the best “acting” roles I’ve seen for a man in a ballet in a dog’s age. Roberta Marquez was an adorable pupil, light on her feet, expressive, and impressive in her ability to dance while someone was holding on to her ankles (is this actually something they do in dance school?). Kristen McNally was fun to watch as The Pianist, a sort of assistant to the teacher, like Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney, but with huge, exaggerated actions. I was afraid I’d be terrified and shocked by the ending, but it was all over really fast and just came off as a bit of black humor, to my relief.

Well, then, on to the main event (after another thirty minute interval – what in the world are they thinking!), we finally got on to Infra, the star of my evening. Sadly, I can’t go on about it at length right now, as it’s late and I’m too exhausted to talk much. To me, the ballet seemed to be a lot about how people live and interact with each other, the kind of connections we make, the way you can be surrounded by so many people and actually be completely lonely. The movement didn’t have the shock to me of “Chroma,” which is probably in part because I’ve become more familiar with the vocabulary of movement MacGregor uses, but it also didn’t feel as sharp edged – but it was a more introspective piece overall.

The soundscape, by Chris Eckers, was very … well – it’s really hard to describe. There were violins playing at times, and at other times there were scratchy noises, and al the time this was going on, overhead there was a LED art thing by Julian Opie of people walking, walking, walking by, which I stopped paying attention to, though it kept going. And I got lost in the noise, and the movement, and the truly amazing lighting (Lucy Carter), and the dancers caressed and fought with one another, and they touched and brushed and manhandled each other, and Melissa Hamilton was tiny and so flexible and strong that at one point as Eric Underwood was folding her inside out, the people behind me gasped in amazement. And then all of these people came walking, walking, walking out of the wings, walking in an endless stream, mirroring the images that had been showing above them forever, while one woman fell apart in the middle of the stage, broken and ignored by the crowd … and then she disappeared into them, and “the great river ran on.” It was an awesome moment.

And, well, I guess I wish I could watch it again. I really liked it a lot.

  • (This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, November 26th. This was the last performance of this set of dances.)