Posts Tagged ‘Spring Dance at the Coliseum’

Metro half-price offer: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” at Coliseum

April 13, 2010

Another great dance deal today: half price tickets (£60/£50 tickets for £30/£25) for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” at London Coliseum (April 20-24). Either call 0871 472 0800 and quote “Celebrate the City Offer,” or go to www.eno.org and enter “pcdcelebrate” when prompted.

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Review – Swan Lake – Ballet Nacional de Cuba w/Carlos Acosta, London Coliseum

March 31, 2010

Last night was the long-anticipated start of Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s run at the Coliseum, an event I’d been waiting for breathlessly since I first saw it mentioned last fall in a Sadler’s Wells program. I’d especially booked to see Carlos Acosta, who was fortunately performing on opening night. The combination was magic (of the box office sort, at least), as the giant barn of a theater was filled to the rafters with wittering ballet fans. How exciting, to see so many people all together to enjoy ballet! The atmosphere was positively electric.

I’d actually not bought the program beforehand (in part because I showed up about two minutes before curtain up), so I didn’t know if we had a 3 or 4 act (answer: 3) or which ending we were going to get (tragic, sad, or inappropriately happy), though I was told in the cast sheet that the curtain would drop at 10 PM (actual: 10:15). The lack of program left me with a few moments of confusion during act one (what was up with the people in the animal masks coming out from behind the screen – and were those ravens or swans with very thin beaks?) and an utter shock at the very end (I was not expecting the ending they chose). However, in most ways, it’s not as if there was going to be a different story up there than Swan Lake: the difference was going to be in the dancing.

And the dancing: so, so very good! One of the things I’ve come to believe about BNC (based on having seen them twice before) is that theirs is a very pure dance tradition, one I think hews closely to the earliest interpretations of these dances. Thus, in these performances for which composers especially made music to be danced to, in BNC we see dancing that hews tightly to the music, where so many of the movements enhanced the music played with them, so that it seemed the dance served the music. I noticed this first during the first act, when the leaps of Yanela Pinera, Amaya Rodriguez and Alejandro Virelles, in their pas de trois, appeared to have organically developed from the efforts of the brass section. Then, in the third act, the fouettes of Odile (Viengsay Valdes, rather adorably credited with this role as if we did not know she was also Odette) seemed, for once, not a prima ballerina foot-twirling death march, but rather a musical illustration of the martial music underneath it. Each dip of her toe matched up with a blare of horns, and, for the first time I ever, I saw this bit of choreography as something to do with Tchaikovsky and not just with showing off technique. So many times I have felt like dances are being done by people counting beats in their head; but with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, it really seems the dancers are listening to the music, and the difference is truly remarkable. It just all feels so very right, this marriage of music and movement, and I found myself getting goosebumps over and over again, seeing this best of ballet scores come to life. It was great.

I also enjoyed the differences in this version from many of the ones I have seen. All of the first act takes place in the court, and the dances seem to be done spontaneously by the staff to cheer up Prince Siegfried (Carlos Acosta). There were additions I’d never expected – a maypole, a jester (who is a big player), a strange bit in which the jester becomes a crossbow, the animal masquerade (mentioned above), and this whole “mystical experience” thing where Siegfried seems to suddenly be struck by the idea of looking for a swan. As it turns out, when he finally meets Odette, he just kind of steps onto the stage from the wings and grabs her from the waist, which is utterly anticlimactic. However, prior to this we have the most glorious dance of the swan corps ever, whom, despite their smallish numbers (twenty, when I think some company brags of having forty or so), utterly mesmerized me with their movements across the stage, forming and reforming shapes just like real birds do in the sky, only instead of just Vs and teardrop shapes we got circles and a gorgeous set of lines with offset dancers in the middle. I … I mean, I’m sure it was just standard stagecraft, but it was just … goosebumps again. Lovely.

Then we were barelling on to Act Three and Siegfried’s betrayal, and of this act I have to say RED AND BLACK ODILE! This isn’t what most people would have noticed, but it was a novel costuming decision, and I’m a bit obsessed with the color combination. And Valdes’ transformation – it made it impossible to see how Siegfried could have possibly mistaken the one for the other, she had so utterly changed her self presentation on stage. Her seduction of Siegfried seemed ever so much more cold and calculating than in other versions of this show, though, truth be told, the vision of Odette that appeared behind the scrim was so poorly lit that it almost seemed a metaphor for Siegfried’s poor memory. The ending, well, just in case you like surprises, I’ll say a bit of it was clunky and horrid and some of it was magical. Odette’s inability to resist Von Rothbart seemed like it was physically manifested, though, and Valdes did some powerful dancing in this act – but what can I say, being evil always makes a performer more interesting, and it was her Odile I loved best.

Costumes have been a bit of a problem with BNC for me before, because, though the dance preserves well over time, the costumes go stale. I enjoyed them, though – the court was very medieval a la Disney’s Cinderella meets traditional Russian clothing, and the costumes for the dancers in act three were great. Best was the third act’s black and white theme for the jester and the prince, which showed clearly the tug between Odette and Odile that was to come. Foreshadowing via costuming: nice! And the sets were simple but servicable, Gothic and eerie and easy to pack into a shipping container.

At the end of the night, we were treated to the Grande Dame herself, Alicia Alonso, coming on stage to take a bow besides the dance company that she has made, and a dancer that she helped create – Carlos Acosta. She really is a treasure and I feel lucky to have actually seen her, especially since I felt she was wholly responsible for the wonderful evening I’d just had. Who’d think in a world in which there is so much bad dance that one night could be so magical? Even though last night was sold out, there are seats available for £35 for the non-Carlos nights – and, dammit, it’s impossible for me to go back. But I really and truly wish I could. At least I’ve got their Magia de la Danza program to look forward to after Easter, and may I suggest you book for that, too, using the same £35 deal to get lovely stalls seats.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, March 20th, 2010. Ballet Nacional de Cuba continues with Swan Lake through Sunday April 4th; their residency at the London Coliseum continues through Sunday April 11th. Don’t miss it. Really. No matter what Ismene Brown says.)

Screaming deal – Ballet Nacional de Cuba London 2010 visit best seats for £35

March 26, 2010

The Metro has got a screaming deal for Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s 2010 visit to the London Coliseum. For the Friday-Sunday April 2-4 shows of Swan Lake and for the Magica de la Danza program on Fri-Sunday April 9-11, best in the house tickets are £35. Call 0871 911 0200 and ask for the “Celebrate” offer by 29th March to book. If you bought tickets before this, you can’t return them. Boo hoo.

Discounts on 2009 “Spring Dance at the London Coliseum”

February 28, 2009

Due to Eonnagata being sold out for its entire run at Sadler’s Wells (best hope: buy tickets for June) and my being too poor to get tickets to pretty much any plays for all of March, I’m going to fill my blog with posts on saving money on show tickets in lieu of other content. Well, actually, I think that for March you’ll also be seeing posts on Flamenco and maybe even silent movies (there is a series at the BFI called “Screen Seductresses: Vamps, Vixens and Femmes Fatales” that I’ll be hitting rather frequently), but not much for plays. That said …

American Ballet Theater is coming to the London Coliseum at the end of March (through April 4th) to present two programs: Swan Lake and Le Corsaire. Tickets are available at prices ranging from 10 to 95 quid, but for select showings of Swan Lake (Wed 25 PM, Th 26 both shows, Sunday 29 March PM show) you can get two for one tickets on the 95, 80, and 60 tickets. Similarly, Birmingham Royal Ballet is coming in April to present two programs: Pomp and Circumstances and Sylvia. Half price tickets are available for the THursday April 16th show on the 65 and 55 tickets. To get these deals, go to http://www.eno. org and use the promo code SD441A when prompted or call the box office on 0871 472 0800 and quote “postcard offer.”

Anyway, enjoy! I don’t have a spare 60 for March (two blow on one evening versus three), but it’s my hope that by April I’ll have enough pennies scraped together to go see the Pomp and Circumstances show, as I like Birmingham Royal Ballet a lot.

Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s “Four Voices: Wheeldon, Martins, Bigonzetti, Ratmansky” Program – London Coliseum

March 19, 2008

Last night’s performance of City Ballet was a great chance to sample the work of several newer choreographers. The first piece was by Christopher Wheeldon, formerly in residence at City Ballet and now working with his own company and the Ballet Boyz to keep ballet relevant for modern audiences. His “Carousel” was a homage to the great musical of the same name, but, when stripped down to a few themes and clumsily illustrated with dancers carrying poles and moving in circles, it just seemed … watery. The girl was lonely, the man was arrogant, there were overtones of can-can girls and seediness in some of the group scenes … but it was hard to care. It made me briefly think that a danced “Lear” would be nice, then I remembered his “Elsinore” and I thought, nah, Wheeldon just doesn’t seem to get emotional connection and the kind of stuff that makes you invest in a story. Oh well. Maybe Matthew Bourne will give it a try.

Next up was a little frippery of a Russian piece, Peter Martin’s “Zakousi,” a duet complete with big boots and sparkly “Ballet Imperiale” glitz (for the woman). But that was the end of the glittery and wow. Instead of stylish pyrotechnics on stage and the showy, over the top style I’ve come to love from the Bolshoi, this was watered down and whingy. It was like some horrible fusion cuisine that eliminated all of the spices “to better suit the locale palate.” Fortunately it was short.

The highlight of the evening was next; a piece by Mauro Bigonzetti, an Italian choreographer who counts Balanchine and Forsythe among his influences. “In Vento,” it was called, which while it might mean “in the wind” (I think), to me also seemed appropriately misheard as “inventive”. I could see it, too, in the harsh poses of the women (with arms over their heads, like birds of prey, and their costumes, very Forsythe) and the very complex and yet smooth twining of a pas de quatre a la Balanchine. But his four were men, and he had them rolling onto each others’ arms, then being picked up and carried backwards with the combined strength of their numbers; and both sexes posed, angular and angrily, in a way I somehow found very Italian. It was a great showcase for the athletic skills of the troupe, and even found time to be tender and vulnerable. I’ll be looking for his work again.

The final bit was “Russian Seasons” by Alexie Ratmansky. The funny turban hats made this look more ethnically Russian, but what was very cool was the singing (by Irina Rindzuner) – the kind of strange, rising up at the end female vocals I associate with the Hungarian women’s choirs. This dancing was much more … I don’t know, unselfconsciously Russian than the Martins piece. It really seemed to tell different stories, with the people (five couples?) taking care of each other, ignoring each other, falling apart … it was enjoyable to watch but I think somewhere around the last fifteen minutes or so I just got worn out and gave up the ghost. It was fine, it just wasn’t … energetic enough. And it was too long.

So for a balletomane like me, this was a good night out, as I’m always hoping to find a good new choreographer and they are few and far between. Seeing this backed right up against the Jerome Robbins night like I did really reminded me of how there’s really a special something that makes a choreographer great – and while a lot of people might spend time with dancers, very few of these people will ever really achieve greatness.

(This review was for a performance the night of Tuesday, March 18th, 2008. Casting was as follows: TUESDAY EVENING, MARCH 18, 7:30 P.M.
(Conductor: Karoui)
CAROUSEL (A DANCE): Peck, Woetzel
pause
ZAKOUSKI: Borree, Hübbe+
IN VENTO: *Reichlen, Millepied, Fowler
RUSSIAN SEASONS: Krohn, Whelan, Rutherford, Evans)

Spring Dance at the Coliseum – City Ballet’s Jerome Robbins Program – London Coliseum

March 13, 2008

Tonight was an evening I’ve been anticipating since August (yes, I am that much of a geek), when I first heard that City Ballet was coming to London as a part of the Spring Dance at the Coliseum program (which is 85% City Ballet). It’s part of the reason I didn’t go to New York for Easter – I couldn’t see them while I was there, so why bother leaving town when I could just sit on my duff and see them here?

Anyway, tonight was the all Jerome Robbins program, and it was GREAT. The first piece was … oh man, it was like that first time you heard an album you’d been listening to on your grungy old boom box for years, and then suddenly you’re getting to experience it on a CD on a good stereo, and you’re all amazed because it’s ten times better and you’d never noticed there were strings and stuff in the background, and you can hear the singer breathing? Yeah, that was the first piece, “The Four Seasons,” with an utterly fantastic faun in the Autumn scene. I actually got caught up in the movement of fabric in the spring bit because it so vibrantly captured the energy of the dancer. And the winter scene was clever and funny! Who would think it would take Americans to bring wit to ballet? It sure seemed to shake up the night.

The second piece (Moves) was done without music, and I think it kind of freaked the audience out a bit (the woman behind me asked, “Where’s the conductor?”). It was basically a piece about performing, very self-reflexive in a kind of 1970s way, with moves I associated more with William Forsythe than something so much older. A scene in the couples section reminded me of Monet’s multiple studies of cathedrals and haystacks – showing how having different people interact changes the movement that is possible. The third piece, “The Concert,” was pure comedy of the “Look behind you!” variety and the audience laughed their heads off (ballet does lend itself to being made fun of, really) – a real crowd pleaser after the more strenuous piece that proceeded it.

Now I am so excited that I want to go see them again on Sunday even though I’m already going to see them on Tuesday. I just hope I can get someone to go with me (and that I can afford tickets). Sure, it’s Balanchine, and I’ve seen all those pieces again, but THIS time it will be perfect. Aaaaaaah. I love it.

(This was a review for a show on Thursday, March 13th, 2008. Casting was as follows: THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 13, 7:30 P.M.
Conductor: Kaplow
THE FOUR SEASONS: JANUS: Fowler; WINTER: J. Peck, M. Fairchild, Hendrickson, Carmena; SPRING: Gilliland, Mearns, J. Angle;
SUMMER: Shepherd, Rutherford, Hanna; FALL: Seth, Bouder, Millepied, Ulbricht
MOVES: Krohn, J. Angle
THE CONCERT: Hyltin, Higgins, Piskin, Laracey, Pazcoguin, Veyette, Muller, Laurent, Peiffer, J. Peck )