This was my second attempt to go to the show, having had to return a ticket for last year’s run. I am glad I finally got to go.
(Preamble. To skip to the review proper, scroll down a bit.)
Firstly, I must enthuse about the Wanamaker Playhouse itself. To enter it is to enter something like another world. No other space I know works a magic like it. One almost leaves behind cares: one forgets all burden of modernity, the noise and rush of every day life.
On Danish TV’s Dancing With the Stars equivalent you can watch Royal Danish Ballet members Susanne Grinder and Sebastian Haynes dance a version of The Dying Swan.
Sebastian Haynes (credit needed)
Susanne Grinder (credit needed)
The artistic director of the company, Nikolaj Hübbe, is a judge and had to choreograph something for a fundraising episode. I might have preferred each or rather either alone, but I post it here to share it.
(My thanks to a user Syrene Hvid on that other forum for posting it.)
This was an evening which rewarded not for the reason I had hoped but instead by virtue of surprise.
First, hopes: Natalia Osipova seems to be ballerina of the moment: talked about, surrounded by weight of expectation, making good on the claims that she is emerging as a dancer of the highest order.
Tonight she wasn’t for me, quite of that highest order. In terms of acting, seen through binoculars, her expressive face embodied all of Odette’s necessary emotional repertoire and yet without binoculars, this didn’t quite seem to carry to the Amphitheatre, where I was sitting. (more…)
This was my first visit to see Dowell’s Swan Lake, and I was not wholly impressed by the spectacle, nor by some of the choreographic choices, but the dancing was wonderful.
For the designs: I was struck by the curious idea of setting the piece in Tchaikovsky’s sort of time period (the 1880s, I am hesitantly guessing at) as for me, part of the ballet’s appeal is precisely because it is a fairy story, quite usually set in (loosely) medieval of at least fairytale storybook times. That’s not to say that fairy tales can’t happen in a modern era, see for example, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life etc., but only to suggest that certain things within that setting might not sit happily with the text of the piece. For example, if the gates of Siegfried’s palace had truly been guarded by blokes with crossbows, one imagines Revolution would have been tried long before 1905 or 1918. To have them with guns would also feel menacingly modern and anachronistic, an admission of brutality and an aesthetic of “police state” almost. To have them with crossbows removes the terror, but nullifies the believability of the setting. A small thing, really, but indicative of what to my mind, is a problem with the production overall.
If I had only seen Act I of this afternoon’s matinée performance, I would have left the house happy.
To put this into context, going to the Opera House was today a bit of a longer journey than normal, due to the vagaries of public transport. No need to go into it in depth, suffice to say I don’t live close to the place. Even so, with afternoons like this, all is forgotten: expense, time – Time itself, in moments. One comes away enriched, moved, and (pun excused?) transported.
What a delight to have this piece danced so well. Yes, yes, I know it’s a hodgepodge of music, barely Tchaikovsky at all some would suggest and would that it were not, because he’s rolling in his grave at the traducement of this cut and pasted score etc., etc. Sure, the music is a bit hit and miss, and the conducting too but I came for the dancing (or rather, for Vadim Muntagirov) and went home happy.