Thursday, 10 September 2015

News: Romeo and Juliet rehearsal to be live-streamed on 11 September 2015

If you didn't manage to get tickets to this Royal Ballet's Insight event you can watch it live on YouTube. More information available here.

Tickets for these events always sell out so quickly, so I think it's really great the ROH is trying to make these events more accessible!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ballet Dressed Up and the Deloitte Ignite Festival 2015

Every year, the Royal Opera House kicks of the new season by throwing open its doors to the public for a month of (mostly) free events and activities for the whole family – known as the Deloitte Ignite festival.  I attended the festival on Sunday, September 6th.  There was plenty to see and do, from performances in the Covent Garden piazza (including one man with a piano mounted on a four-wheeled bicycling negotiating the cobble stones of Covent Garden market while playing perfectly syncopated rag time – it was amazing!), to festival food, to an opera karaoke booth.

But my favourite event was undoubtedly “Ballet dressed-up”. At this event in the Paul Hamlyn Hall David Donnelly and Hannah Grennell, to amazing artists from the Royal Ballet, performed a short piece choreographed by Hubert Essakow, inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliette.
David Donnelly and Hannah Grennell
of the Royal Ballet
They first performed the piece wearing simple, dark coloured training gear. They then performed the piece again several times, each time wearing a different costume. The costumes ranged from the period costumes worn in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliette, to contemporary jeans cut-offs matched with heavy boots, to sheep costumes. Each time the audience was asked to describe how the performance was perceived by them, and each time the dancers described how the costume impacted the way the danced. It was very interesting! 

David Donnelly and Hannah Grennell
of the Royal Ballet
One of my favourite iterations was the performance in which the two dancers were connected by a pair of extended double-ended tights, with one end worn over each their heads. Every time they moved apart, they were drawn back together by the elastic material of the tights.  One audience member observed that this could represent the struggle Romeo and Juliette had to go through to be together. Another audience member, aged roughly eight, observed that it involved a lot of team work. :)
I was also really enjoyed the performance in which the dancers wore Eastern inspired costumes that involved long pieces of fabric tied around their wastes. The dancers were forced to swirl the fabric around in order to not to become entangled in it, creating beautiful shapes in the process. I was also very impressed by Hanna’s slightly deranged performance wearing a blood stained shirt (fake blood, we were reassured) and one red high heel - she using the other to stab herself with.
David Donnelly and Hannah Grennell
of the Royal Ballet
The finale involved a pair of costumes that had masses of balloons attached to them. Even the dancers could hide a giggle as David tried to turn Hanna under his arm while trying to manoeuvre around the balloons.

All in all it was a very interesting and entertaining event. The Deloitte Ignite festival will continue until the end of the month, and I highly recommend trying to catch on of the events. More details can be found here.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Royal Ballet's 2015/16 Season

The Royal Ballet recently announced details of the 2015/16 season and I am very excited! This is what I am most looking forward to:

- Raven Girl will be returning to the stage in October. This was one of the first performances I saw at the Royal Opera House and ultimately what got me excited about the Royal Ballet. It was the first time I saw Sarah Lamb perform (the role of Raven Girl was created for her), and I have been her fan ever since. It is also the my favorite Wayne McGregor ballet and the final pas-de-deux between Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood remains the most beautiful thing I've ever seen on stage. You can watch the rehearsing the scene here

- Elizabeth - a ballet about the life of Elizabeth I. This ballet was created by Will Tuckett for the Royal Ballet in 2013 and was performed at the Royal Navel College in Greenwich. It will be coming to the Linbury Studio in January. I don't know much about it, but it sounds interesting.

- A Christopher Wheeldon triple bill, including a new work, in February AND his Winter's Tale returning to the main stage in April. 

- Liam Scarlett's new ballet, Frankenstein, coming to the main stage in May. Scarlett has an incredible talent for story-telling through choreography and seems to have a thing for dark themes. I love his Hansel and Gretel.

- Orphee et Eurydice - not ballet but opera for a change. The reason I am excited about this one is because of choreographer Hofesh Shechter's involvement as co-director. His recent collaboration with the Royal Ballet was incredible, and I am excited to learn that he will be collaborating with the Royal Opera House again.

Further details of the Royal Ballet's 2015/16 season can be found here.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sergei Polunin

In June 2010, at the age of only 19, Sergei Polunin became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever principal dancer. Two year later, he shocked the ballet world by resigning the Royal Ballet with immediate effect. Here are a few of the things he's gotten up to since:

Sia and Maddie Ziegler

I love Sia's music videos with Maddie Ziegler. She is such a talented and expressive dancer. I can't believe she is only 12!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Elena Gibson - a ballerina turned pole dancer

Elena Gibson was a ballerina with the Canadian National ballet until an accident ended her career. The process of rehabilitation lead her to pole dancing. Now she is one of the world's leading pole dancers and has her own school in London. This short video tells her story. It also shows just how beautiful pole dancing can be. I love it! 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

An American in Paris, December 6th, 2014, Theatre de Chatelet

I'm not a fan of musicals, but if Christopher Wheeldon decides to direct one, I WILL get on the Eurostar to Paris to see it.
An American in Paris is Wheeldon's first foray into the realm of musicals. The plot is based on the 1951 musical film, but the choreography is new. Wheeldon cast two ballet dancers (Leanne Cope, first artist of the Royal Ballet, and Robert Fairchild, principle dancer at New York City Ballet) in the lead roles.
The strength of this musical was always going to be in the ballet. In fact, the other elements are on the weak side. The plot is a standard love triangle set in post WW2 Paris. There's light humour and a gentle attempt at a deeper message about personal courage.  The singing is so-so. The fake French accents are atrocious. (However, the fact that two ballet dancers, on top of being immensely talented dancers, can sing and act at all is pretty impressive.)

But the ballet element is beautiful. My favourite scene is when Lise auditions to be part of a ballet. She stands at the back of the room, performing the same steps as the other dancers, but gradually makes small changes until the steps are completely her own, and the audience is left without a doubt that she is a very special dancer. Her style is reminiscent of the Diaghilev era. In fact, the whole musical has a very stylish art deco feel to it.
Another great scene is the ballet within the ballet. In a feat of clever stage design, the backdrop - a red velvet curtain identical to the house curtain - opens to reveal conductor and audience within the ballet. We watch the audience watch the ballet.
The ballet within the ballet is Wheeldon doing what he does best. Personally, I would prefer if Wheeldon would stick to pure ballet - not because this musical wasn't good, but because Wheeldon is too good at making ballets to not make them! However, I'm guessing the people of Paris, who received An American in Paris with standing ovations, will not agree with me.