Monday, 6 October 2014

Friday, 3 October 2014

Insights: The Royal Ballet in Class

Today I got to watch members of the Royal Ballet in class! This open class was part of the Royal Opera House's Insights series, and there will be similar events occurring throughout the year. I think it's really wonderful how actively the Royal Opera House pursues audience outreach. 

I went to the class expecting mostly members of the corps the ballet to be there and was completely blown away to see Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Thiago Soares, Federico Bonelli, Akane, Takada, Eric Underwood, Yuhui Choe, Ryoichi Hirano and Claire Calvert all there, sitting under the barres warming up! They were dressed in layers of tights, leggings, leg warmers and jumpers, surrounded by yoga mats, leg rollers and thera-bands, stretching and chatting amongst each other. It was so great to see how the dancers socialise with each other. The atmosphere felt pleasant.

It was really interesting seeing how ballet dancers start their day. The class was structured like a typical ballet class, starting at the barre and progressing to the centre. The dancers shed layers of clothing as the class progressed (it got pretty warm in the studio even for the audience), and the girls started in flat and changed into point shoes for the centre. All the key exercises were covered from plies and tendus, to pirouettes and jumps. The class was given by Olga Everinoff, who demonstrated the exercises and walked around the room giving corrections in a clear but kind manner. It was obvious from the way the dancers acknowledged her when they left the class that she is well liked.

We were told that after class, which lasts 75 minutes, the dancers go on to rehearsals. Class starts at 10.30 and rehearsals go on to 17.30 on performance nights or 18.30 when there is no performance. They do this six days a week. It's absolutely incredible. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

I love Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" video, not least because of the ballet scenes. Here are some out-takes.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

My Royal Ballet 2013/14 Season in Review

This season was the first time I managed to catch, in some form or another, every production of the Royal Ballet on the main stage, as well as a handful in the Linbury Studio Theatre. The discovery that it is actually possible to get reasonably priced tickets, as well as Live Cinema screenings and Sky Arts 2 made it possible. I loved every moment, and it's pretty hard to pick my favorites. Nevertheless, looking back over the year, there are certainly some productions that stand out in my memory.

My favorite full length production was without a doubt Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale. In fact, this season was the season I really discovered Christopher Wheeldon for myself. He has an incredible ability to make ballets that feel contemporary without distorting the art form beyond recognition. 

I also really enjoyed Giselle and was lucky enough to catch two performances, one in house with Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae, the other at the cinema with Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta. Seeing the same production twice with different casts was a really insightful experience for me. But my favourite casting throughout the whole season has consistently been Sarah Lamb with Steven McRae. 

Sarah Lamb in Jewels© ROH
Over Christmas I saw both the Nutcracker and Jewels. I love the tradition of going to the ballet for Christmas, and both of these productions put me in a real Christmas spirit. (I'm quite sad the Royal Ballet won't be doing the Nutcracker next season!) 

Triple Bills are always my favorite because one gets to see a variety of works. This season the Royal Ballet did four incredible triple bills. My top picks were 

Melissa Hamilton and Gary Avis
in DGV 
- the Rite of Spring, which 100 years on from it's world premier still feels ahead of its time;
- Steven McRae in Rhapsody - I will never forget those incredible jumps that made the entire audience gasp;
- Gloria, with the beautiful Melissa Hamilton;
- Serenade, which I'd actually seen performed by the Boston Ballet when they visited London last year, but loved even more this time;
- and Christopher Wheeldon's DGV - LOVED IT!!! 

The biggest disappointment was probably Wayne McGregor's Tetractys. I loved everything he did up until then, especially Infra, Chroma and Raven Girl. But Tetractys felt a bit bland. Still, I was glad I got to see it after some shows had to be cancelled due to Natalia Osipova sustaining a concussion during a performance! 

I always love going to the Linbury Studio because the productions tend to be more experimental. Liam Scarlett's Hansel and Gretel was definitely the most disturbing thing I saw at the Royal Ballet this season. Liam Scarlett has a really talent for telling dramatic stories through choreography. I am really looking forward to his new ballet, The Age of Anxiety, next season!

Northern Ballet dancers in Luminous Juncture
Emma Kauldhar
Other Linbury highlights included the Northern Ballet, especially Kenneth Tindall's Luminous Juncture, and Mayuri Boonham's The Human Edge, which she choreographed for Yuhui Choe and Kentra Kura. I also loved Draft Works, which I intend to make a regular fixture in my calendar!

Finally, an absolute highlight was getting to meet Edward Watson at a signing of his new DVD The Metamorphosis.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Teen Vogue's Strictly Ballet

I love Teen Vogue's Strictly Ballet mini series about the School of American Ballet! It follows six students, aged 14-18, pursuing their dream to become professional ballet dancers. 

Episode 1

You can watch other episodes here:

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Draft Works, ROH, June 4th 2014

Last week, I attended ROH's Draft Works for the first time. Draft Works is an evening of choreography by dancers of the Royal Ballet. It is annual event that has been happening regularly for a few years now.  

David Donnelly 
in Aakash Odedra's 'Untitled',
ROH/Tristram Kenton, 2014
For many of the dancers it was their first time choreographing, and, with an eye on the Deloitte Ignite festival, many are hoping to expand their work into something bigger. All the pieces of the evening were created outside the Royal Ballet's regular schedule, and choreographers and dancers gave up their free time to put the evening together. The nine pieces performed that evening were refreshingly varied. Works that stood out for me were Sander Bloomaert's choreography inspired by his previous collaboration with ice skaters, Kirsten McNalley's twisted 1950s Stepford Wives scenario, and Ludovic Ondiviela's work inspired by a schizophrenic photographer. 

Tara-Brigitte Bhavani and Romany Pajdak
in Ludovic Ondiviela’s Untitled,
ROH / Tristram Kenton, 2014
Hosted in ROH's smaller Linbury studio theatre, the evening had an intimate feel. It was curated by resident choreographer Wayne McGregor and each piece was introduced by the choreographer. During the interval and at the end of the evening, the audience was encouraged to approach them in the bar and share their impressions. (Also, on an excited side note, I saw Monica Mason in the audience!). 

Sander Blommaert’s Les Deux, Comme Un,
ROH / Tristram Kenton, 2014

But most importantly, the evening represented an opportunity to see dancers from the corps de ballet up close. I was particularly impressed by David Donnelly's one man performance of Erico Montes' Prometheus. But more generally, there is some serious talent in the ranks of the Royal Ballet!