Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Oh Fortuna


Birmingham Royal Ballet - Carmina burana trailer from Birmingham Royal Ballet on Vimeo.

Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carmina Burana, Hippodrome, 20 June 2015

David Bintley comes from Honley which is almost next door to mine (see My Home and Bintley's 12 May 2015). It is not possible to grow up in this part of the world without coming across The Choral. It performs at least three series of concerts to full houses in Huddersfield Town Hall every year. In The Choral 19 Dec 2013 I reviewed one of its concerts and wrote:
"So what's all this got to do with ballet or even dance?" I hear you say. Well I did reserve the right to go off topic occasionally for an exceptional concert and this was certainly exceptional. And we dance in Huddersfield as well as sing (see "The Base Studios, Huddersfield"). We produced David Bintley of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I don't know whether he had any connection with the Choral or even attended a concert but you can't live in this part of Yorkshire without knowing about it. The Choral must have been part of Bintley's cultural heritage."
I asked Bintley about his cultural influences when he addressed the London Ballet Circle last month and he confirmed that my suspicion was right. However, my suspicions would also have been confirmed by the performance of Carmina Burana at the Hippodrome on 20 June 2015 to celebrate Bintley's 20th anniversary as artistic director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the 25th anniversary of the company's move to Birmingham.

That was a very special evening which I have already described In Praise of Bintley on 21 June 2015. Two works were performed that day:  Bintley's latest ballet The King Dances, which I reviewed in A Special Ballet for a A Special Day 23 June 2015 and Carmina Burana the very first that he created after he was appointed artistic director of the company. I had come to see The King Dances but Carmina Burana was a treat. A multimedia spectacular. A feast as much for the ears as for the eyes. This was the first time I had seen the ballet and how and why I had missed it all those years is a mystery.

Carl Orff's score has always been popular, particularly O Fortuna. Bintley translated her into the Empress of the World, a blindfolded woman in black shift on high heels representing blind fortune. She danced alone completely oblivious to human merit and indeed the human condition. On 20 June 2015 she was danced brilliantly by Céline Gittens. I have seen quite a lot of that dancer this year and my admiration for her has grown in every performance. Incidentally, I was delighted to read about her promotion in the company. I offer my congratulations to her and the other dancers who have been promoted to the enormous number that she and they must already have received (see End of Season Announcements 29 June 2015).

In the Carmina Burana Orff set to music several secular poems about medieval life. Bintley created what are effectively 6 mini-ballets around each of those poems. O Fortuna was an encounter between lady luck (the Empress Fortuna) and seven seminarians. Spring celebrates the fertility of the earth but also of womankind. It is set in a maternity ward with women who are either about to give birth or who have given birth against a backdrop of drying sheets and nappies with the hapless father or naive body danced by Jamie Bond. The next scene is bucolic with village lads in their colourful jackets and the village lasses in their pony tails competing for the attention of Elisha Willis. The second seminarian, Matthias Dingman (who has also been promoted) in a boiling rage seeks solace in the tavern where he and five gluttons in fat suits are served Daria Stanciulescu in a tureen. Finally, the third seminarian, Tyrone Singleton, returns to Fortuna in the Court of Love where he is stripped to his underpants. One of the most effective and affecting endings to a ballet that I have ever seen.

But there are three other stars to this ballet: the designer Philip Prowse who designed the magnificent and spectacular sets and costumes, Philip Mumford for his lighting and the singers of Ex Cathedra. We in Huddersfield like to think that the Choral has a unique sound which you can best appreciate in the Dies Irae of Verdi's Requiem. Birmingham's magnificent choir Ex Cathedra came closer to that sound than any choir I have heard before or since.

Carmina Burana is of course 20 years old but to me it was as fresh and vibrant as if it had been created yesterday.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Going Dutch

Dutch National Ballet, Empire Noir,  Igone de Jongh, Floor Eimers,
Suzanna Kaic, Michaela DePrince, 17 June 2015
Author Angela Sterling
(c) 2015 Dutch National Ballet, all rights reserved
Reproduced with kind permission of the Company





















Dutch National Ballet, Cool Britannia, Stopera Amsterdam, 27 June 2015

I have just returned from Amsterdam where I saw the Dutch National Ballet's Cool Britannia at The Stopera. The word "stopera" is an abbreviation of the words stadhuis or town hall and opera the meaning of which is obvious. The building combines the functions of Amsterdam's town hall with the national opera house and concert hall. It was my first visit to the Stopera but I hope it will not be my last for it is a magnificent auditorium.

As I said in my preview Cool Britannia - in Amsterdam 16 April 2015, this is a triple bill of one act ballets by three leading British choreographers: David Dawson, Christopher Wheeldon and Wayne McGregor. Dawson and Wheeldon created new ballets called Empire Noir and Concerto Concordia which I discussed in David Dawson's Empire Noir 18 June 2015 and Wheeldon in Amsterdam and the Dutch National Ballet in London 6 June 2015). McGregor contributed Chroma which British audiences already know. Each of those works was very different from the others.

Empire Noir showcased the dancers' virtuosity. It was full of spectacular jumps, turns and lifts and looked quite exhausting. Even the dancers' entrances and exits were made at the double.  Haines's score was throbbing, vibrant and incessant.  I had seen Michaela DePrince and Sho Yamada in the Junior Company last year but this was the first time I had seen Casey Herd, Jozef Varga, Artur Shesterikov and James Stout about whom I had read so much. My only disappointment was missing Igone de Jongh but there was some fine dancing from Samantha Mednick, Sasha Mukhamedov, Floor Elmers and, of course. DePrince. She may only be an apprentice in the company (though I am delighted to learn that she will be elevated to coryphee next year) but she has quite a following in Amsterdam. She received particularly loud applause when she took her bow. The chap next to me rose to his feet as soon as she stepped forward. In the interval I noticed that a stand was selling her t-shirts. The only other dancer with t-shirts on offer was de Jongh.

Wheeldon's Concerto Concordia was a quieter and more contemplative work. He chose Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D Minor for his music. This is a work with sudden changes of moods could have been written for ballet. It was the first time that I had heard it and I adored it. According to the programme notes Wheeldon created the work for Anna Tsygankova and she was on stage on Saturday accompanied by Varga. They were one of two principal couples who are joined on stage from time to time by six others. The other principal couple was Victoria Ananyan and Serguei Endinian. This was the work that I enjoyed the most, probably because I liked the music.

I had  seen Chroma once before and remembered the sharp, angular almost robotic movements, the simple set with its large window through which dancers entered or against which they were silhouetted and the curious almost canine sniffing gestures at two points in the show. This cannot be an easy ballet to dance and I was delighted to see Nathan Brhane and Wantao Li who were in the Junior Company last year with  Yamada and DePrince. It was good to see those young dancers again and great to see how far they have come in a year. They were led  by Herd, Stout and Roman Artyushkin. The crowd loved this ballet and they rose to their feet as one. I like Amsterdam audiences. They see enough ballet to know what's good and what's not but they are much less stingy in their praise than Londoners.

The Stopera has a massive stage. I don't know how it compares to Covent Garden's but it seems pretty cavernous to me. There's plenty of reasonably priced seating. I was in the front row of the 1st circle and was as close to the stage as I would have been in the front row of the dress circle in the Royal Opera House. My seat cost 53 euros which is less than I would have paid for the amphitheatre. There was plenty of leg room and although the house was pretty full it did not seem crowded.  I was served very quickly when I queued for a drink in the first interval and I was charged less than I would pay in a theatre bar at home.  The auditorium overlooks the Amstel and it is possible to step out onto a walkway in warm weather. There is a metro station almost next door and a couple of pubs and two Argentine restaurants across the street.

There are flights to Schiphol from Ringway and Yeadon at a fraction of the cost of the train fare to London and hotels are generally cheaper in Amsterdam than London. I am already looking forward to my next trip back.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Wonderful Phoenix

Phoenix Dance, may be a small company but it is at the forefront of contemporary dance in the UK  It has strong dancers who confidently deliver.  I was therefore delighted to be one of a number of guest who had been invited to see Until.With/Out.Enough which is to form part of a mixed bill to be danced at the Linbury between the 11 and 15 November 2015. The performance took place in Leeds last Friday in a studio in the building that Phoenix Dance shares with Northern Ballet.

Sharon Watson, the company's artistic director, introduced the piece to us.  She explained that it had been created by Itzik Galili. in 1998. It is about the importance of the experience of the moment.  She described it as a "work in progress" which will be more polished by the time it is performed in London. I have to say I that it is not clear where further polishing is needed for the work was very well done and exciting. The piece came through to me as being about struggles of relationships and experiences we encounter in life; how they fit in to others around us; how we interact with them; and how we cope or don't cope with those relationships and experiences,

The space was owned  as the dancers burst on stage to the music of  Henryk Gorecki and they maintained that momentum throughout the show. It was a dramatic piece. It was like a vortex.  The emotions expressed by the dancers rippled through the audience who almost participated in the show.. Exciting stuff.  There were solos, duets and group dances. Each flowed into the other in sync. .Some of those duets were between males who showed great tenderness to each other. It was a tight performance and the audience loved it.  The applause was deafening and very well deserved..

I had the pleasure of almost being face to face with the dancers as they performed this breathtaking piece. I had never been that close to a dancer in a performance before.  I really felt their presence as they performed their movements. I could hear the dancers breathe and pant.

After the performance I spoke to Sharon Watson and other members of the company about how the show was put together.. Although the work was created by Galili, Sharon and Caroline Finn must also share the credit. They added layers and nuances to the work, Galili visited the company and outlined his choreography. He was represented by Elizabeteh Gilbat who worked with the company's choreographers and dancers. The whole process took about 4 weeks. It was interesting to compare that process with the one discussed in the Narrative Dance in Ballet talk on 20 June 2015 (see Jane Lambert My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015).

I look forward to seeing this and Phoenix Dance's other works when they visit the Royal Opera House in November.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Exactly my cup of tea

Authior Xavier Snelgrove
Licensed under CC Attribution Share Alike Generic Licence
Source Wikipedia





















Ballet Black, Nottingham Playhouse, 26 June 2015

Unless I am very much mistaken, the opening bars of Mark Bruce's Second Coming are a quotation from Bizet's Carmen. I was reminded of The Car Man which I saw on Wednesday. I enjoyed that show very much even though New Adventures' style of theatrical dance is not quite my cup of tea (see Motoring 25 June 2015). "Ah" I thought to myself as the ballet began, "this is exactly my cup of tea." Ballet Black are as classical as any company in the world. They are heirs to a tradition to which David Bintley paid homage in The King Dances which I saw on Saturday (see A Special Ballet for a Special Day 23 June 2015). But they are also pioneers and their work is fresh and new. That's why Ballet Black is a national treasure. That's why I love them so.

Ballet Black danced the mixed programme that I saw at The Linbury on Valentine's day (see Ballet Black's Best Performance Yet 17 Feb 2015) but it was quite a different show. The opening ballet was Kit Holder's To Fetch a Pail of Water. In February it was danced by Jacob Wye and Kanika Carr. I wrote that "this was a sweet story ...... of lost innocence." Well yesterday those roles were danced by Damien Johnson and Cira Robinson's who are two of the company's senior artists. They bring gravitas and the darkness to which Holder referred in his programme notes was much easier to notice. This is a text book example of how a change of cast can change a ballet. Now both casts are great and I hope that there will be still be nights when Wye and Carr dance that piece as well as others when we see Johnson and Robinson.

Will Tuckett's Depouillement is one of the most beautiful ballets that any company has in its repertoire. Yesterday it was danced by Alves, Carr, Coracy, Mence, Renfurm and Wye. All of them danced well but my eyes were on Coracy and Renfurm. They were very shrewd hires (see Ballet Black's New Dancers  24 Sept 2013) and they have both blossomed in the company. Coracy was a wonderful Puck in her scout's uniform in Arthur Pita's Dream and Remfurm was an unforgettable Miss Polly. Yesterday they both danced like angels. So did all the others, by the way, but there are sometimes days when individual performers shine and yesterday those two were brilliant.

If my eyes were on Renfurm and Coracy in Depouillement they were on Carr in Bruce's Second Coming. With tiny wings protruding from her costume she danced "the angel" - though not one of the heavenly variety who knows how to make Yorkshire pudding  (see Sapphire 15 March 2015 and Jonathan Watkins if you are looking for one of those). Her role is the linchpin of the work. She entered with the hoop through which she made all the initiates pass at the start and end of the ballet. She produced the dagger which the ruler wielded with such menace. One of Carr's strengths is her face which is so expressive. She can convey any emotion though it is mainly charm and wit. She is the company's great character dancer. As in February the highlight of that piece was Johnson's pas de deux with Robinson to Elgar's Cello Concerto. Its beauty brought tears to my eyes then and I had to struggle to hold them back now. Johnson and Robinson are two wonderful dancers.

I spotted Cassa Pancho, the company's artistic director, in the auditorium just before the second part of the show. "Interesting casting" she said anticipating what I was about to say. "Inspired" I replied and I congratulated her on the show, particularly on Renfurm and Coracy. "But you say that every time" said Pancho. "But then you always produce something special and something new." Although I hate to hurt dancers and choreographers' feelings I am no insincere flatterer. Gita won't let me be such. Slightly stung by the accusation or inference of flattery I was not the first to rise to my feet at the curtain call. Now I am not saying that New Adventures and Inala didn't deserve that compliment from their audiences though I did not join in either but Ballet Black definitely did, and I was there on my feet with the best of them.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Inala at the Alhambra

Bradford Alhambra





















Inala, Alhambra, Bradford, 26 June 2015

On 29 Sept 2013 dancers from most of the major companies of the United Kingdom performed in a gala at Sadler's Wells for Yorkshire Ballet Summer School (see More Things I do for my Art - Autumn Gala of Dance and Song 30 Sept 2013). Rambert's contribution was Inala danced by Dane Hurst to the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. On that occasion Hurst performed to a recording of the ensemble's music. I remember that it was one of the highlifghts of the show. Less than a year later Hurst and other dancers from his company and elsewhere together with Ladysmith Black Mambazo itself and accompanying musicians appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in a full length performance of song and dance also called Inala.

The full length work was received very well. The artists were invited to the Royal Variety Performance on 13 Nov 2014. They also performed to full houses at Sadler's Wells and other venues in the UK (see About the Show on the Inala website), Earlier this month they performed in Moscow and they are now on the second leg of another UK tour which started in Oxford on 23 June 2015 (see "Tickets and Tour"). Last night I was them at the Bradford Alhambra. I hope to catch them again at Sadler's Wells on the 10 July 2015.

They certainly seem to be very popular. On Tuesday I caught a feature on Inala: Combining music from Ladysmith Black Mambazo and contemporary dance on Radio 4's Front Row in which Albert Mazibuko said that the company received standing ovations "most of the time." In the same interview Pietra Mello-Pitman, the show's executive producer who had danced in the Royal Ballet said that was something she had never received in The Sleeping Beauty no matter how beautiful.

So, what is this show like? You can get some idea from the YouTube trailer and a little more insight from  Introducing INALA - A Zulu Ballet. Singers, musicians and dancers share the same stage. There is a very simple backdrop of a wide sky against a parched landscape with three clouds that reminded me of aircraft vapour trails. The costumes are also simple. The singers appear in long shirts or tunics with geometric dancers. The male dancers are in black. The women are in black tops with different coloured skirts. There were changes of head dress.  There were feathers in the head gear that seemed to indicate different types of fowl. The backdrop changes were generated by the lighting and I have to single out Ben Cracknell for praise for some impressive lighting design.

I can't tell you much about the story because there were no programmes and hence no cast sheets. In an effort to find out why and how I could get one I introduced myself as a blogger to a chap with a North American accent who was selling DVDs in a concession booth. He told me that the programmes had been sent to Oxford. "Well Oxford, Bradford, what's the difference?" remarked my companion ironically, "They are both 'fords'." So far as I could see the show charted a day in rural South Africa with a trip to the city for there was a scene with car horns and searchlights. It ended with a sort of lullaby as the lights dimmed with the singers waving to the audience followed by a final few minutes when each of the dancers did a turn.

I have the same problem in telling you who took part in last night's show though I think I recognized Dane Hurst and some other dancers from Rambert. The best I can do in that regard is to refer you to the "Cast and Creatives" page of the show's website. I hope that the company recover their programmes from Oxford by the time I see the show again in London. I have to say that had I not seen the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School gala or heard Front Row I would have been able to say very little about this show.

The show is advertised as a "Zulu ballet" and there are indeed some balletic jumps and pas de deux but there seemed to me to be rather more contemporary dance than ballet.  There was, for example, no pointe work.  That is of course what I would have expected from a show that was choreographed by Mark Baldwin, Rambert's artistic director. Some of the biggest "oohs" and "ahs" from the audience were for jumps and lifts which you see in almost any ballet. They were well executed but not exactly out of the ordinary.

As had happened the previous night in Sheffield for The Car Man (see Motoring 25 June 2015) there was a standing ovation and a lot of whooping and cheering with which I did not join in. I thought it was good but not all that good. The idea of combining singing and dancing is not new. Bintley's Carmina Burana last Saturday - which I have still to review - was miles better in that regard (see In Praise of Bintley 21 June 2015). Neither is putting the musicians on stage. MacMillan did it more elegantly with Elite Syncopations. I think that this was the first time many members of the audience had seen grands jetés and tours en l'air and ballet could generate that sort of enthusiasm with the public if it were better marketed.

The element of the show that I most enjoyed was the singing which was magnificent. I recommend the show for that alone. There were also touches of humour. There was a sequence when the dancers attempted a jump. One pretended to clutch his thigh in agony. Another just gesticulated his refusal to try something so unwise. It was good entertainment and I shall report on the show again after I see it in London next month.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Motoring

Oldsmobile sedan from the 1950s
Author Sigmund
Source Wikipedia





















Matthew Bourne's The Car Man Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, 24 June 2015

Matthew Bourne has never been quite my cup of tea but that does not stop my recognizing quality when I see it. Last night at the Sheffield Lyceum we had quality in spades. Quality in Lez Brotherson's designs. Quality in Terry Davies's score which incorporates Bizet and builds on it. Quality in the dancing including an impressive first performance by Tim Hodges in the role of Luca. Above all, quality in choreography by Matthew Bourne. The Car Man is the best production by New Adventures that I have seen to date.

Although it is described on the cover of the programme as "Bizet's Carmen re-imagined" it is actually a very ingenious and original work. It is set not outside a cigarette factory in 19th century Seville but in small town America of the 1950s. This was a time when women wore full skirted dresses of bright fabrics and elaborate hair styles that billowed in the dance. It was a time when Oldsmobiles and Studebakers were as capacious and majestic as ocean liners.

There is no Carmen in The Car Man but there is Luca. He seduces Angelo (Liam Mower) who is the nearest we get to Don Jose. He is a slightly built, bookish, inoffensive and slightly effeminate youth who works for Dino (Alan Vincent) in his garage. Dino employs most of the young men in the cast as mechanics and his wife Lana (Ashley Shaw) and his sister in law, Rita (Katy Lowenhoff) in his bar. The mechanics rag Angelo mercilessly. Only Luca takes his part teaching him how to use his fists as well as making advances towards him. However, Luca proves a false friend. He gets into a fight with Dino after making love to Lana. He wounds Dino fatally leaving Angelo to take the blame. Angelo is arrested and attacked in custody by a warder (Dan Wright). No doubt having been toughened by his imprisonment Angelo overpowers his attacker and escapes from prison with the warder's pistol seeking revenge. The nearest we get to Michaela in The Car Man is sister Rita who sees the crime from the start and tries to right the injustice to Angelo.

Well it's a good, tight, robust story that works and if anyone in Leeds who attended last Saturday's narrative dance perambulation (see My Thoughts on Saturday Afternoon's Panel Discussion at Northern Ballet 21 June 2015) remains in doubt as to what is meant by narrative dance he or she need only take the motorway to Sheffield. This is not ballet as such but it is dance that takes place in a theatre which for most theatre goers is all that matters. It is dramatic. It is exciting. It is spectacular. It is fun.

This company has devoted followers who leapt to their feet and practically whooped the house down at the final curtain call. That never happens in ballet but it is no bad thing as it introduces new audiences to dance in a way that no amount of midscale tours and live screenings from London or Moscow will achieve in a month of Sundays. As I said in the first paragraph this genre is not exactly my cup of tea (and despire an impressive performance it still isn't) but that does not stop me from appreciating it.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

A Special Ballet for a Special Day

Louis XIV as Appollo in Le Ballet de la Nuit
Source  Wikipedia


























Birmingham Royal Ballet, The King Dances, Birmingham Hippodrome, 20 June 2016

As I noted In Praise of Bintley 21 June 2015, last Saturday was a very special day. It was the 25th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet's move from London and the 20th anniversary of David Bintley's appointment as artistic director of that company. A special day deserves a special ballet and what could be more special than one inspired by Louis XIV's appearance as Apollo in Le Ballet de La Nuit.

We know quite a lot about that ballet as I indicated in The King Dances 23 May 2015. We have the score, pictures of the dancers and eye witness accounts of performances of Le Ballet de la Nuit. The ballet could easily be re-staged if anyone wanted to do that. However that wouldn't be great box office. The ballet went on all night and nearly all the roles were danced by men. In The King Dances Bintley has created a new ballet with a new score that lasts no more than 35 minutes. Nevertheless it gives modern audiences a very good idea of what Le Ballet de la Nuit must have been like.

The curtain rises to a set lit only by naked torches held by Les Messieurs: Yasuo Atsuji, Fergus Campbell, Matthias Dingman and Brandon Lawrence. This is the first watch from 18:00 to 21:00 as Night displaces Day. Night  represented by La Nuit (Ian Mackay) gradually assets his authority.

The second watch between 21:00 and midnight represents the pleasures of the night. The king (William Bracewell) enters and dances with the ladies.  But are Mesdames really ladies? From my seat towards the front of the stalls they seemed feminine enough but I knew that from my reading on Le Ballet de la Nuit not to mention the cast list and a tweet the night before from Ruth Brill that almost all the roles were danced by men. They turned out to Alexander Bird, Jonathan Caguioa, Tzu-Chao Chou and Max Maslen. So good was the dancing and indeed the wardrobe that I was confused.

The king then spots an image of Selene (the goddess of the moon) in the disc and that is the only bit that did not quite work for me. She came to life as Yijing Zhang and there was a lovely duet between them. That is the only female role in the ballet that is actually danced by a woman.

The scariest and most memorable portion of the ballet is the third watch between midnight and 03:00 where nightmares occur. First there are devils besporting themselves like monkeys. It is at this point that Stephen Montague's score is most effective for the music resembled the calls of cackling monkeys. The decision to commission a score from a modern composer was not appreciated by the lady who sat next to me and one of the subscribers to BalletcoForum wrote that the scariest three words in ballet were "specially commissioned score." Having listened to a little bit of Philidor on YouTube I am very glad that Bintley turned to Montague. His score may be 21st century but for me it worked.  The devils were danced by Kit Holder, Lachlan Monaghan, Benjamin Soerel and Oliver Till. They were followed by witches (Bird and Tzu-Chao), werewolves (Caguioa and Maslen) and finally Satan himself danced by Mackay.

The fourth watch between 03:00 and 06:00 when Day returns was such a relief. Day was represented by an enormous disc that parted to reveal the King as Apollo this time clad in gold. He was joined by the original torch bearers who transformed into Honour (Atsuji), Grace (Lawrence), Renown (Campbell) and Valour (Dingman). Night (Mackay) is revealed as Cardinal Mazarin. I am not sure of the significance of that. Mazarin was Louis XIV's chief minister during his minority and early adulthood and he was not well liked partly because he was Italian and partly because of his ruthlessness and personal extravagance. Le Ballet de la Nuit was danced in 1653 while the cardinal was still alive and at the heart of his power so I don't think his appearance can be regarded as satire.

Bintley is to be congratulated on this production. I had to give up a lot to see this ballet - English National Ballet's Choreographic and two new works by Tindall and Vigier who are two of my favourite young choreographers (see Three into Two won't go 20 June 2015). Today at class I was told by folk who had stayed in Leeds that the choreographic sharing was wonderful. I can't say that I didn't feel a tinge of regret when Gita told me that there were opportunities to meet Vigier and Hampson. But on Saturday the Hippodrome was probably the best place in the universe for a ballet fan and I think I would have kicked myself for ever had I not been there.