Monday, 2 April 2018

Bernstein Centenary Encore

Standard YouTube Licence

Royal Ballet Bernstein Centenary Encore 14:00 Leeds Showcase Cinema

I attended the Bernstein Centenary triple bill at Covent Garden on 17 March 2018 (see Bernstein Centenary 18 March 2018). I enjoyed it very much but there were gaps in my comprehension and appreciation of the three ballets. Many of those gaps were filled by yesterday's Encore in which Ore Oduba interviewed Bernstein's biographer, Humphrey Burton and Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon who created the three works that were screened yesterday.

In my previous review I wrote:
"I liked all the ballets in the programme. Yugen and The Age of Anxiety appealed immediately. Corybantic Games was different. I admired the choreography, the geometric sets and, of course, Bernstein's music and I am an enormous fan of Lauren Cuthbertson but I think I will have to see it again and probably more than once to appreciate it properly."
Yugen remained my favourite but I learned a lot about The Age of Anxiety and a little more about the Corybantic Games.

I love the Chichester Psalms at any time but I was particularly receptive to them yesterday having heard the magnificent choir and organ of Bradford Cathedral at choral Eucharist few hours earlier.  In that service the congregation was allowed to sing another great choral work, namely Handel's Hallelujah Chorus which certainly lifted me aesthetically as well as spiritually.  Once again the beauty of the 23rd psalm was sublime and the figures in red became angelic. I will never tire of this work. It is one of a very small number of abstract ballets like Meisner's Embers and Ashton's Monotones that are too beautiful for words.

The Age of Anxiety started with shots of the posters on the walls, the labels of the bottles and details such as the maple leaf and "Canada" flash on Emble's uniform which I had missed before even though I was pretty close to the stage on 17 March.  I also caught significant bits of choreography that i had missed before such as the goosestepping of the four strangers with a Hitler salute and the futile haling of taxis on the way back to Rosetta's flat.  I also began to appreciate the dynamics of the relationships with its triangular affections and sense of betrayal as Emblem drop's Malin's business card in the gutter.  But there was still the glory of the Manhattan morning skyline which must have made me sigh, "Shut up Jane" my companion hissed at me.  Sarah Lamb was Rosetta in yesterday's screening but the other dancers were Alexander Campbell, Bennet Gartside and Tristran Dyer,

According to Burton the music for Corybantic Games was inspired by Plato's SymposiumWe also learned that Corybantic is the adjective of Κορύβαντες who were worshippers of a Phrygian goddess given to wild dancing. Although some of the poses reminded me of the figures on Greek pottery the ballet has a period field to it.  In my review of the 18 March I compared the show to Symphonic Variations which was a postwar work. It still had a period feel but after seeing the crimping of the women's hair and the group poses it reminded me more of 1920s Ballets Russes than Ashton.  I have still not digested the work though I like it just a teeny bit more than I did two weeks ago.

I should say a word about Ore Oduba. It was the first time that I had seen his presenting a screening from Covent Garden on his own and he did it very well.  On previous occasions he has appeared with Darcey Bussell and other dancers whom I love dearly and admire greatly but are just  not presenters. Like Pathé Live's Katerina Novikova, Oruba is a broadcaster and it shows. He was a bit raw when I first saw him calling 90 yer old ballet dames by their first names but he has grown into the job.  He has now seen enough ballet to talk about it authoritatively but not too much to cease to be enchanted by its beauty. Long may be occupy that sweet spot.

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