Friday, 27 November 2015

Remembering Mandev Sokhi

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From 18:00 this evening Ballet Cymru will hold a gathering at its studios in Rogerstone to celebrate the life of its dancer and education officer Mandev Sokhi. This event is for "anyone and everyone to come and pay their respects to this wonderful person, who gave such a lot and had so much passion for dance."

As I said in Mandev Sokhi 10 Oct 2015 Mandev was one of my favourite dancers in one of my favourite companies. I particularly admired his performance as the beast in Beauty and the Beast which Mel Wong reviewed for us so aptly in For grown ups who haven't lost touch with their childhoods - Ballet Cymru's Beauty & The Beast 24 June 2014. I am very glad to have made Mandev's acquaintance when the London Ballet Circle visited Rogerstone on 3 Oct 2015 (see Ballet Cymru at Home 5 Oct 2015).

Mandev will be remembered tonight far beyond Newport and indeed well beyond Wales for he danced wth Ballet Cymru in every part of the United Kingdom. Clearly it will not be possible for all his admirers to make their way to Wales tonight but there are two very good ways in which we can show our appreciation of the man. First, there are still a few tickets left for Ballet Cymru's triple bill in London on the 29 and 30 Nov. I saw it in Newport on 6 Nov 2015 and reviewed it in "The Pride of Newport and the Pride of Wales" 8 Nov 2015. I am seeing it again on Monday. Another way to remember Mandev is to become a Friend of the company as I did after my visit to its studios last month. You can also make a donation or sponsor one of its productions or activities.  The company has been nominated for a National Dance Award so it is well worth supporting (see Ballet Cymru Am Byth 1 Nov 2015).

Phoenix in Huddersfield

Phoenix Dance Theatre, Mixed Bill, Lawrence Batley Teatre, Huddersfield, 27 Nov 2015

When I reviewed Phoenix's triple bill at The Linbury in The Phoenix Soars Over London on 13 Nov 2015 I promised to focus on Itzik Galili's Until.With/ Out.Enough and Caroline Finn's Bloom as soon as I had seen them in Huddersfield. I made that romise because I was so impressed with Sharon Watson's TearFall that I ran out of space and time to write about anything else. I am unable to keep that promise in its entirety because the first two works in last night's show were not Galili's piece bbut Christopher Bruce's Shift and Shadows

Not that I'm complaining for I am a great admirer of Bruce's work as you can see from my reviews of Rambert's Rooster (see Cock a Doodle Doo - Rambert's Rooster 27 Oct 2015 and Rooster ................ :-) 4 Oct 2014) and Scottish Ballet's Ten Poems (see Bruce Again 6 Oct 2015). Nevertheless it did occur to me to ask the reason for the substitution in a question and answer session with the cast in the Syngenta cellar at the end of the show. I didn't get a chance to ask that question because there were so many others who wanted to quiz the company but it was answered by Tracy Tinker, the tour director, who explained that the company had to dance Galili's piece in London because it had been a joint commission with the Royal Opera House.

The substitution prompted me to buy a new programme at the first interval and I remarked to a lady selling Phoenix merchandise in the foyer that this was a completely new programme. It wasn't entirely new. The other two works, TearFall and Bloom were the same as in the Linbury. 

As on the 12 Nov 2015 I enjoyed TearFall tremendously and appreciated it a little bit more for seeing it twice. It was clear from the Q & A that that piece went down well with the audience. Prentice Whitlow explained his interpretation of the work in response to a question from the floor. One point that I had missed before was that men and women think of tears in an entirely different way and the piece explored that.  Whitlow had introduced the piece with a short monologue and recordings of his voice and someone's (possibly his) weeping recurred at several points of the show.

Finn's Bloom was another work that I got to understand better the second time round though I am still not sure that I have got to the bottom of it.  Perhaps if I describe it you will see why.  It began with a group of dancers on the left hand side of the stage cooing and clucking around a table.  Suddenly one of them screams and Sam Vaherlehto wearing a clown's tragedy mask appears round a microphone. He shifts and shuffles apparently with embarrassment as his audience applauds and looks on. There is a duet - or more properly a dance dialogue - with Whitlow. One of the women in a tutu like skirt dances a solo to a rhyme that seemed to mock medicine. In another scene Vaherlehto gathers the dancers who were stretched on the ground like corpses and assembles them into a pile. The dancer in the tutu makes her way to the centre and lies down about them.  Towards the end Vaherlehto, stripped to his underpants, danced to a song with the chorus "I'm a creep. I'm a wierdo. What the hell am I doing here." Starting with the title Bloom I wondered whether the dancers might be plants or flowers and that the man in the mask was the gardener. I was dying to ask whether or not I was on the right track but sadly didn't get a chance to find out.

Even if it was about flowers Bloom did have disturbing undertones such as the thin line between reality and hallucination, Bruce's Shadows also seemed to be about aberrations of the mind as it started with furniture throwing. I was not the only one to see a connection with depression. The lady sitting next to me in the Q & A was a therapist and she alluded to it in formulating her question.

Shift, however was quite different. I had seen the same dancers dance that work at The Sapphire gala in March and I think they were better second time round. More polished somehow. Dressed in forties costumes with the women in head scarves Gracie Fields style they seemed to represent a production line. I was reminded very much of the munitions workers in Liam Scrlett's No Man's Land which I had seen in Manchester two days earlier (see Lest We Forget 25 Nov 2015). However, Bruce's workers seemed to have a lot more fun that Scareltt's canaries.

The Q & A session was my first chance to see all the dancers together and hear them speak. I had already met Whitlow a few days earlier, I have been following several of the others on twitter and I knew Marie-Astrid Mence from Ballet Black. They are an impressive bunch of artists. Watson explained her selection process which is uber competitive. They were asked how they took up dance. Two of the men explained that they took up dance because their sisters were taking lessons. The others gave various reasons. They were asked by the therapist how they relaxed and we learned from Vaherlehto that they look (or at least he looks) to another art. Photography in his case someone added.  I hope to run a feature on Mence and Whitlow in Terpsichore soon.

This has been a pretty good month for dance and the two shows by Phoenix were among the highlights. Although rooted in Leeds it really is a word class company with dancers from around the world.  I am very proud of them.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Factory begins to take shape

Manchester  Graffiti
Photo Mike Colvin
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In his Autumn statement last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised a £78 million investment in a new arts centre in Manchester to be called "The Factory". I picked it up in my article  Let's bring the Royal Ballet to The Factory Manchester 11 Dec 2015. The Chancellor, whose constituency is in the Manchester city region, repeated his promise yesterday (see George Osborne’s Autumn Statement speech in full 25 Nov 2015 Financial Times).

The Autumn statement coincided with press reports of the appointment of the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design the Factory (see Rem Koolhaas wins Factory design project as Manchester goes Dutch 25 Nov 2015 The Guardian, The Factory: CGIs of Manchester's multi-million pound culture hub  released 25 Nov 2015 Manchester Evening News and OMA wins competition to design huge Manchester arts venue The Factory 25 Nov 2014 De Zeen). Work is to start on the site next year and the building should be finished by 2019.

When completed the Factory will host the Manchester International Festival which featured artists from the Paris Opera Ballet in Wayne McGregor's Tree of Codes this year. Next year it will première Akram Khan's Giselle for English National Ballet. Manchester which is visited regularly by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Northern Ballet as well as smaller companies is probably the biggest audience for dance outside London.

So we now have an audience for dance and we will soon have a major venue for the performing arts in the city. All we need now is a major resident company. As I hinted last year we would welcome the Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet with open arms if it wanted to resume the negotiations for a Northern home which were terminated by the change of government last year.

Or we could build out own. Some of the building blocks are here. We have the Northern Ballet School in Oxford Road which already has its own performing company known as Manchester City Ballet. It will perform Giselle at The Dancehouse between 10 and 12 Dec 2015.  There is also the Centre for Advanced Training in Dance at The Lowry. All we need is to commitment and money.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Lest We Forget

Commemorating World War 1
Photo Andrew Davidson
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English National Ballet, Lest we Forget Palace Theatre, Manchester, 24 Nov 2015

Yesterday's performance of Lest we Forget in Manchester was superb. It was not an easy watch and for that reason I can't say that I enjoyed it but I was moved by it in a very special way. This was ballet at its best. It showed the unique power of dance to comprehend and find beauty in one of the greatest tragedies of human history. The end of the performance brought some members of the audience to their feet. I guess the only reason why more did not join in was that the audience was emotionally drained by the end.

The performance consisted of Liam Scarlett's No Man's Land, Russell Maliphant's Second Breath and Akram Khan's Dust. That was a shorter programme than the one premièred at the Barbican last year in that it omitted George Williamson's Firebird which I hope to see one day. All three were impressive works but the one that stood out for me was Scarlett's No Man's Land.

I had already seen a recording of Scarlett's Viscera earlier in the month (see Au Revoir but not Adieu 19 Nov 2015) and was keen to compare it to No Man's Land.  The two works could not have been more different. Set to excerpts from Franz Liszt's Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses that had been arranged by Gavin Sutherland No Man's Land was haunting and lyrical. The work remembered not only the men who served in the forces but the women who stayed behind to make the munitions in appalling and sometimes dangerous conditions. The setting for this work was a damaged but still operational building - possibly a factory or maybe a ruin on the front. The women were in simple flowing dresses. The men in green or brownish tunics with steel helmets at one point in the ballet. There was enchanting dancing by Begoña Cao, Junor Souza, Alison McWhinney, Fabian ReimairShiori Kase and Fernando Bufalá.

Maliphant's Second Breath was an opportunity for Tamarin Stott and Joshua McSherry-Gray to shine and they were incandescent in their duet though the supporting dancers were important too. The work was set to a score by Andy Cowton but not easy to absorb. There were pulses of sound that I found quite alarming though that was possibly the composer's idea. There were snatches of barely audible and even less comprehensible speech in the piece followed by a pretty clear rendering of Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night which seemed to be delivered by the author himself. Dark and disturbing this was the work that required most work on the part of the audience.

The most dramatic work of the evening was Khan's Dust. It began with an execution - or possibly the nightmare of an execution for the victim continued to writhe on the ground. There was some impressive human sculpture where the dancers' limbs became waves or possibly a production line. It was Khan's Kaash at the Lowry that prompted me to book for Lest we Froget but this work was very different in that any South Asian influences were much less noticeable to me at an rate. The music for this work was by Jocelyn Pook who also wove speech into her score. There was what seemed to be a phrase of Auld Lang Syne repeating itself on a scratched record. The lead dancers were Erina Takahashi with Reinar and Bufala, This piece won Khan a number of awards last year and its success seems to have led to his commission to create a Giselle. I look forward to it immensely.

The centenary of the First World War inspired the Royal New Zealand Ballet to create Salute, another mixed bill focusing in war. They two of their ballets from that production to Leeds which I reviewed in  Kia Ora! The Royal New Zealand Ballet in Leeds 5 Nov 2015 earlier this month. The Netherlands which was neutral in the conflict is commemorating the war in a different way with Ted Brandsen's Mata Hari who was also a victim of that conflict.

Anyone who thinks that dance is a frivolous, frothy superficial art form incapable of dealing with difficult matters should think again. It is the synthesis of many arts and the whole is almost always greater than the constituent parts.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights in Bradford

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Northern Ballet, Wuthering Heights, Alhambra, Bradford 21 Nov 2015

I inserted a photo of Top Withens near Haworth into my review of Northern Ballet's performance of Wuthering Heights at the Sheffield Lyceum as it is said to be the inspiration for Emily Brontë's novel. Haworth is in the metropolitan district of Bradford and the Alhambra is the nearest theatre to that township. No doubt that is one of the reasons why Northern Ballet premièred David Nixon's ballet in that theatre to less than ecstatic reviews at the time (see Ismene Brown's Lost in the Moors 25 Sept 2002 in the Daily Telegraph and Judith Mackrell's Wuthering Heights 25 Sept 2002 in the Guardian).

The reviews have become somewhat kinder over the years, at least in the local press (see Emma Clayton's Northern Ballet brings Cathy and Heathcliff back home 12 Nov 2015 Telegraph and Argus and Yvette Huddleston's Review: Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights 18 Nov 2015 Yorkshire Post) though not necessarily among balletomanes (see Emma's What we shouldn't try to tame in Balletical). Emma is particularly preceptive in her review, She begins with the observation:
"I could well be alone in my commentary of this ballet. I cannot be representative of the good ladies who rushed to the front of the stage to offer a standing ovationat the close of this performance. Then perhaps this review be considered a response rather than critique – and here is the enigma of Wuthering Heights and the creative challenge of this particular story ballet."
And concludes:
"I know it: I have been unduly harsh on Northern Ballet’s Wuthering Heights – a ballet that may please many, many people. I hope it does. My response is indeed less critical judgement than personal experience. That is the thing with Wuthering Heights and with Heathcliff, who we really shouldn’t try to tame."
A lot of choreographers other than Nixon have tries to tame Wuthering Heights. Cathy Marston has created one for the Berne Ballet which you can see in this YouTube video. Deborah Dunn has created Nocturnes which is said to be based on the novel (see Paula Citron's Cathy and Heathcliff in dance 12 Jan 2011 The Globe and Mail). Kader Belarbu made Hurlevent for the Paris Opera Ballet in 2002 which was reviewed by Patricia Boccadoro for Culture Kiosque 22 April 2002. Although Northern Ballet's version seems to do well enough in the English regions, none of those productions have really taken off.

Like Carmen which I discussed in Au Revoir but not Adieu 19 Nov 2015 Wuthering Heights has been very difficult to transpose into dance and probably for the same reason. Everyone loves Bizet's score and Mérimée, Each has his or her own interpretation of those works which seem to be violated by the choreography even of the calibre or Petit, Alonso or Acosta. It is the same with Brontë:
"The foundations of music, structure, costume, and above all, choreography, bore atone I disagreed with. This was not my Wuthering Heights. They lent to a feeling of romantic melodrama in classical gowns – when everything about Wuthering Heights for me is about being hungry and not having washed for days. Heathcliff – my Heathcliff – is full of dominance, violence and childhood hurt – yet the worst he does in Act I is knock a shuttlecock off play and drum on the table."
My own review of Nixon's work was much kinder than Emma's and I think that is because I am not really a fan of the novel and had no preconceptions for him to knock. I prefer Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Sir Walter Scott and William Makepeace Thackeray to the Brontës any day of the week and if Nixon had made a ballet out of Emma or Persuasion my reaction might well have been the same as Emma's.

All that circumambulation is an introduction to the fact that I was at The Alhambra yesterday for the last performance of the current revival of Wuthering Heights with the same cast that I had seen in Sheffield. That was Northern Ballet's A Team: Tobias Batley as Heathcliff, Martha Leebolt as Cathy, Hironao Takahashi as Edgar, Hannah Bateman as Isabella and Pippa Moore as Ellen. The last performance of a flagship work by the company's stars after a successful provincial tour should have been brilliant and it was certainly OK. Bateman, now perhaps the strongest female dancer in the company, showed her considerable talent and expertise as a dancer and actor as the injured Isabella. It is a complex role that perhaps only she could do well. Takehashi showed his experience and authority in his role. Light, energetic and effervescent, Rachael Gillespie was a delight to watch and she was aptly rewarded in the reverence including a "brava" from me roared from the back of the stalls. Those three dancers made my evening.

Batley and Leeboilt were good too as they always are but their performance lacked fire. It was like watching World Ballet Day or even company class. Old ladies like me who sacrifice their widow's mite for ballet (now increased by 133% - see The Increasing Prince of Friendship 14 Oct 2015) expect to float when we leave the theatre as I did on Friday when I saw Ballet Black (see Ballet Black's Return to Leeds 21 Nov 2015) or on 12 Nov 2015 when I left the Linbury after seeing Phoenix (see The Phoenix Soars Over London 13 Nov 2015). The reason I floated was that Ballet Black and Phoenix danced as though they were inspired as did Bateman, Takehashi and Gillespie yesterday.  I swapped a ticket in the centre of row B of the Stanley and Audrey Burton for yesterday's performance of Ballet Black for one at the side of the top of the auditorium for Friday so that I could see the last performance of Wuthering Heights in Bradford. Had it not been for  Bateman, Takehashi and Gillespie I think I would have regretted the exchange.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Ballet Black return to Leeds

Millennium Square, Leeds
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Ballet Black, Mixed Bill, Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds 20 Nov 2015

Ballet Black always do well in Leeds for the reasons I stated in Ballet Black at Home in Leeds 7 Nov 2014. Last night was no exception. They returned with Sayaka Ichikawa, one of their most respected and best loved senior artists after a year's absence, and two outstanding young dancers, Mthuthuzeli November and Joshua Harriette. In a company the size of Ballet Black they are a substantial addition. Judging by their performance yesterday, a good one.

The programme that Ballet Black brought back to Leeds was the same as the one that they had launched at the Linbury (see Ballet Black's Best Performance Yet 17 Feb 2015) and performed in Nottingham (see Exactly My Cup of Tea 27 June 2015). This season in Leeds is likely to be their last performance of those works in the United Kingdom for some time though they are dancing them in Germany on 26 Nov 2015. When we see them again at the Barbican on 18 and 19 March 2016 they will have a new programme of works by Christopher Hampson, Christopher Marney and Arthur Pita.

The evening opened with To Fetch a Pail of Water? by Kit Holder danced by Kanika Carr and Jacob Wye. This is a work that can be sweet and innocent or dark and slightly menacing depending entirely on the cast. Yesterday it was danced sweetly by Carr and Wye. The near capacity crowd loved it as did I. Because I changed my ticket from Saturday to Friday at the last minute in order to see Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights in Bradford I was seated towards the top of the auditorium. That turned out to be an advantage because I caught detail such as the rustling of clothes that I had missed in London and Nottingham when I was close to the stage. The significance of the question mark clicked at last. It is a shame that I won't see the work for a while now that I understand it a little bit better.

Depouillement was our first opportunity to welcome back Ichikawa who was as delightful as ever and see November and Harriette for the first time. Actually I had seen November in May when Ballet Central visited the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre and he had impressed me then (see Dazzled 3 May 2015). He did so again last night from his very first jump. This is a fine work by Will Tuckett and it was danced exquisitely by Damien Johnson, Cira Robinson and Isabela Coracey as well as by Ichikawa, Harriette and November.

Even though I have read and re-read Yeats's short poem since I first saw Mark Bruce's Second Coming in February and have now seen it three times I am still no nearer to understanding it. I think the work has more to do with voodoo and animism than the poem. There are two ritual stabbings with a dagger by the ruler danced by Johnson. The dancers are forced to pass through a hoop - literally kicked through by Carr in one case. In her angel costume with tiny wings Carr can do creepy as well as sweet when she so wishes.  The hoop seems to be the boundary between reality and some fantasy work. On the other side there is some gorgeous dancing to Shostakovich and and a delightful duet by Johnson and Robinson. Yeats writes of
"A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds."
In the ballet the shape has a lion's head and the body of a man and that's the creepiest bit if all. Maybe the ballet is not meant to be understood any more than the poem or even the book of Revelation from which it was inspired. Perhaps we should just relish the beautiful dancing, choreography, the haunting music and Dorothee Brodruck's rich designs.

The stage darkened and the auditorium erupted with applause. Not just polite ballet applause with the occasional "bravo" or "brava" but ululations and stamping. From the back of the theatre it was deafening. I feared for a moment that the seating would collapse from the vibrations. Leeds loves Ballet Black as Sharon Watson acknowledged in the Q & A that followed the performance when she thanked the company for performing in our city. What I did not realize until that Q & A was that Cassa Pancho had drawn inspiration from our own Phoenix Dance Theatre. Ballet Black and Phoenix have much in common. Yet another reason why Leeds loves Ballet Black.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Au Revoir but not Adieu

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I was very tempted to attend the Royal Ballet's mixed programme to see Carlos Acosta's last performance on the main stage of Covent Garden on Thursday night for I was offered a ticket for the grand circle for only £100. The reason I was tempted was that I knew that I would see a little piece of balletic history. But then I would have missed Phoenix Dance Theatre at the Royal Opera House and I knew that that would be good too. Torn though I was I opted for Phoenix (see The Phoenix Soars over London 13 Nov 2015) as they are from Leeds. I see them nearly every time I attend an adult ballet class. Some of these classes even take place in their studios.

One of the reasons why I chose to watch Phoenix in the Linbury was that I knew the mixed bill would be filmed and that I would get a chance to see that film at the Huddersfield Odeon on Sunday, That is what I did. The Royal Opera House HDTV transmissions have just about got it right now. The show was introduced by Fiona Bruce who is an experienced TV presenter. Darcey Bussell interviewed Carlos Acosta and Kevin O'Hare and contributed anecdotes from her experience as a principal dancer. The programme consisted of four ballets: Liam Scarlett's Viscera. Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun, Tchaikowsky Pas de Deux by Balanchine and Carlos Acosta's Carmen. It was a thrilling programme showing the Royal Ballet at its best.

Ever since I heard Laura Morera's talk to the London Ballet Circle I have wanted to see Viscera (see Laura Morera 25 Aug 2015). Although the work was commissioned by Miami City Ballet it is associated with Morera in this country.  In the cinema transmission Morera was accompanied by Ryoichi Hirano and Marianela NuñezViscera is a spectacular ballet in three movements. It reminds me very much of David Dawson's Empire Noir which I saw in Amsterdam as part of the Dutch National Ballet's Cool Britannia programme earlier in the year  (see Going Dutch 29 June 2015) in that everything except the second movement is done on the double. There were spectacular turns and jumps by in the first and last movements and a delicious duet in the middle with the most delicate lifts and holds. The ballet was set to Lowell Liebermann's First Piano Concerto. You can get a taste of Liebermann's work from this concert performance of the third movement on this YouTube video.

Viscera was followed by an interval which showed an interview of Carlos Acosta by Darcey Bussell over tea. Acosta spoke about his career in England: how he entered ballet largely on his father's insistence, his short time with the English National Ballet where he actually contemplated giving up dance, his audition with the Royal Ballet, his career with the company and the two works that he created for it. Bussell shone as Acosta's interviewer. She coaxed the story from Acosta adding her own reminiscences here and there. This is what she does well.

The next act consisted of Afternoon of a Faun and the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.  These are two short works by two of America's best known choreographers.  Robbins's Afternoon  shares the music and title of Nijinsky's L'Après-midi but, as can be seen from archive film of the Nijinsky's work and a video of the Ballett am Rhein's performance of Robbin's, the narratives are quite different.  I am not sure which work I prefer. The Robbins probably makes more sense as it is set in a dance studio with the audience acting as a mirror on the fourth wall. Nobody is dressed in an animal costume or moves like a faun. However, Nijinksky's work for Diaghilev has the rich backcloth by Leon Bakst. Afternoon was danced by Vadim Muntagirov and Sarah Lamb. This was the first time I had seen them together and they teamed up well. Balanchine created the Pas de Deux from music that Tchaikovsky wrote originally for Swan Lake. It is a gorgeous work with male and female solos and a thrilling coda. It was danced magnificently by Steven McRae and Iana Salenko.

There followed quite a long interval when I went in search of a hot dog to avoid the tweets and trailers which is the one part of the Royal Opera House's transmission that I wish the House would drop. Towards the end there was a short interview of O'Hare by Bussell in which they discussed World Ballet Day, the career of Carlos Acosta and his latest work Carmen.  Then the curtain rose on the last Act which was Carlos Acosta's Carmen.

Acosta is not the first choreographer to transpose Prosper Mérimée's novella and Bizet's score into ballet. Roland Petit created a version for himself and Zizi Jeanmaire in 1949. So, too, did Alberto Alonso for the Bolshoi and the National Ballet of Cuba with Maya Plisetskaya in the lead  (see Wikipedia's Carmen Suite (Ballet)). Neither of those works has stuck and I am not sure why.  It seems that a full length opera does not translate easily into a one act ballet. Whether Acosta's work fares any better than his compatriot's or Roland Petit's remains to be seen. If it does not, it will not be for want of trying. Acosta threw just about everything bar the kitchen sink into the mix - voice, flamenco, contemporary and a new character called Fate danced by Matthew Golding. Surprisingly, Acosta found no role for Michaela which might have been an interesting one for a ballerina. I have mixed feelings about the work but it was certainly exciting. Acosta danced Don José, Nuñez was Carmen and Federico Bonelli Escamillo. Fiona Kimm sang the fortune teller's role.

Whatever the strengths of the work the audience loved it. As you can see from the above video there was a flower throw. O'Hare made a speech. The whole cast appeared on stage, It must have been one of those memorable evenings that the Royal Opera House does so well. I stayed in the auditorium for as long as the video of the applause continued long after everyone else had left with the ushers glancing pointedly at their watches. I felt that was the least I could do for Acosta who has given me and many others so much pleasure over his long career.