Thursday, 4 March 2010

Forgotten reviews and weekend breaks

It’s been a busy week – work is getting a lot livelier now. Spring seems to be genuinely on its way, too (for which relief much thanks). I haven’t reviewed the wonderful ballet and contemporary dance charity gala I went to at Sadler’s Wells at the weekend; or the concert of luscious Rachmaninov (with luscious Lugansky), or the flamenco performance last Friday, or the Royal Ballet triple bill that I went to on Tuesday... and with all that dashing around, plus a busy week at work, I am a touch knackered.

However, I have tomorrow off, and I’m going away for the weekend to the Channel Islands with my stepmum, for a couple of days of (probably chilly) walking and tourism and fresh air. The weather forecast at the moment is good – cold but sunny and dry. I hope Guernsey will be quiet and peaceful at this time of year, and with luck the famous Channel Island narcissi will be out by now. I’m looking forward to switching off “London-mode” for a little while and having nothing more serious to think about than “Do we go west along the coast path today, or east along ditto, or inland?” We may buy Guernsey sweaters, piles of duty free, or bouquets of alstroemerias. We may eat huge bags of Channel Island Cream Fudge. We may do nothing at all but birdwatch and walk and relax. I’ll report on Monday.

The flamenco was terrific fun; all-stops-out, wham bam, yee-ow wild stuff; four excellent dancers with back-up assorted, including a skinny woman in a purple shirt who was one of the best flamenco singers I've ever heard. The latest Philharmonia concert was a dollop of Verdi followed by main course and a huge desert of delicious Rachmaninov; a real wallow in lush romantic glory. I had to keep my eyes averted from Andris Nelsons at times, though - he jumps up and down so much I was afraid he'd fall off the podium. If one conducted like that in a film, people would say one was going over-the-top; still, even if he did look a bit bonkers the results were lovely, so I can't complain.

The gala was in aid of a charity run by Royal Ballet principal Mara Galeazzi, "Dance for the Children", and it was a feast of wonderful dancing; three top-notch items of classical ballet, a couple of well-judged comedy things, a great display of tap dancing from the insouciant Steven McRae - if he can sing like he can hoof, he could move onto the West End stage without turning a (beautiful, ginger) hair - and a whole bunch of new contemporary/ballet pieces, several of which were excellent. It's hard to pick highlights as the standard was astonishingly high. I guess the cream of the crop were The New Ballet Boyz (or possibly they are really The New George Piper Dances - how does a company cope with having two names? It must be confusing at times); and a duet for Mara Galaezzi herself and the lovely Gary Avis, danced to a couple of Brahms lieder; full of suggestions of isolation and projection, of people reaching for one another yet holding themselves apart, it was subtle and allusive and melancholy, and full of fiendish-looking lifts. I think choreographers must look at Mr Avis' partnering skills and think "Aha!"...

The triple bill was also good; but it's gone five pm and I want to go home and pack for my flight to Guernsey tomorrow; forgive me, but I'm going to stop right now! After all, no-one is itching for my reviews, and I am itching for my little break...

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