Chocolate Chip Cookie Ballet, Second Half

20 Nov

It’s always interesting to see a ballet with different casts (now I know why the Bag Ladies go to 34895764290482 shows of Mayerling!), because of all the little things one can pick up on that they didn’t catch the previous times.  Although I thought charming was the only word to describe La Fille mal gardée, I’m adding “cheeky” to the adjective list.  From the opening overture even, there is a moment where the flute player gets to “flutter tongue,” which is a technique not often used, where the musician has to breathe out to play a note while simultaneously rolling an “r” and yes, it is even harder then it sounds.  First of all, some people aren’t capable of rolling r’s (sucks to be you), you have to maintain a certain amount of tension in your embouchure (which means the shape of your lips) in order to do it, AND you have to be able to do it without laughing, which was always my problem.  Although, if you want to get really crazy there is this song called Lookout for solo flute, and there’s measures where the musician has to SING while playing at the same time (and other funny stuff like clicking the keys without actually playing notes).  I tell you, when my teacher played a little bit of that, she sounded like an alien and I burst into laughter.  It then became something I would periodically ask her to play, just so I could get a laugh out of it.  Meanwhile, she was working on it as part of some flute master class or workshop.  It was serious business, but I’m kind of fond of being inappropriate.

Anyway, this more recent La Fille I watched, starring Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta is hands down the one I will be adding to my wish list.  Obviously I’d love to have both the 1981 and 2005 productions, but who has the money?  Not I (especially with lots of goodies coming out soon!).  One of the wonderful things about the Royal Ballet is their sense of tradition and authenticity, so between the two productions there are hardly any differences, which is pretty impressive considering the near 25 year gap between them.  I noticed a thing here and there because I have a photographic memory (although I think I read somewhere a few years ago that some researchers were claiming that there was no such thing as a photographic memory.  Pffft!), observing things like how they added rain to the thunderstorm scene and changed the lighting, Simone flinging off her shoes with gusto before the clog dance, the part where Nuñez slides down the staircase on her bum when she’s depressed and also there’s a part in the 1981 version where the corps motions at Awain that he was headed for the wrong door which wasn’t in the 2005.  Little things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things and can be attributed to each dancer’s individual interpretations of characters and updated stage technology, but it keeps ballet fresh and exciting.  For me, anyway.

I have to say that I found Nuñez and Lesley Collier to be fairly comparable.  Each had their strengths as Lise and I enjoyed both of their performances for different reasons.  I think Collier was a little sweeter with just a touch more lightness; Nuñez had loftier jumps and a winning smile.  What puts the 2005 version on my wish list though is Acosta.  Obviously, I like his dancing a lot.  But he’s REALLY good in this ballet and technically superior to Michael Coleman and Acosta’s Colas I think had a real youthfulness to it that was more enjoyable to watch for me.  After reading his book, I get the feeling that Acosta is kind of a child at heart (and a bit of a mama’s boy, but in an endearing sort of way) and also rather goofy even if he doesn’t intend to be…there was some article recently that said after he retires he wants to get pet rabbits.  Again with the rabbits?  That’s some serious attachment to his childhood right there…but then again, it’s something I can relate to as well.  After all, I have an affinity for koalas which can  only be explained by the first toy my parents ever bought for me, a Pot Belly koala, which I aptly named, Koala (and still have to this day, even though they were recalled…way to go mom and dad).  I was devastated when I read an article maybe a week or two ago that said koalas could be extinct in thirty or so years.

At any rate, not only did I like Acosta’s youthful exuberance, he also got some opportunities to show off some very precise batterie, which normally he doesn’t get to do much of.  Sure he gets to do entrechats, but not so much with the other jeté battus and brisés, because the roles he’s in usually has him doing the pirouettes, double tours, huge leaps etc.  Which of course, he does throughout La Fille as well, but his beats are so  exceptional, I think his bottle dance was the best I’ve ever seen…between two that is, but I’m still speaking the truth.  He just shines and seemed really invested in the role of Colas, even if he mentioned in his book that the he was horrified by the banana yellow tights, which were, in my humble opinion, more of a mustard or ochre.  La Fille is one of those ballets though that makes me wonder if it is as much fun to do as it is to watch.  The dancers seem to be having a good time, but when you rehearse it into the ground and it becomes work, can it still be fun to perform?  I would hope so, but through my trolling of the internet I once came upon a ballet forum where dancers discussed in a thread the ballet music they were sick of, and a couple even mentioned Grand Tarantelle (the music for Balanchine’s Tarantella) which was blasphemous to me, because I love that song.  How can anyone get sick of a good tarantella?  I listen to it like ten times a day and it never gets old.

For me, Le Fille mal gardée will probably never get old either.  Royal Ballet is doing it later this season and if all goes according to plan and I win the lottery, I’m totally going to go.  I’m thinking Alina Cojocaru?

Anywhodle, Nuñez/Acosta’s La Fille mal gardée is on YouTube, in its entirety and in FANTASTIC quality, so it’s definitely worth the watch.  Of course, I would recommend adding it to your personal collection so you can watch it sans interruptions and buffering time!

Part 1 (click the channel to watch the rest) 

And just for kicks, Part 8 because it’s the grand pas de deux.  If you’re going to watch anything, watch this:

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