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  • Your Reaction: What did you think of The Illustrated 'Farewell' / The Wind / Untouchable?

Your Reaction: What did you think of The Illustrated 'Farewell' / The Wind / Untouchable?

Audience reactions and press reviews to The Royal Ballet's hotly anticipated triple bill of works from Twyla Tharp, Arthur Pita and Hofesh Shechter.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

7 November 2017 at 3.29pm | 18 Comments

Press reviews:

Arts Desk ★★★★
Time Out  ★★★★
Guardian ★★★
Times (£) ★★★
Evening Standard ★★★
The Stage ★★★
Telegraph ★★

What did you think of The Royal Ballet's mixed programme?
Share your thoughts via the comments below.

The Illustrated 'Farewell' / The Wind / Untouchable runs until 17 November 2017. Tickets are still available.

This article has 18 comments

  1. Jo Murray responded on 7 November 2017 at 11:14pm Reply

    I loved it all but especially sublime was the first part of Twyla Tharp's ballet.
    I found 'The Wind 'a little hard to follow but it was very engaging.
    On the whole the evening was too long so I was too tired to really appreciate the Untouchable which is a bit repetitive and too long.

  2. Natascha Lancaster responded on 10 November 2017 at 10:39am Reply

    Loved the Twyla Tharp and Untouchable but not the "Wind." The dancing was excellent but am tired of watching violence against women, even if the woman wins out. Her winning out is given a few seconds, while the violence lasts much longer. Is this really "a woman's point of view" (Pita) ?

  3. George Vogt responded on 11 November 2017 at 12:53am Reply

    I very much liked the Illustrated Farewell as it has, in my opinion, beautiful music -> refined choreography -> excellent dancers. I hope neither Sarah Lamb nor Steven McRae will give their farewell too soon.

  4. Elizabeth Tebbutt responded on 11 November 2017 at 1:54pm Reply

    What a diverse and amazing Triple Bill! I loved 'Farewell'- how could you not, with Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb, fabulous choreography and beautiful music?
    The Wind was the most imaginative, evocative ballet I have seen for a long time! The lighting and special effects really transported me to the dry and windy plains of Texas. The accompanying music fitted the piece perfectly!
    Untouchable was incredible and the corps, especially in the line-ups, outstanding!

  5. Twyla Tharp's ballet was gorgeous and beautifully performed by Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae and the whole cast (great to see all their names on the cast sheet too).

    The cast gave a committed performance of The Wind, but I couldn't help feeling that it could do with more choreography rather than mime and moving props....that said, it is a difficult story to stage in the first place- which could be why there's been no remake of The Wind (especially with the advent of sound and colour in films). Ed Watson - an incredibly talented interpreter of any and every character or topic - had the best choreography out of all the characters and performed them powerfully.

    I've liked Untouchable ever since its première; it is a refreshing change from the other repertory at Covent Garden.

    I hope we'll get to see The Illustrated Farewell again very soon; I'd love to see it as a middle ballet or final ballet in a triple bill with Ashton or McGregor ballets.

  6. The piece of the night - Untouchable, Hofesh was absolutely outstanding! More collaborations with him please! (Maybe turn up the volume a little more next time for this - let's shake the Royal Opera House abit more)

  7. penelope simpson responded on 12 November 2017 at 8:24pm Reply

    My first and definitely last Twyla Tharp. Deadly dull despite polished and accomplished dancing - although how anyone, let alone the wonderful Steven Macrae, can dance in grey underpants and expect to be taken seriously is beyond me. N

  8. Lucy responded on 13 November 2017 at 4:39pm Reply

    I loved the Illustrated 'Farewell', both sparkling and very moving. I would have liked The Wind to be longer, to give more time for character development and to tell the story more clearly, and for less of the stage to be taken up by the machinery. I get the point about them being a Brechtian device, but they made the action seem truncated and squeezed into the available space. Superb dancing though.

  9. Stuart Dixon responded on 14 November 2017 at 1:44pm Reply

    Started off well, great to see Sarah back, then went downhill. “Wind” loved the set and the idea but was totally ruined by the rape scene. Did nothing for the story just gratuitous violence. Shame. As for the last piece, I read somewhere that it was about war and knee deep mud. Took years and years of training for the dancers to stamp, clap and walk about.Art? You are joking

    • Anna responded on 23 November 2017 at 3:07am

      I agree with you about the last ballet. Modern works are welcomed by audiences in great companies as RB but only if the dancers get to use their level of training and artistry. Sometimes what they do in these ballets is not up to this level and they're not challenged enough.

  10. Nick B responded on 14 November 2017 at 5:32pm Reply

    If you like variety this is the three part programme for you. I would describe 'Farewell' as an abstract ballet/dance piece, 'in the tradition' in terms of choreography, elegant and energetic. Beautifully danced by all, especially Steven M and Sarah L. I would describe The Wind as a highly entertaining and imaginative wild west dance/melodrama. I would guess the dancers loved it, all that wild west playacting and those cowboy/cowgirl outfits 'n'all. I would tone down that nasty little rape scene though. Untouchable is something I would expect to see at Sadlers Wells. For me, an atmospheric ensemble piece with a relentless sense of menace. Not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed it. An evening very well spent with the brilliant RB!

  11. Arthur responded on 15 November 2017 at 7:13pm Reply

    Oh dear, generally not good. The Tharp was the best of the triple bill but the costumes were super dreary, and when the set is stripped to the bare that's important; as to grand-pa underpants, that's just cheapskate. The Pita was dire, the music direr and whatever was going on pointless, or unnecessary. Good set though. But I suggest that if you want to see Oklahoma go see Oklahoma at your local theatre for the ROH don't have a clue about the interpretation of Western dancing, it's not just yeehaw about, or the music. The Hofesh was OK but too long, too much light pollution and too little volume and Sadlers Wells do him better. Over the past few years I've been to a number of modern/contemporary evenings at the ROH with very mixed results. Not good enough, yet, you guys.

  12. Sally responded on 18 November 2017 at 6:53pm Reply

    I was horrified by 'Wind'. I will definitely be reading the synopses a lot more attentively when I book tickets next. The last two ballets I have seen in the past month, this and 'The Judas Tree' both included stylised depictions of rape. I don't agree with the propagation of rape mythology, even if the protagonist kills the attacker there is no relief from being bombarded with these ugly themes. This has definitely put me off modern works, and made me question the morality of a venue that puts on such vile displays.

  13. Clement responded on 19 November 2017 at 11:25pm Reply

    Wonderful!! It said triple bill on the tin it ought to have said Ballet cycle. The sheer variety of impulsed dynamic gesture and all to music from Haydn to up the volume modernity and a ticket price rather than a loan. What not to like.

  14. Francis Hampsey responded on 20 November 2017 at 2:38am Reply

    Tharp a true technician beautiful choreography. Wonderful fluidity & movement from Macrae.
    Arthur Pita certainly didn't blow me away!
    Hofesh had potential but didn't quite hit the mark .

  15. Jakegee responded on 20 November 2017 at 11:27am Reply

    I only saw Friday night's final performance of this Triple Bill, and I enjoyed it very much. Twyla Tharp's 'Illustrated “Farewell” was beautifully danced all round, but I found Steven McRae’s usual quirky “look at me!” style was undoubtedly overshadowed by the beautiful fluent dancing of Joseph Sissens. Joseph just gets better and better - a brilliant future lies ahead!

    “The Wind” was wonderfully innovative! Congratulations to Arthur Pita on an amazing concept. The set and lighting were very cleverly done. I loved the dance and costumes, and thought Francesca did brilliantly to cope with the wind on stage! As always, Ed Watson was fascinating to watch in his ghostly role! My only reservations would be the presence of the wind machines on stage, intruding in the story-telling and taking up valuable space. Also the lowering of the bedroom scene ‘furnishings’ was rather clumsy, but may have been necessary for some technical reasons ?? Being something of a romantic, I felt the story just stopped - I would have liked a happy ending! However, a very enjoyable and memorable performance.

    Finally, I loved “Untouchable” when I saw it several times a couple of years ago, and again I thought it was a fantastic showcase for the younger dancers in the Company. Congratulations to Kevin O’Hare for his courage in commissioning works which may not appeal to the Classical purists, but nevertheless demonstrate the remarkable versatility of the Royal Ballet’s wonderful pool of talented dancers. Keep up this good work!

  16. Clare responded on 27 November 2017 at 8:58am Reply

    " The Illustrated Farewell " essentially "As Time Goes By" with an opening sequence of new choreography did not do much for me I am afraid. Everyone danced their socks off but what a waste of fine dancers it proved to be.The opening section was pretty uninspired with Lamb and McRae giving the audience what amounted to little more than an empty display of technique stuck onto what proved to be a very dated piece of rather dull choreography, The oldest part of the work was stuffed full of fine dancers but despite their presence and Sissen's performance it always looked and felt like a period piece rather than an evergreen piece of choreography. It may have spoken to its original audience but whatever its spell when it was new it has not aged well. It now looks like so many other dance works produced in the 1970's.

    I was looking forward to the Pita but the best thing about it turned out to be that for once the stage was exceptionally well lit. Vacuous is the first word that springs to mind as far as the choreography is concerned.The problem for me was not that so much time was taken in exposition but that nothing in the choreography added to the experience you could have got from watching the film, I am glad that Mr Pita enjoyed Lilian Gish's performance in the Wind but the fact that you enjoyed a film is not a good enough reason for making a ballet based on it,
    A choreographer making a dramatic ballet has to create individual characters and then give them dance movements which tell the story clearly and communicate their psychological and emotional states to the audience more powerfully and effectively than words or the original art form could do.Unfortunately Mr Pita did not succeed in doing that. The choreographer told us nothing about the husband, the wife or the villain through the dance movement he gave them. They were types rather than individuals.You knew the villain was going to be villainous because he was dressed in black. Most of the choreography for the cowboys and townspeople felt like padding rather than essential to the narrative.And as Mr Pita seems to lack the ability to create body movement which expresses individual's emotional states or movement which transforms classically based movement into expressive body language. We were left with a ballet in which the drama of the ballet was played out by characters who had no more substance than cardboard cutouts..

    Finally we had Untouchable. Was this piece back by popular demand or was it back because management hopes that if it stages a turkey enough times the audience will be persuaded that it is a work of major significance and in fact a swan?

    I accept that the enthusiastic comments about this mixed bill are genuine but I am left wondering what programmes those who say this is the best thing they have seen at Covent Garden have been watching? Now I accept that every new work is a bit of a gamble and that they are not all going to be masterpieces but three dire works in a single mixed bill looks like something more than bad luck to me. Please note I am complaining about the lack of choreographic content in the Wind not its subject matter but did not it occur to anyone that after a programme which included "The Judas Tree" the subject matter of "The Wind" might be one rape too many within the space of a few weeks?

    De Valois created the company which became the Royal Ballet to be a creative one but as well as saying that the company should live in the present and look to the future she said that it should respect the past. A large number of major works were created during the first fifty plus years of the company's existence of which only a handful are revived sufficiently frequently to be described as part of the company's living repertory. Three of MacMillan's three act dramatic works enjoy triennial revivals why are not Ashton's two and three act works guaranteed similar regular guaranteed timetabled revivals? Cinderella has been out of the repertory for a ridiculously long time.The revival of a wider range of both choreographers' one act works would be very welcome. The neglect of MacMillan's classically based works such as Danses Concertantes and The Four Seasons is a complete mystery to me as is the neglect of major works by the founder choreographer such as Daphnis and Chloe and Les Illuminations. Young choreographers, dancers and your audience need and deserve to be exposed to a far wider range of the great works of the twentieth century than they are at present. At the forefront of the non-company choreographers whose works should be seen at Covent Garden is the London born choreographer Antony Tudor whose Lilac Garden, Dark Elegies and Pillar of Fire ought to be part of your living repertory as the companies for whom they were made show little interest in performing them..And who knows some of the current crop of choreographers might learn something from them? The dancers would certainly benefit from dancing them.

  17. Mariam Al-Roubi responded on 11 December 2017 at 11:00am Reply

    The Untouchables touched me! Never a better oxymoron. One of the most emotional pieces I've ever seen which completely transported me. To not need high kicks and beautiful pristine lines only shows the greatness of Hofesh Shechter.
    First soloist Beatriz Stix-Brunell stood out from the crowd... watch this space!!!

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