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Royal Ballet 2014 Review: What were your highlights of the year?

Share your on-stage highlights from the past twelve months for the chance to win a pair of tickets to see The Royal Ballet.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

22 December 2014 at 3.34pm | 48 Comments

This competition is now closed. Thanks to all those who entered.

With 2014 drawing to a close, we want to know what your Royal Ballet highlights of the year were.

Perhaps you were stunned by the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Shakespeare-inspired The Winter's Tale or Giselle's dramatic thrills topped your list; or maybe it was the surreal delights of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Hansel and Gretel's dark charms gripped you most. Whichever production you enjoyed the most, share it for the chance to win a pair of tickets to Onegin.

We’re also after your favourite Royal Opera productions of the year.

Here are a selection of your favourites from our Twitter following:

What were your Royal Ballet highlights of 2014?

Competition terms and conditions: The 2014 Royal Ballet review competition prize is two tickets to Onegin on 27 January 2015 (evening performance). Closing date for entry is 31 December 2014. The winner will be notified by 6 January 2015. All aspects of the prize are non-refundable, non-transferable and cannot be exchanged for another date. Travel or accommodation costs are not included in the prize. This prize draw can only be entered by tweeting with #ROHreview2014 or by commenting on this blog post.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

22 December 2014 at 3.34pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged 2014, by John Cranko, competition, Onegin, Production, review, Royal Ballet, Social Media

This article has 48 comments

  1. Dana responded on 22 December 2014 at 6:18pm Reply

    2014 was a year of ballet surprises for me personally, where I experienced some twists along with the old favourites.

    My top choice was The Concert, which showed that ballet isn't necessarily stuffy and serious, but also gets the audience laughing out loud. Next for me was the dark and dramatic Sweet Violets, which brought elements of the psychological thriller to the classical dance genre. Finally, I found myself moved by Connectome, which demonstrated an abstract, contemporary side to the Royal Ballet.

    So 2014 was a year of variation; looking forward to 2015 now!

    • Laurie Mezeret responded on 23 December 2014 at 10:59am

      Amazing ballets this year altogether, it was great to see more of Natalia Osipova and Mathew Golding.
      My personal highlights were Akane Takada's Sleeping Beauty, flawless, simple and incredibly touching, as well as Mc Millan's Gloria.
      Seeing the Royal Ballet School's performance in June was also very enlightning - how great to see tomorrow's stars early on!!
      Thank you so much to everyone at the royal ballet for bringing magic into our everyday life... I'll be looking forward to 2015!

  2. Angela Hurlstone responded on 22 December 2014 at 9:46pm Reply

    Very difficult to narrow down favourites at The Royal Ballet as there was so many highlights this year. However, those that stand out in my memory were Winter's Tale - I was totally mesmerised by this wonderful production - outstanding and very moving choreography - I cried a river whilst watching the performance.Valentino Zuchetti has stolen my heart with his superb performances as Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream and his unforgettable Blue Bird in Sleeping Beauty - what an outstanding talent he is. Finally, something very special happened when I recently saw Don Quixote. Although I saw it in 2013, this time around it was even more exciting. Stunning performances from Marienella Nunez, Carlos Acosta and the whole cast left me on a high for days afterwards. The choreography is simply inspirational. I felt as though I was part of the cast, who were obviously enjoying themselves so much that their delight was emanating to the audience itself. I must also mention Manon, which I saw twice this season. It was very special. It is a real privilege to visit The Royal Opera House, where the standard of performance from The Royal Ballet is second to none. Thank you so much.

  3. Brian Barford responded on 22 December 2014 at 9:58pm Reply

    The Winter's Tale was the highlight of 2014...Wheeldon's gift for creating narrative ballet out of difficult material is unerring.

  4. lablady responded on 22 December 2014 at 10:50pm Reply

    Absolute ballet favourite of 2014: MAYERLING. I loved every minute. What an atmospheric and gripping few hours it was. I would see it again and again. Close runner up: MANON ... saw it three times. Francesca Hayward my favourite.

  5. Tracey Lord responded on 22 December 2014 at 11:52pm Reply

    I have quite recently discovered ballet and I have had a wonderful, memorable year at the ROH. Osipova in Giselle was my most moving,breathtaking experience and a fantastic start to the year. I also had the privilege of attending the opening night of The Winters Tale. Alice in Wonderland was a mesmerizing, fun conclusion.
    PS I love the ROH website - tickets are easy to book, the seat/stage view is great and the clips and articles have informed me and my new passion.

  6. Bruce responded on 23 December 2014 at 11:13am Reply

    I thought 2014 a really very good year for ballet locally with the Royal Ballet; one with many treats Prime among these via the Royal Ballet were (i) the truly stunning revelation of Wheeldon's THE WINTER'S TALE where this talented choreographer finally came into his narrative own I felt in what Mackrell referred to as 'a game changer'. (How one longs to see him - especially after the glory that is AN AMERICAN IN PARIS which I have have had the privilege to see and so enjoy at the Chatalet - have a crack at a new (and much needed) production of Swan Lake for the Royal); (ii) both Muntagirov's and Hayward's thrilling debuts in MANON - simply stunning; (iii) Osipova in RUBIES (aside a shining McRae), GISELLE and - ultimately - A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY. She brings each into a new - and refreshed - world and (iv) Brandstup's fixating blow by blow take on maternal potency in his 2013 creation of a CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE so vividly realised (once they raised the lighting level after the third performance) in Royal Ballet's THE AGE OF ANXIETY programme - MOST especially as (v) on the occasion of Deirdre Chapman's mind blowing farewell performance; one so, SO very dramatically vivid and spare. She will be missed. In terms of visiting artists at the Royal Opera House, (vi) Northern Ballet achieved a new high with their mixed bill of three choreographers and (vii) it was wonderful that London finally (nine years after its creation) got to see Ratmansky's CONCERTO DSCH courtesy of the Mariinsky / Hochhausers. (Was that the Hochhauser's farewell to presentation as well? ... If so HUGE thanks for so, so many memories over a number of decades). It would be grand to see the latter on the schedule at the Royal Ballet. A fine triple would, methinks, see both the MacMillan and Ratmansky takes of that Concerto ... with, say, Ashton's Symphonic Variations matched with Balanchine's Ballo sandwiched in between. Wonderful variety. Truly.

  7. Adele Raynsford responded on 23 December 2014 at 11:20am Reply

    This is the first time I have taken my daughter to the ROH. At 13 she is working hard at her ballet exams. We went to see Don Quixote last weekend. The whole evening was an eye opener to her, from the opulence of the building, to the grace and beauty of the women and strength and power of the male dancers. Her astonishment at the determination and courage of Natalia Ospiova after she fell, danced to finish the first act and then had to be replaced only inspired her desire to become a dancer. She cannot wait for our next visit. Thank you

  8. Judy Rose responded on 23 December 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

    The Winter's Tale was the highlight of 2014 for me, although Manon came a close second. I am now a huge Christopher Wheeldon fan, and made the trip to a nearby town to see his 'Alice' in the Odeon there last week. I have only recently rediscovered my love for ballet, thanks to these live cinema performances which started appearing in our small local cinema earlier this year. Being in the rural heart of Wiltshire makes trips to London an expensive, time-consuming and very infrequent exercise, so it is wonderful that our little cinema can take on the amazing atmosphere of the ROH and enable us to see close-ups of such superb performances. Looking forward so much to 2015 showings of both ballet and opera.

  9. Alison Brown responded on 23 December 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

    The wonderful live cinema relays which give a different perspective to sitting in the ampitheatre! Watching Osipova's Giselle close up and the superb Nunez in Manon. She has become a world class ballerina. Thank you to Christopher Weeldon as we now have a choreographer who can match Kenneth Macmillan in 3 act ballets. A delightful Winter's Tale. Don Q, fantastic. And a final note: seeing Gary Avis as Monsieur GM in Manon. He gave the role new meaning, he is a very charismatic presence and as a dancer, I wish we could see more of him. All in all, a superb year

  10. Nina responded on 23 December 2014 at 6:11pm Reply

    Where to start? Certainly Winters Tale stands out - so beautiful . Osipova in Month in the Country,Francesca Hayward in Manon. Steven McRae in Rhapsody and,Dream. So many excellent dancers now it's impossible, and unfair to pick out names. And we've still got Onegin to come!

  11. francois responded on 23 December 2014 at 11:13pm Reply

    Two unforgettable performances : Osipova's outstanding and surrealistical Giselle, and McRae's electrical Rhapsody. I also loved Winter's Tale

  12. Jakegee responded on 24 December 2014 at 4:33pm Reply

    It is so difficult to try to choose one performance, so I must pin-point a few of my highlights for 2014. Carlos Acosta & Natalia Osipova were sublime in "Giselle" in January. I was at the unforgettable opening night, and delighted to be able to watch it time and time again now on DVD.

    Likewise I never tire of watching Carlos's own amazing production of "Don Quixote" on DVD, and have seen it onstage seven times now, six of those with Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nunez as Basilio & Kitri. Great to have it back again this season! A true classic has been born!

    "Manon" was wonderful with Natalia Osipova & Carlos Acosta as Manon and Des Grieux, then I also was privileged to see the stellar cast of Zenaida Yanowski as Manon, Roberto Bolle as Des Grieux and Carlos Acosta as an astonishing Lescaut. An unforgettable evening!!

    Zenaida Yanowski has also amazed me in her roles as Paulina in the delightful "The Winter's Tale" (another future classic!), as Queen of Hearts in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and as Natalia in "A Month in the Country" - three totally contrasting roles, but each fulfilled to perfection by Zenaida. She is a delight!

    Other highlights have been Carlos Acosta's "Cubania", "Connectome", "The Concert", "Gloria" and "DGV". My sincere thanks to all mentioned above and to all the dancers and staff at the Royal Opera House for the pleasures they bring to us in Ballet. Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

  13. Manon1753 responded on 25 December 2014 at 11:02pm Reply

    2014 was a very good vintage for the RB, both in the house and for those who could not afford the tickets or were too far away from it, on the internet and in the cinema. Amongst the dancers, Zen - whatever she does, she does with integrity and consumate skill, whether as the bored slightly elderly woman in Month, or Leda or as the Queen of Hearts, oh boy, she is unforgettable, those hands calling for more applause - i couldn't sotp laughing. Loved Sarah Lamb, fast, light, intelligent in everything she does, Rubies (with an equally fast McRae), or Alice or Scènes, or Perdita. The Ashton triple bill was a great taster for the uniniated and a great reminder for those who'd seen all his ballets before.. Cared less for Connectome. But to come back to Winter's Tale (bravo Wheeldon and team), Cuthbertson's lyrical, wronged wife to Watson's sick King. Fantastic dancing, fantastic acting. Saw Alice for the first time, what a show! WOW! Could the RB have more slots in the ROH programma please? But ultimately, one moment engraved in my memory: "Zen" (her again) as the sole person remembering and mourning the dead prince at the end of Winter's Tale. It need not always take lots of money and lots of complicated and clever scenery and lighting and gorgeous costumes to create heart stopping drama. All it takes is one powerful dancer, an unforgettable, solitary figure.
    The World ballet day was a great initiative and must have introduced thousands of new people to the world of ballet. The Australians made a strong case for male dancing. Bolshoi 4 hours were the least interesting. The Royal were very natural and much liked by my non-dancing friends in other countries. Loved seeing Dowell rehearse the Canadians in the Dream - learnt so much about Ashton. By the time we hit San Franciso, I was almost dead....
    The live boradcast via the cinemas is a brilliant way of bring the ballet to he audience. Again, it enabled me to take several uninitiated friends to the ballet and every single one of them loved Manon and Alice. Thank you and keep going!

    • Lyn responded on 30 December 2014 at 1:38am

      "It need not always take lots of money and lots of complicated and clever scenery and lighting and gorgeous costumes to create heart stopping drama. All it takes is one powerful dancer, an unforgettable, solitary figure."

      Oh absolutely! Wonderful comment.

  14. The best thing about this year was Natalia Osipova. And then there was the Mariinsky season.

    • Geoff responded on 31 December 2014 at 10:11am

      Seconded! I just hope she doesn't decide that the Royal Ballet is unlucky for her (three injuries - that I know of - since she joined). May she recover quickly and well from her first night fall at Don Quixote.

  15. Valerie Knight responded on 26 December 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

    My favourites are The Winter's Tale, Lauren Cuthbertson's Giselle, Zecchetti's Bluebird, The Concert, The Dream (I'd love a DVD of that triple bill), Onegin, oh where do I stop. Basically I've loved all the RB's shows whether at ROH or the cinema. Looking forward to Don Q on Jan 3rd.

  16. Gogloridano responded on 27 December 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

    An ecstatic inventory of the year's delights? For my own pleasure then, to think the sound of my own thoughts, and perhaps to any cursory peruser's disagreement, agreement or indifference:

    Jewels was beautiful, and the Triple Bills & the Ashton Quadruple were most generous treats!

    Zenaida Yanowsky & Roberto Bolle in Manon were absolutely wonderful, and Marianela Nuñez in Carlos Acosta's brilliant Don Quixote was quite astonishing! Yes, these were my stand-out performances (for which I stood up!)

    Natalia Osipova was magnificent throughout; Steven McRae is a leaping joy to behold; and of the other principals, I am beholden by gratitude and enthusiasm to mention in particular Federico Bonelli, Edward Watson, Sarah Lamb, Laura Morera.

    To mention a ballet in particular, I must mention The Concert, with wonderful comic performances by all and especially Sarah Lamb and Bennet Gartside. Just wonderful fun!

    Don Quixote, Alice's Adventures, Sleeping Beauty, The Dream were dazzling and occasionally quite magical productions, for which I thank everybody involved!

    We have been delighted this year!

    Again, my delighted thanks!

  17. Fiona Chapman responded on 27 December 2014 at 8:35pm Reply

    Not pure RB but we saw Zoonation's Mad Hatter's Tea Party and it was awesome! Our party spanned ages from 4 to 70 and we were delighted by the artistic athleticism of the dancers. I would book to see it again in a heartbeat.

  18. I loved watching the triple bill of Serenade, DGV and Sweet Violets- I'd been waiting to go ever since the rehearsal video with Thiago Soares and Leanne Cope was put on the ROH youtube channel! As always, blown away by Steven McRae's performance in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Sarah Lamb was beautiful as always- my only regret is that i haven't been to see more!
    Also really enjoying the live performances in cinema, it's great to watch ballet a little closer to home-thoroughly enjoyed watching the live stream on world ballet day too whilst eating breakfast! Thank you for everything, I can't wait to see the royal ballet again as soon as possible!

  19. Cathy responded on 28 December 2014 at 3:10pm Reply

    A most wonderful Season, a most outstanding Ballet company! I watched most ballets but my favourites were: Giselle (Osipova/Acosta cast, and the most outstanding Pas de Six!), The Winter's Tale, Month in the Country (Zenaida Yanowsky cast was the best), The Concert, Symphonic Variations (Nunez/Muntagirov/ Naghdi/Choe cast), The Dream (Osipova cast). I also loved the DeloitteIgnite event: (Yanowsky as Leda/Brandstrup, Matthew Ball as Male Dying Swan and Naghdi as The Firebird). Looking forward to 2015 Season. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the dancers and staff at the ROH.

  20. Kathi responded on 28 December 2014 at 8:15pm Reply

    Growing to love Wheedon's work more Ms more. Alice's scenography and probs were absolutely inspired!

  21. Joanne responded on 29 December 2014 at 10:29am Reply

    My highlights this year - Melissa Hamilton in 'Manon' and Gary Avis as the Gaoler (pure evil) in the same ballet - incredible! Zenaida Yanowsky, Eric Underwood, James Hay, Steven MaCrae, Bennet Gartside in 'Alice' - again incredible performances! Among the lower ranks saw some really stand-out performances from Anna Rose O'Sullivan, Akane Takada, Mayara Magri and the super talented James Hay in 'Alice' and 'Don Quixote'.
    The main highlight was the mesmerising 'Winter's Tale' - a beautiful and moving ballet with the incredible talents of Watson (outstanding), Lamb, Yanowsky, MaCrae, Bonelli, Cuthberstson (pure lyricism), Zuchetti, Avis, Gartside and those on stage musicians! A masterpiece!
    Loved the live stream of 'Alice' and 'Manon' from the ROH too - looking forward to the next ones in 2015

    • sarah langfield responded on 2 January 2015 at 11:33am

      which part did Mayara Magri play as she hasn't danced Mercedes yet?

    • Rachel Beaumont (Product Manager) responded on 2 January 2015 at 5:10pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Mayara's roles so far have included the Vivandière in The Nutcracker and a Principal role in Symphonic Variations, and she dances Mercedes on 14, 19 and 22 January. You can read more about Mayara here.

      All best,

  22. Stuart Dixon responded on 29 December 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

    So many. Nela in DonQ; Francesca's debut in Manon, wonderful. Wheeldon's Winters Tale with Lauren and Edward. But just about top was Natalie life enhancing Giselle. Can't wait for 2015.

  23. Julia Jones responded on 29 December 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

    #ROHreview2014 Definitely any debut of Vadim Muntagiriv - Manon and Symphonic Variations - brilliant!!!*

  24. Jo Young responded on 29 December 2014 at 5:10pm Reply

    My highlight of the year was taking my daughter to see Swan Lake for the very first time!

  25. victoria responded on 29 December 2014 at 5:13pm Reply

    I do not live in London so I have been so happy to see the live screenings in my local cinema, my highlight was The Winter's Tale. Nothing beats the electric atmosphere in a theatre but it is wonderful not to miss out completely...and I still attend in London when I can!

  26. Verity responded on 29 December 2014 at 6:07pm Reply

    My favourites this year were Don Quixote and Tosca - fabulous performances by the ballet and opera casts and crews!

  27. Gordon Kynaston responded on 29 December 2014 at 8:56pm Reply

    My favourite was Manon with Marianela Nuñez

  28. Eliza Wilder responded on 29 December 2014 at 9:04pm Reply

    After an extended break working away, I have returned to London to work - mostly because I missed the unrivalled culture of the capital. There is always something to do and see here. Life just isn't the same without theatre, ballet and dance to lift the spirits. So 2014 was a return for me to ballet, and it has been a wonderful year. I loved the Nutcracker (which was my first ever ballet some years ago), the Winter's Tale, Giselle, Don Quixote... I also have been delighted to see showings at my local cinema (as I only work in London but do not live there), meaning I have been able to see more ballet than ever before. I think the greatest achievement of this year has been that - extending the reach and accessibility of ballet to people who normally wouldn't be able to enjoy it.

  29. Veronica Lopez-Smith responded on 29 December 2014 at 9:08pm Reply

    My favourite by far was Winter's Tale, absolutely fantastic. I am really looking forward to 2015

  30. Sean Brady responded on 30 December 2014 at 9:09am Reply

    Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was a highlight for me. A great cast and superb telling of a classic tale.

  31. Bernie Tyrrell responded on 30 December 2014 at 5:37pm Reply

    We took the girls to see Giselle - they loved it despite not being keen to start with. Hopefully this is the start of many great family outings.

  32. Debi Gillard responded on 30 December 2014 at 10:31pm Reply

    I didn't get to go to the ballet at all this year. Boo Hoo!!!! Hoping I can see lots in 2015

  33. leanne weir responded on 31 December 2014 at 9:07am Reply

    My favourite by far was Winter's Tale

  34. Sophia responded on 31 December 2014 at 9:22am Reply

    The only ballet we saw this year was Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and it was superb.

  35. Sarah Le Bas responded on 31 December 2014 at 10:50am Reply

    Watching Manon and Alice in wonderland in the cinema for the first time. looking forward to seeing Swan Lake in Covent Garden in April.

  36. Paul Tomkies responded on 31 December 2014 at 11:57am Reply

    I really enjoyed the wonderful Ashton mixed programme, a very generous evening of four wonderfully diverse dances by the master. It was particularly nice to see Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan, so rarely performed. This was the first time I'd seen it and I thought Romany Pajdak excellent. A really thrilling evening for me, with thanks. Look forward to more equally interesting mixed bills in 2015.

  37. Paige Dickie responded on 31 December 2014 at 4:14pm Reply

    My favourite was watching Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote - he seemed to just float in the air. Marianela Nunez was fantastic also. Another highlight was seeing Alice in Woderland - simply magical.

  38. Some dancers have outstanding technique, others great musicality, and some dancers can act; but few can inhabit a role and communicate that sense to an audience. Natalia Osipova did that in her interpretation of Giselle. It was not so much a highlight, as watching a blazing star.

  39. Sílvia responded on 2 January 2015 at 4:16pm Reply

    Marianela Núnez in Manon.

  40. Mrs. A. S . Riddle responded on 2 January 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    I took my son to see don quixote first visit to the ballet and to the opera house .he asked me today when can we go again? A quite wonderful performance by Acosta and Nunez!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 3 January 2015 at 9:37am

      Dear Mrs Riddle

      So glad you both enjoyed it. Come and see us again soon.

      Best wishes


  41. RICHARD responded on 2 January 2015 at 6:05pm Reply

    Manon and Alice. Both outstanding.
    Watching streaming is magical

  42. Lynn and Simon responded on 3 January 2015 at 8:35pm Reply

    After far too long an absence we've managed a number of trips this year to see the Royal Ballet in London and at our local cinema in Cumbria. All performances have been wonderful but if we have to single out a couple it would be Natalia Osipova's Giselle and Francesca Hayward's debut in Manon. We've very much enjoyed seeing Francesca's progression in 2014 following her lovely Nutcracker Clara at the start of the year. How lucky we are to see such a talented dancer develop. We've been amazed by the brilliance of Stephen Mcrae in his many roles throughout the year, especially in Rhapsody, The Dream and Manon. Thanks also to Robert Clark for the Concert, a Ballet insights rehearsal of Symphonic Variations, all his contributions during the riveting World Ballet day, and with his colleagues for the Rachmaninov Elegiac trio for Sweet Violets.

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