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Your Reaction: What did you think of the Bernstein Centenary?

Audiences responses and press reviews following the first night of The Royal Ballet's Yugen, The Age of Anxiety and Corybantic Games.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

16 March 2018 at 12.01pm | 18 Comments

Press reviews:
Guardian ★★★★
Time Out ★★★★
Telegraph ★★★
Arts Desk ★★★

What did you think of the Bernstein Centenary mixed programme?
Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Bernstein Centenary runs until 9 April 2018. Tickets are sold out, although returns may become available, and a limited number will be released each week via Friday Rush.

The mixed programme will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 27 March 2018. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

This mixed programme is part of Leonard Bernstein at 100 and Yugen is a co-production with Dutch National Ballet. The mixed programme is staged with generous philanthropic support from The Daniel Katz Gallery, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, The Taylor Family Foundation, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and the Bernstein Production Syndicate. Yugen is staged with generous philanthropic support from Linda and Philip Harley, Janine Rensch and The ROH Young Philanthropists. Corybantic Games is staged with generous philanthropic support from Kenneth and Susan Green, Mr and Mrs Edward Atkin CBE and Sue Butcher.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

16 March 2018 at 12.01pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Age of Anxiety, Bernstein Centenary, by Leonard Bernstein, Corybantic Games, Mixed Programme, review, Social Media, your reaction, Yugen

This article has 18 comments

  1. Michael responded on 16 March 2018 at 5:20pm Reply

    I much enjoyed the new works but - from the Balcony at the dress and front stalls last night - although I loved the costumes I was disappointed by the cod-20s Brylcreem-plastered Corybantics hair-styling, which may have looked good on paper but turned out unflattering for the girls and anonymising for the boys, possibly intentionally. A personal view, but another example for me that sometimes choreographers and designers don’t always see what we see! No comment on last night would be complete without praise for the mesmerising elegance of Calvin Richardson in Yugen.

  2. Alison Johnston responded on 16 March 2018 at 5:38pm Reply

    I loved all 3 ballets in this Triple Bill.
    * Yurgen was exquisite
    *Anxiety was fun and "different" - shades of J. Robbins?
    * Corybantic amazing

    Thank you very much dancers for working so hard and giving me such pleasure and delight.

  3. Michael Llewellyn responded on 16 March 2018 at 7:16pm Reply

    An excellent programme. Fabulous dancers, and some truly outstanding designs

  4. Ann Wheeler responded on 17 March 2018 at 3:19pm Reply

    Enjoyed the ballets at the rehearsal, what fantastic choreography and dancing. We are so lucky to have these three talented and inspirational choreographers to follow on from Ashton and Macmillan days.

  5. Alan Munch responded on 18 March 2018 at 11:41am Reply

    Three very enjoyable, interesting dances with much variety! Nice staging and lighting too. Thanks to all involved. I didn’t know the Chichester Psalms, so was glad to learn more about Bernstein’s diverse music.
    Would it be possible to put a few lines of explanation about each piece in the cast notes, including exactly which Bernstein pieces are used in the second and third dances? I was expecting to have the usual brief summaries to help get the most out of each performance on the night. This might help the upcoming audiences. (I expect it’s all in the full printed programme.)

  6. Liliane responded on 18 March 2018 at 1:26pm Reply

    Hello, can anybody tell me plls which pieces of music by Berstein are being used? (Afterall it is a B centenary) tks

    • ML responded on 8 April 2018 at 12:10am

      Yugen- Chichester Psalms

      Age of Anxiety- Symphony no 2 (also named 'The Age of Anxiety')

      Corybantic Games - Serenade after Plato's "Symposium" for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion

  7. Lizzie responded on 18 March 2018 at 3:47pm Reply

    This was, for me, perhaps the most enjoyable evening of contemporary ballet at the ROH. Bernstein certainly helped; my problem with new commissions is often that there is not enough musical weight and skill behind the choreography. Yugen, in particular, was wonderfully fresh and moving. The Age of Anxiety a touch clichéd but not without interest. Corybantic Games was sleek and elegant, with Magri/Sambé arguably the high point (though I did not like the overbearing changes in lighting). Not sure why some critics were so vicious about Erdem's costumes; I found them both chic and effective (the skirts very much excited the Classicist in me, hello Greek vase painting).

  8. Anna responded on 18 March 2018 at 5:27pm Reply

    The costumes in Corybantic and Yurgen were not really a good choice. Choreographers should be more careful in this department. It's really important and from the beginning of each piece it was a small disappointment to watch what the dancers were wearing. Specially, the dark belts hanging from the dancers in Corybantic made me feel upset.
    Dancers are excellent as it always is the case in Royal Ballet.

  9. Allison Bailey responded on 18 March 2018 at 7:40pm Reply

    Simply stunning was fabulous being there to see such a spectacular programme a delightful treat-thank you all

  10. Brian responded on 23 March 2018 at 11:12am Reply

    This was a very enjoyable triple bill, especially Yugen and Corybantic Games. Sarah Lamb was stunning in both Yugen and Age of Anxiety - a most beautiful dancer.

  11. Josh responded on 24 March 2018 at 9:45am Reply

    To me, it was a bit too un-Berstein. The three pieces lacked unity, and having a 19 minute performance followed by a 30 minute interval was too much.

    • ML responded on 8 April 2018 at 12:15am

      That's how Leonard Bernstein wrote Chichester Psalms, unfortunately. It lasts between 19 to 21 minutes (no longer) depending on the tempo and pauses in between each psalm. Even when Bernstein himself conducted it. The 30-minute intervals are for changing and positioning the sets. It's not up to the director or choreographers how the machinery works or what the space allows. However, I know the patrons who were queuing for toilets or a drink were pleased to have ample time to return to their seats!

  12. S Bearder responded on 28 March 2018 at 10:02am Reply

    From Lorca Spain - I enjoyed Yurgen and the balance of dance and sublime music worked well for me which was not quite the case with Corybantic Games (excluding the the fourth which was truly great) I found myself closing my eyes to concentrate on the great violin playing. I thought The Age of Anxiety hugely accessible and pertinent. I didnt like the time wasting of two half- hour breaks.

  13. Susan Reid-Povall responded on 28 March 2018 at 9:25pm Reply

    I was with a friend and we were both entranced for the entire show. I have never sat so still for so long! It was absolute magic and I can't think of anything else to say that hasn't been said already. The collaboration of so many talented and creative people resulted in something so very special. This live screening is the best thing since sliced bread because it gives so many of us the opportunity to see productions we would never be able to afford to see in London. Our only criticism was the sound quality at times. It seemed the speaker on the left hand side of the screen was faulty resulting in some distortion and buzzing in the more bass moments of the music. We were at The Odeon, Bromborough, Wirral, Merseyside and of course we did mention this to a member of the staff on the way out.

  14. Susan Burns responded on 29 March 2018 at 9:25pm Reply

    I absolutely loved every minute. Dancing was truly excellent - choreography superb and so befitting the period, especially in the "Anxiety" piece. Could watch it all over again. Can I buy the DVD?

  15. ML responded on 8 April 2018 at 12:50am Reply

    Wonderful dancing from the Royal Ballet and fantastic playing from the orchestra. It's wonderful to have evenings when the music from the pit is every bit as powerful as what is on stage. Thank you to conductors Tom Seligman and Barry Wordsworth, and every musician - soloist or ensemble - and singer who performed with such virtuosity and artistry.

    My absolute favourite was Yugen - which was beautiful, inventive and elegant...for example, in some passages where lesser dancemakers might simply have relied on a failsafe meandering solo for a woman, McGregor created an inventive and moving solo for a man (performed wonderfully by Benjamin Ella on the night of our show) followed by a stunning pas de deux. The costumes by Shirin Guild may have been unusual (flowing trousers instead of skirts for the women) but I think it worked effectively for this ballet. Chichester Psalms has been a popular concert choice in London (eg at the Proms) recently but I've never seen it rendered with such beauty. I was sitting at the sides, quite near the stage. Everyone should run, not walk, to get a ticket just to see Yugen live at the Opera House. The main pas de deux would be a gorgeous stand alone piece in a gala.

    Age of Anxiety provided some contrast in terms of having a story and the elaborate sets and props. I enjoyed the pace of the work and the expressive choreography - whether for solos or an ensemble dance for all 4 leads (especially during the lively parts of the symphony). All the dancers were moving in their acting and impressive in their virtuosity, especially Sarah Lamb and Tristan Dyer (having just performed in Yugen as well!)

    Corybantic Games had lots of creative and attractive movements that Christopher Wheeldon does so well- Lauren Cuthbertson, Marcelino Sambé and Tierney Heap stood out for me. If there was anything less ideal out of this incredible evening it would be that the costumes, while striking and obviously designed with a great deal of care and diligence (from what Erdem and the dancers have said in interviews), detracted from the dancing somewhat. They would have made striking costumes for walk-on roles but in pas de deux and in jumps, the cut of the shorts interfered with the dancers' line and the long black strands made me worried that sooner or later someone would get hit in the eye. I have bought Erdem's work before so I know his usual designs are beautiful (especially for their colour) but felt these costumes could do with a little reworking. I almost preferred seeing the ballet in practice leotards instead.

    That said, it was a superb evening and I'm so glad to have seen this unique and fantastic triple bill.

  16. Karen Koen-Jooste responded on 22 April 2018 at 7:27am Reply

    So very excited as in 2 and a half hours I will be seeing this at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa.

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