wed 24/05/2017

Frederick Ashton

Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures, Sadler's Wells

Not every artist attains the kind of status that will allow their early works to be revived – or, when revived, greeted with commercial and critical success. This is something of a shame for those of us with a historical mindset who like seeing...

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La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

In a world of terrifyingly serious news, the opening of the Royal Ballet season with Frederick Ashton's pastoral frolic La Fille mal gardée might seem like a wanton disregard for reality, like a brass band playing "Oh I do like to be beside the...

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Rhapsody/The Two Pigeons, Royal Ballet

Perhaps the director of the Royal Ballet is a pigeon fancier? With this January run of The Two Pigeons following hard on the heels of one in November, the Royal Ballet's dancers have spent most of the autumn and winter practising the fluttering,...

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The Two Pigeons, Royal Ballet

With real live birds fluttering across the stage, and a sweetly happy ending – hurrah for young love! – Frederick Ashton's 1961 The Two Pigeons can look like mere frothy fantasy, precisely the kind of trivial, uncomplicated...

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La Fille mal gardée, Royal Ballet

In 1803 they called it Filly me Gardy. Today British ballet lovers refer to it by a single coded syllable: “Fee”. But translating its title is, for audiences at least, the only hard thing about this three-act romcom by Frederick Ashton. The rest is...

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Ashton Mixed Bill, Royal Ballet

This morning, those who follow ballet on both sides of the Atlantic might be feeling a bit like the male soloists at the beginning of Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet: turning their heads sharply, almost pantomimically, from side to side. Over there, in...

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Les Rendezvous/Dante Sonata/Façade, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome

“The touch is light. We like it so,” wrote Ninette de Valois in one of her later poems. You didn’t know the founder of the Royal Ballet wrote poetry? Don’t worry, you’re not missing much – except the occasional phrase which can serve as an epigraph...

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The Dream/Connectome/The Concert, Royal Ballet

The Dream has at its heart a great partnership. Not just the original, magical pairing of Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, for whom Frederick Ashton created the ballet fifty years ago (thereby launching one of the top couples in ballet history...

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Quatrain/Kin./Les Rendezvous, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Crescent Theatre

It is proof, as if more were needed, of how very right-on Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director David Bintley is, that he chose to open the International Dance Festival currently taking place in that city with two specially commissioned ballets...

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Rhapsody/Tetractys/Gloria, The Royal Ballet

Is it odd that, in a bill containing an achingly contemporary première and a classic meditation on the First World War, a pastel-painted present for the Queen Mother’s birthday should race away with the honours?Not if it was by Frederick Ashton, the...

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Sylvie Guillem on resurrecting Marguerite & Armand

There's grand larceny afoot in the Royal Opera House. Two of today's stars are stealing Fonteyn and Nureyev's signature ballet, and they're leaving some spectators' cherished beliefs shattered in pieces around them. On Thursday, for the last time,...

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La Valse/ Monotones/ Marguerite & Armand, Royal Ballet

Genius does not mean having no influences. Monotones, one of the very greatest of Frederick Ashton's ballets, is heavily influenced by other works: by George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and Apollo, by Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère. And it in...

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