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Frederick Ashton his works and his style.


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We went. They made the point that the classes were now about "Ashton Revisited" rather than Rediscovered. No filming this time (previous sessions were  recorded for posterity) and it differed very little from a regular one on one rehearsal. They had been coy about which  dancers were attending and in fact is was Luca Acri and Marcelino Sambe. Carlos gave an entertaining "show" (particularly with Sambe) but all in all in didn't really mine the depths of Ashton's intentions when the works were originally choreographed.

The event was pretty well full and cynically could be regarded as fund-raising rather than augmenting the archives of knowledge. However, the Foundation is important is promoting his works and that needs financing so it is understandable that events like this are organised from time to time.

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3 hours ago, graemew said:

We went. They made the point that the classes were now about "Ashton Revisited" rather than Rediscovered. 

Thanks for the info graemew. It will be a shame if we don't get any more of the 'rediscovered' series. It was great to see pieces I hadn't seen before or hadn't seen for a long time. 

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You can see Ashton's Meditation from Thais here (second item in) in a recent gala in Portugal.  It is danced by N Ananaishvili and M Gomes.  (Bonelli and his wife also appear immediately thereafter doing a Coppelia PDD).  Ananaishvili is not perhaps as fluid as she once was - but who is at 55? That makes her I believe two years senior to Ferri. The bourees are as stunning as ever.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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6 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

You can see Ashton's Meditation from Thais here (second item in) in a recent gala in Portugal.  It is danced by N Ananaishvili and M Gomes.  (Bonelli and his wife also appear immediately thereafter doing a Coppelia PDD).  Ananaishvili is not perhaps as fluid as she once was - but who is at 55? That makes her I believe two years senior to Ferri. The bourees are as stunning as ever.  

 

Thank you, Bruce. Always interesting to see different dancers' interpretations of these ballets and good to see such renowned dancers choosing to dance Ashton's work at a Gala. I was curious to see that the colour of her costume looks more reddy pink than the orange that I remember (could just be the lighting?), but also the cut looks more regimented than Sibley's.

 

On a different subject, are any balletcoers in Sarasota now? If so, would love to hear your views on Apparitions.

 

Edited by Darlex
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10 hours ago, Darlex said:

Thank you, Bruce. Always interesting to see different dancers' interpretations of these ballets and good to see such renowned dancers choosing to dance Ashton's work at a Gala. I was curious to see that the colour of her costume looks more reddy pink than the orange that I remember (could just be the lighting?), but also the cut looks more regimented than Sibley's.

 

On a different subject, are any balletcoers in Sarasota now? If so, would love to hear your views on Apparitions.

 

 

Darlex, I was in Sarasota & started a thread to discuss the recon. :)

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On 29/07/2016 at 16:09, FLOSS said:

I am also going to suggest that you search out two recordings of White Monotones aka Monotones 2. Here you need to search for a recording made in the late 1970's with Derman, Silver and Deane. It isn't an ideal cast as Deane visibly sags and puts considerably less effort into what he is doing than he should but it does show you the ballet danced as a continuous flow of movement. The cast in the modern recording includes Nunez. Here the problem is that the entire piece is performed as if the dancers should freeze frame poses at regular intervals.

 

On 24/08/2016 at 18:53, Jam Dancer said:

Many thanks FLOSS for the compare and contrast  suggestions. I've finally managed to do them all and the differences are riveting.   I wonder why anyone would choose the more recent reading of monotones over the "continuous flow of movement" of the earlier recording? If I'm not mistaken the music is a bit slower  - could this be the reason?  Or would the dancers have asked for a slower tempo in order to perform it in the somewhat "posey" manner?   Quite interesting...

 

I would suggest   Monotones 2  is not the best example of the use of slower tempi and the resultant  effects. Having looked at both versions in some detail, I find that  the modern (2013) RB recording of  Monotones 2 (Nunez, Watson, Kish) is played to music no slower than the Derman Silver and Deane version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1iFPJdnFSo. In fact if anything it runs very slightly quicker. I also don’t find there to be any excessive  “freeze frame posing” in comparison to the early version, or differences in terms of the flow of movement. In the latter regard, I don’t really see the movement as  completely continuous in either case; indeed the  choreography appears designed, on occasions ,  for  slightly “pausing”  (rather than “posing”)  on the third beat of the fairly deliberate 3/4 time signature.  

There is also this  filmed  version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0ppAEMpaVQ  performed by the Joffrey Ballet and shown in 1989 as a tribute to Robert Joffrey following the latter’s death in 1988: here Parkinson, Edgerton and Mossbucker  do dance to music noticeable slower than both these  RB versions. Presumably  this was not anathema to Ashton, as  in the introductory  interview (only a few months before his own death) he explained how much he had trusted his late friend Joffrey with his work  and how  the latter took great pains to get it  correct.

Symphonic Variations is another case where the earlier version (1977 Park, Jenner, Penney, Wall, Coleman and Eagling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQNqj3CCVQ runs at a very similar tempo to the recent RB recorded version (Nunez , Muntagirov, Naghdi, Hay, Choe and Dyer).

Other examples, though, do illustrate a more recent slowing of pace – such as in The Dream, and in Voices of Spring. Possible pros and cons of this are touched on in the following paragraph.

I found a good discussion about  the use of slower music relating to Princess Florine’s variation  in Sleeping  Beauty here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P8dYv2BZ4w where arguments are proffered against the slower versions, particularly the Russian ones, going back as far Kolpakova. The pros and cons might be summarised as faithful characterisation (requiring speed in this case) vs  beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement.  On this scale Sibley’s is clearly the fastest (even so, from the discussion, it is arguably still a fair bit slower than the original intent) and  I think she  does best  represent the quick fluttering of the Princess mimicking  the actions of the Bluebird.  Personally I do find the slowest Russian versions rather too laboured and lacking in portrayal of bird-like movements. Perhaps there is a balance to be struck because I do admire  “beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement” as well as good characterisation.  I believe  Ratmansky has been trying to replicate the original intent of Tchaikovsky / Petipa as far as possible;  his ABT version with Cassandra Trenary (the last in the list and starting with a little slip) is a fair bit slower than Sibley (though much faster than the Russian ones). This is more akin to  the  timing  of the recent RB version (Choe) that is included. In the similar Takada RB version http://picdeer.com/media/1921443087995266538_1526149934 I find she includes some particularly graceful and extended slower  movements  of arms, body and legs that are  (understandably) absent in Sibley’s version.  

Sorry that  the latter strayed  from Ashton himself,  but I think the example  is still relevant to some of the discussion on this thread.

Edited by Richard LH
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15 hours ago, Darlex said:

More than just Les Patineurs

 How right you are! Thank you, Darlex, for sixty minutes of undiluted bliss!

.

It's interesting to see just how much of Ashton has been/is being performed at Sarasota. All praise and honour to them - obviously with a link to Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri. What is both salutory and chilling is that although (with the exception of Sinfonietta) all of these works are (at least nominally) in the repertory of the Royal Ballet how few of them are seen - and how rarely...

 

Thanks again, Darlex, for brightening up a damp afternoon.

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Iain Webb was at the last Ashton Masterclass and I was able to tell him how much I admired his determination to keep Ashon's works alive. 

 

The Masterclass was, as always, thoroughly entertaining as well as being most informative.

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More please!!!!

Can't believe how the audience 'got ' Varii Capricci.  I seem to remember at the time the reviews saying it went down far better in the US than over here.  Did Sibley and Dowell coach the dancers?

Thank you so much Iain and Maggie.

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Thanks, Darlex.  I really enjoyed that.

 

On 22/03/2019 at 15:24, Richard LH said:

 

I found a good discussion about  the use of slower music relating to Princess Florine’s variation  in Sleeping  Beauty here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P8dYv2BZ4w where arguments are proffered against the slower versions, particularly the Russian ones, going back as far Kolpakova. The pros and cons might be summarised as faithful characterisation (requiring speed in this case) vs  beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement.  On this scale Sibley’s is clearly the fastest (even so, from the discussion, it is arguably still a fair bit slower than the original intent) and  I think she  does best  represent the quick fluttering of the Princess mimicking  the actions of the Bluebird.  Personally I do find the slowest Russian versions rather too laboured and lacking in portrayal of bird-like movements. Perhaps there is a balance to be struck because I do admire  “beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement” as well as good characterisation.  I believe  Ratmansky has been trying to replicate the original intent of Tchaikovsky / Petipa as far as possible;  his ABT version with Cassandra Trenary (the last in the list and starting with a little slip) is a fair bit slower than Sibley (though much faster than the Russian ones). This is more akin to  the  timing  of the recent RB version (Choe) that is included. In the similar Takada RB version http://picdeer.com/media/1921443087995266538_1526149934 I find she includes some particularly graceful and extended slower  movements  of arms, body and legs that are  (understandably) absent in Sibley’s version.  

 


I am not sure I noticed this at the time, but I went back and looked at the Princess Florine solos.  Wow, I thought the one from Sibley was amazing.  She really does look as though she is going to take off and fly away.  And this is what I find disappointing about the others.  The Russians  make it look dull and turgid as far as I am concerned.  

 

Edited by Fonty
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Thanks to all who contributed to this thread. As a relative newby and only watching ballet for the last 8 years I have much to discover. 

Here are some radio programmes about Ashton that I found interesting. 

 

Desert Island Disks:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p009mv6f

 

Meridian 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p03m0rpj

 

Spotlight 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p02sfydl

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6 hours ago, JohnS said:

Many thanks Janite.  Very much enjoyed Desert Island Discs - sets things up well for Enigma in the cinema.

Sadly can't make either cinema shows, but I managed to make it to ROH Monday last week and it was wonderful. 

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On 22/03/2019 at 15:24, Richard LH said:

 

 

I would suggest   Monotones 2  is not the best example of the use of slower tempi and the resultant  effects. Having looked at both versions in some detail, I find that  the modern (2013) RB recording of  Monotones 2 (Nunez, Watson, Kish) is played to music no slower than the Derman Silver and Deane version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1iFPJdnFSo. In fact if anything it runs very slightly quicker. I also don’t find there to be any excessive  “freeze frame posing” in comparison to the early version, or differences in terms of the flow of movement. In the latter regard, I don’t really see the movement as  completely continuous in either case; indeed the  choreography appears designed, on occasions ,  for  slightly “pausing”  (rather than “posing”)  on the third beat of the fairly deliberate 3/4 time signature.  

There is also this  filmed  version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0ppAEMpaVQ  performed by the Joffrey Ballet and shown in 1989 as a tribute to Robert Joffrey following the latter’s death in 1988: here Parkinson, Edgerton and Mossbucker  do dance to music noticeable slower than both these  RB versions. Presumably  this was not anathema to Ashton, as  in the introductory  interview (only a few months before his own death) he explained how much he had trusted his late friend Joffrey with his work  and how  the latter took great pains to get it  correct.

Symphonic Variations is another case where the earlier version (1977 Park, Jenner, Penney, Wall, Coleman and Eagling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQNqj3CCVQ runs at a very similar tempo to the recent RB recorded version (Nunez , Muntagirov, Naghdi, Hay, Choe and Dyer).

Other examples, though, do illustrate a more recent slowing of pace – such as in The Dream, and in Voices of Spring. Possible pros and cons of this are touched on in the following paragraph.

I found a good discussion about  the use of slower music relating to Princess Florine’s variation  in Sleeping  Beauty here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P8dYv2BZ4w where arguments are proffered against the slower versions, particularly the Russian ones, going back as far Kolpakova. The pros and cons might be summarised as faithful characterisation (requiring speed in this case) vs  beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement.  On this scale Sibley’s is clearly the fastest (even so, from the discussion, it is arguably still a fair bit slower than the original intent) and  I think she  does best  represent the quick fluttering of the Princess mimicking  the actions of the Bluebird.  Personally I do find the slowest Russian versions rather too laboured and lacking in portrayal of bird-like movements. Perhaps there is a balance to be struck because I do admire  “beauty of form and luxurious ease of movement” as well as good characterisation.  I believe  Ratmansky has been trying to replicate the original intent of Tchaikovsky / Petipa as far as possible;  his ABT version with Cassandra Trenary (the last in the list and starting with a little slip) is a fair bit slower than Sibley (though much faster than the Russian ones). This is more akin to  the  timing  of the recent RB version (Choe) that is included. In the similar Takada RB version http://picdeer.com/media/1921443087995266538_1526149934 I find she includes some particularly graceful and extended slower  movements  of arms, body and legs that are  (understandably) absent in Sibley’s version.  

Sorry that  the latter strayed  from Ashton himself,  but I think the example  is still relevant to some of the discussion on this thread.

thank you for the links, very much enjoying watching them, love Monotones.

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