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Livestreams from Assemblee Internationale in Canada

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The NBC's 4-yearly Assemblee Internationale, attended by students from ballet schools all over the world, has just started and there are some interesting livestreams coming up from this evening onwards, including classes and rehearsals featuring the Royal Ballet School and the Royal Danish Ballet School.


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The Assemblee has now finished, leaving us with something like 40  videos, including the classes given by visiting teachers and school directors - here are some of them:


Elisabeth Platel

Patrick Armand

Thomas Lund

Ramona da Saá

Christopher Powney

Kirill Melnikov


Even if you're as technically uneducated as I am, it'sfascinating to see the obvious differences of style and approach. If you only have time/interest for one, try Platel's.



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Anyone who watched the coaching session of the Ashton pas de quatre may be curious about  what it should look like in performance.. if you are curious about it  you  should look for an excerpt from the Markarova production of Swan Lake for ENB. If you search for "Leanne Benjamin pas de quatre" you should be able to find it.It is of particular interest as the women's solos are much better danced  in this recording than they were on the Royal Ballet recording which dates from the late 1970's


Markarova's production used choreography which Ashton made for Helpmann's 1963 production for the Royal Ballet. In Helpmann's production the music, which had been cut from the score when it was prepared for the Petipa/Ivanov production of 1895, was restored to its original position in act 1.When, during MacMillan's directorship,the RB's Swan Lake was restored to a more traditional form the pas de trois was restored to act 1 and the pas de quatre was moved to act 3. 

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Indeed it is Janet. As a group the dancers in the film are far more in control of the choreography than the dancers in the RB recording of the ballet made in the late 1970's in which all of the dancers perform the pas far too cautiously. Benjamin has full mastery of the text and its nuances and seems far more comfortable with the steps than Ellis is in the RB recording. Ellis seems more concerned with not making a mistake than really dancing the text. The ENB dancers go for it with an attack that is missing from the RB  account of the choreography.


I  found the coaching session of the Ashton Pas de Quatre fascinating and while I understand that these are coaching sessions with students  it seems to me that they were dancing the text too slowly. Somehow the sheer quirkiness, speed,wit and fun of the choreography, which for the women's solos transforms the twist and cha-cha into classical dance, was being lost as the pas was transformed by the coaching into a purer form of classicism.It seemed to me that if this was how the pas was being coached it was in danger of being reduced to some extremely challenging but anonymously bland choreography.


Somehow the idea has grown up over the years that Ashton's choreography is sweet, soft and small scale. While it is true that Ashton's choreography comes from the "art concealing art" tradition which requires that the audience should never be aware of the effort required to perform it that does not mean that it does not require speed,strength,attack  and the willingness to dance off balance.


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