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From an email which I received yesterday from Dance Books:

 

"Dance Books is delighted to announce publication of Geraldine Morris's 'Frederick Ashton’s Ballets: Style, Performance, Choreography'. The author, a former member of the Royal Ballet, has produced a ground-breaking study of six of Ashton's ballets, using them as examples to discuss the nature of Ashton's style and its relationship to early twentieth century dance training in Britain. She discusses the problems of performing Ashton's work in a stylistically correct manner, and suggests how some present day defects might be remedied. The result is exhilarating and enlightening but also controversial."

 

http://www.dancebooks.co.uk/frederick-ashtons-ballets-style-performance-choreography-p-337.html?sesid=vvo124l1v7bfcgqv67rjqa6v60

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Seconded - added to mine already!

 

It's available on Amazon for £14 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frederick-Ashtons-Ballets-Performance-Choreography/dp/1852731591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349968386&sr=8-1 - I'm slightly confused though! It says on Amazon the publication date isn't until the end of November, yet it is for purchase (not pre-order) and there are used versions for sale too...!

 

I'm also intrigued by the book of The Bournonville School's Daily Classes... http://www.dancebooks.co.uk/the-bournonville-school-the-daily-classes-p-333.html?sesid=32qqdt2798ngq0rle2q3j6re15

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  • 1 month later...

Sometimes books end up being available before the official publication date - I think it's to do with printing times, as probably the publisher will have orders (for shops, Amazon etc) to go out as soon as they're available in the warehouse. Pretty much from the moment the books are printed they can be spotted here and there in bookshops.

 

Thanks for these suggestions - I'm just deciding what books to ask for as Christmas presents and came across this thread, which I'd somehow missed!

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  • 3 years later...

I dig this old thread up because I don't know where to open a new one.

After I read the biography by Julie Kavanagh I've trawled the internet for books about Ashton's works and I've made a list of what I've found. Could somebody please tell me which one(s) to buy?

Of course, I'd like to have all of them but I'd have to buy them from different sellers via Amazon ore abebooks and the shipping costs to Germany are adding up enormously!

So which is the one you couldn't live without?

 

Following Sir Fred's Steps: Ashton's Legacy

Ashton Conference et al.

 

Frederick Ashton: A Choreographer and His Ballets

Zoe Dominic, John Selwyn Gilbert


Frederick Ashton and His Ballets

David Vaughan


Frederick Ashton's Ballets: Style, Performance, Choreography.

Geraldine Morris

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Following Fred's Steps is fascinating. It contains a series of papers from a conference held some years ago. Don't be put off by that. It is not full of  pseudo theory. It contains a lot of detail from people who worked with him and for him.

 

It gives rare insights into how quickly a ballet can fall victim to dancers who know better than the choreographer. There is the account given by the girl who was  the first cast Juliet in the revival of Ashton's Romeo and Juliet staged by ENB in the 1980's She was very young and inexperienced so Ashton spent a lot of time working with her. When it was revived she was asked to assist with other casts. She found herself challenged at every turn  by dancers who  would not accept what she was saying because of her youth and because they knew better. It really is a good read.

 

The Geraldine Morris book is more difficult because it discusses six ballets which are not exactly staple repertory pieces. I have seen all six of them. Not only that but I saw them  danced during  Ashton's lifetime and while Somes was in charge of the coaching. As a result I have a good idea  of what she is writing about as I have a pretty strong grasp on what they should look like in performance. In Ashton's time you had to wait for some ballets to come back because he was very particular about casts as was Somes. Somes was  something of a martinet who coached very rigorously but  it really showed in performance.

 

The David Vaughan book is excellent. Get the latest edition which includes Rhapsody, The first edition was published before it was created.

Edited by FLOSS
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Floss, thanks a lot.

The Vaughan book is this one (from the Amazon page):

 

This revised edition of Vaughan's seminal work includes a new final chapter and an updated chronology of work. It should be useful for both historians of 20th-century ballet and for lovers of Ashton's work.

 

2nd Revised edition (28 April 1999)

 

This could be the right one, couldn't it?

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The Zoe Dominic book is mostly photographs - wonderful ones, I just got my own copy out to have a quick look and half an hour later I've just torn myself away - with short commentaries on each ballets and a lot of quotations from Ashton himself and his collaborators.

 

If I were you I'd leave Geraldine Morris till the last - it's interesting but quite hard going in parts - unless it's an academic approach you're looking for.

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As I recall, the record of the Ashton Conference referred to above is in the ballet.co Archive - but that is not available at the moment whilst Bruce considers how to handle it all for the longer term.  However, there might be some word soon:

 

http://www.ballet.co.uk/

 

For now, might I urge patience - as many of you will recall, there is an awful lot of material there to be put into a form that can last, and do so safely.

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If I were you I'd leave Geraldine Morris till the last - it's interesting but quite hard going in parts - unless it's an academic approach you're looking for.

I found it incredibly hard going and gave up, but then I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to enjoy the highly academic approach.

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My basket is filling up again...

I found this one, too (not Ashton-specific):

 

The Royal Ballet: 75 Years by Zoe Anderson

 

To buy or not to buy?

Buy.

 

As for the Geraldine Morris book - I found it hard-going but rewarding. It isn't something to just dip into, though.

Edited by Melody
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The Anderson book is not very Ashton-specific, so possibly shouldn't be given priority in your case?  I certainly hope we'll get access to Following Fred's Steps - and the rest of the old Ballet.co site - again sooner or later.  The Vaughan book is certainly a must, from what I remember - I don't think I've read it this century.

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I think David Vaughan's book is the "go to" volume. It has a a very readable style and provides a fairly detailed account of Ashton's work with a good range of photographs. However, it is more of a reference work that you dip in to. I bought a good second hand copy of Zoe Dominic's book and it is lovely photographic record ( with several unusual pictures of dancers in rehearsal and roles which you rarely come across such as Ann Jenner in A Wedding Bouquet and Monotones). There's also some interesting accounts from people who worked with Ashton.

 

While on the subject of dance biographies and autobiographies, has anyone read In Good Company by Leslie Edwards? I keep toying with ordering a copy but would welcome a review, particularly in relation to the focus and insights he gives from working with the Royal Ballet. Also does it include any photographs?

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I have, but it was years ago now, and I can't remember details. It's in storage at the moment, but I hope I will eventually get to see it again :)

 

I've been looking for this book, I've put it away but can't find where, I have books in boxes under beds, on top of wardrobes, must have another look as I want to read it, enjoyed the Julie Kavanagh biography.

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II have books in boxes under beds, on top of wardrobes, must have another look as I want to read it,

Sounds familiar... :)

I try to keep the dance-themed books together but they have a tendency to move around and wander away.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Floss, thanks a lot.

The Vaughan book is this one (from the Amazon page):

 

This revised edition of Vaughan's seminal work includes a new final chapter and an updated chronology of work. It should be useful for both historians of 20th-century ballet and for lovers of Ashton's work.

 

2nd Revised edition (28 April 1999)

 

This could be the right one, couldn't it?

 

Petunia, thanks for resurrecting this thread. After reading through the thread I’ve just bought the ‘Frederick Ashton and His Ballets’ book by David Vaughan. It was waiting for me when I got home from the Wheeldon mixed bill yesterday. The edition you quote above (28 April 1999) is the one I got and it includes Rhapsody.

 

I’ve only read a little so far (La Fille and Two Pigeons) but it is a lovely combination of biographical information and information about the ballets, and lots of photos! A nice big, heavy book so it feels like you’re getting your money’s worth!

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I'm still waiting for the Vaughan - but I have received the Zoe Dominic/John Selwyn Gilbert, a battered ex-library book, but the lovely photographs! All in black and white, many of them are grainy, but very powerful.

What a difference to modern high-gloss, high-tech images. Also, the angle of view and the choice of detail show an understanding of dance as an expressive, not an athletic art form. Lovely book.

 

(I also got The Royal Ballet: 75 Years by Zoe Anderson, which arrived with a musty-basement stink and is now resting with baking soda in a paper bag.)

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