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4 hours ago, alison said:

 

Just watched this fabulous programme. It was a special treat to see the Romeo & Juliet Balcony pdd, delicately performed by Ellen Overstreet and Ricardo Graziano. Ashton’s R&J was the first programme that the troupe had to cancel/postpone after the pandemic hit...and the first of my spring 2020 trips to be canceled. 😢 

 

Meditation from Thais - passionately danced by Katelyn May and Ricardo Rhodes  - was another highlight but, to me, they are all special. 

 

Oh - and the excerpts from Facade, so adorable! The hilarious Tango ending (Ivan Spitale & Marijana Dominis) brings special joy when one realizes that the original egomaniatical Dago was Ashton himself! 

 

And a “shout out” to the high-flying Yuki Nonaka as the Blue Boy solo skater in the excerpts from Les Patineurs.

 

I hope to catch the hour of extras, including Dowell’s coaching sessions via Zoom, during the weekend, before the links expire.

Edited by Jeannette
adding mention of Yuki Nonaka!
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15 hours ago, Jeannette said:

And a “shout out” to the high-flying Yuki Nonaka as the Blue Boy solo skater in the excerpts from Les Patineurs.

 

I hope to catch the hour of extras, including Dowell’s coaching sessions via Zoom, during the weekend, before the links expire.

I, too, loved Yuki Nonaka! He was a fantastic way to begin the performance :)

 

And in the extras, the Q+A with Dowell is also interesting and entertaining.

 

Question: How did you feel about Iain Webb's interjections throughout the performance? I would have preferred he spoke about all the pieces as an introduction so that I could enjoy the dancing in continuity...

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Webb’s little intros didn’t bother me because it was a program of diverts and extracts. The only thing that I may have done differently would’ve been to vary the speakers, eg, Barbieri, Volpe or one of the senior dancers, such as Kate Honea...perhaps filmed against different backdrops in Sarasota. Nobody was trying to pretend that this was a live show, filmed on the same day.

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9 hours ago, alison said:

List of works performed, for those who haven't caught it yet:

 

-Meditation from Thaïs - first performed by Dame Antoinette Sibley and Sir Anthony Dowell 21 March 1971, to music by Jules Massenet
-Monotones II - first performed by The Royal Ballet 24 March 1965, to music by Erik Satie orchestrated by Claude Debussy and Alexis Roland-Manuel
-Façade, Extracts - first performed by the Camargo Society 26 April 1931, set to William Walton's score originally created as a setting for the poetry of Edith Sitwell
-Romeo & Juliet, Balcony pas de deux - first performed by Royal Danish Ballet 19 May 1955, to music by Serge Prokofiev
-La chatte métamorphosée en femme - first performed by Merle Park 31 March 1985, to music by Jacques Offenbach arranged by Philip Gammon
-The Sleeping Beauty, Vision Solo - first performed by Sadler's Wells Ballet 20 February 1946, to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
-Les Patineurs, Extracts - first performed by Vic-Wells Ballet 16 February 1937, to music by Giacomo Meyerbeer arranged by Constant Lambert

 

I'm trying to re-locate the page which has details of the extras, including the coaching by Anthony Dowell, but can't find it at the moment :(

 

EDIT: Ah, that's why: the links to the other pages are in the confirmation email.  Suffice it to say that your money also gets you access to the extra content (over an hour of additional footage, including Dowell) and to digital copies of both the programme book for this programme and the (far larger) 30th anniversary programme book.

 

2 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

Thanks, Alison.  I very much enjoyed the programme and look forward to the other two presentations in the subscription series.  I was perhaps a little surprised that there wasn't more comment here about this specific programme - given the Board's dedicated interest in Ashton.  

 

Thanks, Bruce.  I've now put the feedback posts into a separate thread in the Performances forum.

 

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The Sarasota streaming has a good selection of excerpts from Ashton's work. But in addition the (longer) 'extra' package includes a rehearsal of Monotones (despite the disappointment that we couldn't hear Maggie Barbieri's comments, although we could see some of her gestures); and the contributions by Anthony Dowell, both in rehearsing Meditation and his responses to the dancers' questions at the end, are fascinating. Well worth watching.

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I was interested to see how different some of the works look compared with when they are performed by the Royal Ballet.  I'm not yet sure to what extent that's because I would invariably have been in the amphitheatre at the Royal Opera House, but here have a "ground floor" view, but will have another look and see if things become clearer on a second viewing.

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I would recommend the 'extra features' to everyone.  (Remember it is only available for just over 24 hours more.)The segment where Dowell coaches the Thais PDD is (IMHO) worth the price of everything to boot ... Such a thing of joy in a challenging period.  The 30th Anniversary programme which you can download is also lovely.  

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Yes, the Thais bit was excellent - and good to have it recorded for posterity.  I was also intrigued watching the socially-distanced rehearsal of Monotones - gives you an idea of what the Royal Ballet are probably having to do at the moment - and the in-depth wardrobe feature was interesting as well.

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On 24/10/2020 at 14:27, The Traveling Ballerina said:

Question: How did you feel about Iain Webb's interjections throughout the performance? I would have preferred he spoke about all the pieces as an introduction so that I could enjoy the dancing in continuity...

 

It didn't bother me at all.  I think he needed to break it up a bit for the audience, as running through all the introductions in one go might well have left people confused, especially if they didn't know the works.

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  • 5 months later...

Bumping this since we're now on the second all-Ashton bill - and what a delight to see Valses Nobles et Sentimentales again after all these years: it must be getting on for 30 years since the then-Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet last performed it at the eponymous theatre.

 

Incidentally, the broadcast has been extended by another day owing to technical difficulties: it now expires at midnight at the end of this coming Wednesday, Eastern Standard Time.

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13 hours ago, alison said:

Bumping this since we're now on the second all-Ashton bill - and what a delight to see Valses Nobles et Sentimentales again after all these years: it must be getting on for 30 years since the then-Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet last performed it at the eponymous theatre.

 

Incidentally, the broadcast has been extended by another day owing to technical difficulties: it now expires at midnight at the end of this coming Wednesday, Eastern Standard Time.

 

I also enjoyed this latest all-Ashton program, Alison!

 

I last saw Valses Nobles at the 2014 Ashton Festival in Sarasota. It’s a moody but elegant piece of the “haunted ballroom” genre that was so popular in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Much of its allure is due to designer Sophie Fedorovich’s pinks and reds...and those gorgeous transparent screens!  So nice to see all of the details now in the film, much of which I missed from the cavernous Sarasota Opera House’s balcony in 2014. Victoria Hulland and Ricardo Rhodes were gorgeous as the leading pair.

 

Next up was the heart-wrenching 10-minute pas de deux,The Walk to the Paradise Garden, to Delius’ interlude from his opera Village Romeo and Juliet, which ends with the lovers purposely sinking a barge on which they consummate their passion. Ashton hints at all of this in a vague and poetic manner, as the boy & girl are slowly swallowed into the folds of the cape of a tall figure of Death. Danielle Brown and Ricardo Graziano danced with passion and sensitivity as the lovers. [My viewing of Paradise Garden was greatly enriched by also watching the Ashton Foundation’s film of a 2016 coaching session by one of the originators of the ballet, Dame Merle Park. Check it out!  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J26MkUZowSs ]

 

The mood lifted considerably with the final ballet, Ashton’s early (1931) rollicking hit, Facade! I enjoyed it this time although I missed the giggles and energy of my audience neighbors at the Sarasota Opera House in 2014...especially in (for me) the most hilarious segments - Yodelling/Milkmaid, Popular Song/two natty gents, and the Tango/Debutante & Dago. However, with repeated viewings, my absolute favorite, for sheer dancing delight, is the  first segment: the totally fleet-footed Pas de trois titled “Scotch Rhapsody” - here perfectly rendered by Kennedy Falyn Cassada, Asia Bui & Yuki Nonaka. It’s a lesson in the hallmarks of early-Ashtonian nods to Nijinska’s torso bends and port-de-bras...while the feet go crazy below!

 

Kudos to the Sarasota troupe & its leaders, Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri, for this marvelous program. Yet...

How sad that the company’s return to live performances in the 2021/2022 season will include only one Ashton work - the short Valses Nobles et Sentimentales that we saw today. 😔 Hopefully this means that Ashton is being put to rest temporarily and might return with a vengeance in 2022/23? 🙏 

 

p.s. - Quick edit to note that the final (7th) digital program will include one Ashton ballet - Birthday Offering. One last digital Ashton blast!

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeannette
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I really enjoyed this programme, starting with Iain's introduction when he said how much both he and Maggie loved Sir Fred and that love shows very clearly in their meticulous recounting of so many of his ballets.  I remember when  SWRB revived Valses Nobles under the personal direction of Sir Fred not long before he died in 1988.  I loved the elegant designs although I did hear one of the members of the cast saying he was "wearing one of the curtains".

 

It has been niggling me, can anyone remember who was the 4th of the girls corps?  I remember Karen Donovan, Sue Lucas and Nicola Katrak but the remaining one eludes me.

 

I was particularly impressed with Maggie Barbieri talking about working with Markova.  As I remember they broadcast 3 masterclasses with her coaching Maggie.  One, or both of them had a keen eye/memory for detail which really showed in Facade.  I haven't seen the foxtrot danced so atmospherically for years.  They had a real feeling for the 1930s style.

 

All in all I was very pleased I had ordered the relay and glad that I had sent the company my money as an investment.

 

P.s.  I have some photos of the SWRB revival with Iain dancing one of the 3 corps boys, ably assisted by Mark Welford and Kevin O'Hare.  I can still hear Kevin recounting the story that Sir Fred repositioned him with his familiar instruction "bend, bend!".

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P.s.  I have a lovely colour photo on one of my walls of Ravenna Tucker and Kevin dancing the lead couple.  This means that BRB did the work in at least one season, probably at the old Sadler's Wells theatre.

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33 minutes ago, Two Pigeons said:

 

 

It has been niggling me, can anyone remember who was the 4th of the girls corps?  I remember Karen Donovan, Sue Lucas and Nicola Katrak but the remaining one eludes me.

 

 

 

Louise Britain?

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Also, Tucker and O'Hare and BRB  did Valses N &S at Sadler's Wells in May 1991 (with the company's first performance of Paul Taylor's Airs also in the programme).

 

(I too cleared out my old programmes but kept the cast sheets!)

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I remember Airs.  It was delightful and Marion Tait was in it but performing a non-principal role.  She was 'just' one of the cast.  I am pretty sure David Yow was featured.

 

I should have followed your example regarding cast lists!

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don't know how many people invested in the all Ashton programme which Sarasota Ballet have been streaming. I will simply say that while the company's programming policy clearly sets it apart from other American companies and gives it a unique identity and selling point the work the Webbs are doing is clearly a labour of love. It proves once again that the fact that a work has been neglected for years is rarely a reflection on its quality or effectiveness as a piece of choreography. A mixed bill of Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, last seen in London thirty years ago,The Walk to the Paradise Garden only performed a handful of times in the 1970's and the once hardy perennial Facade which remarkably was last seen at Covent Garden in the 1980's. It is sad to think that the work of the Frederick Ashton Foundation is having so little effect on the  programming policy at Covent Garden. 

 

The mixed bill opened with Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, music which Ashton had used a decade earlier in a work for Rambert called Valentine's Eve which had a clear narrative about a coquette, a lovelorn poet and a love token. This later ballet using the same music was made for the second company and is essentially an abstract work in which the relationship between the dancers is elusive and only ever hinted at. Its real subject seems to be the ecole de danse and so it seems to fall squarely into the type of work Ashton had advocated in an article about ballet written immediately after the war as an artistic riposte to the expressionist works which Helpmann had been staging for the Sadler's Wells Company. It is very interesting to see how very classical and Cechetti inspired Ashton's surviving works from this period are. So many dance themes and choreographic ideas turn up in this work which will be seen in later works such as Daphnis and Chloe and La Valse. I do hope that Kevin reinstates the Ashton triple bill which was due to be shown in the Linbury last year as I would love to see Valses Nobles again. As with so many of Ashton's work it bears repeat viewing.

 

The second ballet The Walk to the Paradise Garden was, as far as I am aware, only ever danced by its original cast during Ashton's lifetime and then only on a handful of occasions. It is a wonderful ballet and when it was seen in London it was only ever danced by David Wall and Merle Park who had the advantage of being in a ballet created on them. In addition Wall had the advantage of having a much smaller and more manageable partner in Park than we saw in this performance. This probably goes a long way to explain the care with which the choreography was executed and the lack of apparent spontaneity in the performance as a whole which is a shame as it makes the difficult bits stand out in a way that was never intended. Ashton used technically tricky elements in his choreography but never intended that they should draw attention to themselves or to the dancers' skills. None of the Bolshoi lifts should register as anything other than expressions of the couple's emotional state. The choreography is tricky but neither in this ballet nor in Voices of Spring nor Raymonda pas de deux should the audience be aware of the technical challenges or anything remotely resembling earnest effort on the part of the performers. I am extremely pleased to have seen the work again and would love to see it at Covent Garden with say Hayward and Bracewell.

 

Finally we had what I would once have described as that "hardy perennial " Facade. But can I really call it that when it has not been seen at Covent Garden in decades ? Perhaps someone can explain what the powers that be at the Royal Ballet have against this particular Ashton ballet. Is the problem its age as it still works when it is put in front of an audience? Is the problem that the work is frivolous and amusing and management is suffering from a bad case of earnestness or is it something else? I find the neglect of Facade most perplexing as it is, in my experience,virtually fail proof as it can even withstand a certain amount of less than ideal casting. If the choreography is deemed insufficiently challenging for today's dancers then perhaps management should consider reinstating the original ending to the Polka Girl's solo which Markova said ended with a double tour en l'air when she danced it.

 

I will simply say that it is good to know that there is at least one company in the world that takes Ashton sufficiently seriously to stage a wide range of his output. It makes the mere handful of Ashton works which the Royal Ballet  permit us to see seem more meagre and the selection even more uninspired than it  usually does.    

 

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41 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

 

...

 

I will simply say that it is good to know that there is at least one company in the world that takes Ashton sufficiently seriously to stage a wide range of his output. ....

 

 

Thanks for your report, FLOSS. Unfortunately, next season sees a marked diminishing  of Ashton at Sarasota Ballet, with Valses Nobles et Sentimentales his only work to be danced during the entire season. Just before COVID hit last spring, the troupe was about to perform Ashton’s R&J and, in April 2020, Dante Sonata. I was a bit surprised to not see them on the bill for 21/22...maybe due to post-COVID budget...yet we see choices of new ballets about which I’ll shut up to not offend good people.  :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

 

the once hardy perennial Facade which remarkably was last seen at Covent Garden in the 1980's. 

 

Wasn't it in the 90's, FLOSS?  I could swear I'd seen Adam Cooper (and possibly Nunn or Trevitt?) in the Popular Song?  Either way, it's been a long time.

 

Looking at these ballets on Sarasota's stage, I can't help wondering whether someone thinks that the Royal Opera House is too big for them, either stage-wise or auditorium-wise (as with Las Hermanas or The Rake's Progress, perhaps).  Once again, I find myself wishing the RB could put on a season of smaller-scale works at Sadler's Wells or somewhere.

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59 minutes ago, alison said:

 

Wasn't it in the 90's, FLOSS?  I could swear I'd seen Adam Cooper (and possibly Nunn or Trevitt?) in the Popular Song?  Either way, it's been a long time.

 

 

Your memories are correct, Alison.  According to the Performance Database, it was performed several times in 1994:

http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/production.aspx?production=4465&row=0C

 

Edited to add that Cooper, Trevitt and Nunn all appeared in Popular Song

Edited by Bluebird
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14 minutes ago, alison said:

 

Wasn't it in the 90's, FLOSS?  I could swear I'd seen Adam Cooper (and possibly Nunn or Trevitt?) in the Popular Song?  Either way, it's been a long time.

 

Looking at these ballets on Sarasota's stage, I can't help wondering whether someone thinks that the Royal Opera House is too big for them, either stage-wise or auditorium-wise (as with Las Hermanas or The Rake's Progress, perhaps).  Once again, I find myself wishing the RB could put on a season of smaller-scale works at Sadler's Wells or somewhere.

I think the last time Facade was performed in it's entirety by the Royal Ballet was in 1994. The company was marking what would have been Ashton's ninetieth birthday. They provided two wonderful mixed programmes. Facade was at the end of a programme that began with The Dream. The diverts that followed included (not necessarily in this order) a beautiful section from Homage to Queen, 'Air', the humorous La Chatte and something else, maybe Raymonda pas de deux and the pas de deux from Birthday Offering. I think Thais was on the other bill following the opener, La Valse, then Symphonic Variations and Daphnis and Chloe - so glad they eventually restored the original Craxton designs. Now let them restore the ballet to the rep. 

 

Like Alison, I also remember Adam Cooper and Nunn or Trevitt in Popular Song. Other cast members I recall were Elizabeth McGorian and Ashley Page in the Tango, Gail Taphouse in the Charleston. 

 

I love Floss' casting suggestion of Hayward and Bracewell for a revival of Walk to the Paradise Garden. Why has this marvellous miniature been tucked away so long?

 

I hadn't seen Valses Nobles before - another personal revelation. I felt the pas de trois was a sort of template for Monotones 2. I remember that somebody somewhere believed that this ballet might have sparked Cranko's imagination for the mirror pas de deux in his Onegin and now I see why. It is such an elegant piece: beautiful choreography, music and design. Another mystery it has lain dormant so long. 

 

Ashton's work is so versatile, as this fantastic programme from Sarasota demonstrates. Thank goodness for streaming. 

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BRB performed Facade more recently on the much lamented mid-scale tours.

 

Celine Gittens absolutely STOLE THE SHOW as the Tango Lady and her curtain calls in that role were a joy to behold!!

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

BRB performed Facade more recently on the much lamented mid-scale tours.

 

Celine Gittens absolutely STOLE THE SHOW as the Tango Lady and her curtain calls in that role were a joy to behold!!

And at the Hippodrome with Rendezvous and Dante Sonata circa 2013

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2 hours ago, Darlex said:

And at the Hippodrome with Rendezvous and Dante Sonata circa 2013

 

Les Rendezvous presented in the hideously designed costumes from the 1990s.  Kudos for Iain and Maggie for sticking with the much more lovely Chappell frocks.

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