Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

MONOTONES I & II


  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#16 Paquita

Paquita

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 434 posts

Posted 18 August 2003 - 06:58 PM

The NBoC still performs a fair bit of Ashton. I saw both Monotones I and II a few years ago. I agree with Mel, they really do complement each other so well.
As someone who associated Ashton with his story ballets, The Dream and Fille, watching Monotones was a completely different experience. To me it is distilled Ashton, a lucid glimpse into the core of his vision and genius. I always admired his comic wit and use of mime, but here I was moved by his seemingly intuitive connection with the music.
I don't really like one section better than the other, although Monotones II has stuck in my memory a bit more. I remember the extremely difficult and slow promenades and balances that the ballerina does, supported by the two men. It reminded me of Rubies and Theme and Variations. Few dancers have the control and precision requisite for such a ballet. I saw Xiao Nan Yu and she was incredibly strong for the entire piece.
I do enjoy Satie's music very much. The music used in the second segment is so familiar and over-used in commercials, movies, etc. that I was worried it would be distracting but it wasn't. I did sort of prefer the music of Monotones I because I had heard it less.

#17 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 18 August 2003 - 09:00 PM

Dear Glebb,

What a generous, open-ended question.

I've seen Monotones danced by the ROyal Ballet (Dowell was in it, and Lorraine, not sure about Mead), the Joffrey (can't remember the cast), and at San Francisco Ballet (I remember for sure that Lawrence Pech was in it, he had the style SO right he seemed to lend it to the others -- who may have included Ashley Wheater, who came here from the Jofrey and was I THINK also in the Joffrey cast; it would suit him, he has the fondu, hte stretch, the line, the musicality, and he's a fantastic partner.)

I've seen both I and II and do greatly prefer the white one to the green but would be very happy to see both together again. About green I don't have anything to say. (If I'd seen it with Sibley I'm pretty sure I would, but I didn't ).

It's a great work -- likea tripartite moon-child, or saltimbanques going through a Rosicrucian ritual. It has that quality Fellini could get with the clown in la Strada, that the mime in the white got in Les Enfants du Paradis -- the poetic, wonder-struck, floating, not-of-this-world emotion personified in the three dancers, who move like birds or fish, with a group mind.

I haven't seen it for nearly ten years, and SINCE I saw it last I've become familiar with early Merce Cunningham pieces (like Septet) which were performed to Satie's music and have a very similar atmosphere -- mysterious, haunting. Fabulously beautiful sculptural effects arise as if from nowhere and dissolve. Caroline Brown (who was a very pure Cecchetti dancer) looked more Sphynxlike than ANY of Ashton's dancers, great as they were -- the entire atmosphere of Monotones is present in Brown's performance. I wonder if Ashton could have seen Septet -- it was I believe among hte Cunningham pieces that were shown in London, when Cunningham had no following in hte US aside from a few modern painters -- until hte reviews came out in London, it was a smash, all of the London dance world was agog, and New Yorkers woke up to find one of hteir own was famous and great and about to come home.

I have a video of Septet if you would have any USE for making your own comparison; I'd be glad to share it with you.

#18 Jane Simpson

Jane Simpson

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 956 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 12:00 AM

Just for the record, the original cast for Monotones 1 had Georgina Parkinson with Sibley and Shaw - I don't think Merle Park ever did it.

I'm hoping this will be one of the things theRB revives for the Ashton season.

#19 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:08 AM

I know that I saw Park AND Parkinson in it at different times. It may have been something that happened only on tour, as Parkinson was sidelined for awhile in NYC because of injury.

#20 R S Edgecombe

R S Edgecombe

    Senior Member

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 163 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 04:45 AM

Did something happen to Parkinson that affected her dancing? Some terrible chronic injury? I ask because she dances the Silver Fairy Polka very well in An Evening with the Royal Ballet, but her fairy godmother in my tape of the Ashton Cinderella is nothing short of dreadful--stinted and dumpy. An off night, or the effect of age, or something else? One would never say it were the same dancer.

#21 Treefrog

Treefrog

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 639 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:16 AM

Paul, YOUR post is nothing short of poetic! I do not know these pieces at all, but now I can't wait to see them.

#22 Mary J

Mary J

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 139 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 01:07 PM

I stand corrected, now that everyone has refreshed my recollection. It appears that it was Monotones II that I am remembering and preferring - the white segment with Dowell, Meade and Lorraine in unitards with the Gymnopedie music. The exactitude of the arms was so exquisite - and it is true that the three dancers chosen had to have identical proportions for the symmery to work. I never saw it at Joffrey - but can imagine the right people there could certainly handle it.

#23 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 01:50 PM

Re: Parkinson

Monotones came years afterward, but I recall when Nureyev first joined RB as a guest artist, he was paired with her in Beauty in the "Bluebird pas de deux". He gave her some pretty rough handling (largely because she wasn't Fonteyn) and I wondered at the time if I were watching the scheduled ballet, or MacMillan's "The Invitation" just set to other music. I don't think it caused any permanent disability, but ever since, I was always sympathetic to her.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but Monotones I & II are a lot like Chopin's piano concertos - #2 was composed first, then #1 - Ashton knew what he was doing.

#24 R S Edgecombe

R S Edgecombe

    Senior Member

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 163 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:58 PM

Strange that you should mention Nureyev's cruelty to his GP because I witnessed something very similar in 81 when I returned to England for my viva voce. London in June was a desolate dustbowl, but the Boston Ballet had come to town, with Nureyev as Siegfried. In the Act III pas de deux he was meant to support his Odile (one Mouis sp? as I recall) in a penchee and then move round to take her free hand in an allongee from the back, as her desperately fluttering fingers made clear. Instead, he stepped back into an exaggerated fifth and watched her fall off point with a sadistic smirk on his face. Some sort of revenge, one assumes. Talk about a danseur IGnoble!

#25 Alymer

Alymer

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 340 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 04:16 PM

Monotones II came first, made for a gala, then MonotonesI, and I belive at one time Ashton thought of adding a third trio which could/would have featured Park. Adding to what Alexandra said about the original cast for Monotones II, with Dowell and Mead you had the two most classical men in the company matched with Lorraine, who as well as being very flexible, was a dancer with a soft, feminine style. Nowadays, the Royal Ballet simply casts a women with long legs and two men of roughly matching height, classical or not.
Incidentally, Nureyev was a great admirer of Lorraine's dancing. He insisted on having her as a partner on a number of occasions, even, once, when she had left the main company and joined the touring section.

#26 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:04 PM

Thanks everyone for your wonderful input. I am interested in hearing everything anyone has to say about this rare ballet.

Many years ago, when I first saw Joffrey perform "Monotones I & II", I was in love with the 2nd (white) one. It was serene and beautiful. Kevin McKenzie was in the cast with Robert Thomas and an exquisite woman- Ingrid Fraley. Pamela Nearhoof was the original white girl at Joffrey. I believe she was the first dancer outside the Royal Ballet to perform the ballet.

Now, twenty something years and several incarnations of "Monotones I & II" later, I very much appreciate and love the first (green) one.

#27 atm711

atm711

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,431 posts

Posted 20 August 2003 - 07:21 AM

Paul, your reference to 'Les Enfants du Paradis' has won me over....maybe I will go to Chicago. :wink:

#28 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,275 posts

Posted 20 August 2003 - 07:33 AM

Paul, thank you for that beautiful post. According to David Vaughn's biography of Ashton, he did see Cunningham's "Septet" and "Monotones" was his response. Which raises an interesting question -- that's a very unusual thing to do, one great choreographer seeing the work of another great choreographer and setting a very similar work -- same music, similar atmosphere, similar costumes. AND that the second work, the "copycat" work would also be great -- I can't think of another instance of that. (There are instances of lesser choreographers copying, of course, and of copying something that the home audience would not have seen. But in this case, I think everyone in Ashton's world would have seen "Septet" and I don't think he made any secret that "Monotones" was a homage.

#29 R S Edgecombe

R S Edgecombe

    Senior Member

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 163 posts

Posted 20 August 2003 - 08:47 AM

Alexandra, I would say that Petipa's Giselle was probably one such example, and, who knows, his Sylfida as well. Bournonville's Sylfiden would qualify if it had the Schneitzhoeffer score, but of course it doesn't.

#30 grace

grace

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 584 posts

Posted 21 August 2003 - 05:49 PM

thanks for that info, alexandra - i never knew that. i, too, appreciated paul parish's carefully chosen words. :wink:


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):