MONOTONES I & II
Posted 18 August 2003 - 06:58 PM
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.
Posted 18 August 2003 - 09:00 PM
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.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 12:00 AM
I'm hoping this will be one of the things theRB revives for the Ashton season.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:08 AM
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Posted 19 August 2003 - 01:07 PM
Posted 19 August 2003 - 01:50 PM
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.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 03:58 PM
Posted 19 August 2003 - 04:16 PM
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.
Posted 19 August 2003 - 05:04 PM
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.
Posted 20 August 2003 - 07:21 AM
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