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Alexandra

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I wanted to keep an archive of print reviews for the Celebration and will be posting Links here, so they'll be easy to find later.

Mindy Aloff reviews the opening night at the Ashton Festival.

A Crowd-Pleaser, a Moonwalk, and a Stunning "Enigma": the Ashton Celebration Opens

Frederick Ashton was a genius, without question; however, his work is not everyone’s cup of tea. Happily for me, it is mine, with watercress sandwiches and scones lathered in Devonshire cream. Of the four ballets on this opening program, all of which I first saw with their original casts, and two of which I’ve seen with several casts from both sides of the Atlantic, it seems to me that “Monotones II,” for three (to use Arlene Croce’s excellent word) saltimbanques, who seem to be spelling out a hymn to purity with their bodies on a rivulet of the Milky Way, is among the great works of abstract art from the 20th century, in any medium: worthy to be set beside a canvas by Mondrian or a sculpture by Brancusi. “Enigma Variations,” a demi-caractère epic of Edwardian sensibility, with classical underpinnings, about the interior life of an artist in his garden on an autumn afternoon, is among the greatest ballets in history. “Monotones I,” for a trio of terrestrials whose reference point is a sun that, although invisible to the audience, clearly dwarfs them, is the product of a master craftsman who understands how what can be seen testifies to what can’t: frequently beautiful, often surprising, an enticement to the eye on multiple viewings. “Rhapsody”, a chamber ballet for 14, in which a handsome interloper invades a court, overtakes it by dint of sheer bravura, and gets the queen, too, was made as a star vehicle for Mikhail Baryshnikov. While not top-drawer Ashton, it roused the audience on Tuesday more than his masterpieces. “Enigma Variations” was politely applauded; the reception for “Rhapsody” was tumultuous. It’s not the way I would want things to be, but one can’t legislate people’s responses in the theater, even when one’s heart is breaking over the crowd’s choice.

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Tobi Tobias writes about "Enigma Variations" in her ArtsJournal blog:

ASHTON CELEBRATION #1

Two passages in the ballet quietly proceed to leave you shattered.  One is a duet for Elgar and his devoted wife.  She seems to be saying—no, not saying, she's too discreet for that, just feeling—I wish I could be more to you.  I wish I could be everything to you; you are my life’s work.  I wish I could give you what you want.  But of course she can’t, because what he wants is the desire of an artist—to have his efforts (that is, his deepest communication of who and what he is) reach the public they might move.  Though Elgar’s wife may serve as his support and comfort, it is not in her power to make that happen.  It’s impossible to imagine this concept being choreographed until you see Ashton do it perfectly.

 

A second piercing segment, called the “Nimrod” variation (for the nickname of Elgar’s closest friend), begins as a meditative “conversational” duet for the two men and expands into a luminous trio that includes Elgar’s wife.  All the movement—simple, deliberate, and serene—conveys the idea that the three are bonded by shared experiences and ideals, and that this bond enables them to face life’s difficulties and disappointments with equanimity and hope.  The passage also provides a psychological frisson in juxtaposing a pair of presumably closed intimate alliances—a marriage and a same-sex best friendship—and proposing that the three participants involved can establish another, parallel, form of intimacy.

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Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times:

The Rarely Seen Side of a Brilliant Choreographer

n the pantheon of 20th-century ballet, Frederick Ashton, Britain's greatest choreographer, was second to none. Genius comes in many flavors, and his was recalled on Tuesday night when the Lincoln Center Festival opened at the Metropolitan Opera House with its Ashton Celebration, a mammoth two-week tribute.

The roll call of American and foreign companies taking part includes the Royal Ballet from London, with its superstar ballerinas Darcey Bussell and Sylvie Guillem, and three brilliantly assembled companies: the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, returning to New York for the first time in 10 years; the Birmingham Royal Ballet from Britain; and the K-Ballet Company from Tokyo in a United States debut.

Like George Balanchine, Ashton was born in 1904. Yet, symbolically, this other centennial, following New York City Ballet's tribute to Balanchine, could be celebrated by very different fireworks. If Balanchine's display would explode in the air as a dazzling formal spectacle, Ashton's quieter, blooming design would allude to his poetic and witty streak.

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Hilary Ostoerle in the Financial Times:

Lincoln Center Festival 2004 Metropolitan Opera House, New York

For sheer dancing virtuosity, the K-Ballet 's Rhapsody ((Rachmaninoff'sRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini) with fleet-footed Viviana Durante and Tetsuya Kumakawa soaring and spinning in the old Baryshnikov role (and not unlike him in stamina) won hands down. All of a sudden we were in familiar territory: bold modern design and dancers with enough flash and sizzle to match Ashton's rapier, tensile choreography. It brought an otherwise tentative evening to a sparkling close.

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Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times on Frederick Ashton:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/09/arts/dance/09BASHT.html

The beauty, wit and purity of Frederick Ashton's ballets are on display tonight and tomorrow night at the Metropolitan Opera House as well as next week in Lincoln Center Festival's Ashton Celebration, a brilliantly conceived tribute to the great English choreographer on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

There was a time when Ashton, who died in 1988, needed no introduction. He was 20th-century ballet's poet laureate, an innovator whose use of the classical dance idiom raised it to the heights of metaphor.

Ms. Kisselgoff also reports on companies appearing in the Festival:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/09/arts/dance/09ASHT.html

Although the focus is on Frederick Ashton in the Lincoln Center Festival's magnificent Ashton Celebration, the fact is that three unusual ballet companies, virtually unfamiliar in their current forms, are part of the current centennial tribute at the Metropolitan Opera House.

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Clive Barnes in the New York Post on the Ashton Festival:

http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/24726.htm

THE Lincoln Center Fes tival 2004 kicked off on Tuesday night at the Metropolitan Opera House with the opening of its brilliantly imaginative, two-week Ashton Celebration.

This teams four ballet companies — two from Britain, one from Japan and one from the United States — in an homage to the centenary of the English choreographer Frederick Ashton, one of the major creative artists of the 20th century

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The New York Daily News on the Ashton Festival:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/c...0p-181236c.html

The Lincoln Center Festival tribute to the great British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, on the occasion of his centenary, is both fresh and nostalgic.

The pieces being performed by three dance companies seem fresh because they are seldom if ever done here. Seeing them is like discovering some great writer - say, Trollope - you've never bothered to read before.

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Mindy Aloff reviews Program II of the Ashton Celebration for DanceView Times:

Comedy Dark and Divine

“I do not think that choreographers have necessarily to be ‘engaged’ or ‘committed’ or to write ballets about current social happenings,” Ashton said in “Ballet Annual 1959” (republished in David Vaughan’s “Frederick Ashton and His Ballets”). “These subjects are as likely to date as quickly as yesterday’s newspaper. Some say, and I think rightly, that if ballet is to be taken seriously, it must deal with serious matters. I believe simply that a ballet must be a good work of art; that it must express the choreographer’s vision of experience as truthfully and beautifully as possible. Insofar as it does this, it will express his most profound sense of values and thus be likely to concern itself with matters of more permanent significance than topical issues. He should deal with that which is spiritual and eternal rather than that which is material and temporary.” On the other hand, in 1959 Ashton probably didn’t realize that by 2004 this kind of talk would be considered quaint. “Truth”? “Beauty”? “Profound sense of values”? “Spiritual and eternal”? Lingo like that isn’t going to pack in the 19 to 34s. Indeed, on Wednesday, the second day of the Ashton Celebration, the Met looked half empty. One problem may have been that the first night got more or less glowing reviews. Glowing reviews, alas, don’t sell tickets. Vexation, affront, disdain: now you’re talking box office! The opening night ballets also didn’t have any sex one could, so to speak, shake a stick at. And the costumes! If you’re going to send Mrs. Elgar on a walk in the woods with two men, at least give her a leather bra. Doesn’t everyone know that Jaeger and the Elgars must have been into a lot more than a discussion of Beethoven, for goodness sake? They were “just friends”?

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Tobi Tobias writes about "Five Brahms Waltzes" and "Dante Sonata" for her Artsjournal blog:

Ashton Celebration #2

Dante Sonata, rescued from oblivion on the initiative of the BRB’s director, David Bintley, was choreographed in 1940, as Britain waited for the bombs of World War II to obliterate the happier life it once knew.  A somber mood due to the recent death of his mother augmented Ashton’s response to, as he put it, “the whole stupidity and devastation of war.”  (On another occasion, he used the word futility.)  So the ballet’s juxtaposition of the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness is no good-guys-vs.-bad affair, but rather a lose-lose situation, in which, though the Dark figures are patently the aggressors, both tribes are ravaged and all but destroyed.  Although the work is, admittedly, something of a period piece—with lots of Massine-derived, Robert Helpmann-style expressionism in it—it is piercingly relevant today.  It should be required viewing, for instance, for anyone participating in the upcoming national conventions of our major political parties, alternating in repertory, perhaps, with Kurt Jooss’s The Green Table.

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ASHTON CELEBRATION #3

The first week of the Lincoln Center Festival’s Ashton Celebration brought the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago back to New York after a 10-year absence.  The company, which used to be resident here, was very welcome.  In the old days, even when you weren’t feeling much admiration for it, you often still felt affection for the engaging personalities of its dancers and the troupe’s overall feisty spirit.  To be sure, purists in the audience would complain about the Joffrey’s imperfect classical technique and the many pop numbers in its repertory (a majority of them by the company’s present artistic director, Gerald Arpino), but they were the first to be grateful for the late Robert Joffrey’s reaching out to choreographers outside the classical domain, such as Twyla Tharp and Laura Dean; his resurrecting “lost” but worthy ballets of the Diaghilev era; and his giving a major American presence to the works of Frederick Ashton.  My own happy acquaintance with several Ashton ballets comes solely from their Joffrey Ballet productions.  Looking at Les Patineurs, A Wedding Bouquet, and Monotones I and II this past week I could only wonder, What happened?  Not one of the stagings was as good as it should be—and had been.

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Two more reviews of the Ashton Festival:

On Friday the Birmingham Royal Ballet, sister company to the Royal Ballet in London, led with a repeat of "Enigma Variations" with a series of fine debuts. If that ballet is a masterpiece, "The Two Pigeons" is a flawed work although it still has Ashton's typical poetic images for its main dancers.

A painter in bohemian Paris tires of the caprices of his mistress and runs off to follow a Gypsy temptress. In the beginning of the final and second act, he is betrayed and stomped by the Gypsies and returns to the young girl as their love is symbolized by two live pigeons on stage. In Act I the birds fly past the painter's studio, designed by Jacques Dupont. In Act II, one of the live pigeons waits for the other.

This symbolism has a resonance that the choreography alone lacks. Ashton went amazingly wrong in the dances for the Gypsies, although the company men jump around with conviction. A similar near parody invests the Gypsy girl's solos on toe. Molly Smolen does what she can with the material at hand.

As the Lincoln Center Festival pursues its monumental tribute to the late British choreographer Frederick Ashton, revelations continue to accrue.

These exciting programs, which present Ashton's works in all their wondrous variety, seem guaranteed to stimulate discussion. The mixed repertory that began to alternate, Tuesday, on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House, has demonstrated that Ashton, renowned as a classical choreographer, was not merely an innovator but also a daring experimentalist.

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The Chicago Sun-Times covers its own local troupe, the Joffrey Ballet.

There is nothing quite like having a room of one's own. And on Thursday night, Chicago's Joffrey Ballet finally had complete control of what is unquestionably the largest and most formidable "room" for classical ballet in the world -- the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center.

The theater may not be the most intimate or welcoming of performance spaces (Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey's artistic director, loudly sings the praise of Chicago's Auditorium Theatre above all others). But one thing cannot be denied about the Met: It attracts an intensely passionate and highly critical audience of dance aficionados -- an audience that injects the air with a palpable electricity.

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The Birmingham Post pays a visit to the Birmingham Royal Ballet in New York.

At 2pm Molly Smolen, one of BRB's top seed, comes out of the wings to rehearse Ashton's Five Brahms Waltzes in the manner of Isadora Duncan.

This is a solo piece which Smolen, pictured, has danced regularly, but even so it's still practice, practice, practice. The stage lights pick up Smolen's Greek tunic. They also pick up her Arctic boots worn as foot warmers.

Her husband, the dancer Tiit Helimets, comes out of the wings carrying her stole. The boots go, and the solo piano begins. It jerks along yet she doesn't lose her patience as the technicians wander about and the stop-start rehearsal goes on.

Desmond Kelly, BRB's assistant artistic director, sharpens a movement or explains an attitude. Smolen complies. Then suddenly it is all done and she takes off beautifully and the invited audience applauds. I would hate an audience in at this point but Smolen keeps her cool and she is a true pro.

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George Jackson reviews Program III (Joffrey Ballet program) of the Ashton Celebration for the DanceView Times:

Another Chair

Chicago, once the hog butcher of the world, is also a place where the arts have thrived. The Joffrey Ballet's banishment there has not been into solitary confinement. Poetry Magazine, the Second City theater scene, Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler's great books based university, buildings by Sullivan, Root, Wright and Bauhaus refugees—these are a few examples of Chicago work that is admired everywhere. The Joffrey's reappearance in New York after a decade's absence showed a company that is recognizable. Youthful and functionally trained, the Joffrey is still eager to please. It suits its Ashton repertory better than before, inhabiting it with an ease that allowed for subtlety.

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Nancy Dalva reviews "Enigma Variations" and "The Two Pigeons" for DanceView Times:

My Friends Pictured Within

What a wonderful ballet "Enigma Variations" is—there's really nothing more one could ask of a work of art than this. It is rich on every level, and has an unusual appeal for a ballet: Sir Frederick Ashton's sublime narrative work is about grown-ups in a grown-up world. No one is enchanted, though someone may be imaginary. No one is an animal, though someone portrays a dog while telling a story about one. No one has magic powers. Never for a second do you have to suspend your disbelief. In this "Enigma Variations" is a triumph of naturalism, but also of neo-classicism—the choreography is all ballet, though tempered with everyday human gesture, and hence humanized. We have been lucky to have the Birmingham Royal Ballet here to perform it, and to perform it in a way more satisfactory, as an immediate experience, than I remember a previous Royal Ballet performance here to have been. Although there could have been more variety in the tempi among the variations–the fast faster, the slow perhaps slower—the ballet was in every way acceptable, which is saying a very great deal. One demands the most when a beloved work is returned to one's attention, calling up everything one felt upon first seeing it, and everything one has learned to feel since. My only complaint is that I would like to see it again, and it is over.

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Rita Felciano reviews the Royal Ballet's "Cinderella" and "Giselle" for DanceView Times:

The Royal Ballet in Orange County

As for Ashton’s choreography, all one can say, what a gift it is. Never having seen “Cinderella” live, it was almost more than could be absorbed in one viewing. Its blend of humor—itself a mix of popular and sophisticated touches, all of them immaculately timed—and delicate sentiments ranging from the tragedy-tinged to the utterly romantic is simply masterful. Despite the fact that neither its fourth-cast Jaimie Tapper (Cinderella) and David Makhateli (the Prince) were ideally cast, the choreography is so musically detailed and richly layered that it simply could not be undercut by technically adequate—despite a couple of missteps by Makhateli—though somewhat stolid performances. First rate choreography shines through good-but-not-first-rate performances like sun through the fog.

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Jennifer Dunning writes of Margot Fonteyn, and the exhibition at the New York Public Library about her career, in the New York Times:

Even in Memory, Fonteyn's Aura Can Dazzle

It has been 32 years since Margot Fonteyn danced a major role in New York City and more than a decade since her death. But this radiant international ballet star, whose allure transcended her technique and acting skills, has not loosed her hold on the city's dancegoers. On a recent hot weekend the streets of New York were empty, but reverent fans filled the Vincent Astor Gallery at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center to study photographs of her, see costumes she wore, and pause to watch film of her dancing, the air filled with Tchaikovsky's score for "The Sleeping Beauty."

That was the ballet in which a young English dancer named Margot Fonteyn conquered New York on Oct. 9, 1949. Her unexpected triumph, and the love affair that developed with American balletomanes and continued past her death in 1991, at 71, are chronicled in the library exhibition "Margot Fonteyn in America: A Celebration." Put together by Robert Gottlieb, the editor and dance writer, and Joy Brown, a longtime friend of Fonteyn, the small but choice show is on view through Sept. 3.

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Deborah Jowitt reviews Lincoln Center's Ashton Festival in the Village Voice.

"And they were all sweet and kind and English," Gertrude Stein observed in 1937 of the characters Frederick Ashton concocted for A Wedding Bouquet--a ballet accompanied by spoken phrases drawn from her work. Sweetness, kindness, and inevitably, Englishness mark the work of this great British choreographer, whose centennial is being celebrated this year along with Balanchine's.

The Ashton ballets shown during the Lincoln Center Festival also reveal his wit, tenderness, and consummate classicism. The two trios of Monotones I and II (1965), beautifully performed by the Joffrey Ballet, reveal his love of contrapposto, that gentle twisting of the limbs against the body to create asymmetry; the one-armed gestures; the intricate footwork and little jumps executed in place; and the elegant spatial designs.

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Mindy Aloff reviews the first Scenes de Ballet/Divertissements/Marguerite and Armand prgoram that opened the Royal Ballet's contribution to Lincoln Center's Ashton Celebration:

The Ashton Ballerina

If, in this entire sumptuous festival for Frederick Ashton, you could only see one number, and that was the performance by Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle of the “Awakening” pas de deux from the Royal Ballet’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty,” you would have experienced, full strength, in five minutes, almost everything that classical ballet at its most universally communicative has to offer. I’m speaking about something larger than the choreography per se. The choreography for this pas de deux, set to the violin obliggato section of “Beauty” that is so familiar to New York audiences from “The Nutcracker” of George Balanchine (who inserted it into the scene where Marie’s mother finds her asleep on the sofa and tenderly covers her with a shawl), isn’t Ashton’s greatest, in the sense of complexity of its patterns or nuances of its storytelling. However, the way it tracks the Tchaikovsky melody—like a youngster running with a kite that goes from sailing low, to sailing higher, then sailing high overhead—offers a simplicity of purpose and a visceral excitement that give the dancers a wide-open opportunity to contribute something of themselves to the effect of spiraling anticipation.

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The Royal Ballet opened its first New York season in seven years with an Ashton Festival program.

Those who worry about a loss of English ballet style would find plenty to worry about on Tuesday, especially in "Scènes de Ballet," the diamond-sharp plotless masterpiece set to Stravinsky that opened the evening. Only the men, including the Ukrainian Ivan Putrov, had the consistent harmony of body placement that is so much a part of Ashton's modern classical style. In a series of duets in Ashton's ecstatic vein, the women came into their own, mainly as symbols of impossible love.

Structure is all-important to Scènes de ballet, being not simply an element of its composition but quite possibly its main subject.  And this structure--the action organized for a ballerina, a male principal, four male soloists, and a female ensemble of twelve--is impeccable.  Nevertheless, while everything in the ballet seems inevitable, almost nothing about it is ordinary.  Every one of the dance’s 17 minutes contains several surprises:  kaleidoscopic configurations, unexpected choices about who accompanies whom, stage patterns that seem to be evanescent landscapes in an imaginary world.  The architectural design of the piece is so sound and yet so filled with wonders, you wouldn’t want a single element of the choreography to be otherwise.  What you want, after the ballet has amazed you for the first time, is to see it again, immediately.

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Mary Cargill reviews the Ashton Celebration's Divertissements, etc. program for Danceview Times:

Hearty Meal

The series of divertissements made for a somewhat disjointed centerpiece, but it did allow the audience to see a number of the current Royal Ballet dancers. The men, most of whom are not Royal Ballet trained, it must be admitted, weren’t up to much, though the choreography certainly favored the women. The “Sleeping Beauty” awakening pas de deux was choreographed by Ashton for the Pre-Raphaelite 1968 production; the pas de deux has lasted much longer than that concept, though it was danced in those slightly medieval costumes. It was made for Sibley and Dowell and no one who saw Dowell’s plush and magnificently scaled arabesque can forget him in that choreography. The choreography, to the music Balanchine interpolated into his “Nutcracker” for the sleeping Marie, is a little gem. It begins formally, with Aurora and Désiré walking side-by-side and bowing in unison, and builds gradually, soaring into lifts, and then finally walking out, eyes glued to each other. Jaimie Tapper was a sweet-natured Aurora, and Federico Bonelli, though he does not have Dowell’s line, was a deferential partner.

The “Voices of Spring pas de deux” does not call for deference, since it was intended as a showstopper. (It was originally choreographed for a production of “Die Fledermaus”.) But there are echoes of Pavlova in the costume and many of the poses, so it should be an elegant showstopper, not, for all its lifts and spins, a Sovietized warhorse. Leanne Benjamin and Iñaki Urlezaga were great fun, and the audience was captivated from the first, when he ran in, carrying her in the inelegantly but descriptively named butt-lift, as she dropped rose petals from her hands.

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Robert Greskovic writes about the Ashton Celebration for the Wall Street Journal. There's no link -- this is available only to paid subscribers -- but here's the lead:

In 1970, when Frederick Ashton, the choreographer who spearheaded the establishment of ballet as a distinctly English art, looked back on more than three decades of his dancemaking, he noted being pleased about the works that still survived and wondered if these weren't the ones with the "toughest fibers." He conversely mused that the very delicate ones might not stand up to the "wear and tear and stress" of life.

Delicate and tough nicely names the masterly blend of poetic theatrics consistently revealed in Ashton's ballets. As a dancer who started late and who was smitten with Russian ballet, the choreographer created a remarkable body of work showcasing strict classical ballet as a lively and luminous language capable of ineffable expression.

Ashton, who continued to create ballets nearly up to his death in 1988, lived to see his earlier works survive only fitfully in the repertoire of the Royal Ballet, the troupe for which he created the bulk of his output. This year marks the centenary of his birth, and another toughness is asserting itself in individuals determined to see Ashton's ballets back on the boards with renewed strength.

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Susan Reiter reviews the Royal Ballet in Newsday.

Most of the works on its Tuesday program dated from that period, but the evening opened with a fascinating earlier ballet, the 1944 "Scenes de Ballet," one of Ashton's few forays into the music of Stravinsky. The elegant tutus and old-fashioned male tunics hark back to the decorous style of 19th century master Marius Petipa, to whom Ashton intentionally alluded in his choreography, but his division of the stage space and use of asymmetrical patterns were bold for their time.

This is a jaunty, often surprisingly gentle score, and Ashton maintains a decorum light-years removed from the knotty angularity of George Balanchine's Stravinsky ballets.

Miyako Yoshida, in the ballerina role originated by Margot Fonteyn, executed her sharp, swift steps neatly and graciously. During the lyrical passages, however, her feet -- always of crucial importance in Ashton's choreography for women -- at times looked lazy and lacked eloquence.

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Eric Taub reviews the Ashton mixed bill for ballet.co's magazine:

Ashton Mixed Bill

It is with a bit of trepidation that I set down my impressions of The Royal Ballet's first Ashton program at the Metropolitan Opera House. After all, Constant Readers will know I'm a die-hard Balanchine worshipper, and yet here I am, taking on the works of Sir Fred for a substantially British audience. I wouldn't want to be the boorish guest who puts down the tastes of his hosts. And yet, there's no way to avoid relating that I was significantly underwhelmed. Over the years, I've come to like some of Ashton's work very much, but most of what I saw at the Met Tuesday night spoke more to me of a somewhat fussy prettiness than the pure sublimity I've found in the Ashton works that have affected me the most. On the other hand, it was a great treat to see dancers I've only read about (including La Sylvie!), and works which were, for the most part, entirely new to me.

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Mindy Aloff reviews opening night of the Royal Ballet's "Cinderella" on DanceView Times:

Cinderella

As the final offering of the Ashton Festival, The Royal Ballet brought its current production of the 1948 “Cinderella”—Ashton’s first evening-length ballet and, as the Royal’s new director, Monica Mason, reminds in a program note, the first full-length British ballet—for three performances at the Met, with three different casts. The first of them featured the Royal’s charismatic young ballerina Alina Cojocaru, quickening every classical phrase with spirited authority, in the title role (and winning a personal ovation that rivaled the roars last month at the State Theater for the Georgian dancers); her frequent partner—the persuasively aristocratic, Danish-trained virtuoso Johan Kobborg—as the Prince; Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep as the Stepsisters (with Dowell, who seemed at one point to perform the entire ballet “Raymonda” in a variation lasting only several minutes, taking on the pugnacious Stepsister originated by Robert Helpmann and Sleep, who slyly needled his way into every one of Dowell’s laughs, the “shy” Stepsister originated—inimitably, alas for Sleep—by Ashton); Isabel McMeekan, decorously embroidering her intricate choreography, as the Fairy Godmother; Joshua Tuifua as the authoritatively turned-out Dancing Master; and José Martin as the Jester, performing bravura wonders with multiple pirouettes that slowed down to a stilled pose then speeded up again (a feat familiar from other male dancers at American Ballet Theatre who, like Martin, trained at the Victor Ullate Ballet School in Madrid).

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