I'm a huge history buff. I love reading about the knowledge of subjects and people and their past. So when I discover the beauty of the art form of ballet I quickly involve myself in its background history. The one aspect I most enjoy reading about ballet is the individuals who create them. From Petipa to Fokine to Nijinska to Balanchine and so forth. Sir Frederick Ashton was of course among those choreographers I've read about. But with the exception of American Ballet Theatre's productions of The Dream, La Fille mal gardee and Symphonie Variations, I was limited in seeing first hand the full scope of the works of the man generally called the father of British ballet.
So imagine my joy upon hearing that Lincoln Center will be doing a large scale Ashton Celebration in honor of the centennial of his birth. I was overjoyed and waited with anticiaption at seeing the works of this great 20th century genius. Reading about Ashton, I became aware of the signature qualities that are the hallmark of his works. The elegance, refinement of detail, strong characterization, lightness, precision, humor, lyrical and a touch of showmanship. All of these qualities was on display of the ten ballets and divertissements I saw, but what truly astounded me was those qualities was find in such a large range of ballets. That is what amaze me the most of the celebration. The unbelievable diversity find in his ballets. I was not prepare for this delightful surprise!
No style of ballet seem to be out of his reach:
From plotless (Scenes de Ballet)
to lyrical calmness (Monotones I & II)
to razzmatazz showstopper (Rhapsody)
to character study (Enigma Variations)
to charming love story (The Two Pigeons) - the second act gypsy camp dancing was the mark of true showmanship and craft. If Ashton never stage Don Quixote he definitely had the power to do so!
to darkness (Dante Sonata)
to tragic melodrama (Marguerite and Armand)
to confection inventiveness (Les Patineurs)
to drawing room humor (A Wedding Bouquet)
to solo works (Five Brahms Waltzes.....) the spirit of Isadora Duncan filled the stage
and of course creative and lyrical pas de deux (Divertissements)
A deep bow must be given to the four ballet companies who graciously participate in the celebration. The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Joffery Ballet of Chicago and the K-Ballet Company of Tokyo. All did superb tribute to Ashton in their exceptional dancing.
The only sadness I have is that I won't be able to see the new production of Cinderalla, which I know I will regret, and the fact that this maybe my last chance I will ever see those wonderful ballets. Unless ABT require the rights to perform them or hopefully one of the four companies will travel back to the New York area once again.
But whatever the case I will be forever grateful to Lincoln Center for giving me the opportunity to seeing first hand the extraordinary genius of Sir Frederick Ashton.
Thank you, Lincoln CenterFor the Ashton Celebration
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