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Lovebird

Which Ashton ballet would you revive?

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If such factors as lost scenery and costumes, forgotten steps, etc. could be put aside, which Ashton ballet would you like to revive? I would vote for Rinaldo and Arminda, for its beautiful costumes, and Madame Chrythanseme for its interesting story. Looking at the Ashton bio ( the David Vaughn one) given to me by my mother, I realized how many Ashton ballets have been lost, or at least not performed in quite some time. Which would you choose?

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I'd like to see Picnic at Tintagel, a version of the Tristram and Iseult story, which was made for NYCB in the fifties.

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Romeo and Juliet (I dont know if this really counts as a revival, since it's supposedly out and around)

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English National Ballet brought Romeo and Juliet to the Met in the 1980's, I saw it with Trinidad Sevillano and Matz Skoog. If it were possible to see A Tragedy of Fashion in its original form, I would vote for that, but I'm not interested in the one they've recently cobbled together.

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I would like to see Varii Capricci, if only for its kitsch value. Also in that category I would like to see Jazz Calender, this one especially for the Friday's child pas de deux made on Antoinette Sibley and Nureyev.

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Also, Tales of Beatrix Potter. This was in the repertory once.

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Capriol Suite is very much about, although it's true that it hasn't been danced for a few years. Mark Baldwin, current director of Ballet Rambert remarked at the beginning of this season that ' no one would want to see Capriol Suite'. Wrong! Especially given the so-called tribute to A Tragedy of Fashion this company gave us....

Jazz Calendar was revived by Birmingham Royal Ballet a few years ago, but on reflection I don't know how well it worked without the original cast. It was still fun though.

Among many, many others, I'd like to see a revival of Persephone which was made for Svetlana Beriosova (who spoke beautiful french as well as dancing even more beautifully) which had very distinguished designs by Nico Ghika. I think it would be a fascinating role for Guillem and I'm certain that with the positive wish to do so, it could be revived. Anthony Russell Roberts (Ashton's nephew who owns the rights) claims that the ballet is lost for ever. But then he said that about Dante Sonata and Persephone was given far more recently. Where there's a will, there's a way.......

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"Persephone" made such a bang on the London arts scene that a parody was included in the Hoffnung Interplanetary Music Festival. The premise of the sketch was "What if the Great Composers had been around to write advertising jingles?" For Stravinsky, it featured a baritone, a soprano, and a dancer who sort of jitterbugged to what they were singing, in the manner of A Rake's Progress:

Farmers in pyjamas

With psychoses

Take doses

Of Bournvita!

...

DANCER: J'ai soif! (Chug-a-lugs a glass of Bournvita)

(Declaims)Je suis la plume sur la chapeau de ma tante!

BOOOUUUURRRNNNVVVITA!

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Alymer, of course! Since Guillem could speak the lines.

"Capriol Suite" was danced in New York last season -- we reviewed it on DanceView Times. And people very much wanted to see it again!

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I think Persephone would be much better suited to Zenaida Yanowsky, she bears a resemblance to Beriosova, she speaks french as well and it would give her a much needed leading role, as she is so seldom used in the company. Another little seen Ashton solo was revived for her last year, La Chatte Metamorphosee en Femme originally made on Merle Park.

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Now that the Bolshoi Ballet has set a precedent by having three versions of Romeo & Juliet in the rep, surely the Royal Ballet could follow suit and add Ashton's R & J to the very tired MacMillan production that really ought to be replaced.

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Ah, Mashinka, would that your suggestion would be taken!! "Romeo and Juliet" is in a peculiar state of suspension at the moment. Peter Schaufuss owns the rights to perform the ballet AND has physical possession of the sets and costumes. However, he has a very small company, not nearly large enough to perform it, AND he has choreographed his own version. His staging for the RDB in 1995 was Not a Success, partly because the audience loved the Neumeier (SO much more dramatic and all sex!) and partly because it was a terrible staging.

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I don't think it is Anthony Russell-Roberts' view that Persephone has been 'lost forever'. There is a mute film of the original cast, not ideal perhaps, but it is in sufficient quality to make a reconstruction possible.

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'I don't think it is Anthony Russell-Roberts' view that Persephone has been 'lost forever'

That's what he told me. Admitedly that was some years ago so he may have changed his mind.

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But one must remember that Mr. Russell-Roberts is an administrative wonk. His knowledge of ballet is not particularly large, except from the business side, at which he is quite accomplished. When he announced, a couple of years ago, what ballets he thought irretrievably lost, other panelists at that meeting differed rather vigorously with him on many.

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To return to Persephone being 'lost forever'. Stephanie Jordan and Geraldine Morris's forthcoming film ' 'Ashton to Stravinsky' features archive film of Svetlana Beriosova and Keith Rosson in an extract from the ballet and also a short sequence in which Christopher Newton and Monica Mason teach a section to a group of RB dancers.

As I understand it, there is an archive film of the entire work. While it is of tolerable quality, the drawback is that there is no sound. In Jordan's video, a piano reduction by Henry Roche, the Royal Ballet's head of music staff, is synched up with the film.

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Which other ballets would, or could be revived? I am very excited about the revival of A Wedding Bouquet at the Royal this season. Jazz Calendar would be very fun to see live. I would also like to see Facade, the Royal hasn't performed it in quite a long time.

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