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Ashton's "The Dream"I've never seen it --what's it like?


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#1 Phaedra392

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:52 PM

I just bought the Royal Ballet DVD of "The Dream" online. It hasn't arrived yet, and I'm curious. I've never seen any Ashton before -- at least I don't think I have -- and I'm looking forward to my introduction.

What should I expect? I'm a Balanchine fan, and I'm wondering how different Ashton is.

Is "The Dream" among Ashton's best? Is it representative of his style? Is the RB DVD a good one?

I'd really love to hear anybody's thoughts.

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 06:01 PM

Comparing and contrasting the Ashton to the Balanchine is a favorite topic here!

I hope people will add their thoughts, and here are links to some previous discussions.

http://ballettalk.in...?showtopic=5805
http://ballettalk.in...?showtopic=5498
http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=18111

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 07:27 PM

Before I faint, I didn't know there was a Royal Ballet DVD available. ("The Dream" was broadcast years ago on Britisih TV.) There's an ABT "Dream" from a few years ago out, but is there now an RB one also? I'd walk many miles for a DVD of the Royal Ballet in this work.

#4 rg

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 09:34 AM

the only vid i know on the market is the non-royal ballet noted above w/ABT.
the telecasts from london w/ the royal ballet - one in black and white by margaret dale w/ sibley & dowell (truncated) and one filmed in color complete w/ park and dowell and telecast in the US (along w/ A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY) have not been released commercially to the best of my knowledge.

#5 4mrdncr

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 11:23 AM

Thanks for clarifying rq, I agree. But you can see the excerpted pdd of Makarova & Dowell in "A Month in the Country' on one of those commercially released (Kulture?) Great Pas de Deux compilations, which includes several other RB pdd's from past & recent past as well. Definately NOT the same as the full ballet(s), but I'm still thankful I got to see even that snippet to refresh my againg memory. Why PBS' Great Perfs or Live from Lincoln Center don't release or renogiate rights-to-release those videos is still VERY frustrating to me and many others.

#6 JMcN

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 12:00 PM

"The Dream" is one of my favourite Ashton ballets, full of lyricism and very funny (especially when the lovers are played straight - the comedy is in the choreography). The duet for Oberon and Titania is one of the most sublime pieces of choreography ever made! It shows that you can make choreography look spectacular and beautiful without the enormous lifts and giant leaps that some choreographers favour.

Sir Frederick Ashton was one of those choreographers who can move your soul from A-Z but you don't really know how or why. I don't know anyone who doesn't cry at the end of "The Two Pigeons". The duet for the girl and her lover is a masterpiece - you really don't realise anything is happening until you suddenly find that you can no longer hear the music because everyone around you is sobbing - and this is the happy bit!!

The first time I saw Enigma Variations it was not at all what I expected and I did not realise what all the fuss is about. I've considered this over the years and have decided that it is so wonderful and profoundly moving precisely because nothing happens!

Sir Frederick Ashton also made some wonderful abstract ballets - my two favourites are Symphonic Variations and Scenes de Ballet. It always strikes me that Scenes is a tribute to Sleeping Beauty, but that is only my impression.

I hope you enjoy your DVD of The Dream!

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 02:52 PM

Thanks, rg. That's what I thought, but, then,, there's the hope that the RB will start releasing older performances now.

And thank you for that lovely post, JMcN. What you wrote about "Enigma" is one of its greatest secrets, I think, and you put it beautifully.

The first time I saw Enigma Variations it was not at all what I expected and I did not realise what all the fuss is about. I've considered this over the years and have decided that it is so wonderful and profoundly moving precisely because nothing happens!



#8 bart

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 05:58 PM

Ordinarily I love making comparisons, but I've come to think that each Dream -- Ashton's and Balanchine's -- is best experienced without too much reference to the other.

I've seen Balanchine's version numerous times since its first performances, but Ashton's only a few times -- and fairly recently -- on the ABT video. My first viewing of the Ashton was disappointing ... because it wasn't Balanchine. Once I got over that, and accepted Ashton on his own terms just as I'd been accepting Balanchine all those years, I fell in love with this "new" (to me) work.

There are fundamental differences in the way ballet is used to tell a story, convey feeling, and create a sense of time and place. The greater detail in Balanchine's Act I contrasts with Ashton's more universalized setting and the feeling he creates of time passing in a timeless world. I now enjoy both deeply -- for quite different reasons.


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