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Ashton Again - Le deux Pigeon'sAnother charming Ballet by Sir "Fred"'


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#1 Nanarina

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:13 AM

[I recently noticed in Dance Now, that Birmingham Royal Ballet are to perform this in 2009, if you have not seen it or know the story. It is a love story about a young couple,and well worth a visit. The boy falls for a gypsy girl, and leaves his sweetheart to find her. The amzing production actually features live white Doves, that fly and land by the Dancers, and their appearance makes him remember and return to his true love.Brilliant music, lovely costumes, and beautiful choreography. In fact Ashton at his very best. :) :thumbsup:

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:26 AM

Ballet Sarasota (in Florida) danced this last season and will be performing it again next season. I hope people will post from Birmingham and Sarasota -- it IS a lovely ballet.

#3 bart

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:02 AM

Leigh has a fine review in the Spring 2008 Dance Now.

The Two Pigeons was the sleeper hit of the 2004 Ashton Festival in New York and a rarity worth travelling to see. This winter Frederick Askhton's deceptively simple-looking masterwork about love and fidellity found a new home in Sarasota, Florida.

The review praises the ambitious and high-level programming of Sarasota's director, Iain Webb (formerly of Sadler's Wells Royal) and the dancing ,especially by principals Lauren Strongin and Sergiy Mykhaylov. There are two lovely and quite simple photos.

No matter how simple its story, additional viewings of The Two Pigeons (1961) only reveal more depth and subtlety.

It's a ballet I've never seen. I'm looking forward to seeing how this thread develops. Thanks, Nanarina, for starting it.

#4 JMcN

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 12:21 PM

I adore Two Pigeons - it's a real Ashton masterpiece with just about the most moving duet you can imagine.

I first saw it at a Christmas season at Sadler's Wells in around 1989/90 and have loved it ever since. Although it has a happy outcome, most people I know are reduced to sobbing emotional wrecks by the end! Someone once asked why everyone was crying when the ballet had a happy ending - and the answer is, of course, that it's exactly because it is happy.

The reconciliation duet at the end it just sublime but I can't exactly tell you why. It is very gentle and there are no spectacular moves but it just moves your soul from A-Z

Two performances from BRB last time round stand out in my mind. One was a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham with Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker. We couldn't hear the wonderful, soaring music at the end because everyone was sobbing so loudly. Then later in the year at Sadler's Wells, Ambra Vallo and Chi Cao had a similar effect.

I have seen the pigeons misbehaving occasionally. I remember a performance in Plymouth when Three Pigeons were sitting on the Parisian rooves and two of them were being very naughty indeed! Most of the time, however, they behave impeccably on stage.

BRB are doing some wonderful mixed programmes in their 2008/9 season. Highlights for me are Two Pigeons, Dream and Enigma Variations (all Ashton); Galantries and Dance House (David Bintley), Serenade (George Balanchine).

I'm currently stockpiling paper hankies!

#5 JMcN

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 12:23 PM

Just off topic but I should have read the previous posts properly. Iain Webb was dancing with BRB (then SWRB) when I first started going to watch ballet. I especially remember him as a very fine Petrushka.

#6 bart

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 01:52 PM

I have seen the pigeons misbehaving occasionally. I remember a performance in Plymouth when Three Pigeons were sitting on the Parisian rooves and two of them were being very naughty indeed! Most of the time, however, they behave impeccably on stage.

Leigh reports on the Sarasota pigeons:

Auspiciously, I am happy to report that the pigeons behaved at all performances.

Well, they should. It's a very respectable town! :thumbsup:

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 03:07 PM

BRB are doing some wonderful mixed programmes in their 2008/9 season. Highlights for me are Two Pigeons, Dream and Enigma Variations (all Ashton); Galantries and Dance House (David Bintley), Serenade (George Balanchine).



I'm jealous! I hope you go and report regularly! And thank you for your memories of "Two Pigeons," hankies and all :off topic:

#8 Nanarina

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:17 AM

Let me take you on a journey into life with "Two Pigeons". One of my favourite Ballet's. and one I am hoping to see next year in Birmingham.

The first time I saw the costumes, I was reallY delighted, as they were so lovely. The designs were very clever, although you get a reasonable view from the audience, there is much more to them than you would realise. If we take the Girl and her friends first, on close
inspection you realise, their dresses rersemble, the shape of a Pigeon or Dove. The skirt is flared, with the bodice being strapeless, and joined at hip level. On the top of the bodice is a area of real feathers that spread out from the clevage accross the bust. These blend in with the colour which is different for each friend, while the main firl is in white, the others wear muted shades, that are seen in the plummage of an actual pigeon. They are so attractive in degree's of greys, mauves, pinks etc, the bodices were muted matching shades of velvet, again with the feathers on the tops, reflecting the skirts. The top skirt was chifon, and a srape weny from the middle front, and was gathered and pulled up to represent wings, with a long tail falling from the middle at the back. Even the young mans costume in grey and turquoise fitted in with the muted shades.

The Gypsy Boys, wore breeches of self patterned brocade with bolero's and character shoes, If I remember rightly they hae bare legs, and tops, with tanned arms and chests on view (very sexy !!) The required gold earring etc. The Gypsy girls costumes, were absolutely exquisite,
and a nightmare to look after. due to the way they were made, from layers of chifon squares sewn together and fixed from one corner, to give a ripling effect. When the girls shimmied or turned, the skirts that were flared with a series of deep frills. would swing out showing a ripple of the beautuful colours thEy contained. Beautiful to look at, but terrible to iron or launder. That was one set of costumes, we never used to let near the washing and Ironing ladies we employed in each town. I have stood for ages, ironing all the individual squares, that made the costumes what they were. From the top you just see one colour, but as the skirt moves, there was about four maybe six different shades of the top colour. Again the bodices were velvet, decorated with gold coins, and jewellery.
coin jewellery,

The main roles were created by Christopher Gsble as the young man, Lynn Seymour as his sweetheart, and the Gypsy Girl was Elizabeth Anderton (Jennifer Layland?) The Gypsy Boy Donald Britton.

:dry: nOW AS SOME OF YOU HAVE MENTIONED THE PIGEONS, BEING NAUGHTY, I can certainly add to that, they were more often than not, upto their antics, It could get a bit embarrising at times, and they were not house or should I say stage trained, there was one in particular that would do a whopsey down the front of the girls white dress, it had also been known to land on some-ones head. They did bot seem to like the Gypsy Boy, and poor Richard Farley in the Touring Company was singled out. Another time one of the hen birds layed an egg.I used to hate going into the wings during "Pigeons" when the Trainer was there with the birds, they were very tame, and if loose used jump onto your shoulder or head. For someone like me, who has a bird phobia, and does not like our feathered friends flying around me, I used to be scared stiff they would land on me.


Well folks get your hankies ready, as it seems LDP is making it;s mark on the world again, and will be performed regularly.


I hope this post will bring in a lot of response, but it will iake a lot to beat my entry for Le fille mal gardee, many thanks to you all, it is lovely to read your replies and news. :dry:

#9 JMcN

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 03:29 AM

I was at a Friends' event in Birmingham on Saturday morning - a mixed class taken by Christine Anthony, which was super. At one point the pianist started playing the duet from Two Pigeons. I reckon if she had continued for another 10 seconds I would have been sobbing uncontrollably! (For anyone who knows the score she stopeed just before the bit where the harp comes in). I mentioned this over lunch and both my friends agreed it was just as well she changed music when she did because it has the same effect on them too!

#10 Mashinka

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 04:55 AM

I went up to Birmingham for the last run of Pigeon's a couple of years ago and was impressed by all three of the casts I saw. A gold star for BRB, but why can't the Royal Ballet in London revive it too?

#11 Jane Simpson

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 09:18 AM

nanarina, I think the Gypsy in the first Pigeons cast was Robert Mead rather than Donald Britton (that is if you mean the Gypsy girl's lover, rather than the young boy, who was Johaar Mosaval). I know it wasn't Britton because he was actually supposed to be doing the Young Man - I'd remembered it that he got flu or something, but I see that David Vaughan's Ashton book says he was injured on the day of the dress rehearsal. Either way, Christopher Gable took over. Britton was a very different dancer - older, tougher - and the ballet felt very different when he, and later Alexander Grant, Bernd Berg and others, took it over. It made the story less sweet but maybe a little stronger.

(I saw the dress rehearsal, at Covent Garden, and I remember they kept the curtain up at the end whilst they started taking photographs, and just brought it down as they began on those famous pictures of Seymour and Gable and the chair and the pigeons.)

I loved the early casts but Sarah Wildor's performances with Scottish Ballet a few years ago showed me new things in the last pas de deux - she was (is) a wonderful actress and she made it very clear that she wasn't just going to fall into the man's arms when he came back - he'd destroyed her trust and even though they were reconciled by the end you felt their relationship would never be quite the same again. It was as moving as any I've seen, but in a different way. And her two deep arabesques on the balcony before the man returns, so perfectly using, and extending, the music made those few seconds into one of my all-time Great Moments.

#12 Nanarina

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 02:54 PM

:)

nanarina, I think the Gypsy in the first Pigeons cast was Robert Mead rather than Donald Britton (that is if you mean the Gypsy girl's lover, rather than the young boy, who was Johaar Mosaval). I know it wasn't Britton because he was actually supposed to be doing the Young Man - I'd remembered it that he got flu or something, but I see that David Vaughan's Ashton book says he was injured on the day of the dress rehearsal. Either way, Christopher Gable took over. Britton was a very different dancer - older, tougher - and the ballet felt very different when he, and later Alexander Grant, Bernd Berg and others, took it over. It made the story less sweet but maybe a little stronger.

(I saw the dress rehearsal, at Covent Garden, and I remember they kept the curtain up at the end whilst they started taking photographs, and just brought it down as they began on those famous pictures of Seymour and Gable and the chair and the pigeons.)

I loved the early casts but Sarah Wildor's performances with Scottish Ballet a few years ago showed me new things in the last pas de deux - she was (is) a wonderful actress and she made it very clear that she wasn't just going to fall into the man's arms when he came back - he'd destroyed her trust and even though they were reconciled by the end you felt their relationship would never be quite the same again. It was as moving as any I've seen, but in a different way. And her two deep arabesques on the balcony before the man returns, so perfectly using, and extending, the music made those few seconds into one of my all-time Great Moments.


:unsure: Hello Jane, Thank you for your details, I actually could not remembe the original cast of "Two Pigeons", so I looked it up in 1960/61 Dancing Times, Review, to be honest Donald Britton did not seem right, now you mention him Robert Mead comes to mind, and the other people you mentioned. Richard Farley also danced the Main Gypsy on tour as well. It is over 40 years ago, I can remember some things very clearly, but not others.

#13 canbelto

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 12:09 PM

I remember I saw this when their was the wonderful Ashton Festival at Lincoln Center about 4 years ago. It was billed with Enigma Variations. I don't remember much about EV, but I remember that at the end of Two Pigeons there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Then I left the building and two British gentlemen were talking and they praised EV and said, "Two Pigeons is as dreadful as I remembered it." I couldn't help but ask them why it was "dreadful." I said I thought it was a beautiful love story. "That's why," one said. "Sentimental hogwosh." I couldn't agree. :wub:


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