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Colin Jones on Royal Ballet Golden Age


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#1 Simon G

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 05:09 AM

Here's an interesting interview. Colin Jones, photographer is holding an exhibition of his work in London. Jones was once a dancer in the Sadlers Wells Ballet (pre Royal Royal) he was Lynn Seymour's first husband, and a part of the Golden Age of the Royal Ballet in the 50s & 60s photographing the dancers.

What's most interesting is he's the third party in the Seymour/MacMillan "affair", the father of the baby Seymour had terminated to devote her career to R&J and ballet, while he was on a photographic assignment in Leningrad. This isn't gossip BTW, he talks extensively about the abortion, the effect being shut out of his marriage had and he talks about Fonteyn, Nureyev, De Valois, Macmillan etc very candidly.

What I love about this interview is the total disregard for protocol or discretion that comes with age, after all the main protagonists are now all dead. He also drops some rather juicy tidbits, I'll leave you to read them. Enjoy.

http://www.theartsde...jones&Itemid=80

#2 miliosr

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 07:58 AM

He certainly takes it to that "American prat," Jennifer Homans.

#3 Helene

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 11:03 AM

What's most interesting is he's the third party in the Seymour/MacMillan "affair", the father of the baby Seymour had terminated to devote her career to R&J and ballet, while he was on a photographic assignment in Leningrad. This isn't gossip BTW, he talks extensively about the abortion, the effect being shut out of his marriage had...

Seymour did as well, in her memoir, "Lynn", many years ago, and she was very candid about her anger that she had sacrificed her marriage and Macmillan caved not only to the pressure of giving Fonteyn and Nureyev the premiere, but also allowing her to be dumped to fifth cast, although she did one of the earlier performances replacing the injured ballerina.

#4 Simon G

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 11:26 AM



What's most interesting is he's the third party in the Seymour/MacMillan "affair", the father of the baby Seymour had terminated to devote her career to R&J and ballet, while he was on a photographic assignment in Leningrad. This isn't gossip BTW, he talks extensively about the abortion, the effect being shut out of his marriage had...

Seymour did as well, in her memoir, "Lynn", many years ago, and she was very candid about her anger that she had sacrificed her marriage and Macmillan caved not only to the pressure of giving Fonteyn and Nureyev the premiere, but also allowing her to be dumped to fifth cast, although she did one of the earlier performances replacing the injured ballerina.



What's interesting here is that Jones flat out states that Fonteyn & Seymour didn't get on. Even in her autobiography Seymour was still very gracious and kind towards Fonteyn. I think that's one thing not touched upon very often in any biography or account, Fonteyn's voracious ambition and protection of her position within the RB. I think of all the ballerinas I've ever seen interviewed the only one to ever be directly critical in interview was Nerina. (Privately, when I was a dance student, there were a couple of ex ballerinas from Seymour's generation who were my teachers who were really not backwards in coming forwards expressing their dislike of Fonteyn as a person, if not dancer, though they would never have said so publically.)

Of the ballerinas of Seymour's generation, who themselves were all pretty much relegated to second position by Fonteyn, only Seymour was equal because she was totally different, or if not equal was a ballerina Fonteyn couldn't compete with because she too was a muse, of a choreographer chosen by De Valois to replace Ashton, also Ashton created ballerina roles for Fonteyn, and Seymour was the only ballerina NOT emulating or in the Fonteyn mould. She couldn't be, and so she became absolutely unique in her own way.

R&J does seem in retrospect to have been a concerted effort to displace the pretenders to the RB throne in Seymour, Macmillan & to a lesser extent Gable. Soon after the debacle all three left the company, though Macmillan & Seymour returned and indeed Seymour had some of the best years of her career from 70-76 their positions had been tainted.

It's amazing to think that Fonteyn went on dancing seeing out not not only everyone from her generation, but from Seymour's too. The Fonteyn image was so indelible to the extent that I don't think the RB ever really recovered in finding it's own identity without her. The doldrums set in until Guillem came along, and Guillem's image has been equally influential in shaping the image of the modern ballerina. Especially in the RB, of course.

I think that's why Seymour is such an immensely important ballerina, she really stood for individuality, but for new ways in approaching an art form, of being a part of a company and style yet still retain absolute integrity in one's own uniqueness and talent.

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:34 PM

What I love about this interview is the total disregard for protocol or discretion that comes with age, after all the main protagonists are now all dead.


Are you kidding? I don't think he cared if they were dead or not. This is some of the best talk I ever heard. I read it, just like anybody else (if a little more hesitatingly lazily) for the big-name nuggets, but HE is what's interesting. Oh man, this is my kind of guy, natural wit every few phrases or even words, I was practically crying from laughter this guy is so heaven. Perfectly wicked. The interviewer himself peters out a bit in the last 1/5 or so of the piece, surrendering to the boxer, I guess, although I loved Jones's answer 'They didn't get on, did they?' Oh man, this is THE salty guy. Wouldn't even know where to start with such long list of Immortal Sayings, from Ninette's whiskey-drinking (love that photo of her with Turner--made me think of Blackpool, although I've only heard and read about it) and the early 'paedophile teacher' (well, I guess he was worried about her status).

And to think that something so sublime would be linked by one who pimps jedward...

Looked back, these are just inimitable:

She was a strange woman but rather nice. I mean, she used to like East Enders like me. She was Irish of course, and used to drink a lot of whiskey, which we never knew about at the time.

and

So we got on the France, and we were first-class - it was beautiful. But he was there with James Baldwin, the writer, amazingly gay.


and this one the best

No, I hated the army. It was like ballet, actually, but much worse. I became acting sergeant, and we’d get invited to do physical demonstrations. All I had when I left was two demob suits, dreadful things.

A bit like leaving jail.
Yes, it was like jail. You couldn’t run away or you’d be in prison.




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