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Ashton's CINDERELLA

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the attached scan of the final act of Ashton's CINDERELLA shows that the newspaper preparing the photo for publication knew that Ashton created the choreography but not that he was captured in the photo, since in the cropping and retouching of the stage shot for use in the newspaper cuts him out, and leaves his downcast Sister adrift on the right. Helpmann's bolder Sister, holding a fan on the photo's left side, is kept in the frame, tho' not necessarily identified if the scribbles on the back are any indication of the paper's awareness of the performers' names, which would include, o'course, Fonteyn and Somes at the center of the main grouping.

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I'm always surprised to see wooden floors... But this must have been well before Marleys?

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I'm always surprised to see wooden floors... But this must have been well before Marleys?

Before Marley floor, yes, but often large productions would have groundcloths, sometimes decorated as a part of the overall scenic design, but pragmatically to keep people from getting splinters.

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What were they like? Were they nailed down? One wonders what the Odile fouettes would do to a cloth... Oil cloth?

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Another question: where was this shot? The back of the photo says "Sadlers Wells Tour." Touring companies in those days faced many bad conditions, and poor floors are often commented upon in memoirs.

Ashton does stand out in this photograph, and [t's a shame that you can't make out clearly the faces of the other dancers. Cinderella looks like Fonteyn. It's not Shearer, anyway.

Could that be the stage of the old Met? The Royal brought Cinderella (along with Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and a mixed bill) to NYC on its first visit, October 1949. The Times has a review by John Martin (Oct. 19, 1949) in which the cast was Fonteyn, Soames, with Alexander Grant as the Jester. The "stars" were, of course, Ashton and Helpman as the Stepsisters. Shearer danced Cinderella at another performance.

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The pattern of the floorboards pretty much matches the old Covent Garden stage. NYCB dancers commented on the unusual alternation of left/right and upstage/downstage flooring which contributed to the "many gallant Americans who fell at Covent Garden".

Also, groundcloths were usually of very stout duck material, not unlike the heavy weather sailcloth used by larger sailing vessels. For all I know, if they're still in use anywhere, they still are.

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The date of he photo is Jun 26, 1949---well before their October arrival at the Met.

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The date of he photo is Jun 26, 1949---well before their October arrival at the Met.

But it's just a week before Jul 3, 1949 when full announcement on Saddlers Wells U.S. tour (with repertory) was published in NYT and other major U.S. newspapers.

It seems that photo was provided by Saddlers Wells or tour impresario or photo agency so it is quite natural (though really funny) that "the newspaper preparing the photo for publication knew that Ashton created the choreography but not that he was captured in the photo". in 1949, a few people in U.S. newspapers saw Ashton's Cinderalla and knew that he is also a dancer. By the way photo editors all over the world do not always see the difference between various Swan Lakes as well as writings on the back side of the photos are not always correct and made at the same time.

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During my dance career I danced on that 'sailcloth' flooring many times. As Mel said, it was very like heavy duty canvas. The problem dancing on it was not necessarily the friction, but rather watching for any slight wrinkles, which could catch a tip and trip you. However, I don't remember having to use as much rosin.

(I thought they used to use it for some R&J performances, but maybe I'm just confusing things.)

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We're talking denim, folks. That kind of "duck" is much more familiar as the material of blue jeans -- or at least, the blue jeans of old.

Levi Strauss began to make his fortune using cloth that HAD been used as sails in big ships, which he had cut up and sewn into work-clothes

Those floor cloths are notoriously slippery. I've heard about them many times. The Oakland Ballet revived a lot of Ballets Russes pieces, complete with floorcloths (which were often painted, beautifully, and a part of the decor, but it must have made them even slipperier). Sally Streets, who danced Zobeide and once told me she loved the part, said the floor-cloth for Sheherezade was really treacherous.

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