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Birdsall

A Tribute to Ashton: The Two Pigeons and Scenes de Ballet

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Tonight's program started with Ashton's Scenes de Ballet. On the surface the ballet looks modern (costumes with geometric patterns and a back drop that reminds me of De Chirico's surreal paintings). However, on closer inspection it is a traditional pas de deux with traditional ballet vocabulary. The choreography follows the music wonderfully. Danielle Brown and Ricardo Rhodes were the leads, and they gave their all. To me the female soloist seems like a modern Aurora even having a sort of rose adagio without the roses! Despite a few sloppy landings and partnering by the four males who join the lead male, the company did a very admirable job and danced this short ballet like they loved it. 

 

The Two Pigeons is a ballet I have a hard time liking because the two main characters are not very likable. The artist is sort of a jerk, and the woman is a doormat. But Marcelo Gomes made the artist as likeable as he could. He made his interest in the gypsy seem spur of the moment. His dancing was exciting but his acting made the ballet more enjoyable than usual. Victoria Hulland danced beautifully and gave her all also. She made the silly pigeon arms seem more fun. 

 

I find Ashton's choreography for the gypsy women to be silly and almost embarrassing with the shimmy, but this performance played up the fun so it was less annoying. I am not sure why the Two Pigeons is one of his more famous ballets. So many others are SO wonderful. I think The Two Pigeons sort of has over the top silly moments (pigeon bobbing and arms, gypsy shimmying their chests) coupled with syrupy sweet sentimentality. However, Sarasota Ballet dancers did their best to make it fun and less dated due to their exuberance. I had fun, but The Two Pigeons will never be a favorite.

 

In contrast, I have fallen in love with Scenes de Ballet!

 

At the end of the ballet the second pigeon failed to join the first one. Of course, that doesn't matter and made Sarasota Ballet's efforts all the more charming. 

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Thank you for this report--I have always wanted to see Two Pigeons. From the video I've seen the pas de deux at the end seems quite lovely. Scenes de Ballet (which I saw once many, many years ago and hardly remember) sounds wonderful.

 

It's silly I guess, but it makes me sad to think of the pigeon failing its cue--though I suppose it's bound to occur. I wonder they don't get confused more often by all the theatrical fuss and muss. (All performing non-humans at the ballet make me a little uneasy.)

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I believe Scenes de Ballet was Ashton's Homage to Sleeping Beauty.  I absolutely adore this work and wish we had more opportunity to see it.

 

I think with Ashton he makes characters you end up caring deeply about even though the story may be silly and the characters not initially likeable.  I adore Two Pigeons and have fortunately been able to see many memorable performances in recent years thanks to Birmingham Royal Ballet.

 

I believe it is a piece about redemption in a way - the young girl realises how silly and flighty she has been and the young man realises that he behaved badly towards her by walking out.  The final, reconciliation duet is incredibly beautiful and poignant and a masterpiece in how to make such a quiet and gently dance.  I don't think I've ever seen a performance where I have not cried during this final section.

 

There are several performances where I have sobbed out loud from the moment the young man has been thrown out of the encampment.  These performances were by Chi Cao and Ambra Vallo (BRB) and last year by Alexander Campbell and Yuhui Choe (RB).  One performance that will live with me forever occurred on a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham when danced by Robert Parker and Nao Sakuma.  Not only was I sobbing out loud but so was everyone around me.  My friends and I couldn't speak for ages afterwards we were all so overcome!

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I saw the program on both evenings - the second time from a further vantage point which was better for the Scene de Ballet geometries.  I thought the pairing  of the abstract/intellectual Scenes de Ballet with the emotional and charming Two Pigeons was very satisfying.  The Scenes de Ballet reminded me of Balanchine's Theme and Variations. I wish I knew more about  ballet to understand the ballet's complexities, I would love to see it again.

The Two Pigeons were delightful.  Ashton has the lovable ability to treat our  frailties and vulnerability with tenderness and gentleness.  It has been said that this is a permutation of the Tale of Prodigal Son, it is a lovely fable about chasing mirages, bumbling around in the dangerous world, finding out what matters, contrition and forgiveness.  We can all identify in one way or another.  Marcello made what must be a very difficult role, look effortless, I could not resist seeing him twice in the role. 

The Sarasota Ballet has always the most beautiful scenery and costumes - very esthetic and refined.

 

 

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I should add the Sarasota ballet dancers were excellent, and seemed to get better on second evening, and the Guest Conductor B. Wordworth of the Royal Ballet

led  the Sarasota Ballet in a memorable performance of Stravinsky and Messager.
 

 

.

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On 3/11/2017 at 7:46 AM, JMcN said:

I believe Scenes de Ballet was Ashton's Homage to Sleeping Beauty.  I absolutely adore this work and wish we had more opportunity to see it.

 

I think with Ashton he makes characters you end up caring deeply about even though the story may be silly and the characters not initially likeable.  I adore Two Pigeons and have fortunately been able to see many memorable performances in recent years thanks to Birmingham Royal Ballet.

 

I believe it is a piece about redemption in a way - the young girl realises how silly and flighty she has been and the young man realises that he behaved badly towards her by walking out.  The final, reconciliation duet is incredibly beautiful and poignant and a masterpiece in how to make such a quiet and gently dance.  I don't think I've ever seen a performance where I have not cried during this final section.

 

There are several performances where I have sobbed out loud from the moment the young man has been thrown out of the encampment.  These performances were by Chi Cao and Ambra Vallo (BRB) and last year by Alexander Campbell and Yuhui Choe (RB).  One performance that will live with me forever occurred on a Saturday afternoon in Birmingham when danced by Robert Parker and Nao Sakuma.  Not only was I sobbing out loud but so was everyone around me.  My friends and I couldn't speak for ages afterwards we were all so overcome!

 

I read the liner notes in the program/booklet (Sarasota gives out a big glossy magazine type overall full season booklet and then a smaller brochure for that night's casting and other info) that you are right. It was sort of an homage to Sleeping Beauty because they discuss it. I didn't even read it or know that when I made my comments, so Ashton apparently succeeded b/c you can see it sort of without really knowing.

 

I like the idea that it is a story about redemption. It makes it a better story for me.

 

I did like the final pas de deux, and I overheard one person say it was the best ballet he ever saw, so I am probably in the minority. I enjoyed it, but I have to say the gypsy shimmying their chests and the pigeon arms (even though they are a metaphor and shows humor in the first act and sadness in the final) just do not do it for me. However, there is plenty of terrific choreography to off-set it, and Marcelo Gomes and Victoria Hulland were great. They were more playful with each other in Act 1 than in the Royal Ballet's recent dvd where the Artist was too angry all the time.

 

Also, Logan Learned brought down the house as the soloist gypsy in Act 2. He is always amazing.

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8 hours ago, Mazurka said:

I should add the Sarasota ballet dancers were excellent, and seemed to get better on second evening, and the Guest Conductor B. Wordworth of the Royal Ballet

led  the Sarasota Ballet in a memorable performance of Stravinsky and Messager.
 

 

.

 

Yes, the Sarasota dancers give their all. I think Victoria Hulland held her own with Marcelo Gomes on the first night. Both acted well and danced well. I wanted to stay in Sarasota and catch the 2nd cast and maybe the 2nd night with Gomes/Hulland, but I had to get back to Gainesville. Great to hear the dancers were even better the second evening. I meant to clarify above that the four males (soloist and corps) in Scenes de Ballet had minor issues, BUT they were still good especially for how young they looked. Didn't mean to be negative about them. It looks like difficult roles with lifts and turns, etc. They were sweating a lot, because what they were doing was hard. It was Opening Night, so I am sure they ironed out the very slight partnering of turns, etc. I have actually seen worse partnering of turns by a male dancer at the Mariinsky who is raved about all the time. So I do think Sarasota Ballet does a WONDERFUL job and they are providing opportunities to see Ashton in Florida of all places!!!

 

Did the 2nd pigeon fly to the chair in the second evening? I hope so! That is uncontrollable, so I don't hold it against the company at all, but it makes the ending all the sweeter.

 

Anyway, I do "like" the ballet. I just don't love it, whereas Ashton's La Fille mal Gardee is something I love......so charming.......

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_Hi Birdsall - this must be a subversive pigeon, no cooperation on the second evening either-  it flew straight  into the blackness at the end of the orchestra pit - I do hope it landed safely. 

 

 I sat closer than I like for the first performance so either that or the dancers grew more comfortable in their performance.  In a way I am sorry that these performances are so meteoric - two days and its gone.  Ephemeral art and ephemeral venue. 

 

I agree with you about the principals Victoria Holland and Kate Honea.  In Logan Learned this company has a perfect Puck  should it want to stage The Dream. +

 

Reluctantly agreed that the pigeon wings and shimmies are - oh that dreaded word - a little too cute.  But it should not keep you from seeing this ballet.  Consider it a  bonbon treat from Ashton and Webb.   

Agreed on Scenes de Ballet - definitely a ballet I wish to see repeatedly - and  it grows on you.  I  like Ashton's description (from the program)      "It has a distant, uncompromising beauty which says I am here, beautiful, but I will make no effort to charm you."   The two nicely balance each other.   One bonbon per night is plenty :-)

 

 

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Too bad about the pigeon. I think on Friday it flew back into the wings and they sent it off again and it landed upstage. Part of me loves when animals have minds of their own, so it is hard to be disappointed. LOL

 

That quote of Ashton's does describe Scenes de Ballet well........and I have it on dvd and actually thought it was boring the first time I watched it, but I watched it a couple of times before attending Friday's performance, and I fell in love with it and how the steps match the music so well. So seeing it live was nice.

 

Logan Learned has been really great in everything I have seen him in. I loved his Alain in La Fille mal Gardee and as the Blue Boy in Les Patineurs. His dancing is phenomenal. I think the only reason he doesn't go to a bigger company is that his size probably limits his roles and so he would probably not be a principal anywhere else, but he deserves that title in Sarasota!!!! Glad he stays put.

 

I wonder if Sarasota will ever stage Ashton's Cinderella. That would be nice.

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from wikipedia:

Scènes de ballet is a score of between 16 and 18 minutes' duration, written in 1944. It was commissioned by Billy Rose for a Broadway revue. The music occasioned one of the best-known Stravinsky anecdotes. Rose telegraphed Stravinsky: "YOUR MUSIC GREAT SUCCESS STOP COULD BE SENSATIONAL SUCCESS IF YOU WOULD AUTHORISE ROBERT RUSSELL BENNETT RETOUCH ORCHESTRATION STOP BENNETT ORCHESTRATES EVEN THE WOKS OF COLE PORTER." To which Stravinsky telegraphed back: "SATISFIED WITH GREAT SUCCESS."[5]

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