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Ashton Fan

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    AVID THEATRE GOER
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    ILFORD ,ESSEX
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    Essex

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  1. The event held in October 2019 has been placed on the Foundation's website. It is of interest because a large part of the afternoon was devoted to coaching a section of Foyer de Danse which dates from the early 1930's when Markova was working in London and appeared at Rambert's Ballet Club. There is a film of this early Ashton work made by a ballet enthusiast which has tantalised people for years because it is clearly incomplete and many have thought it was too fragmentary to work on. On the basis of what was shown last October it seems that Ursula Hageli has solved many of the problems with the film . Using a computer she was able to slow the film down and found that by doing this the choreography fitted the music. In her opinion, presumably based on the handful of bars which were left without choreography, the only sections of the stage action which are missing are the dancers' entrances and exits which were not filmed. However as the work was made for Rambert's Mercury Theatre which had an exceptionally small stage and a limited number of options as to how to enter or leave it devising something to provide stage action to fill those bars of music should not prove an insurmountable challenge preventing the work being revived. The biggest obstacle is likely to be Kevin's limited enthusiasm for such works. As to whether it would be worth reviving the ballet? It was still in Ballet Rambert's active repertory when the company visited Australia in the late 1940's which suggests that it would be worth seeing restored to the stage. The second part of the event was devoted to a gala piece which Ashton made for Park and Eagling in 1975 which they only danced about three times and about which they admit to remembering very little. It is still of interest.
  2. While I am not a great Cathy Marston fan the Cellist may be of interest as it was made on Cuthbertson, Ball and Sambe all of whom are on top form in their created roles. My problem with it in the theatre was that I thought it could have done with some serious editing and that Marston had wasted a large number of talented dancers who seemed to have little reason to be on stage except to populate it as moving scenery and occasionally to act as props. My main interest in this DVD will be in Dances at a Gathering which again provides an opportunity to see a lot of the company's dancers but this time used to considerable effect. I was lucky enough to see the Royal Ballets original cast in the work and the impact of those performances has remained with me ever since. When it was announced that D A A G was replacing the previously advertised new ballet by Liam Scarlett I bought tickets for every performance which I could attend and I was not disappointed by either cast. This is a recording that I am likely to buy. It is due to be issued on the 22nd January 2021. There are rumours that last season's revival of Coppelia which was streamed to cinemas with a cast led by Nunez and Muntagirov will find its way onto DVD. I hope it proves to be true because while I would have preferred to see a recording of the performance given by the first night cast led by Hayward, Campbell and Avis a new recording of Coppelia is to be welcomed.
  3. While I am not a great Cathy Marston fan the Cellist may be of interest as it was made on Cuthbertson, Ball and Sambe all of whom are on top form in their created roles. My problem with it in the theatre was that I thought it could have done with some serious editing and that Marston had wasted a large number of talented dancers who seemed to have little reason to be on stage except to populate it as moving scenery and occasionally to act as props. My main interest in this DVD will be in Dances at a Gathering which again provides an opportunity to see a lot of the company's dancers but this time used to considerable effect. I was lucky enough to see the Royal Ballets original cast in the work and the impact of those performances has remained with me ever since. When it was announced that D A A G was replacing the previously advertised new ballet by Liam Scarlett I bought tickets for every performance which I could attend and I was not disappointed by either cast. This is a recording that I am likely to buy. It is due to be issued on the 22nd January 2021. There are rumours that last season's revival of Coppelia which was streamed to cinemas with a cast led by Nunez and Muntagirov will find its way onto DVD. I hope it proves to be true because while I would have preferred to see a recording of the performance given by the first night cast led by Hayward, Campbell and Avis a new recording of Coppelia is to be welcomed.
  4. These are the latest Royal Ballet performances to be made available to a worldwide audience during shutdown. Romeo and Juliet is being shown today at 7pm London time and will be available for a further fortnight. Now I know that I often feel that MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet is in danger of being done to death and that I would appreciate it much more if it were rested for several seasons and replaced, say by Ashton's version, but this is a performance that I shall be watching as the leading roles are taken by Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball. It was a revival of this ballet a couple of seasons earlier which made London audiences sit up and take notice of both dancers as potential company principals. The ballet is strongly cast and if I recall correctly Juliet's Friends at this performance included at least one dancer who was almost certainly making her final appearance in that role. Sleeping Beauty is being shown on 24th July at 7 pm and will also be available for a further fortnight. The cast is led by Fumi Kaneko and Federico Bonelli. It goes without saying that this is a ballet which gives the audience the opportunity to see a lot of the company in action. This performance is of great interest as Kaneko was replacing a senior dancer at short notice and had, I think, only made her debut as Aurora a few days earlier with a different partner. Kaneko is another dancer to watch and whose career is likely to be of interest.
  5. The latest Royal Ballet DVD will be issued on the 17th July 2020. It contains performances of three ballets which entered the company's repertory towards the end of the 1960's. Concerto has an interesting cast which includes Hay and O'Sullivan in the opening section and Naghdi and Hirano in the central section of the work. The performance of Ashton's Enigma Variations has the best cast that the company has mustered in years with Saunders as Elgar, Morera as Lady Elgar, Gartside as Jaegar and Hayward as Dorabella. In fact this revival was exceptionally well cast and coached with only one dancer in three casts whose presence on the stage I would question. It came as a pleasant surprise to discover that the company had three Troytes in its ranks. Finally to round off what in the theatre was a good old fashioned style mixed bill full of contrasts rather than three ballets with some sort of uniting theme there is Nureyev's Raymonda Act III. This was one of Nureyev;s earliest stagings of versions of the Petipa classics and was heavily influenced by the activities of Russian folk dance groups of the period. I have not seen the recording because I was in the theatre when the performance streamed . This means that I have no idea whether the recording suffers from an over busy camera but on paper the recording provides an excellent opportunity to see a good cross section of the company in ballets which for years were staples of its repertory.
  6. I don't see how anyone can do anything other than guess about when companies might be able to perform again. I believe that the experience from 1919 in Minneapolis and Saint Paul makes it clear that shutting down early means you come out of a pandemic much quicker and with much less. economic damage than you do if you delay shutdown. As both the US and the UK were slow to lock down we are likely to be stuck with the virus for much longer than say Germany which acted very promptly. Until we know what the real extent of the infection is and its rate of reproduction in our respective countries we can't really start talking about how and when companies will resume performing. What is clear is that until we know that the rate of "R" is well below one anyone talking about when the theatres might reopen is asking a question very similar to "How long is a piece of string? " I suspect that places of public entertainment where people gather in large numbers and sit close together in confined spaces will be the last to reopen quite simply because they seem designed to be infection hot spots. Public Health authorities will be reluctant to see them reopen until they are satisfied that the virus is well and truly under control. It is one thing to gradually ease restrictions on the range of shops which can reopen with social distancing if they are thought to attract a limited number of customers drawn from a relatively small geographic area quite another to allow places which can't really impose social distancing because of the way they function and were designed to reopen . It becomes an even bigger problem if they tend to attract audiences from across a wide geographic area as this brings the danger of importing fresh infection. However pressing their financial needs no company is going to want to be accused of creating an infection hot spot by reopening prematurely. Of course it is not just the audience drawn from a wide geographic area sitting close together that presents the potential for spreading the virus and boosting its reproduction rate the working conditions of the performers also present opportunities for it to spread as they scarcely allow for social distancing in any form. Dancers cannot keep six feet apart when rehearsing or performing and nor can musicians sitting in the pit. Watching what happens in Germany and Italy and comparing the two when it comes to announcing that they are reopening their opera houses and when they actually succeed in doing so might give a clue as to what we might expect.
  7. Having pulled stumps on the ballet season some weeks ago I am surprised that the ROH has taken so long to officially abandon the remnants of the opera season. It will be interesting to find out when the management anticipates being able to open the doors again and what form the opera and ballet seasons actually take. At the moment i can't see much happening before Christmas. Given the number of dancers who were prevented from making major debuts in Swan Lake by the shutdown or made unscheduled debuts but never had the opportunity to dance with their advertised partners I suspect that "Lac" will be back next season and that the rest of the repertory will be popular rather than novel or e. A late start to the season will give plenty of time to decide what form "Lac" should take. I should be very surprised if its text was the one devised by Scarlett. The simplest solution would be to use either the text used by Dowell or the one used in the production which preceded it.
  8. I wholeheartedly agree with your concerns about the wisdom of donating ticket money to the ROH. I suspect that it will be more than a handful of regulars who are faced with the problem you described. There are quite a lot of regulars who seem to be just hanging on at present. The economic landscape is likely to be very different when the lock down is eased . Jobs in some sectors will be lost while those like teachers who work for the state could easily find that the government decides that the aftermath of the lock down presents a wonderful opportunity for salary and wage cuts. Such action would make no sense economically and would further reduce employment and the governments tax receipts by damaging the economy as a whole but it would certainly fit the ideological outlook of much of the current UK government. As far as the ROH is concerned I anticipate that tickets for both opera and ballet will cost considerably more next season than they did this season. Even if the ROH organisation is unable to persuade its donors to be more generous than they are at present it is quite possible that ACE will be anxious to reduce its subsidy so that it can prop up less high profile and less financially well connected arts organisations much further north than London and the South East. Any increase in ticket prices will of course make the ROH even less socially diverse than it is at present. I suppose how it chooses to handle ticket price increases will depend on how socially exclusive it feels it can afford to be seen to be. No doubt some donors would be happy to pay more and perhaps eliminate the state subsidy in exchange for greater social exclusivity.
  9. A cursory glance at the Royal Opera House website makes it pretty clear that the opera and ballet seasons have been brought to a premature close. I don't expect any early announcement of what the 2020-21 season will look like for either company as I imagine that both companies are currently revising their original plans and devising seasons which will sell without any effort on the part of the marketing department as its objective will be to deal with the losses which the truncation of the season has caused. The ROH has been trying to persuade people to donate the money that they have spent on tickets for the cancelled performances up to the end of April rather than asking for it to be refunded. It will be interesting to see how much luck they have with that, if only because of the sums involved. Alex Beard who runs the ROH organisation has written to the favoured few saying how much the organisation values its loyal audience members which is a complete reversal of the organisation's recent stance of treating its regular audience as a group who made unreasonable demands of it. The individual in charge of audience relations and marketing, who has since moved on, created the impression that it was an organisation whose main concern was to cater to the needs of the occasional visitor rather than its regular audience. In fact she gave the impression that the target audience were tourists or families celebrating granny's birthday who wanted the ROH experience of wining and dining at the opera house but who beyond knowing whether they were going to an opera or a ballet on the evening they selected were not much interested in what was being performed or who was appearing in it. We shall see how the appeal for donations turns out in the light of recent experience with the organisation.
  10. I am not sure that I gained a lot from seeing Bathilde and the Duke of Courland arrive on horse however authentic that may be theatrically and socially. It was interesting to encounter a sympathetic Bathilde rather than the cold and aloof creature one is used to seeing in Bow Street. I know that this is an attempt to capture something of the flavour of the ballet as a nineteenth century creation and it is almost certainly authentic but I am not sure that Hans/ Hilarion's characterisation as a peasant clod adds much to the mixture. However I suppose that if Bathilde is to be played more naturally and sympathetically rather than as an unfeeling aristocrat then someone else has to be presented as an unsympathetic character. It was a pleasant change to see the peasant pas de deux danced as just that rather than being hacked about to provide opportunities for more than two dancers. The thing that struck me most about the first act was that the mime sequence used in the reconstruction is shorter and simpler than the version which the Royal Ballet has been performing since the 1960's. According to the company's performance records its current version was introduced in the production which Ashton and Karsavina staged in 1960. This mime sequence which the company has retained in subsequent productions is the version which Karsavina said was performed during her time with the Mariinsky. In it Berthe not only has the opportunity to warn Giselle of the threat which her love of dance poses for her but to provide the assembled peasants with a full account of the way in which the Wilis force unwary men to dance themselves to death. In the mime sequence Berthe demonstrates the confrontation between an unwary traveller and a Wili playing both characters. I can't help wondering when Ratmansky's version of the mime sequence became the norm ? I found the second act extraordinarily effective and was more than happy to see the loss of the pressage lift which is little more than a twentieth century technical trick which adds nothing to the ballet aesthetically or dramatically. The lift which replaced it is far more attractive and aesthetically in keeping with the rest of the choreography. I felt that when I saw Ball perform it when he took over as Albrecht mid performance at Covent Garden not so long ago. I didn't feel then that I had been cheated by not seeing what has become the Giselle cliche lift or in this streamed performance. Its replacement looks far more stylistically appropriate in a ballet in which those performing the choreography should be more concerned with the creation of atmosphere and mood than having opportunities for technical display. I have to say that I was pleased to see a production which fell back on the use of nineteenth century stage technology with Giselle showering Albrecht with flowers from a tree rather than all but handing them to him. While there were elements which did not entirely convince me such as the cross formation of the Wilis which, as I understand it, has its source in Justament's notebooks I should love to have the opportunity to see the production live. I hope that it is one of the productions which the Bolshoi bring with them next time the company visits Covent Garden. It was good to have the opportunity to see a Romantic ballet text treated with respect and to have the opportunity to go on Ratmansky's artistic voyage of exploration.
  11. It is pretty clear that there are more potential candidates for promotion among the ranks of the First Soloists than there are likely to be vacancies for Principals at the end of the season. The company seems to have largely lost its dead wood through retirement. It is going to be very interesting to see which dancers the management has decided have gone as far as their talents can take them. As the company does not seem to be touring abroad this summer perhaps Mr O'Hare will decide that he has no need to promote anyone at this time and that he can afford to defer what is likely to be a difficult decision for another season while he tries people out in a wider range of the core repertory than has happened so far. He is under far less pressure to make appointments than he would be if the company were visiting somewhere such as Japan, where the promoters demand principal dancers must be cast in leading roles as a contractual term.
  12. On what I hope proves to be a happier note. The Royal Ballet is increasingly becoming Kevin O'Hare's company rather than the one he inherited from his predecessor. It is usual for appointments to follow on from departures and retirement but some unusual things have been happening in the company as far as long serving personnel are concerned. It is almost unheard of for dancers to leave early in a new season but that is what both Alistair Marriott, Principal Character Dancer,and Jonathan Howells, Ballet Master and Character Artist, chose to do making it necessary to modify the casting for Coppelia which had already been announced. With their early depart it is just possible that Kevin may find that he has enough money to fund more than one new Principal dancer at the end of the season.Here I am assuming that Hallberg's appointment as Guest Artist is not going to be a permanent feature in the life of the company. Kevin will almost certainly appoint someone to replace Soares who announced that his appearances as Onegin were to be his last with the company.The question is whether he will appoint a second Principal, even if he has no immediate need to do so? There are several dancers who in recent months have been given the opportunity to reveal their potential for promotion to the company's top rank. While Clarke has consolidated his position as an extremely useful and adaptable dancer which explains his recent promotion to First Artist, dancers like Magri and O'Sullivan have been cast in roles which have not only expanded their personal repertory and range but have seen them performing key roles in ballets which are central to the company's core repertory. It seems to me that the revival of the long neglected Coppelia has expanded the group of potential candidates for promotion. It is going to be interesting to see who will have proved to be successful when the promotions are announced at the end of the season.
  13. AB's Mom,Thank you for posting the link to the Guardian newspaper article about this. There are some posts on this topic in the section devoted to news from the Royal Ballet which may be of interest to you and others.
  14. Since his time as a student at the Royal Ballet School Scarlett has been seen as a choreographer of considerable promise and on the basis of his choreographic talent he was able to retire from dancing in his mid twenties and take up an official choreographic post at the Royal Ballet which was created for him. It has now been announced officially that he was suspended from his company post in August last year and that his activities there and at the school are under investigation by an outside organisation. The investigation which concerns allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying are ongoing. He has been banned from the Opera House and the Royal Ballet School. Strangely although he had been banned from the Opera House last August it was only announced that "The Cellist" mixed bill was no longer going to include a new work by Liam Scarlett comparatively recently. Presumably at that point,the announcement was made for the practical reason that it isn't really possible to create a new work, if the choreographer is banned from entering the building where rehearsals are to take place. The investigations have not been completed but I think that It will be interesting to see how much further the company feels it needs to distance itself from Scarlett, now that the broad nature of the allegations are known. There are revivals of his production of Swan Lake and his ballet Symphonic Dances scheduled in the coming months. While I am sure that the company is capable of reviving them in his absence there is the question of whether it will wish to be seen to do so. If they are keeping him at arm's length and denying him access to the building and the dancers will they want to be seen to be paying him royalties for these revivals ? Of course there is no problem if the allegations are found to be without substance. But will the company or the Royal Opera House organisation want to run the risk of the enquiry finding that the allegations have substance to them at very the time that his Swan Lake is being performed in Bow Street ? There is always the possibility that other former students and dancers will come forward and make their own allegations now they know that an official enquiry into Scarlett's activities and behaviour is under way. The investigation is already said to concern his activities going back over a period of ten years. The company was able to drop Scarlett's new ballet without explanation or comment when the investigation was not public knowledge but from now on its decisions with respect to his existing ballets scheduled for performance this season are likely to come under scrutiny and may well be the subject of adverse comment. It is going to be interesting to see how the company decides to handle the situation . It is possible that it is just too late to do anything about the version of Swan Lake the company will dance this season. Symphonic Dances is likely to prove much easier to lose.
  15. The closer you get to the performance dates the more likely it is that you will find tickets appearing on the ROH website. In my experience the ROH puts tickets for resale on its site as soon as they come in. So while it may be true that returns are included in the Friday rush the point to note is that they are not held back until the date of the next rush. I see that the performances you want to attend are midweek ones so while I think that tickets can come in at anytime the days when you are most likely to strike it lucky are probably going to be the Monday and Tuesday of the week in which the performances are due to take place and the day of the performance itself. I hope this helps.
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