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Ashton Fan

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  1. Unfortunately as 2017 marks the twenty fifth anniversary of MacMillan's death it was inevitable that we were going to have rather a lot of his ballets programmed during the entire year. I am just grateful that we have had so few of his "challenging" works scheduled for performance and that Lady M. has not managed to persuade the management to disinter Isadora. As far as the Ashton repertory is concerned I am not sure that It has been specifically singled out for neglect as we have not seen much of the Diaghilev repertory either since Mr. O'Hare became AD. It would seem that he is m
  2. Osipova made her Covent Garden debut as Aurora a week ago with Hirano as her self effacing prince. I think that it is safe to say that her account of the role divides opinion. Clement Crisp likened her Aurora to the sun, but to others her Aurora is more like a force of nature. Whether you find her Aurora, too big,too bold,and ebullient, rather than vivacious may well depend on whether or not you like a star turn because there is no doubt that for many in the audience she is a star and thus above all criticism. In act one she is more Princess Kitri than Princess Aurora in large par
  3. Sleeping Beauty had three performances before Christmas. We have now embarked on the second and most important part of the run.These performances are important not only because they give an indication of the technical health of the company but for the number of debuts scheduled between now and early March. They are interesting because of the opportunities being given to young dancers to dance major roles in the ballet which for years has been the company's calling card. The problem is that apart from those due to dance Aurora and her Prince we don't find out who is dancing the Lilac Fairy or
  4. I hope that this does not confuse the issue but I have attended at least one interview in which Sarah Lamb has spoken about the "plastique of a role" which suggests that for her the word is not so much a description of the characteristics of an individual dancer but sensitivity to, and an understanding of, the stylistic requirements of individual roles or of a body of works created by an individual choreographer. So for her it is the balletic equivalent of recognising the stylistic differences between Mozart and Puccini and having the sensitivity and ability to perform the works of both compos
  5. I think that everyone liked Chroma when it was first shown at Covent Garden It raised all sorts of expectations which I don't think have been fulfilled.The problem for me is that few of McGregor's subsequent pieces have been that compelling or involving.It is one thing to produce works which live and die in a single season which individual audience members see only once and quite another to produce works which bear repeat performances during their initial season and in subsequent ones.Strangely I think that an essential element of an effective dance work is that you can remember some aspects o
  6. i went to Woolf Works about ten days ago and I have to confess that when it comes to McGregor's works I think I must be tone deaf or perhaps blind because his ballets seem little more than cleverly lit slickly packaged dance works which you either get or you don't.Others claim to be greatly moved by the first and third works which make up the trilogy which is Woolf Works but while he has acquired a bit more dance vocabulary it does not add up to that much. The first piece takes themes from Mrs Dalloway and if you have read the book or can bring yourself to read the copious programme notes yo
  7. I am pleased that you have found my reports of interest. I had not intended to go to the revival of Woolf Works but I have acquired a ticket from a friend who can't go so I may say something about it in due course. As far as Sleeping Beauty is concerned it is only about a week until the run resumes. it will be interesting to see how. if at all, the Spring break and the performance of McGregor's very unclassical choreography impacts on the performances throughout the run. There is a lot to look forward to in the series of Sleeping Beauty performances which resumes on the 15th Februa
  8. The company gave three performances of Sleeping Beauty in December each of which was very encouraging for the run of performances which begins later on this month.Mason favoured the idea of engaging Russian conductors for performances of the Petipa ballets. The great drawback in doing this was that Russian conductor's tend to follow the dancers rather than propel their performance forward by adopting the tempi indicated by the composer. In an interview which he gave to Gramophone Magazine the company's new music director indicated that he felt that it was important to follow Tchaik
  9. So far this season the bulk of the repertory which the company has danced has been classical or classically based which I am sure was planned to ensure that the company was in fine fettle technically when it embarked on its lengthy run of Sleeping Beauty, If you look at the Opera House website you will see that there are some exciting debuts in the offing.Unfortunately we don't find out who the Lilac Fairy,Bluebird and Princess Florine are to be until we get the cast sheet at the theatre.I just hope that the performances of Woolf Works don't adversely affect the plans by producing a spate of
  10. Until Dowell's directorship the Royal Ballet was not a company of which it could almost invariably be said "If it's Christmas it must be Nutcracker", It was Festival Ballet/English National Ballet which pursued that programming policy. When he was ENB's Artistic Director Wayne Eagling explained how financially reliant his company was on its London season to make the money which allows it to deal with the deficit it runs up on its regional tours. I have no reason to believe that it was not as reliant on its London performances of Nutcracker from its earliest days or that it is any less financi
  11. The 2016-17 season did not look that exciting when it was announced but once the casting was published I discovered a large number of performances which I felt that I could not afford to miss. Fille required multiple visits as did Anastasia, rather surprisingly as I know it is not a long lost MacMillan masterpiece,although the way the tickets sold there may have been some who thought it was.Nutcracker demanded several visits because of the number of dancers making their debuts as the Sugar Plum Fairy which gives the opportunity to see named dancers in a very testing piece of classical choreog
  12. It has suddenly struck me that I have told you nothing about the current season. This is an omission which I will remedy unless someone else wishes to do so. We have had a number of successful debuts and have quite a few to look forward to in February when performances of Sleeping Beauty resume and during the rest of the season to come. One aspect of the post Christmas Beauties which will be of considerable interest will be the new Music Director's approach to the score as for many years we have had Russian conductors whose habit is to follow the dancers by accompanying then at the
  13. I think that management and the opera company met its match in Mr Russell Roberts because he had experience in working in other opera houses.He challenged the costs that had been allocated to the ballet company and won. Today the two companies are only required to cover their own costs which they do through a combination of ticket sales, sponsorship and state funding from Arts Council England. The part played by ACE funding is diminishing but all the time it is an element in either company's funding the companies have to guarantee that a proportion of the tickets are made available to the gene
  14. The Bordeaux company is the second oldest in France and one of the few which continues to perform classical ballet including works created by twentieth century French choreographers and those like Lifar whose works are seen as part of the French tradition ,if only because they were originally staged at the Paris Opera. Reading between the lines it would seem that the financial pressures which have led to the need to cut the art's budget for the Bordeaux Opera may not be entirely unconnected with the decision to build a new football stadium. Now if course the stadium is wholly unim
  15. Years ago when I was at school we had a very tough no nonsense language teacher who replaced a far older rather laissez faire one. Much later when she had got us working at the level she expected she explained that she had deliberately adopted the no nonsense style with us as she had found that it was possible to reassert authority with a group who you had initially subjected to strict discipline and then given a bit of freedom but that it was impossible to assert discipline over a group who had not been subjected to it in the initial stages of the teacher pupil relationship. I wonder whether,
  16. Given the number of abstract and near abstract ballets that are created and the number of ballets in which the dancers are dressed in the current standard ballet uniform it is easy to lose sight of the impact that stage design can have on what we see in performance and how we respond to it. Only a limited number of stage designers ever get the opportunity to design for ballet and even fewer have the experience of designing for narrative works. Ashton belonged to the generation of choreographers who experienced the choreographic and design revolution of the Ballets Russes as it was happening.
  17. I do not think that Valses Nobles would benefit from having new designs. So far every attempt to redesign Ashton's ballets has proved to be a complete and unmitigated disaster. Rather than refreshing them the redesigns have left the redesigned ballets in a state far worse than they were with the original designs. Problems with Ashton ballets in performance rarely have anything to do with the costumes and design. Generally the problem is either the dancers's inability or unwillingness to dance in the appropriate style, which is unlikely with the Sarasota company, or, as a member of the audienc
  18. As far as Lacotte's reconstruction of La Sylphide is concerned there was not a much loved version whose validity the reconstruction would be seen as challenging which is why, for me, his decisions to put the female corps on pointe to meet the audience's expectations makes no sense. If you set about reconstructing a work that has not been seen for over a hundred years there is no need to stuff it full of anachronisms to make it palatable for a modern audience. I appreciate that the position will be different in the case of a ballet with an apparent continuous performance history particularly
  19. From what I have seen of Lacotte's " reconstructions" he invariably gives the public what they expect to see rather than what they would have seen and so are best taken with several cartloads of salt. They may be fun to watch occasionally but they can't be taken seriously as attempts to stage nineteenth century works. The pointe work in the first act of La Sylphide tells us everything we needs to know about his approach to restaging. I seem to recall at the time that his La Sylphide was first performed that he was asked why he had put the female corps on point in act one and admitted that ther
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