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Le Rosignol by Frederick Ashton

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Le Rosignol with choreography by Ashton is being performed in an interesting Stravinsky triple bill at the Met in October and February. I know it was choreographed on Makarova and Dowell in the early 80s by Ashton, but since my edition of David Vaughn's book on Ashton is early one, I don't have any other information. Does anybody know about this production or saw the original?

Woetzel and Kent are listed as the leads.

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I saw this when it was first done and loved it and have long wondered why no ballet company tried to revive it. I wish I could remember details -- I will say that it was choreographed at a later stage of Dowell's career and I remember (based largely on my knowledge of an earlier Ashton/Dowell collaboration -- Oberon in the Dream) -- that Ashton had somehow found a way to make the older Dowell look like the younger Dowell, dancing like quicksilver but dreamy, poetic and, of course, stylistically very pure. But at the same time, the ballet didn't lose his 'mature' presence. (As you know, the Met. is not an easy theater to fill.) It was a vision of Dowell I hadn't seen at ABT, and I was a huge fan of his ABT career. I was especially impressed with the combination of speed and delicacy...I loved Makarova as well though I don't remember my reaction in as much detail. And at the risk of sounding repetitive I also loved the Hockney sets and costumes for the entire Stravinsky evening. My memory is of deep purple tones, and Dowell carrying a lantern of some sort... but then again please keep in mind that all of the above is based on memory from, well, I guess about twenty years ago...Maybe I wouldn't love any of it now!

Dowell and Makarova are in my dance pantheon and Woetzel and Kent aren't, though Woetzel comes closer and if he really gives his imagination over to the role he may be able to do something with it. And to be fair, the ballerina role, which I vaguely recall as lyrical, may suit Kent very well.

I'll add one story that I heard at the time and found funny, though it's not exactly about the ballet. An acquaintance of mine took a friend to the Stravinsky evening at the Met -- the friend was fairly knowledgeable about ballet, but mostly attended NYCB and did not always follow the latest ballet news. In the middle of Le Rossignol, while Makarova and Dowell were dancing, the friend turned to my acquaintance and whispered: "gee, these dancers are REALLY good for the Metropolitan Opera ballet!" My acquaintance hissed back at him: "That's Anthony Dowell and Natalya Makarova the two greatest dancers in the world..."

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